I just heard NPR's hourly newscast; one of the clips was of a dealer in Arkansas saying he hadn't yet gotten any money back from the Feds for the 20 cars he's taken in under the "Cash for Clunkers" program.
Um, sir? The program's been in effect a week. How many of your vendors do you pay within a week of your purchase of their services?
Are y'all aware of Maira Kalman? She's been drawing a monthly cartoon column featuring famous Americans and Americana at the NYT since January, and they are wonderful.
So far she's done Lincoln, soldiers, the law, Jefferson, and this month, Franklin.
I happened to see CNN's breathless coverage of four guys sitting around a patio table having a beer on the White House grounds, and I reached a conclusion:
Our mass media is awful.
I mean, really. A hundred or so reporters and photographers focused on this? Anchor people discussing this seriously, and then throwing it to a reporter on the scene?
It's a wonder the public doesn't just tune them out altogether.
Have any of you had any experience selling via eBay? I'm thinking of auctioning a guitar (Rickenbacker six-string, model 360, made in November 1968):
but I'm foggy on how much I'd have to pay for the privilege of selling it there. It looks like I'd have to pay 8.5% of the sales price. Can that be right?
'Course, I'm willing to sell it without going through the eBay process, if anyone wants to buy. It's been played for maybe five hours since I bought it in 1973. It has a Maple-Glo finish and crushed pearl inlays, and it has two toaster pickups. It's also got the tremolo bar and a Ric-o-Sound plug, and I have two sets of spare strings and an amp cord.
Note: that's my guitar in the picture. I have to charge the camera battery before I can upload some more shots.
Update: Photos here.
When you are told to have a routine lab test, do you think that means a urinalysis is involved? I don't. I didn't.
There I was, arm bandaged, waiting to be allowed to leave, and I was handed that stupid little cup. Unfortunately, before I walked into the lab I stopped at the men's room on the same floor.
If you haven't heard Rosanne Cash's Black Cadillac, start listening. It's part elegy for her father, Johnny Cash, her stepmother, June Carter Cash, and her mother, Vivian Liberto Cash Distin. It's also an audio chronicle of a daughter coping with their deaths. According to the singer, she began writing the songs in the spring of 2003 (June died in May) and continued through the spring of 2005 (Vivian died in May of that year). Johnny died in September of 2003.
There is some beautiful music on this CD.
(Snort. iTunes classifies it as rock.)
Jezebel does an excellent job of distilling an eight-page article in yesterday's NYT down to a single blog post about Dr. George Tiller and his anti-choice opponents. As you'll recall, they finally succeeded in stopping him by murdering him on the steps of his church.
One quote which shows the mental quality of those opponents:
“If I can’t document it, I don’t say it,” Mr. Newman of Operation Rescue said, moments before suggesting without any proof that Dr. Tiller had bought off the local district attorney, Nola T. Foulston, by giving her a baby for adoption.
Dammit! Turned on the coffee pot this morning with no results. The power light came on, but it didn't heat or drip.
Are they just designed to have an 18-month life cycle now?
I had to break out the French Press.
Many of our fellow citizens should be re-taught the concept of marginal tax rates:
The marginal tax rate is the rate on the last dollar of income earned. This is very different from the average tax rate, which is the total tax paid as a percentage of total income earned. In 2003, for example, the United States imposed a 35 percent tax on every dollar of taxable income above $155,975 earned by a married taxpayer filing separately. But that tax bracket applied only to earnings above that $155,975 threshold; income below that cutoff point would still be taxed at rates of 10 percent on the first $7,000, 15 percent on the next $14,400, and so on.In round numbers, if there's a marginal tax rate of 35% above $100K, the taxpayer would pay no more than 28% of that $100K or $28,000 (see table; in practice it would be less than $28K because there are three more tax brackets between 15% and the hypothetical 35%). On the first thousand above $100K, he'd pay 35%, or $350. His net tax bill if he made exactly $101K would be $28,350. Not $35,350 (35% x $101K).
It would be helpful if newspaper columnists and television reporters understood this.
On his blog, Krugman says:
There are, however, no examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn’t work."But, Professor! We've been told all our lives that free markets are the cure-all for lower prices for consumer goods! How can you say otherwise?"
"Simple. Health care is not a consumer good. Here's what I mean:
. . .you don’t know when or whether you’ll need care — but if you do, the care can be extremely expensive. The big bucks are in triple coronary bypass surgery, not routine visits to the doctor’s office; and very, very few people can afford to pay major medical costs out of pocket."See?"
This tells you right away that health care can’t be sold like bread. It must be largely paid for by some kind of insurance. And this in turn means that someone other than the patient ends up making decisions about what to buy.
"Oh, and the companies making those decisions are in it to make money. Every payout to a doctor, hospital, or pharmaceutical company for a medical good or service is a cost to them. They want to reduce costs, thus it's in their interest to keep those payouts to a minimum. That means refusing procedures to patients.
"And that, grasshopper, is why free markets won't work for health care; the incentives are perverse and go against the public good."
If you don't have a smile on your face after watching this wedding footage, you're pretty much hopeless.
I really wonder how much selling the initiator of this idea had to do to get the wedding party to cooperate.
"Are the cabloids going to have G. Gordon Liddy on to discuss the Cambridge case? He does have experience with being arrested for burglary."
(Skippy, I know it came from your space, but it's my blog and I'll capitalize if I want to.)
If someone else was paying the premiums for my health care, the co-pay I have to cough up when I see the doc wouldn't feel like a rip-off. But when I'm paying the $344/month premium myself, that additional $25 makes me ask what the hell I'm getting for those "dues."
Don't say "peace of mind," because knowing I somehow have to come up with it every month is anything but soothing.
So Harry Reid says we'll have to wait till the Senate comes back from its three-week August break before voting on health care reform.
“Working with the Republicans, one of the things that they asked for was to have more time,” Mr. Reid said. “A decision was made to give them more time for the Finance Committee.”
Okay. In that three weeks:
Seems reasonable to me, Senators.
Woody Guthrie wrote "Do Re Mi" in 1937, when the ravages of the Dust Bowl were sending people off to California in hopes of a better life.
Lots of folks back East, they say, is leavin' home every day,
Beatin' the hot old dusty way to the California line.
'Cross the desert sands they roll, gettin' out of that old dust bowl,
They think they're goin' to a sugar bowl, but here's what they find --
Now, the police at the port of entry say,
"You're number fourteen thousand for today."
Oh, if you ain't got the do re mi, folks, you ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi.
You want to buy you a home or a farm, that can't deal nobody harm,
Or take your vacation by the mountains or sea.
Don't swap your old cow for a car, you better stay right where you are,
Better take this little tip from me.
'Cause I look through the want ads every day
But the headlines on the papers always say:
If you ain't got the do re mi, boys, you ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi.
Lyrics as recorded by Woody Guthrie, RCA Studios, Camden, NJ, Apr 26, 1940, released on "Dust Bowl Ballads," transcribed by Manfred Helfert.
© 1961 Ludlow Music Inc., New York, NY
Arnold and his Republican colleagues in the state's legislature seem to want to turn the place back to those days.
Here's a performance of the song.
Via Think Progress, an article in the WSJ reports:
Executives and other highly compensated employees now receive more than one-third of all pay in the U.S., according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Social Security Administration data — without counting billions of dollars more in pay that remains off federal radar screens that measure wages and salaries. Highly paid employees received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total U.S. pay in 2007, the latest figures available. The compensation numbers don’t include incentive stock options, unexercised stock options, unvested restricted stock units and certain benefits.It's got a chart, if you like graphical representations of numbers.
Class warfare has already been declared, but it was done secretly without our side knowing about it.
An online database containing 250,000 service records of soldiers who saw active duty in the latter phases of the Hundred Years War (1369-1453), has been published as part of the Medieval Soldierresearch project.
The Hundred Years War? Are you kidding me?
the researchers at the University of Reading and University of Southampton have analysed historic sources such as muster rolls records in the National Archives at Kew and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris ( for records of English garrisons in France ). The resulting Medieval Soldier database enables people to search for soldiers by surname, rank or year of service.Do you think you may have had an ancestor in that fight? Search by name!
Using resources such as the proceedings of the Court of Chivalry, the researchers have also been able to build a picture of career progression and class mobility through what they believe are the origins of England's first professional army, creating complex profiles of individual soldiers. The database includes, for example, the names of many archers who served with Henry V at Agincourt.
Boggled, I am.
There were nine men with the same last name as my grandmother's married name; none with my last name.
Only this time it's a financial earthquake, not a physical one.
I do not understand how a state which is only two votes short of a two-thirds Democratic majority in its legislature can come up with a budget deal as bad as this one:
Their agreement, which could go before the full Legislature within days, does not include any broad-based tax increases, relying instead on deep cuts in government services, borrowing and accounting maneuvers to wipe out the deficit.
Tens of thousands of seniors and children would lose access to healthcare, local governments would sacrifice several billion dollars in state assistance this year and thousands of convicted criminals could serve less time in state prison. Welfare checks would go to fewer residents, state workers would be forced to continue to take unpaid days off and new drilling for oil would be permitted off the Santa Barbara coast.
And dday says at Calitics:
Just to state the obvious, only the Republican leaders have agreed to this. We still aren't through the process where individual Yacht Party members have to be bribed for their votes.Amazing. Schwarzenegger and his right-wing maniacs in the State Legislature in California have managed to bully their way into further destroying the safety nets in that state, and apparently the Democrats there can't figure out how to block it.
Of course, we aren't through the process where progressives just say "no we're not voting for that, try again," but I've never seen that process come into play.
It makes me sick. When I was growing up in the Golden State, it was a highly-regarded state. Now it's a laughingstock. Worse, its citizens (at least the ones who can't move) are watching public services be eviscerated to the benefit of the wealthy who don't need them.
In honor of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, NASA has a terrific set of photos and videos at its main site.
I've seen the clips so often I have to remind myself that I did not see it live; we were on Guam and had no television. We heard it on the radio.
Mike Tirico at the British Open: "Winning the Open is a life-changing experience."
Somebody whose name I didn't catch on CNN's In the Money: "Facebook is the next step in human evolution."
I'm starting a new organization: Citizens Against Nonsensical Hyperbole. Who's with me?
From the Committee to Protect Journalists:
when CPJ sought to visit apartheid South Africa, it was a letter from Cronkite to the South African Embassy that secured visas for our delegation. Our representatives, including Nadel and then-board member Aryeh Neier (who helped found Human Rights Watch), tried to persuade South African officials to ease the country's practice of imprisoning journalists and taking other highly repressive steps such as "banning" them from public life.
Minister of Law and Order Louis La Grange was unabashed about procedures that clearly lacked due process and indignant that they were being challenged. Yet later in the meeting, La Grange's tone softened: He told our delegation that he had once met Cronkite. "Should I give Walter your regards?" asked Neier. "No, he wouldn't remember me," said La Grange. "But I certainly remember him."
For Neier, the interaction was a lesson in the power of the U.S. media and one of its leading figures. A government official who was so powerful in South Africa that he proudly took credit for approving journalist detentions was in awe of Walter Cronkite.
There's another anecdote there which tells of the time during the Falklands War when three journalists were captured by the Argentinians and were subjects of a protest letter signed by Cronkite; one of those journalists was Simon Winchester, who has gone on to write several best-selling books (Krakatoa, The Professor and the Madman).
I suppose we knew it was coming, but it's still hard to believe. Walter Cronkite has died of cardiovascular disease at 92.
There will be hundreds of eulogies for him, and rightly so. My first memory of him as Cronkite, not just the guy on the evening news, was probably November 22, 1963. Seeing him remove his glasses as he said "President Kennedy died at one p.m. Central Standard Time." made that awful day finally real.
Here's the video of that moment.
What Watson might that be? Not Tom, surely? He's 59 years old! He can't be tied for the lead afer two rounds of the British Open, can he?
For the junkies, here's video of the Watson-Nicklaus face-off at this same course in 1977.
The Guardian posts a quiz about spies in fiction. Sample question:
10. “The most inane things go wrong. The reality of a conspiracy is that some idiot leaves a briefcase on the tube. Or they've forgotten that it's summertime.” A thriller writer who has done time in the services speaks about the humour in his work. But who is it?
Fun stuff, and I'm not as smart as I thought. Bummer.
If I hear one more word about gun and property rights from raving lunatics, I may go buy one (a gun, not a raving lunatic), fly to DC, invade the offices of one of these clowns, and fire about a zillion shots into the ceiling there.
This is encouraging. The Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed a health care bill (pdf) this afternoon. You will see the 13-10 vote along party lines and conclude that Republicans are doing their usual obstructionist thing, and you'd be right.
The bipartisan bill includes more than 160 Republican amendments accepted during the month-long mark-up, one of the longest in Congressional history.But despite all those amendments they still couldn't bear to vote for it.
The White House is calling this bipartisan, and I think that's clever.
Emanuel, making a theoretical case for a party-line vote in Congress, offered a definition of bipartisanship based not on roll-call votes but on whether Democrats have accepted Republican ideas during the process of negotiations.That allows for passage with a simple majority if necessary, rather than the 60-vote filibuster-proof majority Republicans and the press seem to think is a requirement.
He said Democrats have already passed that test, pointing to Republican amendments that the Democratic-controlled Senate health panel adopted.
“That’s a test of bipartisanship -- whether you took ideas from both parties,” Emanuel said. “At the end of the day, the test isn’t whether they voted for it,” he said, referring to Republicans. “The test is whether the final product represented some of their ideas. And I think it will.”
Good. There's no need to water down the legislation just to get two or three Republican votes when it can be done without them, particularly since we all know that Republicans and their allies and enablers in the insurance and health care industries are going to scream "partisanship" no matter what.
A diarist at Kos has a slew of still pictures and some video of Obama at the All Star Game. I watched and listened; he got the ball to the plate (wearing a White Sox jersey) for the ceremonial first pitch, then went upstairs to the broadcast booth and talked baseball during the bottom of the 2nd inning.
Given Senator Session's own history with the Senate Judiciary Committee (his appointment to the District Court of Alabama was rejected back in 1986, principally because a whole lot of witnesses showed evidence that he was a bigot), I think Matt Yglesias's comment is both funny and apt:
I would pay good money to hear Sonia Sotomayor say, “Senator Sessions, I think it’s ironic to be facing these questions from a man whose judicial nomination was rejected by this very committee on the grounds that he’s a huge racist.”
Last night's edition of the CBS Evening News had the show's senior political analyst Jeff Greenfield on to talk about the Judiciary Committee's hearings on Judge Sotomayor's fitness to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. He said something which really struck me as true: these aren't really hearings to elicit the judge's true beliefs about the law. Rather, they're an opportunity for the Senators to play to their political bases.
According to the NYT's The Caucus blog, here's the schedule for today, the first day of the hearings:
Each of the senators will speak, from mostly prepared remarks, beginning at 10 a.m. (The 19 senators are permitted to talk for as long as 10 minutes.)If the Senators were really serious about asking questions about the nominee, they'd dispense with opening statements and get right to the point. If they did that, though, they'd give up the opportunity to hear themselves talk for 10 minutes on national TV, and, more importantly, lose the opportunity for their constituents to hear them talk about their high-minded philosophies of the law.
We likely won’t hear from Judge Sotomayor until about 1:30 or 2 p.m. Ben LaBolt, spokesman for the White House just dropped by to tell us that her opening statement will be about 15 minutes and today’s sessions will probably conclude about 2:30 or 3 p.m.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens on Wednesday the 15th, and I've seen absolutely no mention of it on the blogs I frequent.
Has everyone burnt out? Has it just been too long since the last film was released (Order of the Phoenix, July 2007) for the excitement to last? Has the recession done what "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" has not been able to do to Harry and friends so far, kill the franchise?
Whither Harry Potter?
To celebrate 50 years of statehood, The Advertiser is running our list of top 50 sportspersons/teams/people who helped change or shape the landscape in Hawai'i sports since 1959.
Today's person is Patsy Mink. Who, you ask?
Patsy Mink was a Democrat and a US Representative from 1965-1977 and again from 1990-2002. What's her legacy? She co-authored Title IX, which mandated gender equality "under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
That law has enabled countless women to participate in high school and college sports; the statistic which really startled me was this: UH
offers 13 women's sports and $6.5 million was budgeted for fiscal year 2008-09. In 1972, UH only had women's volleyball and track and field. Only $5,000 was spent on women's sports and the lone athletic scholarship went to a drum majorette.
The second-most popular sport at UH these days is women's volleyball, drawing more fans than any other women's program in the country since 1997. The average attendance per match is ~6,000.
Without Title IX and Patsy Mink, who died in 2002, that would never have happened.
Matt Kemp apparently didn't think he'd done enough in last night's game. He hit a grand-slam home run in the top of the 10th inning to put the Dodgers ahead 12-6, then decided he'd emulate Willie Mays's catch in 1954 in the World Series just to put a topper on his night.
I had my first experience with this today, and I am not impressed with it. I sent off an electronic application with résumé and got a rejection within five minutes. This despite the fact that the job had exactly the same title as the one I last held when working for someone other than myself.
My feelings are best expressed by this rhyme, substituting the computerized résumé-reader for the doctor:
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.
Ever wonder who drew many of those famous promotional posters for shows at San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore West in the 1960s?
He was a guy named Wes Wilson. Here's a display of some of the posters.
He only drew them from February 1966 to May 1967, when he and promoter Bill Graham disagreed about compensation. I know. Who'd think an artist and his client would differ about the value of the art?
Wilson is still active at age 72; here's his website.
In a sentence at the tail end of a local radio newscast about this happy/sad story, I just heard the following:
She was hospitalized due to an unexpected medical emergency.
Er, aren't all emergencies by definition unexpected?
It's an odd experience seeing a former employer close up shop. I spent about three years working at the Ilikai Hotel back in the early 1990s, when it had approximately 780 hotel rooms and an equal number of condos and time-share units. Its then-owner, Nikko Hotels, was finishing up a $25M renovation when I started there; the hotel operations were in full swing, and it employed about 550 unionized housekeeping, F&B, maintenance and security personnel as well as roughly 75 non-union administrative and sales people. It's now down to 203 hotel rooms and about 65 union members; there can't be more than a token number of admin/salespeople.
The hotel was a symbol of Waikiki and Hawai'i; if you ever watched Hawaii Five-O you saw it in the opening credits (the show's star, Jack Lord, is standing on one of the hotel's lanais as seen in this YouTube clip).
The hotel ran afoul of an investor who had grandiose ideas about his own abilities compounded by the credit crunch of last year. I confess I can't figure out how it could have made a profit with only 203 hotel rooms available; the physical plant is huge.
It was built in 1964. It's disturbing to see it go.
CNN, MSNBC, the three network channels and about a dozen other television outlets are all showing live coverage of the Michael Jackson memorial/tribute.
I was 32 when Thriller was released, and I wasn't watching MTV at the time, so I wasn't part of the fan base. I'm a little bemused by all this coverage, but I'm sure there are millions of people who want/need to see it.
He was obviously a huge talent and a hugely complicated individual, and one who connected with an awful lot of people. I wasn't one of them, but my condolences go to all those who mourn him.
It's all very well to have your cousin closest to your own age visiting, but it means you can't fudge your age. At one point I said "I'm gonna be 60 in a couple of years," and she immediately said "next year."
Well, yeah, but it's not till November of next year, so doesn't that make it "a couple?"
If I were the Boston Pops, I'd break my contract with CBS. The network (at least in Hawai'i) only scheduled one hour for their famous 4th of July show last night on the Esplanade, and the Pops only appeared in the first half at that. The entire fireworks part of the show was accompanied by canned country music. No 1812 Overture, no Sousa, no nuthin'.
Go back to A&E, Pops!
I was looking for a rendition of The Stars and Stripes Forever on YouTube, thinking of Horowitz or the Boston Pops or something similar. Imagine my surprise at finding the Oahu Civic Orchestra performing it on July 1, 2007 in Kailua.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) announced this afternoon she will resign from office on July 26 and return to private life, a stunning decision by last year's Republican vice presidential candidate to leave office before the end of her first term.
I have been observing national politics in this country for about forty years, and I can't think of another case of flameout occurring so quickly after the politician's appearance on the national stage. Mark Sanford had been in Congress for six years before he became Governor of South Carolina. John Ensign had been in Congress for four years before winning a Senate seat in Nevada on his second try. John Edwards had been a Senator for six years when he and John Kerry lost the 2004 election, long before his affair took place. Larry Craig had been in the House for ten years and the Senate for eighteen before his arrest in the Minneapolis airport. David Vitter had been in Congress for four years before his election to the Senate.
Even if you go back in history, Wilbur Mills had served in Congress for thirty-seven years when he took that dip into the fountain in 1974. Dan Rostenkowski had been in the House for thirty-six years when he got caught exchanging stamps for cash at the House Post Office. Bob Packwood had served twenty-seven years in the Senate before his sexual harassment behavior became public knowledge.
Sarah Palin was elected Governor of Alaska in 2006 and today announced her resignation effective July 25, 2009. I think it's fair to say nobody in the Lower 48 (or out here in Hawai'i) had ever heard of her until Senator McCain announced she'd be his running mate on August 29, 2008. In eleven short months she's gone from VP candidate to lame-duck Governor.
I understand why Obama is letting Congress take the lead on crafting health care reform; he's taken a lesson from the 1993 debacle when Congress was presented with a complicated package and never voted on it, and if Congress writes the reform its authors will be more inclined to fight for it. But I can't help thinking of the old line about camels: they're horses designed by committee.
I worry that whatever emerges is going to be either terribly watered down to reach the lowest common denominator or it's going to be so packed with givebacks to the big-money special interest groups that it won't do the job it should: ensure that the 47 million Americans who don't have insurance can get coverage, and ensure that the rest of us won't be sandbagged by private insurance companies who deny us coverage when we need it most.
A few years ago I was given a T-shirt which has in large print on its front "Lead Me Not Into Temptation" and in smaller print below that "...Particularly Bookstores"
This ain't gonna help. It's at the bottom of my hill; it marks its books at two prices: $1 and $3. It opened this week, but I didn't know about it till I went into the mall to pick up a prescription today.
I walked out with two $1 books by Pratchett: Night Watch and Monstrous Regiment.
Nineteen House Democrats wrote to Speaker Pelosi to say any health care plan must exclude coverage for abortion procedures or they won't vote for it.
Here are their names:
Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK); Bart Stupak (D-MI); Colin Peterson (D-MN); Tim Holden (D-PA); Travis Childers (D-MS); Lincoln Davis (D-TN); Heath Shuler (D-NC) Solomon Ortiz (D-TX); Mike McIntyre (D-NC); Jerry Costello (D-IL); Gene Taylor (D-MS); James Oberstar (D-MN); Bobby Bright (D-AL); Steve Driehaus (D-OH); Marcy Kaptur (D-OH); Charlie Melancon (D-LA); John Murtha (D-PA); Paul Kanjorski (D-PA); and Kathleen Dahlkemper (D-PA).
If one of these is your representative and you think any health care plan ought to include coverage of abortion, you might want to call and say that letter doesn't express your position and that you'd like your representative in Congress to remember that not all constituents think alike.
Dear Governor for-the-moment Sanford: Stop digging!
The old adage is "It ain't the crime, it's the cover-up." Sanford seems to have taken that to heart. Once the crime was discovered, we've been treated to a seemingly-endless series of apologies for his behavior.
How many apologies can one man make? Were I you I'd either be holed up somewhere trying to reconcile with my wife and kids or I'd be instituting divorce proceedings so I could start a new life with my lover. I sure as hell wouldn't be sitting down with The Associated Press for a three-hour interview.