mm475: An odd and disconcerting day

August 21, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

… and not much to say about it.

Worked on location at the beginning of it, and reasonably productively from home at the end. The middle, was smiling and grim, institutional and emotional.

And we, and our man-child, remain on a tightrope.

Some days, the blogger’s prime directive, Thou Shalt Blog Daily!, is best observed very simply, and with brevity.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm474: A very good year for paperboard and plastic

August 20, 2008

almaden01

MUDGE’s Musings

Boxed wine. A totally frightening concept.

Except, not exactly.

Turns out that boxed wine has come up in the world’s estimation. And for a most unexpected reason.

The environment.

Drink Outside the Box

Op-Ed Contributor | By TYLER COLMAN | Published: August 17, 2008 | Waccabuc, N.Y.

ITALY’S Agriculture Ministry announced this month that some wines that receive the government’s quality assurance label may now be sold in boxes. That’s right, Italian wine is going green, and for some connoisseurs, the sky might as well be falling.

But the sky isn’t falling. Wine in a box makes sense environmentally and economically. Indeed, vintners in the United States would be wise to embrace the trend that is slowly gaining acceptance worldwide.

Wine in a box has been around for more than 30 years — though with varying quality. The Australians were among the first to popularize it. And hardly a fridge in the south of France, especially this time of year, is complete without a box of rosé. Here in America, by contrast, boxed wine has had trouble escaping a down-market image. But now that wine producers are talking about reducing their carbon footprint — that is, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the transportation of wine — selling the beverage in alternative, lighter packaging instead of heavier glass seems like the right thing to do.

Shipping cases of glass bottles from California and the West Coast, the major domestic wine production regions, to the Eastern U.S., the major wine consuming market, is quite costly, due to the weight of the glass and the heavy duty packaging required to carry and cushion it.

And saving weight not only saves money, it shrinks to some extent wine’s carbon footprint. Who knew wine had any kind of footprint?

But, a box! That’s for red and white and rosé swill, isn’t it?

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mm473: If only it were actually oil they spew in such quantities

August 19, 2008
© Eline Spek | Dreamstime.com

© Eline Spek | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

How can you tell a Rovian Republican is lying?

His lips are moving.

It’s less than three months to election day, and the Rovian machinery of mis- and disinformation has lurched into gear.

Jerome Corsi’s new No. 1 bestseller is beneath contempt; the Obama campaign seems to have learned from the stricken paralysis that was the Kerry campaign’s reaction to Corsi’s Swift Boat slander, and one can only hope that the Corsi’s latest spurious attacks will be swiftly deflected.

But there’s a lot more going on in the Fantasyland that is the Republican commentariat.

Take oil, for example.

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mm472: Blast from the Past! No. 43

August 18, 2008
© Carbouval | Dreamstime.com

© Carbouval | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’S Musings

Events continue to conspire, sapping all the vigor out of my keyboard, but hey, recycling is IN, right? We’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th[2]

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and always in season, originally posted October 30, 2007, and titled “mm180: American kids, dumber than dirt.”

MUDGE’S Musings

A couple of posts ago, we highlighted the apparent success of our education system, despite conventional wis-dumb that says that we’re failing to create enough scientists and engineers.

The column in Business Week showed that, far from an inadequate supply of engineers, for example, rather there is an inadequate supply of U.S. jobs for all of the engineers we’re creating.

Further, the reported astoundingly large numbers of engineers and scientists supposedly coming out of India and China may be a distorted and inflated number; the two countries are producing quantities of degrees, many of which are far less than minimum world-class.

So, MUDGE had a couple of days to feel relief, his faith somewhat restored in our often-maligned U.S. education system.

Not so fast, Pilgrim!

Another precinct has been heard from, bird-dogged, I’m remembering, by Digg actually, and this news, from the education trenches, is not good.

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mm471: Art and artists

August 17, 2008

0816082247b

MUDGE’s Musings

The photo was taken under desperately overmatched conditions at a live concert in a Chicago club called Subterranean last night.

The track just below the photo was the number performed, called “Juicy Love,” a track on a new release by MUDGElet No. 3, AKA Release. The soloist, who goes by the nom de musique Scarlet Monk, also wrote the lyrics for that track.

She’s front and center, the composer, producer and evening’s promoter can be discerned, only sketchily, in the background. He was fully there, mind you, but the camera phone I used was not up to the task of getting a decent shot under low light conditions from our perch in the balcony.

Here’s a track showcasing some more of the electronic artistry of Release:

The concert was the release party for the new album, which by the way, is available (as of this writing) as a free download at his colleague’s website: cichi.com, which also provides a MySpace link to the artist, himself. Check it out.

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mm470: Blast from the Past! No. 42

August 16, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

© Kandasamy M  | Dreamstime.com

© Kandasamy M | Dreamstime.com

So, back into the archives once again during an exceptionally action-packed weekend, but hey, recycling is IN, right? We’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th[3]

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and always in season, originally posted October 28, 2007, and titled “mm178: More Conventional Wis-dumb.”

MUDGE’S Musings

It has long been an article of faith in the press that U.S. education is failing to deliver adequate numbers of competent engineers and scientists.

We’ve all seen the reports that show U.S. students in all grade levels far behind many other countries in test results.

So, imagine the surprise that MUDGE felt when encountering this column in Business Week, one of his regular reads (for over 30 years!).

bw_255x65

Forget the conventional wisdom. U.S. schools are turning out more capable science and engineering grads than the job market can support

by Vivek Wadhwa

Political leaders, tech executives, and academics often claim that the U.S. is falling behind in math and science education. They cite poor test results, declining international rankings, and decreasing enrollment in the hard sciences. They urge us to improve our education system and to graduate more engineers and scientists to keep pace with countries such as India and China.

Yet a new report by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, tells a different story. The report disproves many confident pronouncements about the alleged weaknesses and failures of the U.S. education system. This data will certainly be examined by both sides in the debate over highly skilled workers and immigration (BusinessWeek.com, 10/10/07). The argument by Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOG), Intel (INTC), and others is that there are not enough tech workers in the U.S.

What we believe is not, as it happens, supported by the facts.

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mm469: Blast from the Past! No. 41

August 15, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

© Carbouval | Dreamstime.com

© Carbouval | Dreamstime.com

So, back into the archives yet again, but hey, recycling is IN, right? We’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and always in season, one of my first Sandy Szwarc posts, originally posted October 26, 2007, and titled “mm177: Healthy eating — Overrated!”

MUDGE’S Musings

Sandy Szwarc has, at least twice this month, provided health related stories that I’ve seen no where else, in her blog, Junkfood Science.

In a previous post, I highlighted her evaluation of recent under-reported studies showing counterintuitive results: that fat people survive cardiac episodes better than thin ones!.

She even responded politely to the post, even though I thoroughly and consistently misspelled her name! How embarrassing for MUDGE! Sorry, Sandy Szwarc!

She toppled my world again last week. She writes about a gigantic study launched in 1993 to pursue the relationship between what’s been known forever as healthy eating, and good health.

Remember reading about this study? I don’t.

Guess why. Because, once again, the results were startling.

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mm468: And the band played on

August 14, 2008
© Catia Amadio | Dreamstime.com

© Catia Amadio | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

In case current events in the nation of Georgia haven’t made the fact crystal clear, yr (justifiably) humble svt is unhappy to inform you that the U.S. military hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory over the past nearly 20 years since the end of the Cold War.

And the diplomatic corps has similarly shown itself to be overstressed and undermanned.

Nicholas Kristof made the point this past weekend: the U.S. has more musicians in its military bands than it has diplomats!

And what Kristof’s story omits, due to rapidly breaking events, is the failure of both U.S. diplomacy and U.S. military strength during the Russian invasion of Georgia this past week.

Military strength? Well, we can’t simultaneously put sufficient boots on the ground to meet our objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan, much less come to the aid of a strategically critical ally, Georgia.

Diplomacy? A strong diplomatic corps might have foreseen (yes, hindsight is always 20:20) that Georgia was simultaneously taking U.S. and NATO support as more than words, while underestimating Vladimir Putin’s urge for regained empire, and warned Mikheil Saakashvili away from his adventuristic invasion of South Ossettia.

Or a diplomatic arm with some heft might have been able to forestall, or at least mitigate, Russia’s response. Putin may now be emboldened to exercise his brand of “diplomacy” over other, West-leaning, former states of the old Soviet empire, and the U.S. will be hard pressed to protect them, diplomatically or militarily, if it even figures out that this would be a useful strategy.

But George III is a happy warrior, as befits a civilian who took giant steps to avoid substantive military service, and diplomacy apparently doesn’t mean much to him, or it appears, to Congress.

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mm467: Happy Left-Handers’ Day!

August 13, 2008

lefthandday02

MUDGE’s Musings

Today (or, what’s left of it in the Western Hemisphere, this post having been delayed an hour at least thanks to a weird PC glitch), 13 August, is Left-Handers’ Day.

We have this information on the authority of www.anythingleft-handed.co.uk , an online commerce site that one might well believe has an incentive (indeed, if it is not responsible for the event altogether) to celebrate.

I’ve been a member of this organization (read: shop’s mailing list) for several months, but shortly after reading the announcement in email this morning, found a link to the above site in my hometown newspaper’s online instance, seemingly as news, not paid advertising.

As a publication that takes pride in its left-handedness in every way, what else could we do but create a suitable graphic representation of the day, with the help of MUDGElet No. 3, the only one of the three MUDGElets who, like his father, is left-handed.

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mm466: The Age of Obama … is a problem

August 12, 2008
© Halina Yakushevich | Dreamstime.com

© Halina Yakushevich | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

Grumpy old men. And women. And the grumpitude is a significant challenge to Barack Obama’s candidacy.

Bill Clinton was younger than Obama is now, in 1992, but that was a different generation of over-65 people.

Clinton spoke to that age group about what they cared about most, Social Security, and in so doing secured their votes.

It was prior to the age of the Internet, and it was a different generation of young voting age kids, who, in the main after growing up in the vacant era of Reagan and George II, were apathetic.

Nobody bothered speaking to that age group, because they simply weren’t paying attention anyway.

Now, the new, “millennial” generation of today’s young people are paying attention, and it’s Sen. Obama to whom they are paying all that attention, to an extent that the current generation of post-65 grumpy voters apparently finds off-putting.

After all, how good can anything or anyone be if kids favor it. I hate their music, their movies, their clothing, their refusal to act their age. So I guess I hate their presidential candidate.

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