Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Moulding the Future (Veggie)


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This actually makes sense in a culture, like Japan, where individual perfect fruits are considered an essential gift for business clients or social visits — the way Americans treat wine or flowers. I suspect it would be difficult or impossible to make them profitably here, since we’ve been so conditioned to treat ‘unprocessed’ food as something that should be cheap. Although, given the upswing in “artisanal” every-damn-edibles, maybe that’s changing?

There are cheaper, no doubt much less durable versions of some of the simpler moulds available from American companies. I remember seeing an ad for an “ugly old man potato” mould from a Midwestern company some years ago. Which reminded me of the ending of a particularly unpleasant villain in Terry Pratchett’s novel The Truth

So I checked out the website referenced in the video. Sure enough, an American contacted them about producing pumpkins in the likeness of a certain American politician, but the kickstarter to fund wider production failed rather spectacularly. I still like the idea of growing little ugly-dude potatoes, though: “That’s not the right type for boiling, it’s a fryer!”

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Apart from gearing up for the Thanksgiving Experience, what’s going on in your garden(s) planning, this week?








Late Night {Face*Palm} Open Thread: Horseshoes, Clown Shoes

Why do we make the mistake of chewing on each others’ ankles, when there are “professionals” like Stoller to do that for us?

The horseshoe theory of politics states that theorists out towards the far end of opposing ideas eventually start to bend towards each other — thus, far-right authoritarians and far-left “purists” may have more in common with each other than with those of us closer to the center of the bell curve. And you didn’t even know that horses could wear clown shoes!

As for Atrios — whose post set Young Stoller off — IIRC, he’s an economist, and therefore disappointed in President Obama’s solutions to the Great Recession. I also think he’s wrong about how “history” will view Obama’s tenure. While he may have been unduly respectful of both the Republican opposition and his “centrist” so-called allies, I still think President Obama is going to end up in the Top Ten Presidents list if only for what his enemies chose to label Obamacare… among other things.



Friday Evening Open Thread: All the Turkeys



Even More Vapid Than Usual

This is what consultants do.

It is hard to imagine how Exxon survived Rex Tillerson. He engaged two pricey consultancies, and he didn’t even get a t-shirt out of it.

It’s possible to argue that the State Department needed some reorganization. The one substantive suggestion I’ve seen coming out of Tillerson’s shop (as distinct from the State Department) is that the number of special envoys needs to be decreased.

That’s actually a reasonable suggestion. A President sees a particular problem in foreign relations and appoints a person as special envoy to deal with it. Some are successful, some not. The existing organization is usually uneasy about them, sometimes hostile. They, or their office, may linger after the problem is no longer essential to address.

I’ve griped, mostly on Twitter, about the lack of information about this reorganization that Tillerson wants to bring about. What are his objectives? How does he plan to go about achieving them?

The State Department is not like Exxon. It is the primary governmental interface for the United States with the rest of the world, not a profit-making organization. Exxon’s objectives are much simpler: to get oil out of the ground in the cheapest way possible and sell it for the highest price possible.

That can become more complicated than the oilmen would prefer, so refineries must be built and the oil must be processed into a form that consumers want to buy. And so on. As an international corporation dealing in many types of sales in many countries, however, Exxon has a department that is not unlike the State Department in that it must learn about those countries and how to deal with them, again with much more limited objectives. So one might think that Tillerson has some sense of how the State Department works.

You might think that a proposal for a reorganization of the State Department might require as much information as is in the preceding few paragraphs, perhaps even more – that State issues passports and helps Americans abroad; that it develops the background information necessary to negotiate treaties; that it supports cultural and scientific exchanges, and more. Those functions are not the same as cost centers.

But consultants don’t even need to know that. They have apps that require only the name of the client to be input and can spit out a hash of processes, impact, execute, build, framework, and other buzzwords. “Elevate their leadership” and “appetite for change” are nice.

So look through this briefing for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. No mission statement. No description of what people actually do or are expected to do. No org chart for what the department will look like after the reorg. Thin even for what consultants do.

Does Rex Tillerson believe that this represents substance? Is he trying to BS Congress? As is so often the case in this administration, incompetence vies with maleficence.



Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Needs More Jeebus, Tho


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Apart from pointing & mocking, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

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He’s already here…

One of Trump’s favorite themes on the stump was complaining that “other countries are laughing at us, believe me” and offering himself as the strong man who could restore American honor. It was an absurd proposal based on a lie; President Obama was widely respected in the world, and Trump is a buffoon.

Still, a significant portion of our fellow citizens lapped it up, and now the buffoon is doing what clowns do for an audience, provoking laughter:

Of course it didn’t come up. Who’s going to bring it up, Trump?

There was a similar “did they or didn’t they” controversy after Trump got his ass in a crack this weekend over his remarks about Russian meddling in the U.S. election. First, Trump spoke to reporters on AF1, leaving the distinct impression that the two men discussed the issue at length and that he, Trump, took Putin’s word that Russia didn’t meddle in the 2016 elections.

Then, when those remarks were received with derision at home — even on Fox News! — Trump walked them back, claiming (absurdly) that what he actually meant was that PUTIN sincerely believes that Russia had nothing to do with the election meddling. As if it’s remotely plausible that Russian agents would undertake a massive coordinated cyberattack on the U.S. without clearing it with Putin.

At first, a Kremlin spokesman said Putin and Trump didn’t even discuss the election. Later, he said the two DID discuss it.

The common thread here is that foreign leaders have no respect for Trump. They don’t fear contradicting him. And why should they? They’re busy running circles around Trump, distracting him with geegaws while the grownups negotiate deals. And he’ll come home tomorrow convinced the trip was a big success because red carpets.



Evening Open Thread: In God We Trust – Richard Spencer, However, Must Pay Cash!

I’m pretty sure that UF did NAZI see this coming:

Remember, when dealing with neo-NAZIs, white supremacists, neo-fascists, neo-nationalists, and other extremists you want cash or money orders or an electronic funds transfer and you want it up front before providing goods and/or services.

Also, obligatory: