June 2nd, 2011

Screened Porch

There is not _always_ something going on around the house, but there is often something. The dishwasher was replaced. Various closets (including, but not limited to, the Closet of the Apocalypse -- for example, there's an amazing set of shelves and some drawers in the master suite's walkin now) have had wire shelving replaced with something better looking and more substantial. Stuff like that.

The current project is also probably the biggest (unless we really do have landscaping done to let us put in an outdoor playset): screening about 2/3rds of the deck. The remaining third is left open. Massachusetts does not like it when people have open flame on a wooden deck, so I'm not going to say anything about what the open part of the deck is left open for.

Over the course of the last couple weeks, the framing has gone up and the roof, and the screening is now about half done. Finishing it will take a while, as there's going to be a ceiling, some lighting, a door, etc. But it is now possible to see the general shape of things to come. I'm _really_ excited about the prospect of hanging out outside while thinking neener neener neener to the bugs that are quite naturally common in our wetland.

Don't be thinking we're some sort of DIY gods over here. We hired people to do this work: skilled, able men in the trades who are able to put in a full day (starting before 8 a.m.), even when the temperature and humidity is in the mid to high 80s.

Things I Fail to Blog About

I have numerous starts for blog posts on subjects I want to comment on. The entries wind all over the place before getting near the point I want to make and I ultimately post them my-eyes-only. So I'm going to give up and just bloviate.

(1) The conservative bloggers responsible for "Weinergate" are going to regret it. It's really obvious that Weiner didn't post that picture. It will probably eventually become painfully clear who did post that picture. There's lots of time for all this to shake out before the election. It will only serve to make Weiner look like a class act for being such a sport about it, and it will make it incredibly hard for any real scandal involving a Democrat or progressive candidate or issue that might show up between now and Election Day 2012 to get much traction. Also, old skool journalism looks really stupid in this kind of incident: the two-sides-to-every-story is hopelessly inadequate to conveying what's really going on here and is too obviously exploitable by bad actors, and there is an alternative: actual investigation. A lot of people _say_ that newspapers used to do real investigation, but I think that probably happened before 1990.

[ETA: Wow. Confession time:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/06/06/new.york.weiner/

Looks like Breitbart and company got smeared undeservedly.]

(2) Goldman Sachs is in seriously deep shit. I'm not exactly sure why their previously bullet-proof existence has become so problematic lately. It's not that they're doing worse things; it's that it's apparently no longer possible to divert all prosecutorial attention.

(3) It's going to take 1-3 more rounds of speculative amplification of price swings before we're prepared to keep margin requirements "permanently" "higher" (quotes are to indicate "for suitable definitions of"). But I'm starting to believe that it will really happen. Previously, the debate was between, "it's all the fault of speculation!" vs. "speculators don't really do anything except improve liquidity". Now, the voices saying, "you do realize they add 25% or so to volatile price swings, right?" are finally getting some traction. Not a lot, but a little. We're slow to learn, but we often _do_ learn. Eventually.

USDA Dinner Plate

Well, it shouldn't be a surprise, I guess, that the USDA has revised the dietary chart. This is pretty quick turnaround from 2005, and 2005 was an incremental revision of the 1992 pyramid (albeit a truly horrifying increment).

There's this whole thing I'm tempted to get into about the plate vs. the bowl, never mind the glass of milk. But I'm just going to leave it alone and point out that CSPI's Margo Wootan and Marion Nestle both think this thing is a huge improvement and leave it at that. Because it _is_ a huge improvement.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/02/us-usa-food-usda-idUSTRE7514AC20110602

Do I have a problem with the idea that there's a whole chunk of the plate devoted to "protein", a macronutrient found in all the other sections? Sure. (But I'm happy that this thing is finally vegetarian friendly, even if it has another step to go before being vegan friendly.) As a lactose intolerant and milk allergic woman, do I roll my eyes at the glass of milk? Absolutely.

But it is _soooooo_ much better than 2005 that words cannot adequately express how pleased I am that this new strategy was adopted.