August 31, 2009

Classic Beatles

Rickenbackers are the guitar of choice for some musicians, including Roger McGuinn of the Byrds and Tom Petty of the Heartbreakers. But the first time I ever saw one was when it was played by John Lennon in "A Hard Days Night."

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August 30, 2009

Death wish

If you opt for cremation, could it be said you've found your niche?

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August 29, 2009

O Good and Faithful Servant

A selective list of Senator Kennedy's legislative accomplishments:

  • Immigration (1965) Kennedy managed the successful floor battle to pass the Hart-Celler Act that abolished quotas and lifted a 1924 ban on immigration from Asia.
  • Cancer (1971) After rising to the position of majority whip in 1969, Kennedy and Rep. Paul Rogers, D-Fla., passed legislation establishing a federal cancer research program that quadrupled the amount spent fighting cancer.
  • Women's Sports (1972) Kennedy was a key Senate backer of Title IX, a 1972 amendment requiring colleges and universities to provide equal funding for men's and women's athletics.
  • Campaign Finance (1974) Joining with Sen. Hugh Scott, R-Pa., Kennedy sponsored the sweeping overhaul of ethics rules after Watergate limiting political donations and establishing public financing for presidential candidates.
  • Anti-Apartheid (1986) After President Ronald Reagan vetoed economic sanctions banning the purchase of gold, coal, iron and other goods from the apartheid government of South Africa in 1986, Kennedy spearheaded the bipartisan effort in both houses to override the veto.
  • Family Leave (1990) Kennedy and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., authored the Family and Medical Leave Act requiring businesses to provide unpaid leave for family emergencies or after the birth of infants. It was signed by President Clinton in 1993.
  • Health care (1996) Kennedy joined with Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kansas, in 1996 to pass the Kennedy-Kassebaum Act, which allowed employees to keep health insurance after leaving their job and prohibited health insurance companies from refusing to renew coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Minimum Wage (1996) Kennedy was the lead Senate sponsor of legislation increasing the minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.15. He reprised this role in 2007, after Democrats retook Congress, quarterbacking the effort to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 by 2009.
  • Education (2001) Over the objections of some fellow Democrats, Kennedy helped pass President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.

Damn. We should all do half as much.

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The Times, They Are A-Changin'

In a post with links to video of President Obama's eulogy for Senator Kennedy I found a perceptive comment at Political Animal:

When he entered the Senate, Jim Crow segregation still existed. In much of the country blacks couldn't vote or were taking their lives into their hands if they did. When his Senate career ended with his death, the U.S. had a black president who delivered the eulogy at the funeral.

Yeah, and at least in my case, I didn't think twice about it.

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August 28, 2009

In which my faith in science is shaken

One of the exhibits I saw at Bishop Museum yesterday included a five-foot tall wood carving of a lesser god. It was a couple of centuries old and looked its age.

One of the things about me is that when I look at textual descriptions of artifacts in museum cases I read everything, so I noticed that this carving was described as constructed of "undetermined wood."

"Undetermined?" How could that be? How could it be that something as commonplace as wood couldn't be given the proper taxonomic rank?

I asked the Collections Manager about it and he said that he had been equally astonished that the botanists couldn't identify it, despite fairly strenuous efforts.


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August 27, 2009

Museum talk

Update: My friend Ryan went to the grand re-opening and took some 40 pictures, including this spectacular panoramic shot.

We went to Bishop Museum today to see the results of the $21M renovation of Hawaiian Hall. It's glorious. We spent four hours there and could have spent triple that.

It reopened about two weeks ago, so this video is incomplete, but it's still a good start on seeing what's been done. All the artifact cases have been re-done with under-display lighting, the floors are organized more logically than before, and there are more things to see as well as interactive displays/slideshows.

Come see it!

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August 26, 2009

Hung for sheep as lamb, etc.

We can rest assured that the Republicans are going to accuse the Democrats of "politicizing" Senator Kennedy's death whether the Dems do or not, so I don't see the harm in saying things like "Health Care Reform would have been his crowning achievement, and we need to pass it in his memory."

Moreover, I suspect he'd be urging his fellow Democrats to do just that.

Amanda Marcotte has the right idea:

in the event of my passing, I want it to be clear these are my wishes:
  1. Please honor me by continuing to fight for the liberal causes I held dear.
  2. Explicitly state in any obituaries, memorial services, etc. that what I would have wanted was to keep the fight going.
  3. Impassioned speeches about the fight ahead for progressivism are especially welcome.
  4. Indeed, the only way to honor my memory is to double down and fight for a better world.
  5. Conservatives who don’t like this should shut the f*** up.

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August 25, 2009

Ted Kennedy dies at 77

From the NYT:

The death was announced Wednesday morning in a statement by the Kennedy family.

“Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port,” the statement said. “We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.”

Man, even when you know it's coming, it's still hard to take. I remember when he was the youngest of the three four brothers, regarded as a lightweight by many. Not any more. He was the old bull of the Senate for the past ten or fifteen years, fighting for kids and for health care and against bad Republican policies.

He will be sorely missed.

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Unusual spam

I am Mr Hank Busche, a widower for 4 yearsI have 2 kids. I am seeking for the services of a nanny to come and work for me in the U.K.I am willing to offer 600 pounds sterling per week and will provide monthly shopping allowances as well as accomodation. If interested please contact me and send me your resume via my email address: Tel+447045705221 Thanks, Hank Busche.

(Note: I have no qualms about putting this guy's name and phone number up here; spam gets no quarter from me.)

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Truly a fitting demise

Clippy (remember Clippy?) went too far, and Cthulhu is invoked.

via PZ Myers

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August 24, 2009

Oh heck

If you have an electric guitar and the electronics don't work, the guitar's kind of useless and certainly unsalable till that's repaired.

Who knew?

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August 23, 2009

I should listen to you why, again?

You know, as a guy who's benefited from government-provided health care his entire life, John McCain has a lot of gall claiming that there should be no public option for health care:

I believe that one of the fundamentals for any agreement would be that the president abandon the government option.

Do as I say, not as I do, says Prince John.

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August 22, 2009

New tell-all book implicates genie

Baseball Superstar Accused of Performance-Enhancing Genie Use

via Baseball Musings. David Pinto thinks Samantha's at work here, but I think Kazaam is the more likely culprit.

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August 21, 2009

Happy Statehood Day

Find more videos like this on Statehood Hawaii

On this date in 1959 President Eisenhower signed into law Proclamation 3309 declaring Hawai'i to be the 50th state of the Union.

But are we celebrating loudly with parades and flags? Not hardly.

In the June 27, 1959, statehood plebiscite, 94.3 percent of voters favored immediate statehood. However, Hawaiian activists and others opposed to continued statehood have argued that a silent majority of residents were either opposed to or ambivalent about joining the union.
Whether those activists are correct or not, they have cowed our politicians into believing that no overt celebrations should be held. Instead, we're getting a "Statehood Conference" with an admission fee.

It's like holding town hall meetings to discuss health care reform quietly, in hopes that the crazies won't show up to shout "Nazi death panels" and "socialized medicine."

There is a sovereignty movement out here which wants to secede from the US. It's fragmented, though. Some of the groups in the movement want to return to a monarchy; some want to have some kind of small "d" democratic nation; and some are so muddled they don't know what they want, except that they don't want to be part of the United States. None of them seem to want to address the logical conclusion of such a withdrawal: the loss of the billions of dollars of Federal spending on the military, Social Security, education, Medicare and Medicaid, and all the other programs the national government supports.

In a population of over one million, there are only a few thousand of these folks, but they're a loud crowd and they can terrify elected officials. It's a damned shame.

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August 20, 2009

The truth emerges

"We have over 40 million people without insurance in this country today, and that is unacceptable," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said. "If we would just quit squabbling so much, we could get that number up to 50 or even 100 million. Why, there's no reason we can't work together to deny health care to everyone but the richest 1 percent of the population."

"That's what America is all about," he added.

From The Onion, of course.

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August 19, 2009

Clue stick, please

There are times I wonder what country I live in. From Think Progress, quoting the findings of a new poll:

One poll question indicative of how difficult it is to gain public understanding on a complicated issue asked if respondents thought the government should ‘stay out of Medicare,’ something inherently impossible. 39% said yes.

4 out of 10 respondents did not know that Medicare is a government program. What the hell do they think that item below FICA on their paystub means?

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Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition

The Democrats may grow a spine yet. From tomorrow's NYT: Democrats Seem Set to Go It Alone on a Health Bill.

Top Democrats said Tuesday that their go-it-alone view was being shaped by what they saw as Republicans' purposely strident tone against health care legislation during this month's Congressional recess, as well as remarks by leading Republicans that current proposals were flawed beyond repair.

Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said the heated opposition was evidence that Republicans had made a political calculation to draw a line against any health care changes, the latest in a string of major administration proposals that Republicans have opposed.

"The Republican leadership," Mr. Emanuel said, "has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama's health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day."

This was undoubtedly helped along by the letter sent to HHS Secretary Sibelius by 60 liberal House members which says, in part,

We have attached, for your review, a letter from 60 Members of Congress who are firm in their position that any legislation that moves forward through both chambers, and into a final proposal for the President's signature, MUST contain a public option (emphasis in original).
It's about damned time these guys realize there are more liberals than Blue Dogs in the House and start using their number as a club. That might light a fire under some Blue Dog Senators, too.

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August 18, 2009

Health care reform wasn't enough?

As if the nation didn't have a big enough soap opera on its hands with the United States Senate, Michael Jackson and Michael Vick, now Brent Favre has signed to play quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings.

Bring back Shark Week.

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The No card's been played, again

Via Steve Benen at Political Animal comes this story from Politico:

The Senate Republican whip, speaking to reporters on a conference call from his home state of Arizona, said that even if the Democrats do away with a government-run insurance option, the GOP most likely won't support the bill that's being written in the Senate.


On the nonprofit insurance cooperatives that Sen. Kent Conrad and other centrist Democrats are proposing as an alternative to a public plan, Kyl said it was a "Trojan horse."

"It’s a step towards government-run health care in this country," Kyl said.


Mr. President, Senators Baucus and Conrad, will you please recognize once and for all that Republicans have no interest in reforming health care. They are actively attempting to defeat it and you. For Republicans, politics supercedes the general welfare. You've just gotten that word from the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate.

Write the best bill you can, one that's right for the majority of the American people, and send it out of committee.

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August 17, 2009


In the category of "small things which disturb you out of all proportion to their importance," finding a loose screw in the middle of your driveway looms large.

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August 16, 2009


If only the people shouting and screaming at town hall meetings would bother to look at the current OECD data (3-page .pdf), they'd maybe understand that there's a problem with health care that won't go away if we just ignore it.

Total health spending accounted for 16.0% of GDP in the United States in 2007, by far the highest share in the OECD. Following the United States were France, Switzerland and Germany, which allocated respectively 11.0%, 10.8% and 10.4% of their GDP to health. The OECD average was 8.9% in 2007.

The United States also ranks far ahead of other OECD countries in terms of total health spending per capita, with spending of 7,290 USD (adjusted for purchasing power parity), almost two-and-a-half times greater than the OECD average of 2,964 USD in 2007. Norway follows, with spending of 4,763 USD per capita, then Switzerland with spending of 4,417 USD per capita.

Also see Digby, who's got a nice chart explaining the data in terms of infant mortality and life expectancy.

The Republicans or their staffs have probably seen these numbers but are willfully ignoring them.

The status quo is broken.

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August 15, 2009

What happened here?

I heard a brief BBC story about this last night and wasn't sure I could believe it.

Hamas government forces stormed a mosque in the Gaza Strip on Friday and apparently subdued a heavily armed group of Al Qaeda-inspired militants whose imam had vowed to impose theocratic rule in the Palestinian territory.

Wait. Suddenly Hamas is killing Al Qaeda terrorists? Does that mean that in some way America and Hamas are on the same side?

I can't wait to hear John Bolton try to spin this.

To be clear, I don't really think Hamas has suddenly flipped sides; I think this is an internal power struggle. Still, hearing the words "Hamas stormed a mosque in which Al Qaeda members were gathered" on the news at midnight last night really gave me a "what world is this?" moment.

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August 14, 2009

Crazed Kitty

I've got a Lexmark which needs some work.

via Skippy

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No thank you

Bah. I got my first nibble from my resumé at Monster yesterday. Bear in mind that all my work experience has been either internet research, accounting, or data processing management. I've had no sales experience whatsoever. So what company do I hear from? Bankers Life and Casualty, which tells me I can make 100K selling Long-Term Care insurance to seniors.

Right. I was once told by the manager of the local John Hancock office that their successful agents came aboard with at least 100 friends they could market to; trying to make it in the insurance sales business from a cold start is virtually impossible.

I Googled the company, by the way. There are an awful lot of complaints out there on the interwebs about the company's promise of guaranteed leads and fast money.

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August 13, 2009

An advisory

To Barbers, Stylists, and other personal service providers:

Turn off your flipping cellphone while you work. Failing that, let the damn thing ring and let the caller go to voice mail.

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Les Paul, R.I.P.

Aloha, Les Paul.

When he invented the first solid body guitar it was a board with pickups. He called it "the log," and there are several pictures of it here. It evolved into the Gold Top, built in 1952 (that one's a '54).

He was as much musician as he was inventor. Along with Leo Fender, he influenced rock n' roll mightily.

Thanks, Mr. Paul.

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August 12, 2009

Wasted morning

I went out to get the paper this morning and discovered my left front tire was low on air. I had a scheduled doctor's appointment at 10:45, so I decided to reschedule that while trying to get the tire fixed. I got down to the nearest tire place about 9:45 and explained the problem. They got three lug nuts undone and discovered the fourth was stripped, so they suggested I take the car back to the place where I'd gotten the tires to have them repair it, since the warranty probably still applied. That made sense, so off I went. I got there at 11:00am, and spent the next 3 1/2 hours waiting for them to get to it. They had to cut the wheel stud to remove it before they could get the tire off to check for leaks.

Surprise! No leak! "Keep an eye on it and bring it back if you see it start to get low."

Sheesh. On the other hand, no charge for all the work either, and I did get them to check all the lug nuts on the other three tires to be sure there wasn't a similar problem with any of those.

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August 11, 2009

Dear North Carolina

Your knowledge of history and geography is deficient. From a professional polling outfit:

"Do you consider Hawaii to be part of the United States?" Here it's 92% saying yes, 5% saying no, and 3% not sure. Among Republicans, 88% say Hawaii is a part of America, to 7% who say it is not, and 4% aren't sure.

This is the same state which has the Research Triangle, so the residents aren't all dumb, but c'mon. What does that 50th star on the flag represent?

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August 10, 2009

Finished it

I grumbled that the first book ended somewhat anticlimactically. Not so this one. It ends with a rush. There's action, resolution, revenge and vindication.

The Girl Who Played With Fire is a much more satisfying book than the first. Salander's background, which was left shrouded in the first book, is laid out bit-by-bit in the final 100 pages.

From the review I linked to in the previous post:

The plot centers on the double murder of a young Stockholm couple. He is a journalist and she is a researcher. Together they are investigating the sexual exploitation of teenage girls from Latvia and Estonia smuggled into Sweden. The gun found at the crime scene has Salander's fingerprints.

How could that be? The police think the case is open-and-shut, but it's not a gun she carried around, nor is it one that the victims had in their home. Her former employers both describe her as someone completely different from the person the state formerly declared incompetent, and the principal investigator doesn't understand why.

The book revolves around her friends' attempts to figure out what's going on, who framed her, and why. Their attempts are complicated by the fact that she doesn't trust anyone and so won't communicate directly with them. In fact, this is one of the most intriguing plot devices I've ever encountered; the principals don't speak to one another except via computer.

I liked the first book, but it doesn't hold a candle to the second. I began to think I was on an out-of-control train or bus. This is an absolutely fabulous thriller.

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Back in June I reviewed Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I enjoyed it and said I was looking forward to reading the subsequent books.

I put myself in line to get The Girl Who Played With Fire at my library. On August 3 I picked it up; it's classified as a "Hot Pick," which means a 7-day loan period, not renewable (and there are 165 people waiting for it).

Somehow I let myself get sidetracked, so I didn't start this 499-page book until last night. I read until 2:00am, and I have 96 pages to go. The library closes at 5:00pm. Will I finish? Will Felicia interfere with my reading?

Stay tuned.

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August 09, 2009

Odd design

I was looking for 1x2 boards to fit into the tracks of our sliding glass doors today. I found that when the doors are closed, the only track where I can place a piece of wood to block the door from opening is on its exterior.

Huh. That wouldn't exactly prevent a burglar from getting in, now would it? "Ha! Stupid residents! I'm going to reach down here, lift out this dumb stick, and calmly jimmy open the lock!"

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Well, this is good news. Last night at 11:00pm it was still a Category 1 hurricane.

500 AM HST SUN AUG 09 2009


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August 08, 2009

Ancient history, PC version

Reprinted From Byte Magazine, issue 12/1982, pp. 182-198.

1-2-3 is, above all else, a spreadsheet. Like most spreadsheets, it lets you enter either text, numbers, or formulas in a network of “cells” so that, by changing the content of certain cells, you can perform an involved set of calculations automatically. It’s safe to say that 1-2-3 has all the features you’ve ever seen on spreadsheets. You can copy ranges of cells, insert and delete rows and columns, change the output format of a range of cells or the width of a column of cells, and do numerous other functions.

The size of the spreadsheet is 2048 rows of 256 columns. Lotus claims that 1-2-3 will handle up to 640K bytes of memory. You can’t fill the entire spreadsheet with that, but it’s probably considerably more than enough for most applications.


1-2-3 will be available for the IBM Personal Computer sometime next month; it will eventually be available for other 8086- and 8088-based microcomputers, although Lotus has announced no definite plans or machines. Lotus has also fixed the price of 1-2-3 at $495, which makes it a tremendous buy for the money. Staff members point out that 1-2-3 improves on the Visicorp trilogy of Visicalc, Visiplot, and Visidex (which together sell for a total of $700 in their IBM PC versions) in both price and capabilities.

I bought (for my employer) at least one if not two copies of 1-2-3 at that retail price; hard to believe now, isn't it?

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August 07, 2009

The Truthometer

Last year The St. Petersburg Times created Politifact, a fact-checking site designed to measure the truth of candidates' statements during the 2008 campaign. That got the paper a 2009 Pulitzer Prize.

On the heels of that success, it's kept up its work. The paper is now focusing on national issues, including health care. It's got a wonderful page assessing whether various claims are accurate or not.


  • From something called Liberty Counsel: Page 992 of the health care bill will "establish school-based 'health' clinics. Your children will be indoctrinated and your grandchildren may be aborted! That merits a Liar, liar, Pants on Fire.
  • From the tax-hating Club for Growth: The health care reform plan would set limits similar to the "socialized" system in Britain, where people are allowed to die if their treatment would cost more than $22,000. That gets a False.
  • From a chain e-mail: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free health care services. Liar, liar, Pants on Fire.
  • And, one that's gotten a lot of publicity, from the repellent Betsy McCaughey: The health care reform bill 'would make it mandatory — absolutely require — that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner.' Liar, liar, Pants on Fire. No, the government isn't going to kill Granny.

I'd say Politifact is continuing to provide an invaluable resource for seekers of Truth.

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Financial journamalism

Remember that Matt Taibbi piece in Rolling Stone which excoriated Goldman Sachs as both the symbol and the principal executioner of much of the Wall Street failures of the past few years? The financial press has predictably tried to diminish it as work believed only by "half-literate bloggers."

Now comes Dean Starkman of the Columbia Journalism Review to say that on the big picture, Taibbi got a lot more right than wrong:

Taibbi represents a challenge to the conventional business press’s increasingly narrow focus, its incrementalism, its concern with petty scoops at the expense of asking the big questions of the big institutions on its beat.

I urge you to read Taibbi's article, and then read Stockman's post.

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He speaks Truth

Steven Pearlstein at the WaPo:

The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.


Under any plan likely to emerge from Congress, the vast majority of Americans who are not old or poor will continue to buy health insurance from private companies, continue to get their health care from doctors in private practice and continue to be treated at privately owned hospitals.

The centerpiece of all the plans is a new health insurance exchange set up by the government where individuals, small businesses and eventually larger businesses will be able to purchase insurance from private insurers at lower rates than are now generally available under rules that require insurers to offer coverage to anyone regardless of health condition. Low-income workers buying insurance through the exchange -- along with their employers -- would be eligible for government subsidies. While the government will take a more active role in regulating the insurance market and increase its spending for health care, that hardly amounts to the kind of government-run system that critics conjure up when they trot out that oh-so-clever line about the Department of Motor Vehicles being in charge of your colonoscopy.


By now, you've probably also heard that health reform will cost taxpayers at least a trillion dollars. Another lie.

Read the rest. Then pass it along via your blog. E-mail it to friends. Disseminate.

Via Balloon Juice

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August 06, 2009

This is an outrage

Why can't these astroturfers get excited about things that are really important, like "is the nominating process for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rigged?"

This outburst brought on by this thread at Shakesville: "Who is your favorite band/musical artist/composer and which one song would you recommend to someone who'd never heard their work before?"

So I went looking for a YouTube clip of Linda Ronstadt singing Karla Bonoff's "Someone to Lay Down Beside Me" and learned in the comments to the YouTube clip that she (Ronstadt) is not in the R&R HOF. I double-checked and it's true; she's not.

That's just wrong. She was one of the best rock singers of the 1970s, she was a wonderful interpreter of The Great American Songbook on three albums with Nelson Riddle, she released several very successful albums in Spanish when that was considered a career-killer, and if you want statistics:

As of 2009, Ronstadt has earned her three No. 1 albums, 10 Top 10 pop albums and 36 charting pop albums on the Billboard 200 Pop Album Charts. On Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, she has charted 15 albums including four No. 1 albums.

Also as of 2009, Ronstadt's singles had earned her a No. 1 single and three No. 2 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, 10 Top 10 pop singles, 21 Top 40 pop singles, two No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, two No. 1 hits and on Billboard's Adult Contemporary charts she had recorded 37 Top 40 hits.

And a bunch of Grammy Awards.

Who's with me?

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Grill Pan in action

When my cousin and her family were here a couple of weeks ago they made a Tri-Tip Roast and fabricated a Santa Maria Rub out of salt, pepper, garlic salt and oregano. I expressed my liking for it, and day before yesterday a bottle of this appeared in our mailbox. So I immediately put it to use.

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August 05, 2009

Court jester, and I don't mean Jon Stewart

Oh, man. The highly-respected senior Senator from Iowa, the guy who is Max Baucus's best Republican buddy on the Finance Committee, the one with whom Baucus is trying to negotiate health care reform, is completely bonkers.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Chuck Grassley's Debt and Deficit Dragon
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance

As Digby says: "If this is the leadership of the most powerful country in the world we're clearly living on borrowed time."

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Evidence of Vertebra

The Democratic National Committee created a video as counter-argument to the Republican-sponsored town hall disruptions:

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New toy syndrome

Did I mention that I got a grill pan a week or so ago? The first thing I cooked was a chunk of London Broil. I got really pretty grill marks and a very good steak. The next thing I tried was sliced zucchini, which also turned out pretty and tasted good. Now I'm having to restrain myself from trying all manner of other things in this pan: "No, omelets don't need grill marks!"

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That didn't take long

Via Talking Points Memo, The Kenyan Birth Certificate Generator!

I particularly like the medallion in the upper-right corner: "Birther Approved!"

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August 04, 2009

More on that town hall agitprop

Jane Hamsher notes:

If you got your information from the CBS News last night, you would believe that "angry protesters" are cropping up "everywhere Democrats are trying to defend health care reform." "Conservative websites" like Freedomworks are recruiting them, based on "real fear over the increased taxes" and "government control" of the health care system.

Max Pappas from Freedomworks shows up to speak on their behalf.

Freedomworks isn't some "organic grassroots" outfit. It's run by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey -- corporate lobbyist, global warming denier and ladie's [sic] man. The President and CEO of Freedomworks is Matt Kibbee, who was trained by Lee Atwater. Kibbe was behind the attempt to get Ralph Nader put on the ballot in Oregon in 2004, prompting a complaint to the FEC of illegal collusion with the GOP.

Steve Forbes is on the FreedomWorks board. As Paul Krugman noted, their money comes from the Koch, Scaife, Bradley, Olin nexus, as well as other reliable funders of right wing infrastructure including Exxon Mobil.

Freedomworks has a long history of skunk works. In 2004, a woman who identified herself as a "single mother" in Iowa, Sandra Jacques, appeared at a George Bush town hall and gushed about his plan to privatize Social Security. She left out the part about being an employee of Freedomworks, who were lobbying on the issue at the time.

David Koch is also Chairman of the other major outfit heavily involved in these "organic" uprisings, Americans for Prosperity, whose members lynched Democrat Frank Kratovil in effigy. Koch is the 19th richest man in the world. They recently renamed the New York State Theater in Lincoln Center the David H. Koch Theater.

I watched that CBS Evening News segment and wanted to throw something at Katie Couric and her correspondent Wyatt Andrews. They didn't bother to mention (maybe they didn't bother to check) the background of the outfits sponsoring these people.

It's not enough to fight the industry and its designated idiots (dupes? minions?); Democrats and President Obama have to fight the media's propensity for "balance" at all costs.

Speaking of that need for balance, here's a recent anecdote from Paul Krugman:

I was tentatively scheduled to be on a broadcast dealing with — well, I won’t embarrass them. But first they had to find someone to take the opposite view. And it turned out that they couldn’t — which led to canceling the whole segment.

Amazing, innit?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Anti-health care shoutfests

You may have seen film clips on the news which showed people disrupting Congresspeople's attempts to hold town hall meetings in their home districts, being rowdy and generally not allowing other attendees to get a word in edgewise.

Greg Sargent has gotten confirmation that these so-called "spontaneous" outbursts have been highly coordinated by insurance industry-sponsored groups. Bear that in mind when you see cable and network news anchors report on these events; the protesters are not unaffiliated individuals.

Here's a strategy memo from one of the organizers; it's hardly a model of democratic give-and-take.

  • Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”

  • Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”

  • Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”
Remember the Brooks Brothers Riot which disrupted the vote counters in Miami in 2000? This is the same sort of thing.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:51 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 03, 2009

"I like my insurance, it's yours that sucks"

From Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times:

The industry loves to promote surveys indicating that most Americans are "satisfied" with their current health insurance -- 37% are "very satisfied" and 17% "extremely satisfied," according to one such study.

Yet these figures are misleading. Most people are satisfied with their current insurance because most people never have a complex encounter with the health insurance bureaucracy. Medical care generally follows the so-called 80-20 statistical pattern -- 20% of patients consume 80% of care. If your typical encounter is an annual checkup or treatment of the kids' sniffles, or even a serious but routine condition such as a heart attack, your experience is probably satisfactory.

But it's on the margins where the challenges exist. Anyone whose condition is even slightly out of the ordinary knows the sinking feeling of entering health insurance hell -- pre-authorizations, denials, appeals, and days, weeks, even months wasted waiting for resolution.

And don't even try to switch plans, or you'll run into the Catch-22 situation I did.

If you have friends who don't understand all the hooha about reform, consider forwarding Hiltzik's column to them. Those of us who've been on the margins already know what he's talking about, but those in the middle probably don't.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 02, 2009

Washday thought

Why is it that my dryer has an audible alarm to tell me when it's done, but my washing machine does not?

Both machines are from the same manufacturer, for heaven's sake; it's not like the technology is foreign. So how come no buzzer for the washer?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:52 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 01, 2009

Alternate universes

No, not the one the birthers inhabit.

I'm on a fantasy novel kick, it appears. I've just read the first two books of The Merchant Princes, Charlie Stross's sextet of multiple universes. I'm waiting for the next two to become available at my library. Meanwhile, in reading about the series I kept running across phrases like "Stross's series is an homage to Roger Zelazny's Amber books." (Caution: that link has spoilers throughout!) Somehow in all my years of reading speculative fiction I missed those, so I found a copy of The Great Book of Amber at my library and am now deep into that.

I'll advise when I surface.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:54 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack