Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Oregon Standoff: Robin Hoodism in Reverse

Madeleine Kando

The image of the American West is known all over the world, with its vast one open spaces, where the buffalo used to roam, where much of the land is not yet touched by human hands. You can tell how much of this country is still wild when you fly cross-country, when hours go by before you see a town or a road. It is truly a magnificent country.

But all this beauty is now being threatened. Although it is not new, the movement to push the federal government to hand over to the states millions of acres of public land is growing **. The recent Bundy Militia Standoff in Oregon, which got out of hand and resulted in the death of Robert 'LaVoy' Finicum, is a good example of how some Americans hate public land.

The Federal Government owns 28% percent of the land area of the United States. It used to own all of it, of course, when it was acquired in purchases (the Louisiana Purchase), conquests (Mexican Cession), or simply taken from the Native Indians. Read more...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Of Eggs and Chickens

by Madeleine Kando

Today was another gorgeous Indian summer day with the smell of fall in the air. The streets will soon be covered with a thick layer of multi-colored leaves, helping the soil to replenish itself in the woods and the yards.

It was a perfect day for a stroll down the street to the local Farmer's Market where I go every week, hunting for pasture-raised eggs because I can no longer ignore the horrors of factory farmed chickens.

This time I saw a booth with 2 large posters. On the right, a picture of a flock of red chickens posing for the camera, in a vast green pasture. An identical photograph of a green pasture on the left was filled with white chickens, all happily prancing about. I knew before I read the captions that the red chickens were 'layers' and the white ones' broilers'.

The farm stand sold eggs for $6 for a dozen. You can call this either a steal or a rip-off, depending on your point of view, but I could live with the idea of paying 50 cents for an egg, knowing how much time and effort it took that red chicken to lay it. As I took out my wallet, I asked the lady how many chickens she had on this local organic farm of hers. About 1700, she said. Read more...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

To Russia with Love

Lately, our analytics indicate that we are getting thousands of hits from Russia. We are also getting hits from many other countries - China, Australia, all over Europe, etc. But for some reason, Russia is suddenly surpassing every other country, including the US. I have no idea why, but it’s fine with me.

So I want to welcome Russians, and let them know how I feel about their country, their people, their culture: In four words: respect, admiration, sympathy and ambivalence.

I grew up with Russian culture and people around me: In World War Two, the Red Army invaded my country of birth - Hungary - and kicked Hitler out. In the process, they requisitioned the house by Lake Balaton where we had taken refuge, and we cohabited with several wild Russian soldiers. I was four years old. I remember the soldiers taking apart, showing me and letting me play with their guns. I also remember many of them dying atrociously in the lake’s icy water. Read more...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Old Friends

by Madeleine Kando

I met an old friend yesterday. He had been living in a little corner of my mind for the past twenty years, because that’s when we abruptly lost touch. He suddenly fell off the face of my world, for no apparent reason, and I often wondered what had happened to him.

When I first saw him at the grocery store, I thought ‘hey, that guy looks so much like Jeremy, it could be his twin brother,’ and I continued shopping. But the Madeleine from 20 years ago took over and approached this old, balding stranger: ‘Are you Jeremy?’, she said boldly.

I expected a polite 'no, sorry', but a familiar smile spread across this stranger's face and he leaned over to give me a big hug, I wasn't prepared for the real Jeremy. The Jeremy in my head kept competing with this look-alike. Maybe I was talking to a body-double, an alien who had taken over his body, like in the movie 'the body snatchers'. Read more...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Anyone Still Interested in Benghazi?

I just saw the new movie “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.”

It gets mediocre reviews, but I found it pretty gripping and entertaining, reminiscent of “Black Hawk Down.” 

However, the main reason for seeing this movie is not its entertainment value, but because “Benghazi” remains a thorn in Hillary Clinton’s side, one which the Republicans will continue to abuse.

Ask ten Americans what country Benghazi is in, and nine of them don’t know. Ask them what Hillary Clinton did wrong in Benghazi, and nine of them don’t know. Those among them who are naturally predisposed to hate everything about Hillary Clinton are satisfied to just believe that “she probably lied about Benghazi - whatever that is,” or that “she probably didn’t care about Americans dying - whatever happened.” After all, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh said so, and that’s all you need to know. Read more...

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Cologne New Year’s Eve Sex Attacks

Cologne Mayor's Advice: Keep them at an 'Arm's Length'
by Madeleine Kando

I am leaving for Europe in a few weeks and as I am reading about the latest events in Cologne, Germany, I am wondering if I should stay away from train stations while I am traveling. On New Year's Eve, a large group of young hoodlums, described by the local police as having a 'North African or Arabic' appearance, made a coordinated effort to assault, rob and sexually molest numerous women around the 'Hauptbahnhof', the central train station.

I know from personal experience that even in Holland, one of the most well organized and civilized countries in Europe, the ‘centraal station’ in Amsterdam is one of the more colorful, combustible and dirty places you can find. My latest memory is of a young female drug addict peeing on the floor, oblivious to the throng of commuters walking past her. Read more...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Why are some Countries Better than Others? A Look at Size, Income, Crime and Longevity_Part One

Today I start publishing a somewhat academic yet hopefully interesting article. Due to its length, I must split it into four segments.

This article attempts to show that country SIZE (population) , as an independent variable, can predict quality of life. That is, smaller countries enjoy a better quality of life than larger countries. The dependent variable - quality of life - is operationalized through three indicators: per capita GDP, the murder rate, and life expectancy. It is shown that smaller countries indeed enjoy higher per capita income, lower murder rates, and longer life expectancy. Correlations between the three dependent variables are also examined: As expected, the relationship between per capita GDP and life expectancy is positive, and the relationship between the murder rate and life expectancy is negative. However, the relationship between per capita GDP and the murder rate turned out to be POSITIVE, which came as a surprise.  Read more...