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Conundrum

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.26.13

Musing on the Song of Solomon, as one does, I came to this verse:

Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

What possible damage would a fox, of whatever size, do to a grapevine? Better educated people than I am, explain, please?

Come to think, sour grapes. Aesop thought foxes ate grapes. Do foxes really eat grapes? Do modern vineyards have to take anti-fox measures? If this is a genuine fox thing, is it something special about grapes, or do you have to worry about foxes raiding your berry patches/orchards generally? Can they climb trees?


 

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Beta ACA Rollout

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.26.13

Hindsight being what it is, I think the Obama administration should have circulated the idea that the first two months of the website roll-out were going to be a beta-testing period. People are familiar with that term, or if not they would have learned it quick.


 

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Boston meetup thread!

Posted by Ben
on 10.25.13

Proposed for the 25th (the night of this sure to be good concert) at Sifu and Blume's. Sifu wishes attendees to bring aquavit. "At 6 or something" he says.

"Can ya bump it", asks Sifu. I can bump it.


 

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Loss Aversion

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.25.13

Loss aversion itself is a clever concept, and I like Kahneman's book, but it's only counterintuitive because it's held up against a backdrop of idiotic game theory bullshit. Within any real life scenario, of course a loss of resources is more feared than the equivalent gain of resources is valued. You would be a lunatic to be surprised that threatening to cut someone's salary by 5% is much more painful and disruptive than promising and failing to raise someone's salary by 5%.

It's only when you model this with tokens and made up games, and forget that people actually have emotions connected with their income, that loss aversion is insightful. (They were talking about loss aversion on the news, and how countries display it in their trade negotiations. I mean, duh. Losing jobs requires more painful reorganization and loss. Failing to acquire new jobs doesn't shake anyone up.)


 

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Squick

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.25.13

VW sends along this grody link: look inside a chicken nugget.

Aside from my cultural conditioning, what makes the presence of blood vessels, cartilage, skeletal muscle, bone fragments, etc, so gross? Maybe we're just using all the parts of the buffalo? I can get the problem with the breading, and the frying, and the glue-like additives. But is the sausage-ness itself a problem, any more than sausage is a problem?


 

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Friends, Enemies, Irishmen

Posted by Ogged
on 10.24.13

First, for ignoring the request set out below, I declare jihad on Henry Farrell; upon him; upon the memory of his ancestors, who would have raped children, had they been clever enough to catch children; upon every country that has harbored him; and upon his progeny unto the seventh eighth generation.

I wrote,

Hi Henry [you unloved hooker],
I don't believe I've written you before, but I have a question that seems best directed to a political scientist.  After reading Scalia's recent "Satan is real" interview, and hearing this morning about the House Republican caucus breaking out into a chorus of "Amazing Grace" in a closed-door meeting, [and Atrios's good distinction this new morning between "liberalism" and "technocratic centrism"] I was reminded of something I wrote a friend almost three years ago:
I was musing this morning that, whatever else they are, forms of government are expressions of human temperaments and characters, and we all recognize this, and various polls of beliefs about harmony, hierarchy, autonomy, etc., try to capture some of the variety in beliefs, but they do so while trying to maintain the fiction that in this vast country, everyone belongs to the genus "democrat," with only species-level differentiation.  But that's incredible, and there are already perfectly good names for the political proclivities of groups of Americans.  I thought of James Baker, coming on my TV after 9/11 to complain about the Church Commission, of all things, and I thought about his years of loyal service to one ruling family, and it seems clear that he's a very familiar kind of monarchist. Examples of people who genuinely believe in things like plutocracy, oligarchy, and theocracy, all while thinking of themselves as "democrats," abound. It would be fun and informative if someone went down the line with various American constituencies and mapped them onto familiar categories.
Do you know if such a taxonomy exists?  It seems that it would be more satisfying and edifying to be able to say, oh, those singing Republicans are Christianist parliamentarians (or something), instead of saying "My god, the crazies" (not that *that's* not sometimes perfectly apt).
If such a thing exists, great.  It also seems like it could be a good hivemind project to label the various American factions.
Hope you're well [and truly screwed],
Ogged


 

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Airdrop

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.23.13

Airdrop is an app that's been around since 2011, but they just added it to the iPhone 5. It's a file-sharing app that uses Bluetooth.

Apparently, it just searches out all iPhones within the Bluetooth radius of your phone, when you use the app. You don't have to supply a phone number or email address or anything. So you can now send a penis pic to a bunch of strangers in the bar with you. Have fun with that.


 

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This article does not appear to be informed by a great deal of ecological sophistication

Posted by Ben
on 10.22.13

Dan Barber, some kind of big deal chef, says:

I'd like some to explain the phenomenon of the self-righteous vegetarian to me. I'm not here to say I don't eat vegetables--I do, a lot of them--but, from a soil perspective, they're actually more costly than a cow grazing on grass. Vegetables deplete soil. They're extractive. If soil has a bank account, vegetables make the largest withdrawals. So without animal manure, where are you going to get your soil fertility for all those vegetables in an organic system? You are, by some measures, forcing crops into a kind of imbalance.

Butchering and eating animals may not be called kindness, but eating soy burgers that rely on pesticides and fertilizers precipitates destruction too. You don't have to eat meat, but you should have the good judgment to relinquish the high horse. There is no such thing as guilt-free eating.


It seems remarkably stupid to me, but maybe I'm missing something.


 

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Noises

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.22.13

I can never tell if people on Facebook know that there is a meaningful difference between "ahhhhhhhh", "awwwwwwww", "aaaaaaaaaaah", and so on. Are you shrieking with horror or inhaling with happiness? Was that supposed to be funny or was it misspelled?


 

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Assorted

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.22.13

V Dub sends along:
- The Not-So-Hidden Cause Behind the A.D.H.D. Epidemic (Find out one weird trick for your school district budget, after your state links funding to standardized test performance!), and
- Poor children are now the majority in American public schools in South, West

The thing about the latter is that it seems to be just a function of the rise in poverty, and not necessarily because of rich flight from public schools. It's a poverty problem, primarily, not a public school problem. Still, that is mighty depressing!


 

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Race and Education

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.22.13

Witt writes: NPR on The Whitest Historically Black College in the United States. Most notable part about this article: the implication that African-American students today can't easily attend the college because they have demolished some dorms and local apartment rentals are not readily available.

Heebie's take: Mostly unrelated, except that it's also on race and education: Black Boys Have an Easier Time Fitting In at Suburban Schools Than Black Girls. It is exactly how I remember white kids relating to black boys and black girls, back in high school. Black boys had a social cachet, and black girls had an extra-high bar to clear.


 

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You've Got Personality!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.21.13

From the Journal of Overgeneralization comes the Personality Types of America, by Region. Do you live in Friendly & Conventional, Relaxed & Creative, or Temperamental & Uninhibited?


 

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Tough

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.21.13

I've been doing Crossfit for three months! I'm very proud of myself. I can back-squat 115 lbs. That's actually pathetic, but whatever. PB!

It is common for twenty-somethings (women) to join, and within 2 weeks, they can do much more than I can. It's tempting to attribute this to age, but I actually think that my body just does not get in shape easily. When I played high school soccer, the amount of training we did did not get me in good enough shape to play through a whole game. I used to stop at the elementary school near my house, on my way home, and run extra sprints. I did this furtively, as though it was shameful, but it helped me keep up with everyone. OTOH I can sprint pretty fast. (Or I could. Compared to other sleep-deprived postpartum women, I could probably still do ok.)

Anyway I feel like I deserve a badge, to sew on a sash. For the record, I find Crossfit vaguely embarrassing. But not for the same reasons as the after-practice sprinting. So if I had a badge, I'd just tuck it in a drawer somewhere.


 

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ATM: Healthcare

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.21.13

Dear Mineshaft:

A senior citizen I know is distressed because her Medicare Advantage plan has been canceled by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. She lives in Atlantic County, NJ.

According to her, she has spoken with Blue Cross, Aetna, United Healthcare, her local county Department of Human Services and others, and all of them are saying that they don't have a Medicare Advantage or similar plan available for Atlantic County. (Neighboring counties seem to be fine.) Apparently she is one of 5,000 people in this situation.

So far the only option she has found is via AARP, but the plan costs $349/month plus $120/month for prescription coverage, which is a substantial increase from her current $175/month.

Here are my questions:

1. Is there a provider offering a plan that might be more affordable? (I don't know details on her income, but it's probably lower-middle to middle class -- she has Social Security survivor benefits from her late husband and some kind of municipal pension from him as well, I think).

2. Why would so many insurance companies cease to provide this type of plan in a single county?

Obviously question #1 is more important.

Witt


 

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