Rants and Observations

Nov. 3, 2019

Veggie burgers. It’s complicated.In NewYork, we were horrified by the vast amounts of meat consumed. Wherever we went, 10-ounce steaks and meat three times a day were normal.

Many New Yorkers seek to assuage their consciences by having the occasional vegan meal. They do love their burgers, dripping with animal juices and blood. So,the veggie burger market is growing at 15% compound, complete with fake texture and beetroot blood.

Now the meat industry is striking back.

Supposedly independent research institutes list the chemicals and other bad things about veggie burgers. They then buy full-page ads in the papers with their propaganda.

We tried a couple of veggie burgers. Both were horrible. Why not just have a veggie curry or some other recipe?

We are omnivores, but US excess and cultural food imperialism is harming our habitat.

Nov. 1, 2019

Poor Greta is doomed to burst with frustration. Two weeks in Westchester County NY convinced me that if humanity has the power to destroy itself, it will happen.

The TV and social media were full of ads for SUVs. Because the US has huge tariffs on their import, they are the most profitable. Everyone we know seems to have one.

 Shopping is almost possible without single use food containers and excessive packaging. Eating requires disposable everything. Little is recycled.

Retailing is being replaced with oversized packages from Amazon. Uber and others are delivering meals to every door.

Gas guzzling blowers whisk the leaves next door. Their gardeners blow them back.


Oct. 9, 2019

Mostly, school was awful-

Our teachers beat us. We rebels were chastised the most. 

The French teacher whacked us with a sports shoe. For every mistake in homework, he deducted a half point from ten. Minus scores, like mine, resulted in a visit to our sadistic headmaster for a caning. Result-I Loathed French and was caned weekly.

When you retire to a foreign country. You have choices. You can mix solely with English speakers and attempt to transform your area into little Florida or Texas. You can socialise with the like minded and eat, play games and live as you did back home.

We decided to learn Spanish.  I am slow at learning languages, especially when the teacher is interesting and or attractive. However, we have discovered the joy of sharing cultures, intelligent conversation and friendship.

We take invididual classes, not wanting to learn the mistakes and grating mispronunciation of others. We have no desire to hear the same political views and moans we heard in the USA. 

Over the years, we had 5 different, local teachers. We are good friends with 4. We socialise with their families.  This has opened insights into a new world. We feel at home.


Oct. 2, 2019

First the good news about small businesses- They are definately more nimble. They have to be because there are no or very few layers of management between them and their customers, employers, creditors and suppliers. This means that they react faster to recoveries and recessions. Hiring and firing. Keeping the economy going.

All the economic research I have read over the years indicates small businesses are the main job creators. Big corporations buy up others and consolidate, downsize, offshore and introduce mechanization. This destroys jobs.

Now for some bad news. Not all but most small businesses I have observed sail close to the wind on laws, taxes, employee safety and benefits. Owners often put themselves and their families first. They can be like dictators, some benevolent, many not. Many have entitled and not very effective second or third generation family management and ownership. This limits promotion prospects and leads to innefficient managers rather than meritocracy and innovators.

A few small entrepreneurs drive their enterprises into high growth and eventually slower growth, huge corporations like the tech giants. Most are not that ambitious, that clever, ot that lucky. They take risks to start, but avoid them to limit downside and protect family incomes. Their cost of borrowing and limits on borrowing by their banks re inforce risk aversion.

The myth of the small guy and the local store as universally benign is nonsense. They are as likely to be good or bad as any corporate manager. They are humans and include sociopaths, paranoids and all the rest.

Lastly, the only businesses that the large socialist economies in Cuba, the former Comecon countries and the rest allowed were small businesses. There are reasons for that. The central bureucrats' attempts to destroy markets failed. This led to shortages, black markets, queues and price instability. Allowing small businesses helped ameliorate these problems.


Oct. 2, 2019


Scientists often disagree. The number and eminence of those on either side does not ultimately decide the final acceptance or otherwise of a proposition.

There are inumerable cases of scientists getting things wrong. Newton and Einstein were were both corrected later, despite their genius.

Scientists are humans with all the failings of our species popping up, especially at higher levels, pride, greed, avarice, lust and sociopathy. These failings muddy the waters.

The other sides to this discussion include:

1. The impact of meat production on the environment
2. The way humans feel about the cruelty of meat production and processing

Non experts and maybe even scientists in this specific field tend to follow their prejudices.