Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Wednesday. What do I talk about on a Wednesday?
Last night I went to dinner with Ryan, Jamie, Nicole, and Julia at Hyde Park (after getting a little exercise and taking Cassidy for a walk). Dinner was pretty good, but nothing particularly notable occurred.
Here's something that's alarming and confusing in an X-Files sort of way. Apparently bees are disappearing in large numbers. Beekeepers and bee experts aren't sure why, but about 36% of the country's commercially managed hives died off last year. About 29% of the hive failures could be attributed to colony collapse disorder- a mysterious condition in which bees suddenly abandon their hives. This is the second year in a row that the bee industry has seen a substantial die off, and beekeepers aren't sure how they're going to maintain their bee colonies if the trend continues.
What the hell? It's weird that this is happening, and even stranger that they can't figure out why. It's even more disturbing that a significant part of this problem is apparently attributed to the fact that bees are simply fleeing from their hives without any discernible reason. Do the bees think they're fleeing some infectious disease? Have bees, as a hive mind, developed some sort of mental defect or social disorder that's preventing them from functioning together effectively? Are the bees reacting to some sort of environmental change that we're not even really aware of? Or have the bees just been summoned to serve some sort of alien overlords in advance of an imminent invasion of earth?
Anyway, the bee thing is freaky. We need bees. Even if you don't like honey (and I don't, really), we need bees to help polinate all different kinds of plants. Even though most people don't give them a lot of thought, bees seem kind of important, in the grand order of things, just by virtue of the fact that they help so many plants to reproduce. We should really try to figure out what's going on with the bees.

In other news, Obama won the North Carolina primary fairly decisively, while Clinton won Indiana in a much colser race. I guess my feelings remain unchanged since yesterday. I just want the primary race to come to an end. I don't feel like Clinton really pulled off the kind of results that would mathematically put her back in the race, delegate-wise, but she managed to eek out a victory, so that'll give her enough hope to drag out the race even longer. The news outlets love the opportunity to cover this whole debacle, so I think they're helping to perpetuate the fiction that Clinton still has a realistic chance of winning, even if, in truth we're long past the point where she has any hope of gaining a delegate lead. And I think it would be fairly disastrous for the superdelegates to vote in a way that runs contrary to the results of the popular vote. That's the kind of thing that really could end up damaging the party. So now I think we're at the point where we're really just dragging this thing out to the detriment of the Democrats. McCain is having a tremendous opportunity to sell himself, attack the Democrats, and get his message out without anyone rebutting him or explaining why many of his proposed policies are flawed, plus I saw a news story on CNN last night about how McCain's camp is actually collecting campaign data from the Democratic primary race to be used later against Obama or Clinton (data regarding how well the respective candidates perform in certain regions and so forth) in the general election.
Anyway, my point is that the Democratic party leaders need to find a way to make this end.

Did I mention that I'm a little annoyed with Clinton's gas tax holiday idea? (well, I guess it's not entirely her idea, since McCain is pushing a similar plan) The whole thing seems political pandering that gives, at best, a very small amount of temporary relief to American drivers while providing a chance for the oil companies to simply raise prices yet again, while taking away federal tax dollars that are needed for the construction and maintenance of our roads (including the loss of a number of jobs), and while discouraging Americans from the actual need to find more efficient, energy- conscious ways of travelling. The Clinton campaign hasn't been able to find a single energy or economics expert (at least oustide of the inner circle of her closest campaing strategists) who endorses her plan, because they almost universally believe that a temporary cessation of the federal gas tax is a bad idea.
Anyway, I expect this kind of cheap pandering from the Republicans. Using tax cuts in order to help promote bad ideas is part of their stock and trade. Democrats are supposed to be a little more honest and a lot more brave than that. Being elitist, egghead, out-of-touch liberals, we're actually supposed to look at the big picture, try to advance long term goals, and do what's genuinely right for the country (even when such choices are not immediately politically expedient). I think Obama has shown a lot of character by taking a stand on this issue and actually standing up to say that, although the energy industry needs some reforms and America needs new solutions to its fuel needs, the gas tax holiday is just a cheap political trick with no long term benefit, and it probably creates as many problems as it solves. At a time when Obama was already under fire, with people trying to brand him as an out-of-touch elitist, I think his stand against the gas tax holiday was a bold move, but the right thing to do.
Even though I still have questions about his experience and about whether he's got solid plans in place for all of the issues that he's going to face when he gets into office, I still like Obama. I may be getting hoodwinked (I hope not- but there's no doubt that the man is smooth), but still I like him, and I hope he continues to try to do the right thing, even when it's not the easy thing.


Anonymous said...

Did you see the BEE MOVIE? It was entertaining, but certainly addressed the issue of why bees are important. Our country side and gardens will not be as pretty as they are without bees.

J.S. said...

Yes, Karebear, but where are the bees going? Did the Bee Movie explain that? I bet not.

Anonymous said...

On the bee problem, there was an article somewhere recently that presented an interesting hypothesis. It said bees that are used on a single crop are not getting all the nutrients they need, so researchers are developing a dietary supplement.

Roger Penneman