Gumbo? Again?

WINTER PARK, FL – Last week’s helping of gumbo was favorably received and since I’m supposed to be on vacation this week and because there’s still dozens of issues popping up – more gumbo.

The venom I received from the bees last week was not, in the longer view, as effective as I’d hoped it would be. This comports with what Bill Mraz (he’s highly esteemed in the beekeeping community) told me a few weeks ago – bee venom is more potent in some seasons than others and winter is an “other” season.

We came down on USAirways and I was again astounded at how wooden-headed airline policies can be. Our first flight was late and some dozen of us missed the connection because waiting another minute for us would have meant missing an “on-time departure.” The plane got its “on-time departure,” but the passengers didn’t. I guess we don’t count in the statistics. I don’t want to sound too grumpy. At least no guitars were broken.

In other travel-related news, Rolling Stone is reporting Congressional representatives and senators visiting Afghanistan were subjected to “psychological operations” techniques at the order of Lt. General William Caldwell, supposedly to convince the legislators to increase budgets for the Afghanistan war or – more likely – to plump Gen. Caldwell’s career. (Underlings called it “Operation Fourth Star.”)

If true (I’ve no reason to believe it’s not), then Army regulations and perhaps laws were violated. The lieutenant colonel who blew the whistle was – of course – harassed by the Army for trying to do the right thing. Hey, Republican “budget hawks”! Guess which wasteful, stupid enormous part of the budget actually does need cutting?

On the topic of GOP “budget hawks,” (are these great segues or what?), Forbes reports that “fiscally minded” would-be union-busting Governor Scott Walker buried deep in his budget a secret provision to allow the state to turn over management of state heating, cooling and power plants to private contractors on a no-bid basis. Yeah, no-bids are famous for saving money. Collective bargaining, competitive bidding – seems Scott Walker’s against anything with the initials C.B. Too bad, Charlie Brown. And guess which right-wing billionaire brothers from Kansas who underwrote Mr. Walker’s campaign own three companies that stand to benefit from the no-bid contracts? If you guessed David and Charles Koch – you’re right!

Rumors that Gov. Walker has also proposed changing the name of the state to WisKochsin are untrue as of this writing. But stay tuned.

Back up in still-buried-in-snow-and-ice Vermont, I’m going to miss a debate between two pro-nuclear engineers tonight at the University of Vermont. On the face of it, doesn’t sound like much of a debate, but one of the engineers – Arnie Gundersen – is opposed to operating nuclear reactors in an unsafe and irresponsible manner. The other – Howard Shaffer – seems to believe the nuclear industry should be given anything it wants, even if it, as Vermont Yankee’s owner Entergy Louisiana as amply demonstrated, behaves in an incompetent and dishonest manner.

According to some fine reporting by Green Mountain Daily, it seems the pro-stupid-nuclear camp can’t even stage an honest debate, even when the Vermont taxpayers subsidize it. Oh well, Arnie will still win. He has the overwhelming advantage of truth and common sense on his side.

© Mark Floegel, 2011

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