Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Power Of Nightmares

As a journalist, I can attest that scary, scary, scary wins out over hope, hope, hope any day.
Somebody convinced the BBC it was worth a six-part series of 10-minute shows. You can watch them all on YouTube. Guess I know what I'll be doing tonight.

ABC News Busted By Gawker

Bad journalism story of the decade.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

The Simple Life

All adults are autonomous and equal. There is no religion. There is no calendar. The only time is now. God is the sun. There is no worship. No one knows what comes after death. There are no settlements. And baboons taste good. Many children do not survive. The dead are not mourned, neither birth nor marriage celebrated. There is no marriage.
As we all were 100,000 years ago.
It is impossible to overstate just how much Onwas—and most Hadza—love to smoke. The four possessions every Hadza man owns are a bow, some arrows, a knife, and a pipe, made from a hollowed-out, soft stone. The smoking material, tobacco or cannabis, is acquired from a neighboring group, usually the Datoga, in exchange for honey...
...Onwas then reaches into the fire and pulls out the skull. He hacks it open, like a coconut, exposing the brains, which have been boiling for a good hour inside the skull. They look like ramen noodles, yellowish white, lightly steaming. He holds the skull out, and the men, including myself, surge forward and stick our fingers inside the skull and scoop up a handful of brains and slurp them down. With this, the night, at last, comes to an end.

Help, I'm Trapped In Pepperoni And Can't Get Out

and they make me sing in ronishop quartet.

And 29 other creepiest commercials of the year. Personally, I thought the sushi breath one sounded good, too.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dave Barry Used To Make Me Laugh

til I cried. This time, not so much. I guess 2009 was worse than even he could imagine.
Good tidbit:
To replace Souter, President Obama nominates Sonia Sotomayor, setting off the traditional Washington performance of Konfirmation Kabuki, in which the Democrats portray the nominee as basically a cross between Abraham Lincoln and the Virgin Mary, and the Republicans portray her more as Ursula the Sea Witch with a law degree. Sotomayor will eventually be confirmed, but only after undergoing the traditional Senate Judiciary Committee hazing ritual, during which she must talk for four straight days without expressing an opinion.
UPDATE: Okay, it grew on me, although I think that leaking from my right eye is an impacted tear duct. The left one, I'm not sure.
In a troubling economic development, the U.S. dollar, for the first time in history, falls below the lentil.

Scary, Scary Balls

The Detroit crotch bomber should not be treated the same as the shoe bomber because...well, just because. Must be something about them b@lls.

Sullivan's Top Hits

Why didn't Contrarienne think of this? All she had was the vagina prom dress and something else she can't remember. Oh, right, the headline "I Love America." Prom dress got 246 hits thanks to Stumbled Upon.
Anyhoo, "masturbating priests, Matt Stone's potty mouth, Sarah Palin's
gargantuan lies, taking a moment to make of Sarah Palin's
gargantuan lies, Chris Wallace's fellatial non-journalism, shit-faced
Brits, and stoned parents."

Have A Jib Jab New Year!

Love, julimac

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy New Year

via Andrew Sullivan, Andrew Sprung gives us some good news. Of course, he also proclaims "my core belief is that the electorate is smarter than all of us." I've heard a lot of politicians say that while holding public office.
Anyhoo, a tantalizing tidbit:
"Whereas real per capita income [worldwide] increased by about one fifth per decade in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, it is expect to increase by about one third in the 2000s...The poverty rate is expected to continue to fall sharply from 57.2 percent in 200 to 49.7 percent in 2010 at a poverty line of one-half of the mean." (Lynge Nielsen, IMF Working Paper, Global Relative Poverty, April 2009

Health: Global life expectancy at birth was 64 in 1990, 66 in 2000, and 68 in 2007. Under-5 mortality rates per 1000 live births were 91 in 1990, 78 in 2000, and 67 in 2007.From 1990 - 2006, the number of people in developing regions using improved sanitation facilities has increased by 1.1 billion; the proportion of the global population with access to improved drinking water sources rose from 76% to 86% in the same period. (World Health Statistics 2009.)

Sully's The View From Your Recession

Andrew Sullivan runs an occasional glance from his readers into the impacts on a very diverse assortment of Americans. This guy, wife, kids, mortgage, middle-class career, seemed to have it all. Until.

Before this year I never gave much thought to social programs, frankly, I neither needed or qualified for them. However, when the time came that I needed assistance, the government was there to help. I am extremely grateful to our President and his allies in Congress, as their policies have had an immediate and direct impact on my family. Without the MHA and Cobra subsidy, it is likely that we would have lost our home and filed for bankruptcy.

I Had That Coat!

One of the major regrets of my life is that I did not keep the winter coat my mother bought for me in high school and which I wore until I tired of it and bought one I thought was more fashionable.
My coat was just like the one Michelle Obama is wearing in slide #2 of this — not just unremarkable, but worse — slide show from The Vacation All America Should Hate.
Well, mine wasn't just like hers. Mine had a stand-up collar. And it was dove grey. But it was knee-length and had those great bell sleeves. And it was CASHMERE! Mom was a great sale shopper. Soft as a lamb and warm as toast in those Midwest winters. Very classy with elbow length gloves. Great over formals.
So sometime in the later 60s I saved my pennies and paid monthly on the coat I put on layaway at Nordstrom. It was a pure hippie-mod dream, cut velvet tapestry fabric, — golds and browns, quilted lining — calf length and fitted, with Russian looking toggle buttons and trimmed in faux fur. It made me look skinny and felt like a model.
I wish I had saved that one, too.
But then, I wish I had saved all my formals, as girls used to do. And that we hadn't traded in the Corvair convertible — ocean blue with a white top. Or the '68 BMW 2002.
Yes, just full of regrets. Sigh.
I have many treasures, just not anything as tangibly retro and cool.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Milking Spiders Is One Thing

I will not do. Nor think about any further.
But sucking the spit out of leeches? Well, if it will get rid of my  wrinkles, why not?
Metafilter gives you all the good links, including a full photographic tour of the Russian cosmetics labs.

On The Ronnie Earle Thread At Daily Kos

A nice Texas, defense attorney kind a joke:

So this guy is busted by the Fort Worth cops with his penis in the mouth of the calf in the First Methodist Christmas Creche at about midnight on a Friday and the cops have photos. He gets a lawyer who tells him if he wants to win he has to pony up the money for a jury consultant, so he does. The jury is seated, all the evidence has been presented and he takes the stand. He explains that he had been drinking beer with pals, stopped off behind the creche to relieve himself on the manger structure and the calf just spontaneously started sucking on his tool. The jury foreman leans over to the guy next to him and says "A good calf'll do that."

You Probably Never Heard Of Ronnie Earle

because who outside Texas pays attention unless there's a presidential assassination or innocent man executed or something.
But he's a feisty prosecutor who went after Tom DeLay (some say it brought him down) and now is running for Lt. Gov., which supposedly in the strange system that is Texas is the most important statewide office. (I've often seen reference to the relatively impotent powers of governor in the state when discussing the brushcutter, but never pursued the details.)
Anyway, Earle left off prosecuting awhile back and here's an update of how things are going in the DeLay case from one of his campaign workers:
DeLay retained a high powered trial attorney -- Dick Deguerin -- who recently got a man acquitted on murder charges in Galveston when the dismembered body was found in the trunk of his car -- and they're dragging out as slowly as possible.
A court of criminal appeals recently ruled that for the purposes of the money laundering charge that checks would NOT be considered funds.
So that's what the Travis County DA's office is dealing with.
Never forget that all the criminal judges in Texas were elected and putting in a completely locked down GOP judgeship in Texas was one of Karl Rove's biggest accomplishments.
Ronnie will definitely be addressing these issues.
 I really miss Molly Ivins at times like this.

More on the DeLay case and the amusing state of Texas justice.

UPDATE: Why Texas Lt. Gov. Is So Powerful
"When the Texas Constitution was written in 1877, it was deliberately designed to create a very weak executive and legislature. The Governor has only two real powers -- the veto and the ability to call a special session of the legislature.
The legislature for its part only meets every other year for five months.
Over time the Lt Governor emerged as the de facto President of the State Senate with more ability to drive the legislative process than any other official.
A series of powerhouse (Democratic) Lt Govs in the 20th Century cemented that status -- Ben Barnes, Bill Hobby and Bob Bullock all dominated State Government during their tenures in office."

Christmas Shopping Season

Okay, the card tracker reports are in and according to them, sales were up 3.2 percent, better than I'd assumed.
Except. Except there was an adjustment that said, without explanation, it was more like up 1 percent, since there was an extra shopping day this season.
So I got out my little calculator and found that if you spent $100 at Christmas time in 2007, you only spent $97.70 in 2008, but you spent $101.22 this year or, if that extra shopping day is discounted, $98.67.
What was even more interesting to me is that online retail sales are only 5 percent of total no matter what season it is. I would have guessed higher.

Gonna Miss The Oughties

Juan Cole sums up.

UPDATE: Ya know, it sounded familiar. And it was. See below. Heh.

You Don't Want To Read This

But you can't say you weren't warned.
The trouble is, it's so easy to read even I understood it. Well, most of it.
I didn't want to read this, I really didn't. It only reinforces the doom-and-gloom I've been feeling for several years and which I attributed to age, cynicism and alcohol. Well, I'm still old and I'm still cynical, but being sober means it all kind of makes more sense now.

So far, the commenters on the thread seem to think "the fed will monetize the debt" by printing more money, and that we have to, at long last "eat the rich" by taxing them at a higher rate.
Or we'll die or something, also part of my MO.

But I Liked The Oughties, We All Did

That old curmudgeon, Paul Krugman, has to go and spoil it all. Sigh. Look away. Clip your coupons. File for unemployment. Cancel your Direct TV. I did that this morning. Feeling freer already.
No more Charlie Rose butting in and sucking up. Bill Moyer's going off anyway. Okay, I'll miss PBS, and HBO first runs. But I think I can watch what I want online, and I've still got Netflix. At least for now. Push comes to shove, I'll still have the library, although they're cutting hours.
from an economic point of view, I’d suggest that we call the decade past the Big Zero. It was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of the optimistic things we were supposed to believe turned out to be true.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Tried To Learn About Israel

I really did, but the shiny objects of the upcoming election distracted me. And I know I should try to learn about Iran (not to mention Afghanistan), but there are always so many shiny objects. Health care is still out there, then there will be cap-and-trade.
Before you know it, it will be time for the upcoming Congressional elections.
So I'm just going to try to remember this:
...a mafia state writ large
and see how it works for awhile.

Isn't That Interesting Dept.

Supporters of the current health care reform bill despite its acknowledged flaws like to point out that Social Security and Medicare weren't so hot when they started either and improvements can be made as we go along.
So I did a little browsing at Wikipedia and saw, much to my amazement, my Gramma Bertha.
Well, not really, but she looks like her.

The first monthly payment was issued on January 31, 1940 to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont. In 1937, 1938 and 1939 she paid a total of $24.75 into the Social Security System. Her first check was for $22.54. After her second check, Fuller already had received more than she contributed over the three-year period. She lived to be 100 and collected a total of $22,888.92.[24]
How Ida May got SS is in itself a story, since most women workers weren't covered because the jobs they tended to hold weren't covered, e.g. teachers, social workers,domestic workers, etc.

Women's Health: I AM Shocked

From Huffpo, 10 most significant changes in women's health during the last decade.
After all, birth sets the stage for the health of our future generation. Most people are shocked to learn that the maternal mortality rate has doubled in the past 25 years despite all the new technology. The incidence of prematurity is now one in eight. And birth by C-section is 30-50 percent in many hospitals. (The World Health Organization says that a five to 10 percent C-section rate is optimal and that anything over 15 percent does more harm than good.) A C-section increases maternal mortality by a factor of four to six times that of vaginal birth. [3]

Saturday, December 26, 2009

David Brooks Should Always Call Paul Krugman

before he writes something stupid, which is to say David Brooks should always call Paul Krugman before he writes anything.
I mean, he understands numbers and charts and, like facts and stuff.
For people in the center who worry, as my colleague David Brooks puts it, that there may be unintended consequences if you “centrally regulate 17 percent of the economy”: um, it’s a little late for that.

We Were Born of Revolution

And today yesterday Krugman takes took note of a little-remembered anniversary, Washington's crossing of the Delaware and the significance it should have for the history impaired, which is most of us.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Now, The Workout: A Map

AP has a comparison of the House and Senate bills. I'll read it later. Have to get working on my part of the Christmas Eve feast.

Plaintive Cry Of Nostalgia

"when do we get back to the years with president’s penis in them?," one commenter comments about Sadly, No's review of the decade.
I think I am about to review my own personal decade. It seems like the appropriate thing to do.

Related Video

Honest, that was what YouTube said about this on the Known Universe page. I say Cosmic Intentionality.

Cosmic Intentionality, Huh?

Full screen recommended.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Movie Review

My inner 14-year-old boy — let's call him Chad — loved District 9, out on DVD today. FYI.

Washingtonians Not All That Happy

In fact, we're just a notch above residents of D.C. Go figure.
For the complete list, go here.
Am I wrong or does it strike you that a large percentage of the top 25 are also Red States? Denialism feels good.

Errors O' Teh Year

Sometimes they're egregious and sometimes...
Bear sighting: An item in the National Briefing in Sunday’s Section A said a bear wandered into a grocery story in Hayward, Wis., on Friday and headed for the beer cooler. It was Thursday.
L.A. Times

We'll See

Marc Ambinder has some interesting things to say about the whole health care reform process, notably:
The bill that Obama signs will be "better" from the standpoint of liberal activists than the bill that the Senate is going to pass. It will contain more subsidies...probably some version of a trigger for some sort of insurance competitive mechanism...a reinstatement of mandatory cost controls for hospitals...and even tighter restrictions on insurers.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cat Video O' Teh Week

I loves me some Roomba.

Is Christmas A Cosmic Joke?

Andrew Sullivan says it.
Sometimes I suspect Christmas is really a plot to advance the supergay. The kitsch, the artifice, the collective lie of good will, the power of superficiality, the naked materialism: it's all some super-ironic super-gay joke on all of us, right? Just don't tell Bill O'Reilly.


TPM is heralding today's early morning vote on the first of six cloture votes needed to get to the final Senate bill — scheduled for Christmas Day — as the death knell for opposition while Josh worries that if they don't fix some of the delayed timelines, Democrats could be in trouble over the next two election cycles.
That's it in a nutshell, folks.
If you want all the gory details, go there.
If you've a taste for weeds, read Paul Starr.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Best Cookies Evah!

I guess. A tiptoe down memory lane from the late, lamented Gourmet Magazine.

Are There Really Independent Voters?

Not so's you'd notice, apparently. So when Chris Mattews or George S. or whoever waives the scary flag and says "but he's losing independents" or some such, take a deep breath and turn off the TV. They don't know what they're talking about.
This guy does.
Thus, Obama’s declining approval rating is more a story about losing the Republicans who are unlikely to vote for him anyway than it is a story about losing independents.

It's A Class Thing

Ezra Klein is combing through the CBO report on Reid's version of the health care bill and finds a revenue gem:
And then there's my favorite sentence in the CBO report: "The 5 percent excise tax on cosmetic surgery was eliminated, and a 10 percent excise tax on indoor tanning services was added." Alrighty then.

Health Care Reform, Ch. 97

Told as only Gail Collins can tell it.

People, when did it become necessary for average, conscientious-but-not-fanatic citizens to know the names of so many senators? There was probably a time when you thought “Max Baucus” was a brand of sausage. And now we not only know that he is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and from Montana, we are also up to the minute on his divorce and his “mature and happy” relationship with his live-in girlfriend.

We know more about Max Baucus than we do about Brad Pitt! That seems wrong, so very wrong.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Daily Joke

From The Daily Dish. Actually, they've been publishing reader submitted jokes all day, several of which are favorites that I have been telling for years, and also most depressing Christmas songs.
I like this joke:

Young Chuck moved to Texas and bought a donkey from a farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day. The next day the farmer drove up and said, 'Sorry Chuck, but I have some bad news, the donkey died.'
Chuck replied, 'Well, then just give me my money back.'
The farmer said, 'Can't do that. I went and spent it already.'
Chuck said, 'OK, then, just bring me the dead donkey.'
The farmer asked, 'What ya gonna do with a dead donkey?'
Chuck said, 'I'm going to raffle him off.'
The farmer said 'You can't raffle off a dead donkey!'
Chuck said, 'Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he's dead.'
A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, 'What happened with that dead donkey?'
Chuck said, 'I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars apiece and made a profit of $898.00.'
The farmer said, 'Didn't anyone complain?'
Chuck said, 'Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.'
Chuck now works for JP Morgan.

God, I Love This Song

It is, after all, Friviality Friday!

Congress Is Like The Office Christmas Party

I pretty much love commenter Lars Thorwald, who was always good for some sanity over at Glenn Greenwald's blog, when I read Glenn Greenwald's blog.
His name is probably not Lars Thorwald and I know his picture is not really him, but that's the 'sphere for ya. He wrote a diary somewhere once that said it was okay because it did not violate the ethics he must abide by as a DOJ employee, so maybe his name really is Lars Thorwald.
Sometimes he weighs in on Kos, like today, and I am miraculously restored.
Come to find out he's a litigator, which explains everything. I have this thing for lawyers.
And let's face it, with this Congress...well, this Congress is like those clown that say, "Oh, yeah, I'm on board with helping to contribute to the office holiday party!  What do I need to bring?"  And you tell them, "Well, you can contribute $15, that would help us buy booze and food for everyone," and they allllll say, "Yeah, okay, sure!"  So then you announce it to the whole office with a set date, and you promise top shelf booze and great food.  And then two days later, a guy from accounting comes in and says, "Oh, hey, I can't make it, so I won't be contributing," and then that stuffy woman from down the hall comes in and says, "You know, I'm not going to eat a whole lot, so I'm just going to give you $5," even though you know damned well she will be at the party practically vacuuming up all the Captain Morgan and eating every chip she can get her grabby little meat paws on, and then the next guy comes in and makes some excuse why he shouldn't have to contribute, and the next thing you know your office party is a case of Schlitz and a tray of Oreos, and everyone looks at you and bitches that the party sucks.  That's our Democratic Congress.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why Are Northern Europeans White?

Eat your cereal, LarsNorsGrud, and quit asking stupid questions.

People who eat grains do not get vitamin D from food; they must get it from sunlight.

What A Weak Movie Decade

was what I first thought when I read the list of lists Slate is running (it's still in process).
A lot of them were on my list, too, and a lot of them I didn't see, especially the foreign ones.
A lot of them (Spotless Mind, There Will Be Blood) just weren't even worth the time I wasted watching.
But among the ones I saw and liked, nothing comes close to Angels In America, The Wire, Deadwood or The Sopranos.
Fuck movies, man! If it's not HBO, it's probably not worth it.

Greek Tragedy 101

David Simon says The Wire was Greek tragedy.
But we mostly get Shakespeare.
Rises up against the odds?
“You can’t do that.” “Yes, I can.” “No, you can’t.” “I’ll show you, see?” And in the end he’s recognized as just a goodhearted rebel with right on his side, and eventually the town realizes that dancing’s not so bad. I can make up a million of ’em. That’s the story we want to be told over and over again. And you know why? Because in our heart of hearts what we know about the 21st century is that every day we’re going to be worth less and less, not more and more.

Journalists Love Them Some Lists

Foreign Policy gives us the worst 10 predictions for 2009.
Trouble with lists is sometimes you have to really stretch. See # 10. Dana Rohrbacher?

Who Is Obama?

And why does he hate us liberals?
Marc Ambinder tries to answer.
And the White House makes a distinction between self-identified liberals -- who, polls tell us, still love the president -- and the activists who cue those liberals, many of whom are calling into question the entire Obama project.

Krugman's Disappointed, Too, But...

By all means denounce Obama for his failed bipartisan gestures. By all means criticize the administration. But don’t take it out on the tens of millions of Americans who will have health insurance if this bill passes, but will be out of luck — and, in some cases, dead — if it doesn’t.
He's not one to give up.

Back To Basics

It's the economy, honey.
Based on projected figures, more than a million women will find their way to the bankruptcy courts this year -- more women than will graduate from college, receive a diagnosis of cancer, or file for divorce. The numbers are staggering.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Senator Al Franken

for V.P. in Obama's second term.
Rape amendment survives.
An amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill introduced by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), which would allow rape victims employed by defense contractors to have their day in court, has made it through conference committee and into the final version of the bill.

10 Reasons It Is A Good, Not Great, Bill

From John Podesta who, only yesterday, was making noises about reconciliation. Apparently, someone has had a little talk with him

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ezra Klein

a key liberal blogger (Wapo) on politics, said this about the health reform bill on Charlie Rose tonight:
"You take the first step now and the next step later."
I agree. Pass this bill, please.
I can hardly wait for cap and trade.

Second City

Pervades your life, even if you never heard of it.

Cancer: What's Not To Laugh At?

NPR always comes through on slow news days.
An honorary contrarienne is missing a lot of body parts and cracks:
"At least I've had cancer on parts you can remove," she jokes. "It's a brutal weight loss program."


from those diabolical people at Google.

I think they'd make fun chess pieces.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Not Shocked, Surprised Though

McJoan is resigned.

At this point, the assistance to the people who need it most is the critical moral and policy decision. Would it be a band-aid? Yes, but even a band-aid can staunch bleeding, and right now that's what we desperately need. The insurance reforms matter a great deal, too, and can be passed through regular process. It will be a lot harder for Senators to stand up and vote to allow insurance companies to continue to deny coverage to the American people.
Now that Medicare buy-in and the public option have been sacrificed at the altar of Joe, there's still the problem of Nelson and Stupak hanging out there, a proposal that could do more long-term harm to the nation's women than those market reforms could bring. Stripping this bill down to the core assistance to the uninsured might be the last saving grace it could have.

No Medicare Buy-In After All?

So Lieberman said he'd filibuster it and the Senate Dems are in caucus now and Harkin wants a bill revived to restrict filibustering and reading all this all day, I'm going to go out on a limb and say they'll pass what they can, go to conference with the House and try to pull something together breaking kneecaps in the interim.
We'll have a health care reform bill in the Senate before Christmas, but we won't like it.
We'll have a health care reform bill from the conference, and I don't know what it will look like.
Reconciliation? Podesta made those noises today, but I'm really, really doubtful.
Try to look on the bright side. Social Security was awful when they first passed it, too.
It got better over time.
I'm gonna go find Shorty's Frisbee.

Joe Lieberman? It's YouTube All Day For Me, Man. All Day.

Guitar Hero Christmas

I guess GH offers the programming assistance, but somebody still has to do the light set-up, right?
Full screen viewing suggested.

Slogan O' Teh Day


There was so much that stunk to high heaven, I had forgotten about the millions of emails the Bush administration "lost."
Apparently CREW didn't. We're gonna see 'em. And for some extra candy in the stocking, the White House is throwing in some Cheney goodies, too.
Still, the settlement requires the White House to restore 33 days selected by the plaintiffs, including the timeframe September 30 through October 5, 2003. This period is significant because email messages sent and received on those days were the subject of a subpoena by Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the Plame leak case. Although the Bush White House knew of email archiving problems as early as February 2004, evidence of the problem didn't become obvious outside of the White House until the administration told Fitzgerald that it couldn't locate any emails from the Office of the Vice President on those days.

Remember When It Was July?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Oh, Yeah, And About Education

From the Washington Monthly:
Virtually everywhere in the world people tend to be more educated than their parents. This is no longer true in the United States. A report by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities indicates that the U.S. is one of only two nations on Earth in which people aged 25 to 34 have lower educational attainment than their parents.

Saturday Is Pull Out The Trash Day

Courtesy of Buzzfeed.
Don't say you weren't warned.

Random Thought

If I put up the headline "I Love America" AND the vagina prom dress every day, I would get more hits.
But I won't. I love you too much.

I Love America

And YouTube.

Ocean Tower on South Padre Island, scheduled for implosion on tomorrow.

Good Day

"Well, all right, why is life worth living? That's a very good question. Well, there are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. Uh, like what? Okay. Um, for me... oh, I would say... what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing... and Willie Mays, and... the second movement of the Jupiter Symphony, and... Louie Armstrong's recording of Potatohead Blues... Swedish Movies, naturally... Sentimental Education by Flaubert... Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra... those incredible apples and pears by Cezanne... the crabs at Sam Wo's... Tracy's face..."
Woody Allen, Manhattan

Friday, December 11, 2009

AARP Won't Play

The "that's where the money is" game, Mr. Geitner.
But I predict something will come out of all this, because something has to.

New Term O' Teh Day Dept.

The netroots are bickering again over the Taibbi piece in Rolling Stone and American Prospect's critique.
Hence, this gem from Dr. Squid:
tiedyed teabaggers from the Nader wing

And Now For Friviality Friday

Six Degrees Of Bob Rubin

Matt Taibbi's got a new piece out in Rolling Stone that, like his Goldman Sachs piece, pulls no punches.
I am grateful there's still room for good journalism in this world, because it calls out the people who should be held accountable. Their dirty work may go unpunished, but not unnoticed.
If you want to read all about it, land yourself at this Daily Kos diary, which includes a little background from others as well and links right up to to the RS piece.
If you don't want to work that hard, as I didn't, it's a nice synopsis of what we all know but have such a hard time living with.
And remember, it was people like Hunter Thompson who made it okay for Taibbi to say shithead in public print.
The point is that an economic team made up exclusively of callous millionaire-assholes has absolutely zero interest in reforming the gamed system that made them rich in the first place. . . .
There's no other way to say it: Barack Obama, a once-in-a-generation political talent whose graceful conquest of America's racial dragons en route to the White House inspired the entire world, has for some reason allowed his presidency to be hijacked by sniveling, low-rent shitheads.

UPDATE: Okay, I admit it. I like Taibbi because he's hot.
Someone with a little different perspective did a little fact-checking. Matt may be a new Hunter Thomson, but he's no Woodward and Berstein. So, you decide.
I think, just because Matt Taibbi says it doesn't make it so. Often really, really not so.
It's almost as if he cherry-picked what he thought would fit with his narrative.
Isn't that what we're always on the mainstrem media about? Yeah, it is.

The problems Taibbi tries to describe aren't some kind of ridiculous cabal. They come from group-think and structural influences and as a result of a complex interplay of interests and institutions; the policies they produce aren't either good or evil, they're in need of analysis to determine which help regular people, which hurt them and how to change the latter into the former.
Doing the work is hard. But if you want to make a dent, you have to do it.
-- Tim Fernholz

Climate Change, Sigh

Okay, I promise I'm bookmarking this for later.
You might have time for it now. Me, I have to put on my big girl pants.
(I was heartened to read Josh Marshall say he's about as clueless as I am and willing to take the word of the thousands of scientists who are not clueless.)

How To Have Great Legs At 75 (Yeah, Right, Too Late For Me, Too)

Paddy Jones and her partner Nico won the Spanish equivalent of Britain's Got Talent for this. He's doing all the heavy lifting, of course. Still.
Estelle Parsons and (oh hell, senior moment, Mary Tyler Moore's old sidekick) come to mind.
Think I'll take Shorty out to the mailbox now.
Cloris Leachman, yeah, that's it.

Meanwhile, Back To Health Care Reform: Diva Edition

There's an amendment on hold that Huffpo reports could "blow up" the Senate bill. It would allow reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada, blowing the White House deal with Big PHarma and essentially kill the bill's chances.
It's Sen. Dorgan's amendment, but he has a lot of Republican support. Another Dem has put it on hold, which takes 60 votes to overcome.
So, a worried Dem says:
The dispute within the Democratic caucus is becoming personal. "Of course, with Dorgan, it's all about Dorgan," a senior Democratic aide told HuffPost, complaining that Dorgan was willing to blow up health care reform for his own glory.
I say, substitute Snowe, Lieberman, Nelson — take your pick, add in Landrieu, Lincoln, whoever — for Dorgan and you've got the U.S. Senate as it operates today.
Just so you know.

SC Gov's Wife

heads for the Appaliacian Trail. I am so surprised.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Erm, About That Salmon

In many cases, fresh salmon has about twice the environmental impact as frozen salmon.

The List

I tried to remember the movies I liked best during the last decade, sort of in keeping with the season. I couldn't remember much, so I used Wikipedia to help jog my memory.
All good. Certain stars seem to make the cut, Clooney and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Chris Cooper and Viggo. Hmm, okay, Meryl, Emma, The Mirren, Laura Linney, Joan Allen.
Not much changing the way I think, about movies or much else, except Being John Malkovich and American Beauty, both 1999.
(Slate says Malkovich was 2000.)

Julimac's Oughties

The Contender
The Savages
Away From Her
The Aristocrats
Michael Clayton
Bourne series
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
City of Men
Dirty Pretty Things
Eastern Promises
The Good Shepherd
Gosford Park
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
A History of Violence
In Bruges
Mad Hot Ballroom (!!!)
Topsy Turvy (probably 90s) (!!!)
Million Dollar Baby
Gangs of New York
No Country For Old Men (!)
Reversal of Fortune
Rachel Getting Married
Best In Show

When The Zombies Attack, We're All Undead

Somebody modelled this and it's bleak, baby, bleak. Unless we hit back hard.
Other "best ideas" of the decade from NYT Magazine.

If You Need A Brassiere, Wear One...

don't tug at your girdle, and other helpful hints for 1938 pre-contraiennes.


Quote O' Teh Day

When a newspaper dies in America, it is not simply that a commercial enterprise has failed; a sense of place has failed.
Richard Rodriguez, Harper's

Of four friends of mine who died recently in San Francisco, not one wanted a published obituary or any other public notice taken of his absence. This seems to me a serious abrogation of the responsibility of living in a city and as good an explanation as any of why newspapers are dying. All four of my friends requested cremation; three wanted their ashes consigned to the obscurity of Nature. Perhaps the cemetery is as doomed in America as the newspaper, and for the same reason: we do not imagine death as a city.

...I am so lonely I must subscribe to three papers—the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle. I remark their thinness as I climb the stairs. The three together equal what I remember.

Jobs:Start Tomorrow

From Krugman, a little perspective:
Even if we add 300,000 jobs a month, we’re looking at a prolonged period of suffering — a huge cost from the Great Recession. So that’s kind of a minimal definition of success. Anything less than that, and it’s bad news. It sort of puts that wonderful report that we only lost 11,000 jobs in perspective, doesn’t it?
Taplin's got a few word$ as well, not directly about jobs and the award for comment 'o teh day goes to Len:
Sit on your wallets. Starve the rich of oxygen. Buy local. Burn down Wal-Mart. It’s us or them.

Will Abortion Kill Health Reform?

That's the question of the hour at TPM.
I personally don't think so, but then I don't want to think so.
Nelson's already signaled he won't filibuster. Olympia and Joe aren't in it over abortion. If the trigger stays in, we've got Olympia and Joe can go pout in the cloakroom. I love that word, cloakroom. I wish I had a cloak.
So much for the Senate, I think they've got a bill.
Over in the House, if they do the ping-pong thingie, they'll get enough votes to approve the Senate bill and walk away from their own.
I've seen many times that once a bill has momentum, it's very hard to vote against it in the final hour.
Everything I'm reading about the Medicare buy-in makes me happy except for the fact that it'll cost under-65s $650 a month for a few years. I think there's probably a work-around on that, too.
But what do I know? I was an early hopeful for reconciliation and thought Reid's opt-out option was brilliant. I know nothing.

Five Contrariennes Get Nobel

Only 40 women total in history.
Old snippet.

The Noughties

Hurry up, they're almost over. Better figure out what to think about them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Deal

(so far), according to TPM.

And Cantwell, too, according to Huffpo.
And people within 300 percent of poverty would be eligible for a program pushed by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) modeled on her state's Basic Health. Cantwell is not one of the ten in the meetings but has stopped by to brief negotiators.

American Indians Win One

Thanks to Woman Warrior Elouise Corbell and a lot of patient lawyering.
From NPR

Interview here

T Bone!

My favorite Taplin commenter, the man who made me love bluegrass, has a new movie that sounds pretty good. Jeff Bridges doesn't hurt.

Health Care Cost Cutting

I'm bookmarking it for later, but the doc who did the devastating New Yorker piece on disparate costs in Texas has an analysis out on measures that take up half the 2,000-page bill.
The reason the system is a money drain is not that it’s so successful but that it’s fragmented, disorganized, and inconsistent; it’s neglectful of low-profit services like mental-health care, geriatrics, and primary care, and almost giddy in its overuse of high-cost technologies such as radiology imaging, brand-name drugs, and many elective procedures.
UPDATE: Read it. Excellent article.

I Love TV

And here's why.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Anybody For Ping Pong?

So, some good reporter over at Huffpo has uncovered another option. The House would just swallow the bitter Senate bill as it becomes, everybody goes home to explain themselves before Christmas and Obama starts working on the State of the Union speech.

Don't Read Contrarienne

for the latest on health care reform. TPM's got a running update of every breathless moment.
Better than football.
Hail Mary here, Hail Mary there, Hail Mary everywhere.
Go Joementum, go Jim Daddy!

Erm, Jim Dandy.


Are we really tiptoeing over toward Medicare for all? Quick, the smelling salts, I'm feeling faint. (Luckily, I'm on Medicare. Heh.)

'There Is No Explanation..'

"There is no explanation...there is no explanation...there is no indication...there is no explanation..."
Scott Horton, Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan notice the report of an investigation into the Gitmo story of three prisoners found hanged. With rags stuck down their throats.
There is no explanation.
More linkies.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Best Health Care Idea Yet

From Lynn Dee commenting at TPM:
Here's my idea for getting to 60 -- soak a handkerchief in chloroform, press it to Joe Lieberman's nose, tie him up and gag him, and stash him in a closet until Obama signs the bill. Hire a Joe Lieberman impersonator to vote yea on all bills necessary. Or, for fun, have the impersonator vote yea on all procedural votes and no on the bill itself.
This worked quite well on a number of the old I Love Lucy shows, and I see no reason why it shouldn't work here.

Web Site O' Teh Day

How To Talk To A Climate Skeptic

My advice: Don't. But if you must, well...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Not Public Option

Offer the Federal Employees plan instead.

Not A Public Option, Not A Trigger

but a "new option" on the table in health care reform negotiations.
Oh, and Olympia's back.
Obama will address Senate Democrats on Sunday afternoon.
Will they have something new to show him?

Friviality Saturday

BW passes this along from a friend in the UK.

 The new council tax re-evaluation policy wants to charge us  more if we live in a nice area. That ought to mean discounts for those  of us who live in rough areas.

There is a huge council house in  our street.
 The  extended family is run by a grumpy old woman with a pack of fierce dogs.  Her car isn't taxed or insured and doesn't even have a number plate, but  the police still do nothing.

Her bad-tempered old man is  notorious for racist comments. A shopkeeper blames him for ordering the  murder of his son and his son's girlfriend, but nothing has been proved  yet.

All their kids have broken marriages except the youngest,  who everyone thought was gay.

Two grandsons are meant to be in  the Army but are always out partying in nightclubs. They are out of  control............................... 

..............................I hate  living near Windsor Castle.

Blog Journalism

There's a little kerfluffle going on over Montana Sen. Max Baucus' late Friday revelation about his relationship with a woman he had nominated to be U.S. Attorney for the state.
Someone at Daily Kos did a little journalism and comes up with some very disturbing details about her career and behavior because of her relationship with the state medical examiner while she was prosecuting in Iowa.
This may never go anywhere in terms of Baucus' career or anything else, but it's a case study of what anyone with a computer and an internet connection can do in a matter of hours, something the traditional media — the "real journalists" — often don't bother with.
It's short and worth a read also because you get a real time view of how things often work in power circles.
Don't bother with the comments, they're mostly in the weeds about whether we should protect compromised Democrats who are going to vote our way, blah-blah.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Another Reason Not To Own A Cell Phone

From TPM this evening:
with a few keystrokes, police can determine in real time the location of a cell phone user through automated systems set up by the phone companies.

Gift Ideas

Somebody at Daily Kos put together some non-traditional sources.
I was hoping the L.A. County Coroner's Office would have something besides t-shirts, but no.
Guess I'll stick to despair.com, although contrariennes everywhere will be taken with etsy.

Oh, Please God, Make It True

Palin's got everybody in the 'sphere squirming over her support for the birthers. She's tried to backtrack, but you know how that works.
The problem is, unless the GOP — and that includes Rush Limbaugh and the other cotton candy conservatives who wield a lot of influence — stand up and denounce her in no uncertain terms, birtherism will have gone completely mainstream in the Republican Party. If that happens, you might want to forget about any significant gains at the polls for the GOP in 2010," - Rick Moran, PJM.

It's Not The Wedding Dance

But they get a big donation for women's health after reaching 1 million hits. Don't know what they get now that it's past 3 million.

UPDATE: A friend checked Snopes. Not money for hits, money for cases of gloves sold. Still fun.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bring Your Daughter To War Day!

Courtesy The Onion, of course. Still.

Army Holds Annual 'Bring Your Daughter To War' Day

Action Item

Pat Leahy needs your help.


Andrew Sullivan cites this in Popular Mechanics including a nice summary of what we know.
Most scientists know and acknowledge these uncertainties, and reason as follows. We're in an unprecedented situation, with regard to the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the rate at which it is rising. Because this is unprecedented, we are not sure what is going to happen. But global warming is very likely, and reasonably probable outcomes could be fatal. Ignoring it would be like Russian roulette. Want to play? I do not.

So Long Public Option?

I still haven't read the Paul Starr piece that Josh Marshall pointed to earlier, but now there's an item out of the White House that makes it look like the wheeling and dealing for Snowe and maybe even Collins has some substance.
That's if, of course, the Senate can get past the Republican obstruction plans. With those two votes, they probably can.
Here's a link — if you can bear this —  to the debate among Starr and his two co-founders of The American Prospect (oh, that Paul Starr. No, actually never heard of him either.)
Bottom line:
If the Democrats can't get a strong public plan through the Senate but can get a strong design of the exchanges by trading off a weak public plan, they should take that deal and pass the bill.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Big Pharma And You

I'm in the donut hole right now and paying a Canadian pharmacy less than a third of the U.S. name brand retail price for the two equally effective generics not available here.
This is probably why.

Al Franken: Remember Him?

The issue is legal recourse for the women working for contractors who have been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted. Franken offered a remedy. All but 10 Republican senators voted against it, since the employers should be protected, right?
Anyway, read this quick article and be sure to read the comments, which are also enlightening.
And tell any fence-sitting friends you may have about it, too.

Only 23 Days Left

And a little winsomeness for each day, via this animated Advent calendar.
I was disappointed that it has no music.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fuckistan Cont'd

Sullivan has put together various responses, including his own, to the president's decision.
Me, I've got my fingers crossed. Really, he thought about it, he consulted, he decided.
He's The Decider now.


Wrong city, wrong police chief. Senior moment. Sorry.

My favorite tidbit from the story of the Lakewood cop assassinations is from the guy who reported the stolen car, left running and with the hood up when found by the Seattle police officer who shot and killed Clemmons during a confrontation:

"It's not a very reliable car." he said. "We only use it for short trips."

Random Thought

Woody Allen ought to retire and take up blogging, and devote more time to his music.
Oh, wait, he already has. Case in point: Vicki Christina Barcelona.

Post-Modern Journalism

Sullivan, riffing on Balk, has it in a nutshell:

Increasingly, these journos see themselves as conduits for politicians, not as independent actors determined to get at the truth and hold the powerful accountable. There are no follow-ups any more; and when you see how Palin was insulated from real questioning in the campaign and book tour, you realize how corrupted the MSM has become.

Mike Allen has done this before - giving Cheney or Rove a platform as well as anonymity - with no pushback or skepticism. What matters is the "get" and the pageviews, not the substance. These people are not checks on power; they are increasingly its willing accomplices.

Okay, we've still got McClatchy and a few magazine independents, but in most cases, the Cheneys and Palins of this world don't talk to them, so there is no follow-up allowed.

When Everything Changed

is the name of Gail Collins' new book on the history of feminism.
I plan to read it, but this brief discussion exerpted from a much longer dialogue between her and Joan Walsh from Salon brings back a very clear memory, one of those events in life that made me a contrarienne for life.
I had joined and become active in Seattle NOW radicalized, I like to joke, by being at home alone all day with a two-year-old. (She was four when I joined.)
Somewhere along the way, I helped organize a workshop by Alinsky acolyte Heather Booth and her husband, whose name I forget.
Booth told us right up front. It wasn't our in-the-streets, in-the-face activism that was opening doors. It was the economy, stupid. I knew she was right. I never forgot that.

For more Walsh/Collins snippets, go here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Tradeoff

Josh Marshall points to a little-noticed emerging theme among Democrats in Congress and the White House's apparent acquiescence, if not dowright support.
It's called for lack of a catchier term, entitlement reform, the notion of getting Social Security and Medicare under control.
I'm all for both, as long as I don't take a hit.
But more importantly, I'm sort of thinking it steals some anticipated Republican thunder in the upcoming mid-term elections, especially for the conservative Dems who must run again in shaky districts.
So, yeah, there's reform, and then there's reform politics.
With populist hueing and crying, some newsworthy items from the proposed commission just might dampen the anti-government flame that burns beneath the surface.
Oh, and for their trouble, the threatened Democrats go along on health care reform.
Kabuki, I tells ya.
Krugman says deficits aren't really any big deal and scratches his head in wonderment. But if you look at it not from an economic perspective, but from a political one, it makes much more sense.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Too Lazy

to live blog the outstanding HBO special made from last month's Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame live concerts at Madison Square Garden.
Stopped short when my god, Paul Simon, brings out Dion Damucci to do The Wanderer.
Anthony and the Imperials. Why did I think du-wop was a Philly phenom? Damn you, American Bandstand.
But besides all that, a lot of fat, old grey-haired guys who are still hugely talented. And now I know who Jeff Beck is.
I am thankful for rock 'n roll.
Catch this on DVD when you can.

Art Garfunkel looks like Dick Shawn.

Just In Case

the route of reconciliation rears its hydra head in the discussion over how to get health care reform passed in the Senate, here's a little primer.
I used to think, based merely on the comments of a lot of other know-nothing progressives like myself, that reconciliation would be the end game.
I no longer believe that because I've read some analysis of what it actually means in practical legislative terms.
That's not to say it's not in Harry Reid's back pocket, he even issued a reference to it not long ago, but quickly withdrew it.
It basically seemed to be a warning to the recalcitrant conservative Dems that their prima dona act could be squelched. But not easily. Not even likely.

About The Sunday News

Best quote so far comes from Josh Marshall:
Who could have predicted that building a fully-enclosed ski resort on the edge of the Persian Gulf might be a sign of a bubble economy?

I'm betting that the police chief in Lakewood, WA, where four of his officers were gunned down this morning, wishes he had run for Kitsap County commissioner after all and left the profession. Condolences, Mike.

After all the hype, news begins to trickle in — as we knew it would — that the Black Friday shopping season kick-off was abysmal. What to watch for: Reports from the credit card trackers. Won't be good. Forget all that breathless crap and interviews with shoppers and shop keepers.

The Book I'd Write

if I knew anything at all.
Given the circumstances, I'll just read it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Good Boy, Roomba

From boingboing:

What's that Roomba, you say Timmy is stuck in a well? A Roomba vacuuming robot did more than clean the floor for one family in Israel, killing a venomous Vipera palaestinae by, apparently, running over the snake and wrapping the creature around one of its rotating brushes. The family credits the robot for sparing their children and pets from possible snakebite. Good boy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friviality Friday: Cat Circus!

The Publisher Answers To The Editor? WTF?

Andrew Sullivan finds an item that should be of immense interest to the news industry. But it probably won't notice.
I figure anything that lionizes Josh Marshall and Talking Points Memo is incredibly insightful and cutting edge. TPM has been my first stop daily since I gave myself over to this addiction.
Oddly, the newspaper where I worked for 20 years had an organizational structure that included no publisher until about ten years ago. We peons never really saw much difference because direct interference, when there was any — and there was some at least — only fell indirectly on us. If the business side was dictating editorial policy, nobody actually said it out loud in our presence.
But there was intermittent evidence on occasion.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Back To The Banks

or rather, The Bank.
Taplin's people have a fascinating — and entirely cynical and likely accurate — conversation going about the Fed, of which Taplin notes:
The average citizen has no idea that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is a private corporation owned by JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. They think it’s some kind of government agency.

I wanted to quote everybody on this thread, but must content myself with:
Imagine if Hitler hadn’t died, and we decided to put him in charge of the Marshall Plan because after all, no one knew the landscape better.

Learn Something New Every Day

That's my motto.
Here's today's best find. I think it is not unique to Israeli culture, but is enlightening nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Louisiana Purchase

LA Sen. Mary Landreau took a hit from various media quarters for caving at the last minute and supporting the effort of fellow Democrats to get the health care reform bill to the floor for debate.
The immediate reports were that she was bought off with a Medicaid increase for her state worth between $100 million and $300 million.
But remember that lone House Republican who voted for the bill? Turns out that may have been his price, too.
In fact, it looks like everybody from the governor on down wanted that item in there, and Landrieu helped get it done.
And God knows, Louisiana needs it.
The straight skinny from a Daily Kos diarist. It's short and worth a read just to see how politics really works, contrasted with the daily sketches we get.

Man Survives 47-Minutes of Death

I'd like to know more about this part:
A specific procedure helped save Tiralosi's life. Special cooling pads, not available in all emergency rooms, lowered his body temperature to 91 degrees, essential in preventing long-term neurological damage and preserving brain function. Placed in a medically induced coma, incredibly, he began to wake up three days later -- without brain damage.
The story isn't clear about whether they put him into a coma during or after they spent 47 minutes on compressions.

Shift Happens

Huffpo has an interesting article on the iconic "Did You Know" video, the somewhat scary response from American educators, and the implications and permutations by industries trying to keep up.
I already know I can't.

Oh, Wait

a chart even Sarah Palin can understand. Republicans get 193 % of the vote in 2012, probably because we imposed sanctions on Iran.

Quote O' Teh Day

"I can't write about heroes seven feet tall and invincible. I write about people five feet eight and nervous."

Western writer Elmer Kelton died in August at age 83.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Basketball Man!

Comment O' Teh Day Dept.
The Magical Sky Father at The Moderate Voice:
Two things I learned about our President in the last election. #1 the man has more lives than a basket full of kittens so when you think he is down you best look right behind you. #2 he plays long ball...well and he has the patience to do so and make it work. If the republican party would learn the two above rules they would likely be able to throw him off his game, right now they continue to play his game.

Another Reason I'm Glad I'm Not The President

I hate the word endgame. It sounds so, you know, final.
(You thought this would be another health care post?)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Boob News II

I am an unabashed fan of Gina Kolata's health reporting, despite some criticism I've read in the past. Her book on the 1918 flu pandemic was a cliffhanger.
And I am grateful she's dug in on the mammogram issue, because I've been keeping my powder dry until I found a source with some context. That's been hard to do (meaning more than a few minutes with Teh Google.)
So this is recommended.
...It has been hard for many people, even scientists, to believe that some cancers start then stop or even regress. But researchers all over the world have been finding overdiagnosis in studies of all sorts of cancers.
Dr. Barnett Kramer of the National Institutes of Health, who was not part of the panel, described overdiagnosis as “pure harm” because it means that women are treated with measures like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery for tumors that do not need treating.
...Their analyses concluded that mammograms every two years give the nearly the same benefit as annual ones but confer half the risk of harms.

Is that what you want for your sister, just so you can feel safer? Assuming that you aren't a false positive yourself, of course, in which case you are willing to risk being one of the 1,000 false positives or maybe even all of the above to avoid being one of the  1.5 in 1,000 who needs treatment.
It isn't about  controlling costs with closer scrutiny of screening protocols,  and it certainly isn't about a giant government plot to ration health care to women.
It's about tradeoffs. And it's up to us as medical consumers to recognize our role in the decision making, the supply-and-demand side of it all.
None of us wants to die, but too many of us believe we can avoid death by defying science, the very thing that helps keep us alive. Go figure.

Quote O' Teh Day

We need to start thinking like the Chinese.
          Glenn Beck

Everybody into the communes now. Oh, not those Chinese.
Everybody into the countryside now. Oh, not those Chinese.
Hey, let's jiggle the currency now. Those Chinese?
No, apparently just the Chinese who devised a 100-year Plan. Like, erm, Mao.

I Stay Up Late

so you don't have to.
You're welcome.

Boob News

For every life saved, 1,000 false positives.
I'm not going to embed this 12-minute piece from (choke, gasp) David Gregory because it's so long, but it's the best thing around I've seen.
Call it the Tale of Two Nancys.

As Long As I Was There, Another Fun Headline

from the Scientific American.

Secrets of the Phallus: Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That (because it can is not an answer)

Tidbit (bwahahaha):
Having spent the first five years of my academic life studying great ape social cognition, I’ve seen more simian penises than I care to mention. I once spent a summer with a 450-pound silverback gorilla that was hung like a wasp (great guy, though) and baby-sat a lascivious young orangutan that liked to insert his penis in just about anything with a hole, which unfortunately one day included my ear.

The excellently amusing and informative writer, Jesse Bering, may be friended on Facebook (of course!) so you'll never miss another of his enlightening explorations of evolutionary biology research. Sadly, not always, or even usually, about penises.
One question: Does he tweet?

Down at the end he explains how it is theoretically possible for a woman to become pregnant by a man she has not had sex with. And may not even know. I think I smell a Law & Order episode.

Did God Intend You To Read?

Your Brain On Blogs Books

Anything with written language, apparently, is a sort of repurposed cortex. Or whatever.

I love anything about the brain, as long as it doesn't have Freud in it.

Does this mean Joseph Campbell was wrong?
Does this mean Joseph Campbell was right?

Foodie Alert: Rethink Thanksgiving

The food, that is. It's not too late and Bittman at the NYT has my mouth watering and my creative juices flowing.
Oh, wait. I'm not cooking this year. Well, maybe I will anyway.
Onion and pumpkin seed relish. I want some!

Would You Like To Live Another 100 Years?

Someone at Time Magazine did a profile of Cormac McCarthy without ever being able to interview him. It was a striking piece of work. Probably came out after All The Pretty Horses.

This time, he's talking.
If you think about some of the things that are being talked about by thoughtful, intelligent scientists, you realize that in 100 years the human race won't even be recognizable. We may indeed be part machine and we may have computers implanted. It's more than theoretically possible to implant a chip in the brain that would contain all the information in all the libraries in the world. As people who have talked about this say, it's just a matter of figuring out the wiring.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's All In the Game, Yo, All In The Game

These Are My People

But, somewhat regrettably, not me.
A third group, though, is making the ‘access to literature’ argument without much real commitment to its truth or falsehood, because they aren’t actually worried about access to literature, they are worried about bookstores in and of themselves. This is a form of Burkean conservatism, in which the value built up over centuries in the existence of bookstores should be preserved, even though their previous function as the principal link between writers and readers is being displaced.
This sort of commitment to bookstores is a normative argument, an argument about how things ought to be. It is also an argument that might succeed, as long as it re-imagines what bookstores are for and how they are supported, rather than merely hoping that if enough nice people seem really concerned, the flow of time will reverse.
Bet they don't know they are Burkeans. Okay, maybe they do, but they, like me, would never think to use the term.
Damn you, Clay Shirky, and the Kindle you rode in on.
What is the longtail again?

Sarah Palin Rewrites History

Oh, really? What a surprise.
Actually, that's giving her the benefit of the doubt, saying she just lies is better than saying she's abysmally ignorant. And proud of it.
Somebody ought to burn McCain in effigy.
Maybe next year.


Best (insert label here) o' teh day.

I didn't embed the original because Ezra Klein deserves the credit hits for putting this up while health care is in the Senate. h/t Andrew Sullivan.

Thank You, Bob Edwards

for reminding me of Hal Holbrook. Thank you, Hal Holbrook.

What Is It With Dept.

Men and guitars?

Also, good read of the day, having almost nothing to do with guitars but the commenters got into it. From Daily Kos. Nice John Lee Hooker video.

UPDATE: Men and beans? And smoked meats?

Cleaning Up The Desktop

Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others.
         Philip Larkin

I saved this poem on death for obvious reasons. Guess I'll keep it.


I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
- The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused - nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear - no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anasthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can't escape,
Yet can't accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Philip Larkin