Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Amtrak, guns. Guns, meet Amtrak.

And, dear pale-imitation-of-your-european-big-brother Amtrak, goodbye.
It has been decreed, that there are too many places in this great country that are safe from firearms.  Ostensibly, Amtrak is to approach guns in the same way airlines do - i.e., allowable in checked baggage.  In reality, however, many Amtraks don't do checked baggage.  So...
So I guess I'll drive.  Wait, does this mean the car companies were behind the lobbying on this one?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More healthcare

Responding to the Rude Pundit...
1. Agreed.
2. Sarah who?
3. Double yes, except - we can't win the argument because the other side isn't arguing.  They're fighting.  More specifically - I find that the democrats are arguing with republicans, while republicans are fighting for voters.  This goes back to the uselessness of bipartisanship in this effort - the other side simply has no interest.  Democrats need to stop standing around arguing against the inane and insane, pissing themselves in frustration from the effort of arguing with a 10,000 pound gulliver-sized screaming child.  They need to make these arguments to the people and treat the republicans like the irrelevant screaming children they are.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Non violence

So I say if you are committed to nonviolence then commit nonviolence flagrantly. See how far you can take it. Show how utterly fraudulent is this belief that every man must participate in the dance.

The argument may be made that a man must show he is willing to fight or he will be a victim. That may obtain in prison. But prison rules should not obtain in a free society. If a man is unsafe because he is not feared, then there is something wrong with the agreements that obtain in his social group. He then has a choice of leaving that social group. If nonviolence is to take hold in the world and stop war, then a man must be willing to leave his social group if its belief system is mired in the perpetuation of violence. It is a high price to pay but those who have changed the world nonviolently have paid a high price.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Primary Care Physicians

I agree.  Far and above my greatest frustration is simply having a fucking doctor to see, one that I trust and who I feel is willing to help me with decisions about my health.  I've had none, zero, zilch luck with this so far in DC.  Our profit-centered system rewards health insurance companies for denying care and (specialist) doctors for ... being specialists.  What about good health?  Show me, come on you goddam free market worshippers, where is the incentive for good health?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bearing false argument

Tom Ridge says he thought politics were involved, so an advisor to the president against whose administration he levels the charge says politics were never discussed.  Because that's what he said, right?  Because that's how it goes down, right? 
And CNN sleeps tight, knowing they covered all two sides...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More fun with the echo chamber...

Yes, it sucks that ridiculous pop culture et ceteras get more news coverage than the "important" things. 
That said, I think that Fox isn't being quite fair about Michael Jackson's cultural impact in this story.  But the point isn't the story itself.  It is, again, the laughably transparent pseudo-science they use to back up their story and the echo chamber they use to launder it.  I guess the moral of the story is: any time Fox refers to some random organization you haven't heard of, in support of a story, be suspicious.  Very suspicious.
Key tip off in this case - the research apparently doesn't apply to Fox itself (nevermind the Fox's headline today was 100% about the Jackson memorial ceremony.  The ir_ny, it is just so thick sometimes!.).  Other signs include: google search results for the organization include the organization's reference to itself as conservative; banner advertisements for noted conservative douche bags (who shall go unnamed here..); special ego section of the website (aka "analysis") bearing the name of the founder; and testimonials about the site (is this some new, bastardized form of peer-review?) are all by the same conservative douche bags who advertise on the site.
The organization is annoying, but only annoying.  The real problem is that Fox cites it without characterization or qualification, all the while proclaiming itself "fair and balanced."  This is the echo chamber in action, trying to whitewash a termite-ridden house right before selling.
(Links forthcoming, but this certainly isn't the first time this has popped up on this blog...)

Monday, June 1, 2009


1. You should take personal responsibility for your health.  To encourage people to do this, make people pay less insurance and more out-of-pocket.

2. Constant bombardment of ads and culture to not take chances with your health.  "Ask your doctor about..."

I find it saddening, sickening, sobering, that the conservative argument that the way to encourage people to take more responsibility for their health is to communicate via price.  The thinking is this will make people use less healthcare, thereby saving money.  Perhaps.  But ONLY when they don't have a choice.  Yes?  This will limit healthcare consumed by poor people, uninsured, and under-insured. 

Ultimately, the effect is to push decision-making onto the patient, who must balance her health against her wallet.  HOWEVER, that patient is typically NOT in a position naturally suited to clear-headed balancing of the costs and benefits of a particular (health) expenditure.  And doctors do not communicate price, for which I can think of two definite reasons: first, it's base and disgusting to tell a patient they might need a procedure of some sort, a test, and then immediately discourage your own recommendation by telling them it costs a lot of money.  Second, it is in the doctor's financial self-interest to not communicate this clearly.  The more healthcare you consume, the more they get paid. 

That's a perverse incentive.  We don't want to encourage the consumption of healthcare, we want to encourage better health.  But that's a whole other line of thought.

My final thought on this matter is that we need to decouple "personal responsibility" from $$$.  A person should be involved in their own health, I fully grant the validity of this.  But price is a distraction.  We should make it easier to get involved, we should incent doctors to involve patients (ie, stop making me pay $15 or $20 every time I go to the doctor just to get a copy of my chart!), we should encourage a collaboration between patient and doctor that emphasizes expert advice on what procedures are needed.  We should not think that just because something costs more and I will automatically make a better decision about it.  No.  What I will do is use less of it, depending on my income.

Talk about class-ist.

Only conservatives...

I can't wait to see Foxnews bring these kids on TV and try to make this the "viral" hit they claim it to be.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oh! fox....

They said HOOKER!  That'll rile the base against those evil ... chinese HOOKERS.  And it gets a whole major headline to itself, for chrissakes....

Friday, May 8, 2009

NASA dammit,2933,519380,00.html

The last line in that story is the whole story. The former CEO of Lockheed Martin is in charge of deciding whether NASA should keep pouring money into going to the moon into contractors like Lockheed Martin.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Joy, power, adventure

Sometimes, you're just struck.
And they walked along the tracks until they fell upon a cave
Where they talked of revolution and the first few plans were made
Through the tonic and the poison and the dwindling candle lights
They knew they'd fight together, though, they knew not who they'd fight
Well, adventure she's a strange bird -- she's brazen and she's shy
She'll swoop down unsuspecting, but she'll fly off if you try
To catch her for her feathers, she'll just show herself in scales
But close your eyes, she'll brush your cheek with wings of fairy tales
I could use a lot of words to describe how this feels.  Joyful, hopeful, confident, seductive.  It's like a verbal dance.
from Tales of Sweet Odysseus by Danny Schmidt - who is so cool that he plays in England and Ireland one week, and then back to podunk town Indiana right near my hometown - where he plays at a house party.

Friday, April 10, 2009

For the advancement of humankind

I like this guy.  He could have had a lot of money to advance his work, but he refused it because it came from military intentions. 
Sankai has said one of his aims is to create technologies that are designed for the benefit of humankind, rather than for destructive purposes. He refused, for example, an offer from the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C., to work on a robot for military use and declined a similar offer from the government of South Korea.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

You know Twitter made the big time...

...when your grandmother suddenly looks over at you during a family dinner, and says, "Matt, what's Twitter?"

Though in practice I've found it more annoying than useful. The only real use I've had is tracking and occasionally participating in discussions, usually around conferences. The problem is a discussion rarely develops, it's usually just one-sided microblogging. Meh.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm scared...

Walking through the building a little bit ago, here at work, very quiet, and suddenly I heard cackling.  Not witch-cackling, but that weird creepy little sycophantic weasel thing that Jabba the Hutt kept next to his throne.  <shivers>. 
And then I heard a deep booming laugh*...
* The deep booming laugh turned out to be the annoying guy around the corner.  So that's ok.  I guess.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wall Street, Bonuses

1.  $170 million / $170 billion = very tiny.  But that doesn't matter, because that $170 million was my money and, well, fuck 'em. 
2.  As Mr. Taplin puts it, they managed to lose $65 billion in just 3 months.  On that note... why the f do they deserve a bonus, why are they getting it?
3.  Because it's contractually obligated.  WTF, mate?  That's not a bonus, that's pay.  Or, pay by another name... I wonder what incentive they would have to disguise regular pay as a bonus?  (public relations, tax reasons, who knows...)
4.  Relatedly, (see last sentence of previous linked article), how the FUCK is the government surprised by this??  It was contractual.  It was planned in advance.  Why the shitstorm right before ...the shitstorm?
5.  Finally, who says the government can't just take those bonuses away?  Although taxing them at 100% sounds clever, I don't know if that's going to stand up constitutionally. Kind of a specific law, no?  And may not make it through congress.  On the other hand, why not just take them away?  "We won't be able to retain good people," snivels Wall Street.  EXPLAIN THAT ONE - because it seems to me that taking these away would punish incompetence (ahem - incompetence at best; _____ at worst) while incenting good performance ..... hell, forget the "good" and let's be happy with NOT FUCKING UP.   So, you know, we'd be encouraging the departure of ye who fucked up.  Anyhow, Monsieur is right - this would be analogous to bankruptcy.  Yes?
I hope that whoever wrote those shitty contracts gets a papercut on their asshole.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Susan and husband Morgan Tsvangirai

Accident or not, this is crushing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

fox news HEADS UP - lame repackaging of their own lame article

foxnews has an article up, "Critic Says Islamic Extremism Gets Whitewashed in American Textbooks" - the critic is Gilbert Sewall who is a tool.  Predictably.  They had a very similar article citing the same tool aka critic last june.  i blogged about this myself at the time, if you'd like a bit of info on Sewall  :-) (though I've since let up on the blogging)