Thursday, December 31, 2009
Obama's 1st Year
Interesting level-headed critique of Obama's first year.
"In some respects, the right, however unhinged, understands the importance of what Obama has accomplished more than the purist, whiny left.
Yes, this first year is marked more by the miracles of what didn't happen - a Second Great Depression, a Second 9/11, an Israeli strike on Iran, a banking collapse, a health insurance reform failure - than what did. And yes, Obama is on notice that, whatever the enormity of the mess he inherited, the opposition has no sense of responsibility for any of it and will blame him for everything and anything. All he has going for him is the American public's ability to see through the dust and fury to the realities beneath.
And Obama is changing those realities. More than most seem to currently grasp. This is liberalism's moment - its most fortuitous since 1964, its chance to prove that government is indeed needed at times, as long as it knows its limits, and the balance of the American polity needs active, intelligent government action now. What Obama is doing is trying to cement this new liberal era in the conservative institutional structure of American government.
Against massive, unrelenting, well-moneyed, ideologically manic opposition - and a fickle, purist, prickly liberal elite in his own party.
Well, no one said it would be easy." - Andrew Sullivan
"Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other." - Oscar Ameringer
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Deadlines Focus the Mind
"That time-line the GOP hawksters are decrying: it seems to have jolted Afghanistan's leadership into less complacency.
One weird contradiction in current conservative thought. Isn't an open-ended commitment of arms and money and troops to a weak foreign country a dangerous form of dependency-generating welfare?
If we can have welfare reform domestically, why can we not have it internationally?"
Friday, November 13, 2009
Cancer Prevention: Why don't we take medicines that work?
Monday, October 26, 2009
The Three Stages of Capitalism
The second stage, late capitalism, is what caught the Frankfurt School’s gimlet eye in the middle of the last century. Now the engine of the system is the production not of goods and services but of consumption itself. That is, rather than merely cultivating longstanding desires in new aspirants, the mechanisms of economic growth must manufacture ever-novel desires using the feedback loops of the emergent advertising industry. Capital is reproduced, not merely accumulated: the shadowy shills of the culture industry want us to spend our way to wealth and happiness. Down on the ground, the individual experiences fractured selves, or multiple consumption identities, even while yearning for wholeness. Exemplary fiction: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night.
The third stage, postmodern capitalism (for lack of a better label), is with us still. We witness both the cultivation and the manufacture of desire—and the wild proliferation of it. The market engine is still producing consumption, but now it is consumption of the self in the form of the consumer. We’re no longer interested in stuff, or even in the satisfaction that stuff promises; now we chase a certain idea of ourselves, as cool or fashionable or self-actualized. Thus the arrival of what we ought to call erotic capital, the most spectral form. I, with all my carefully constructed preferences for Pink shirts or Lululemon sweats, become the most desirable consumer product in the economy of taste. To paraphrase Slavoj Zižek, the superego is no longer a form of restraining conscience—Don’t do that!—but instead expresses the imperative of smarmy waiters everywhere: Enjoy! Consumption is both intimate and relentless: brand-conscious consumers cannibalize themselves, feeding on their jumble of layered identities. Exemplary fiction: David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.
From Ways of Not Seeing: On the Limits of Design Fetishism by Mark Kingwell in Harpers, November 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
My White Friends
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Lobbyists: What a disappointment in Congress and Obama
The public is not wrong. The administration’s legislative deals with the pharmaceutical companies were made in back rooms. Business Week reported in early August that the UnitedHealth Group and its fellow insurance giants had already quietly rounded up moderate Democrats in the House to block any public health care option that would compete with them for business. UnitedHealth’s hired Beltway gunslingers include both Elmendorf Strategies and Daschle, a public supporter of the public option who nonetheless does some of his “wink, wink” counseling for UnitedHealth. The company’s in-house lobbyist is a former chief of staff to Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader. Gephardt consults there too.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Fabulous New Yorker article by Michael Specter. If the science truly succeeds, it will make it possible to supplant the world created by Darwinian evolution with one created by us. Bill Joy, a founder of Sun Microsystems, calls for us to "limit development of the technologies that are too dangerous." Yet, as Specter writes, "the opposite approach might give us better results: accelerate the development of technology and open it to more people and educate them to its purpose. Otherwise, if Rob Carlson's methamphetamine analogy proves accurate [in which strict control caused by laws and DEA enforcement, has led to more professional, centralized production and rising use of the drug], power would flow directly into the hands of the people least likely to use it.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Teacher Performance Pay: Two-Year Study Shows It Works
We find that the teacher performance pay program was highly effective in improving student learning. At the end of two years of the program, students in incentive schools performed significantly better than those in comparison schools by 0.28 and 0.16 standard deviations (SD) in math and language tests respectively....
We find no evidence of any adverse consequences as a result of the incentive programs. Incentive schools do significantly better on both mechanical components of the test (designed to reflect rote learning) and conceptual components of the test (designed to capture deeper understanding of the material),suggesting that the gains in test scores represent an actual increase in learning outcomes. Students in incentive schools do significantly better not only in math and language (for which there were incentives), but also in science and social studies (for which there were no incentives), suggesting positive spillover effects....
School-level group incentives and teacher-level individual incentives perform equally well in the first year of the program, but the individual incentive schools significantly outperformed the group incentive schools in the second year....
We find that performance-based bonus payments to teachers were a significantly more cost effective way of increasing student test scores compared to spending a similar amount of money unconditionally on additional schooling inputs."
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Can the West Save Africa?
"All of the above seem to forget that technology does not implement itself. Technical knowledge needs people to implement it—people who have the right incentives to solve all of the glitches and unexpected problems that happen when you apply a new technology, people who make sure that all the right inputs get to the right places at the right time, and local people who are motivated to use the new technology. The field that addresses all these incentives is called economics."
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
O'Reilly Backs Government Health Care Option
Too bad he's saying this after it's already effectively been dropped from consideration.
Monday, September 21, 2009
The Secret's Inside Your Dog's Mind
Other animals are smarter than dogs, but none (except us) are more sociable. Evolution started the job--and we helped finish it. Time
National Debt as a Percentage of GDP
So much for the Republican Party's principle of fiscal responsibility.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
No eyebrows = you're less recognizable
Volunteers in a study by Javid Sadr and his colleagues at MIT were asked to identify fifty famous faces, including that of former U.S. president Richard Nixon and actor Winona Ryder. The photos were digitally altered and shown either without eyebrows or without eyes. When celebrities lacked eyes, subjects could recognize them nearly 60 percent of the time. However, when celebrities lacked eyebrows, subjects recognized them only 46 percent of time. The lesson: eyebrows are crucial to your identity — they’re at least as important as your eyes, if not more so.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thank You Glenn Beck
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
You are what you wear.
Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, shows that randomly inducing people to choose or wear fake merchandise can make them significantly more likely to cheat on a subsequent task.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
5 Myths About Health Care Around the World
1. It's all socialized medicine out there.
2. Overseas, care is rationed through limited choices or long lines.
3. Foreign health-care systems are inefficient, bloated bureaucracies.
4. Cost controls stifle innovation.
5. Health insurance has to be cruel.
A must read about health care reform
Cupid's Poisoned Arrow
Once plighted, no men would go whoring,
They'd stay with the one they adore,
If women were half as alluring
After the act as before!
- Ancient Greek Anthology
Man: My wife turns into a major bitch on occasion the morning after a night of really great sex. I'm talking multiple orgasms and a 2-3-hour session. And the next morning I am the anti-Christ!
Woman: This happens to me, too! I wake up in the morning after a great night with my dear husband and feel like the bitch from hell sometimes . . . really irritable and moody. Normally I'm a very evenkeel kind of gal. Things feel better when orgasms are more spread out. I have personally noticed a significant decrease in my attraction and warm fuzzy feelings toward my spouse when the "O" is on a constant, regular basis.
An eye-opener about sex, orgasm, and love. Really a must read for those who wonder why attraction falls after orgasm. Knowlege of the Hidden Cycle of Orgasm is a key to love, relationships, balance, better sex, and marriage. Great research from Marnia Robinson.
Politics and the English Language
"Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language — so the argument runs — must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes." More
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Prolonging the life of Berries
The strawberries fared best when I heated them at 125 degrees for 30 seconds. In two samples from different sources, this treatment gave a total of 1 moldy berry out of 30, where the untreated baskets had 14. I also treated some bruised berries, including one with a moldy tip. After 24 hours none were moldy. The tip mold not only hadn’t spread, it had disappeared.
I tried the same treatment, 125 degrees for 30 seconds, on raspberries and blackberries, and got the same good results. There were many fewer moldy berries in the heated samples.For thicker-skinned blueberries, a Canadian study recommended a 140-degree treatment for 30 seconds. I tested it twice, with samples of around 150 berries each time. That heat took the bloom off. It melted the natural wax that gives the berries their whitish cast, and left them midnight blue. It also cut the number of moldy berries from around 20 per sample to 2.
-Harold McGee, New York Times
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
How to Order off a Menu
Scratch off the appetizers and entrees that are most like dishes you’ve seen in many other restaurants, because they represent this one at its most dutiful, conservative and profit-minded. The chef’s heart isn’t in them.
Scratch off the dishes that look the most aggressively fanciful. The chef’s vanity — possibly too much of it — spawned these.
Then scratch off anything that mentions truffle oil.
Choose among the remaining dishes.
-Frank Bruni, New York Times
I'm on a Boat
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The GOP's Misplaced Rage
"Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect. They can start building some by admitting to themselves that Bush caused many of the problems they are protesting."
- Leading Conservative Bruce Bartlett in The Daily Beast
More excellent analysis:
"Finally, conservatives have an absurdly unjustified view that Republicans have a better record on federal finances. It is well-known that Clinton left office with a budget surplus and Bush left with the largest deficit in history. Less well-known is Clinton’s cutting of spending on his watch, reducing federal outlays from 22.1 percent of GDP to 18.4 percent of GDP. Bush, by contrast, increased spending to 20.9 percent of GDP. Clinton abolished a federal entitlement program, Welfare, for the first time in American history, while Bush established a new one for prescription drugs."
"According to the CBO, federal taxes will amount to just 15.5 percent of GDP this year. That’s 2.2 percent of GDP less than last year, 3.3 percent less than in 2007, and 1.8 percent less than the lowest percentage recorded during the Reagan years. If conservatives really believe their own rhetoric, they should be congratulating Obama for being one of the greatest tax cutters in history."
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Palin's "Death Panels" called 'nuts' by Republican Senator Isakson from Georgia
At his more placid town hall in Portsmouth, N.H., on Tuesday, the president had to explain that he did not intend to “pull the plug on grandma.” He said that the specter of death panels had spun out of a proposal from a Republican, Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who has long espoused helping Medicare patients learn about options for care at the end of their lives. In an interview with The Washington Post on Monday, Isakson diagnosed Palin’s interpretation of his suggestion as “nuts.”
-Maureen Dowd, NY Times
More from Sen. Isakson:
In the health-care debate mark-up, one of the things I talked about was that the most money spent on anyone is spent usually in the last 60 days of life and that's because an individual is not in a capacity to make decisions for themselves. So rather than getting into a situation where the government makes those decisions, if everyone had an end-of-life directive or what we call in Georgia "durable power of attorney," you could instruct at a time of sound mind and body what you want to happen in an event where you were in difficult circumstances where you're unable to make those decisions.
This has been an issue for 35 years. All 50 states now have either durable powers of attorney or end-of-life directives and it's to protect children or a spouse from being put into a situation where they have to make a terrible decision as well as physicians from being put into a position where they have to practice defensive medicine because of the trial lawyers. It's just better for an individual to be able to clearly delineate what they want done in various sets of circumstances at the end of their life.
How did this become a question of euthanasia?
I have no idea. I understand -- and you have to check this out -- I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin's web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is nuts. You're putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don't know how that got so mixed up.And this from Ezra Klein:
"Encouraging Medicare to cover end-of-life planning just isn't a partisan issue. Nor is it an effort to make anyone shuffle off the mortal coil before they're ready. It's an attempt, as Isakson explained yesterday, to ensure that individuals make their own decisions when they're of sound mind and body, rather than leaving those questions to grieving spouses, doctors who fear a malpractice lawsuit or accountants. It's a good policy, and all the legislators supporting it deserve praise for trying to encourage an adult conversation about death. It's a shame that it's suddenly become polarized."
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
this is the
rule of dogs
for whom there
are no fool's
loop out and
come back is
good all alone.
It's gravy to
carry a ball
or a bone.
- Kay Ryan
from The New Yorker
August 10 & 17, 2009
Health Care Rationing already exists.
Why is MediCare so popular with seniors? Because it doesn't ration treatment based on profit. It's pretty simple - give everyone, not just seniors, the option for public insurance.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Network Marketing = Pyramid Scheme
me: i found you on the web, not through a distributor. i would like to join but your website asks for a sponsor id. i am my own sponsor as my own research led me to your site.
You are now speaking with Cathy of Autoship / Distributor Support.
me: hi cathy
Cathy: Welcome to Live Support, and thank you for choosing MonaVie. My name is Cathy, and I'll be assisting you.
me: i am my own sponsor as no one told me about you. i found you on my own
me: how do i signup
Cathy: we can find you a sponsor.
me: okay, but i should really be my own sponsor.
Cathy: What is your zip code?
me: why can't i join on my own. you will be giving the sponsor credit for something they didn't do
Cathy: This is how it works. It is a binary system. Each person who joins the company has a "sponsor" or someone they are under. Once you sign up as a distributor you will also be able to sign up people under you, making you their sponsor.
Cathy: I have an awesome sponsor in California for you.
Cathy: They will help you get started. I will have them call you. Unless you would like me to sign you up right now.
me: how many total distributors are there with mona vie?
Cathy: 85000 active distributors
me: in california and in the U.S?
Cathy: MonaVie is in 5 different countries.
me: 85000 is a lot..
me: are you in CA
me: if you sign me up right now, would you be my sponsor?
Cathy: Corporate is located in Utah.
Cathy: I would love to sponsor you. However, I work for corporate but I can put you under a great sponsor.
me: who's the sponsor?
me: do you have a sponsor?
Cathy: Are you trying to sign me up? You've caught the spirit of MonaVie already.
me: of course i am
me: what do you say?
me: great, so you'll be my first sign up - my right hand woman, so to speak
Cathy: You'll do awesome in this company. Let's put you under an awesome group.
me: great, so can we sign up your parents and siblings too
me: i'm a great guy, 5'11, athletic, handsome, well-educated, and single
Cathy: My mom is single.
me: what about you?
Cathy: nope, sorry. i'm taken already
me: any sisters?
me: or girlfriends?
Cathy: Too young for you. Anyway, back to business.
Cathy: Lets get you signed up.
me: your mom is too young for me - wow, how old are you? there are child labor laws you know
Cathy: No, my sisters. Let me get your information and we'll sign you up.
me: how about your girlfriends?
me: i like utah
Cathy: Let me get your information and we'll sign you up.
me: my birthday is march 21 and i liked the movie borat, what more info do you need?
me: first day of spring is a cool birthday you know
Cathy: I'll have someone call you if you will give your phone number
me: can they email me
Cathy: okay, that's fine.
me: that's right, do you like poems
me: do you have a photo?
me: i like to see who i'm dealing with at corporate?
Cathy: Thanks. I'll have someone email you tomorrow Wessss . I hope you turn out to be
Cathy: And yes, I do like poetry.
Cathy: Have a great night.
me: that's what my momma always said
me: what's your favorite poem?
Cathy: It has been my pleasure assisting you today. Thank you for contacting MonaVie.
We appreciate your continued support. Please contact Distibutor Support again with future needs.
me: i like billy collins and rumi and hafiz myself - oh, and pablo neruda
me: that looks like a copy and paste, where's the personal touch cathy
Cathy: Enjoy your day! Goodbye.
Monday, August 3, 2009
A refreshing, unique, and extremely wise story on love, relationships, and happiness.
"I don't love you anymore," my husband said, but I survived the sucker punch." from "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear" by Laura A. Munson, New York Times.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Health care lobbying of Senate Democrats
And which doctor-owned hospital?? Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in McAllen, TX, which Atul Gawande exposed quite convincingly in his June 1 New Yorker article, "The Cost Connundrum."
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The best discussion I've read on the Gates-Cambridge Police incident at Harvard
To hear most white folks tell it, Gates was to blame. ..."
For more, click here
From Racism Review, by Tim Wise
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Ecco Shoes Fall Apart into a Sticky Tar!
My Ecco Shoes just fell apart, with very little wear and great maintenance - they always had shoe trees and were polished regularly. Unbelievable! The soles just crumbled all over my car mat, staining the carpet with sticky tar. Don't buy Ecco! As you can see from the photos below, the leather part of the shoes is still in great shape, but the soles are now a gooey tar. Ecco needs to replace these and change their materials.
I just set up a Facebook Group (Ecco Shoes Suck!) to increase awareness and inform fellow shoppers not to buy Ecco. Please share your photos and experience there.
Ecco Shoes may feel comfortable, but their special rubber soles fall apart and are not worth the money. Ecco needs to change their shoe materials to something more reliable and environmentally safe, and to reimburse us for the cost of our expensive shoes.
Mail Order Catalogs = Huge Waste of Resources, Time, and Money
Now you can easily remove yourself from mailing lists. It's Free. Go to:
and sign up.
Finally some straight talk about health care and rationing.
"On a blog on Fox News earlier this year, the conservative writer John Lott wrote, “Americans should ask Canadians and Brits — people who have long suffered from rationing — how happy they are with central government decisions on eliminating ‘unnecessary’ health care.” There is no particular reason that the United States should copy the British or Canadian forms of universal coverage, rather than one of the different arrangements that have developed in other industrialized nations, some of which may be better. But as it happens, last year the Gallup organization did ask Canadians and Brits, and people in many different countries, if they have confidence in “health care or medical systems” in their country. In Canada, 73 percent answered this question affirmatively. Coincidentally, an identical percentage of Britons gave the same answer. In the United States, despite spending much more, per person, on health care, the figure was only 56 percent." - Peter Singer, New York Times Magazine
If you haven't lived in a country with a national health care system, like England, Canada, Australia, etc - your views bear little weight because you've never experienced it. I have, and I found my experience with England's health care system, far superior (in terms of care received, costs, efficiency, same day appointments with all doctors, etc) to the US Health Care System.
Monday, June 15, 2009
The Best Mechanics in the World
LAKERS!!! 2009 NBA Champions
Saturday, June 13, 2009
What Is ‘Socialized Medicine’?
Sunday, May 31, 2009
The True Problem with Rising Health Care Costs in the U.S.
"Providing health care is like building a house. The task requires experts, expensive equipment and materials, and a huge amount of coördination. Imagine that, instead of paying a contractor to pull a team together and keep them on track, you paid an electrician for every outlet he recommends, a plumber for every faucet, and a carpenter for every cabinet. Would you be surprised if you got a house with a thousand outlets, faucets, and cabinets, at three times the cost you expected, and the whole thing fell apart a couple of years later? Getting the country’s best electrician on the job (he trained at Harvard, somebody tells you) isn’t going to solve this problem. Nor will changing the person who writes him the check." - Atul Gawande,The Cost Conundrum in the New Yorker.