Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Remember playing 'Telephone,' back in the day?

And how funny it was how the message could get distorted so badly?

Well, try this on for size:

Here, Kitty: Cop Expects House Cat, Gets Cougar

Beverly Hood said she was inside when she first saw the mountain lion lying on her porch Monday. Hood said the lion hissed at her, but she wasn't scared.

She called 911, animal control and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and reported that she had a bothersome "big cat." A dispatcher told Officer Mike Ableman that it was a house cat.

A game warden tranquilized the mountain lion and the animal was relocated.

A (short) History of Bread

Summers 2005, 2007 - mmm, baguettes.  Parisian baguettes.  Oh, and almond-chocolate croissants.

Beginning with the fall of 2007 - cornbread.  MMMMM.

A late night in the spring of 2008, after getting home from the bars with A - red wine and irish soda bread.  Not so much :-(   .... came out like a bob evans biscuit.

Last night - home made all-wheat baguettes.  MMMMM.  MMM.  fresh w butter!

Frames. This is complicated.

Yours truly is in an international business seminar, with a great professor and a diverse, involved class.  The class itself is usually quite good, informative, learning takes place, much of it through the discussion and sharing of perspective - and interestingly, considering the context (business class), there is quite a bit of populism and anti-freetrade sentiment.  Lively discussions.

The readings, on the other hand, can be quite different.  Frustrating even.   For example, talking about the rose industry (and paying lipservice to questions of environment and labor rights), the text goes, "...thanks to free trade, a New Yorker can now buy a bunch of fresh roses for his beloved on February 14..." or "On February 14, however, most consumers are oblivious to these issues; they simply want to show their appreciation to their wives and girlfriends with a perfect bunch of roses." [emphasis mine]

Two things.  There's the obvious framing from the traditional, straight, male perspective.  Meh.  This framing is self-perpetuating, though.  Obviously, anyone and everyone can take Valentine's day in their own way, by giving a rose or just saying 'I love you' to a loved one or two or more.  Gay, straight, male, female, queer, single, etc.  But the constant, persistent, never-ending framing of the holiday in this way surely carries with it meaning for the participation of groups outside of that frame.

It's complicated and a lot of it beyond my judgment, understanding.  But you can't help but notice things like this.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hum, hmm, meh. Trapped.?

I've been very up and down in recent weeks (e.g. - eating my 6th fudge poptart of the day).  Personal stuff, politics, economy, all these crazy things going on.  Generally, I feel pretty up, any more, though there are definite down times.  Today, is a down time.  And, the first such time I've still felt like posting.  Is that progress?

Today, I woke up at 1pm.  No.  Actually, I woke up at 6:30am, 7, 8, 8:30, 11, and finally 1pm.  I missed the same two classes (7:45 and 9:30) last week as well.  I also have a 1pm course tuesdays and thursdays, which I have made perhaps half the time.  Now, as most people know my class attendance has never been my strongest suit.  Don't worry - I'm dependable, just maybe not the most disciplined.  Anyhow, whatever to past attendance issues, this is bad.  Grad student, for ____'s sake.

As of 90 seconds ago, I'm having second thoughts about relating this up and down-ness and subsequent poor attendance to the personal stuff. 

My outlook, involvement, interests, passions, etc, have changed quite a bit (I think) in the past several months.  x^2 kind of like.  Where before there was a general disquiet about my degree program, now there is outright disinterest and dismay.  But with student debt being what it is, I don't have a choice at this point.  I just don't.  And so maybe my current depression could be better attributed to this growing dissonance - while the assumed relation to my own personal issues better understood as a cognitive cop-out to avoid recognizing what was, in retrospect (hindsight being 20 20), a poor decision on a degree program.

So, I guess the key question is, can this realization be translated into improved discipline when it comes to classes and classwork?  I mean, for the lord's sake*, I'm a good student and I have one freaking semester left.  I mean, I have 10 weeks left.

My advice to everyone (and my past and future selves):
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

* reference to my future cat.  her name will be 'the lord'

Sunday, September 28, 2008

On Genetic Testing, and Health Insurance Pirates (repost)

First off this is awesome :

Second....check out this posting at slashdot about a bill to prohibit genetic discrimination. Good point in and of itself, but the larger question about it is interesting. Basically, the point is that if health insurance companies have access to your genetic information, they will be able to pinpoint propensities towards diseases and either target you with higher premiums, or simply refuse coverage altogether. That's what the bill seeks to outlaw.

However, it's more complicated than that - some argue that genetic testing in itself will drive health insurance out of business, that it is an argument in favor of a national system. If the health insurer can't use the genetic testing information... that doesn't stop the consumer from doing so. In other words, the consumer could get his information, pinpoint what diseases he or she might be genetically predisposed towards, and then insure heavily for that - but the insurance company wouldn't see this coming so they would lose money hand over fist on such people.

Indeed, the argument is that insurance companies depend on the uncertainty that is threatened by genetic testing. Insurance is for uncertainty. There will always be uncertainty, but how much of it is potentially removed by something like genetic testing??

In all, genetic testing is a good thing. Yes? Earlier and earlier diagnoses mean better (and cheaper) prognoses and treatments, higher quality of life, etc etc. Lower costs and better health are good for everyone.

Smart thoughts on a bail-out

I does be likin' dis from Thom Hartmann:

For Grover "Drown Government In The Bathtub" Norquist, this bailout deal will work out very well. At a proposed cost of $4,780 per taxpayer, it'll further the David Stockman strategy of so indebting us that the next president won't have the luxury of even thinking of new social spending (expanding health care, social security, education, infrastructure, etc.); taxes will even have to be raised just to pay for the bailout. It'll debase our currency, driving up commodity prices and interest rates, which will benefit the Investor Class while further impoverishing the pesky Middle Class, rendering them less prone to protest (because they're so busy working trying to pay off their debt). It'll create stagflation for at least the next half decade, which can be blamed on Democrats who currently control Congress and, should Obama be elected, be blamed on him.

But there's another way: Create an agency to fund the bailout, loan that agency the money from the treasury, and then have that agency tax Wall Street to pay us (the treasury) back.

It's been done before, and has several benefits.

He is advocating a STET - a Securities Turnover Excise Tax - a small tax on trading. 

He lists out a whole bunch of nice-sounding benefits.  He explains how this has been done before and is done now by a few nations - UK and Taiwan for example.  He also explains how it's been done time and again to pay for needed programs, right here in the US.  He explains how, in the first year, a tax of 0.25% - one quarter of one percent - could raise $150 billion.  And how, post-paying for the bail-out, such a tax could support national healthcare. 

I can hear those free market evangelists howling already.  :-)

Where to start?

Look.  Globalization is real, ok, the world is speeding up, it's smaller, it's flatter, and there's a whole hell of a lot of money to be made out there.  For those who have access to it.  Aside from that last sentence, this is the meme that's been driving most Americans' acceptance of the good, and even the need, of globalization.  However, I don't think most Americans think they've seen anything by way of benefit, unless you count the table crumbs of lower prices at Walmart that we all enjoy.  Yes, enjoy.  Sheesh.

But I think Hartmann puts it well, drawing the distinction between the 'investor class' and the 'middle class'.  The investor class has access to the gains of globalization. 

And that investor class is now about to pawn its losses off on the people.  Imagine - make Wall Street pay for itself!  Pull its own load!

What else....

I love his point about speculation v. investment.  Speculators try to make profits on the margin, small profits, in the shortterm.  Money to be made here is only going to be made by those have time to spend on playing the market and those who have enough money that small gains can be multiplied by large investments.  Investors try to find good companies to, you know, invest their money in.  Speculators don't pay to gamble, as of now, unless they lose, and even then, if they can lose big enough - the people will pay.  A side benefit to the tax is that it discourages, in a small way, the speculation - so it encourages longer term investing, helps stabilize markets, and even small investors can invest in a compay.

He also gives a history of bailouts - and their generally poor, poor track record.  He doesn't think the taxpayers will get much money back on their bailout.

Finally, I also like the name of the tax - Securities Turnover Excise Tax - the word 'excise'.  Like with alcohol, for example, to tax something as a vice of sorts and thus mildly discourage it. 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Someone Who Has Really Smart Stuff to Say about Mrs. Palin

Ta-Nehisi Coates:

Of course the irony of all this is how conservatives have, for years, lampooned the liberal pursuit of multiculturalism/identity politics. But here's the thing, even when done haphazardly, awkwardly, and imprudently, the fight against bigotry and ignorance has rewards. But when you decide to not be a leader in the fight against sexism/racism and simply criticize those who do, you rob yourself of political experience. Put differently, there is a price--bigger than the black vote--to be paid for disengagement. You become ignorant of a growing sector of the world. They expected Hillary. And if it were a black man, they never even knew it could be someone like Barack Obama. So these guys go to the well one more time, and ressurect the old spectres of "Us against Them." But the fools haven't been paying attention--the"Us" has changed. This isn't Alabama, and it ain't 1968. There is a whole class of educated, working women, themselves, the children of educated working women. And this is what McCain has to say to them, "I don't care if you know a thing about foreign policy. I don't care if you know a damn thing about the economy. Here is what you are to me--breasts, hair and a lovely smile."

h/t Bitch PhD

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oh Lovely Bailout. Why dost thou...

make no sense as I currently understand you?

In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.

"It's not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number." 

h/t Pancake City

Yes I watched the Debate.

Myself and New Friend caught the debate in a crowded, even boisterous bar.  Unfortunately, I think that once the music teacher left, we were the only ones whose primary interest was beyond baseball and booze.  Either way, it was awesome, fists were pounded, and drool was drooled at the thought of what could happen next week when Biden makes Palin look childish.  I mean hell Katie Couric already did this (2nd one is even worse, totally cringe-worthy).  I think Biden can handle as well.

The debate?  Well,  I don't think my direct reaction is interesting.  Of course I thought Obama won.  However, it was interesting to see the approval lines for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents move around.  And it was clear that Independents favored Obama. 

I agree, though, Obama should have hit harder.  He had 2 prime opportunities:

1. Torture.  Said McCain, during the debate, "I have opposed the president ... on torture of prisoner".  However, back in February, he voted against a bill that would have outlawed waterboarding, which McCain himself has called an illegal form of torture.  A bill that was heartily opposed by our dear president.

2. Caring for Veterans.  Umm.  What a silly name for a point?  Anyhow, McCain tonight, speaking to this point, said, "And I love them.  And I'll take care of them."  ......Except maybe for when you voted against (ahem, did not vote on but consistently opposed) the 21st Century GI Bill.  Additionally, what do vets groups have to say about McCain?  He received a grade of D from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and a 20 percent vote rating from the Disabled Veterans of America.

Good night.

Debate Transcript

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Come on, who said it?

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.


Yes, very determinedly not doing homework on this fine, fine sick day.  Meh.



They've some sort of algorithm that matches politicians' quotes on topics.  You can see what any two politicians have to say on a particular subject, and click 'Spin' to see more on the same, or switch out one of the pols to compare to another.


Update: Actually this is a fun game!  Most of the politicians have many, many quotes associated with a particular issue, but with Sarah Palin you can take bets with your friends on how few she will have!  Sort of like a sad, inane version of the Price is Right...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A few more things

Read this earlier, came across this quote describing the media's current role:

Have you ever been fucked violently in the ear? And then your friend comes in and, instead of helping, starts telling you what the guy's balls look like? That's you. You're that friend.

I want you to protect me from getting fucked, and all you're saying is "Balls, balls balls."

What else...watched the Daily Show and was struck by Bill Clinton's at least three times referencing an event or issue in relation to when it occurred during his presidency.  I did appreciate the way he spoke about the "media narrative" of his and Hillary's supposed dislike for Obama.

Ah, and of course the Colbert Report.  Not every night one has the good fortune (and time!) to sit around for an hour...  I did like how he made fun of some republican congressman's analogy about how Congress' delay in passing the $700bn bailout is like someone stopping the firefighters on the way to your fire - he merely pointed out that Paulson, having spent 30-odd years at Goldman Sachs might better be called an arsonist...

And thank you for emphasizing the non-reviewable demand the fucking administration had the gall to include in their proposed legislation.

A few things. (Why am I in this handbasket and where are we going...)

Whoa.  How to take this? 

Haha.  Freal, though?  So, we love our bankers more than.... I mean, we pay out the ass for healthcare but don't have corresponding better health outcomes.  (Infant mortality, for example).  One of these two sectors - financial, health - deserves nationalization more than the other!

Hmm.  I especially love the need to fight 'life claustrophobia'.

Oh, and apparently McCain is on record as wanting to fix the healthcare industry just 'like we fixed banking'.  Great.  Speaking of the Wall Street Journal, even they caught this point, relating to Social Security especially.  Even the WSJ. (9/22/2008 - "Crisis Draws Attention to McCain Social Security Plan")

There's probably more...

Youth voting...

HistoryLearn from itNah

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Indiana could go Democratic

Indiana might go Democratic for the first time since, well, who knows but a long damned time.

I know the red base has become more energized since Palin, ok.  It does seem like Obama is in a lull and *needs* to get back on the offensive (the media offensive, that is - lots could be said about THAT). 

But the energy, the action, the organization, and the get-er-done is definitely still on Obama's side I think. 

In 2004,

             Primary           General

Democrats:   335,000 --------> 969,000
Republicans: 469,000 --------> 1.4 million

That was a year in which George Bush ran uncontested through the primaries, although there was a vigorously fought general election.

This year, John McCain is running and seems to have injected some energy into the Republican base but I think the right's past love-hate relationship with him will still prove a factor.  I know too many people here who I would picture as McCain supporters but who say that don't like him and don't plan to vote.  Obama meanwhile has certainly generated a lot of excitement and built a huge machine, especially here in Indiana. 

In the primaries this past year, with a hotly contexted Democratic primary and a decided Republican primary (by the time Indiana voted):

Democrats:     1.27 million
Republicans:   411,000

It depends on how motivated the republican voters are and on what happens with the 646,000 Hoosiers who voted for Hillary.

* From Indiana Secretary of State Elections Division Statistics.  Numbers are approximations...

** A good-sized chunk of Obama supporters have only a cellphone and/or have just moved back to college, many into dorms.  I wonder what impact this might be having on these stupid, daily polls?

Prez sez...

...love me.  Please!

More seriously, I think the perspective betrayed in the "Fact Sheet: The Seventh Anniversary of 9/11" shows how little progress has been made.  I think terrorism is a symptom, and like most (all?) conflicts can be traced to past injustices and competition over scarce resources.

And I don't think 9/11 or the burst pimple of past and current injustice that it represents should be summed up in a sycophantic press release about how great our Great Leader is.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008