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How Goes The Enemy?

Posted by Ogged
on 10.04.14

There are lots of one-photo-a-year projects; this one is pretty powerful. You can ignore the words in that article.


 

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Partyism

Posted by Ogged
on 10.04.14

Numbers.

In 1960, 5 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats said that they would feel "displeased" if their son or daughter married outside their political party. By 2010, those numbers had reached 49 percent and 33 percent.

Why might that be? Don't you hate it when the right answer is exactly the same as the hyper-partisan answer?


 

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Terrorism of Yore

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.03.14

I already knew some of these 5 Horrifying Attacks on American Soil, but I certainly didn't know #5, that in 1977:

Hey, remember when a dozen terrorist gunmen seized three buildings in Washington, started shooting cops and politicians, then took 134 people hostage? The 39-hour siege...was carried out by about 10 members of the Hanafi Movement, a radical splinter section of the Nation of Islam. The buildings they seized were a Jewish community center, the Islamic Center of Washington, and the District Building, which was the city government's headquarters. So they essentially seized the capital of America's capital. The Hanafi holed up in the buildings with their hostages, many of whom were wounded (including future morally impaired D.C. Mayor Marion Barry). Two people, a cop and a journalist, were killed outright...
And then it turned into an entirely different kind of movie: the terrorists' demands were to stop all theaters from showing a film called The Message (or Mohammad, Messenger of God) which they viewed as blasphemous, handily ignoring the fact that said movie was not actually American at all. They also wanted money. Namely, $750 in cash. That's not a typo -- their leader just happened to be angry about some old court fees and wanted them refunded. The refund was available at the DMV, but conquering D.C. was quicker and easier. Sure, they also demanded that the government hand over a number of criminals who had killed the leader's relatives -- but two out of three of the demands from this massive terror campaign were straight out of an Austin Powers film.

The whole thing is written in annoying Crack-ese, but the underlying point - that we've collectively forgotten some attacks that make the ISIS beheadings look like politicized tiddly-winks - is a good one. (Way to wrap up that sentence, heebie.)


 

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The Matter with Kansas

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.03.14

I basically already knew the facts about how Sam Brownback got his opportunity to implement conservative utopia in Kansas, and how massive tax cuts (shockingly) didn't produce the vibrant, thriving economy that would more than compensate for lost revenue. But this still an interesting read:

By June of 2014, the results of Brownback's economic reforms began to come in, and they weren't pretty. During the first fiscal year that his plan was in operation, which ended in June, the tax cuts had produced a staggering loss in revenue--$687.9 million, or 10.84 percent. According to the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department, the state risks running deficits through fiscal year 2019. Moody's downgraded the state's credit rating from AA1 to AA2; Standard & Poor's followed suit, which will increase the state's borrowing costs and further enlarge its deficit.
Brownback had also promised that his tax cuts would vault Kansas ahead of its higher-taxed neighbors in job growth, but that, too, failed to happen. In Kansas, jobs increased by 1.1 percent over the last year, compared with 3.3 percent in neighboring Colorado and 1.5 percent in Missouri. From November to May, Kansas had actually lost jobs, and the labor participation rate was lower than when Brownback took office. The cuts did not necessarily slow job growth, but they clearly did not accelerate it. And the effects of Brownback's education cuts were also glaring--larger class sizes, rising fees for kindergarten, the elimination of arts programs, and laid-off janitors and librarians.

Surely faced with the evidence from this kind of near-clinical trial of the implementation of conservative ideals, conservatives will be ready to reconsider their commitment to these fundamentals. Just kidding.


 

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An Actual Thing

Posted by Ogged
on 10.02.14

Ok, this one-drop customized nearly-instant transparently-priced do-it-yourself blood test is fantastic, and may she enjoy her billions. But check out that board of directors. All it's missing is Dr. Ev--nope, last row.


 

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Couldn't Have Happened To A Bigger Asshole

Posted by Ogged
on 10.02.14

From a blog where Brian Leiter has (almost certainly) sockpuppeted, and a guy who Leiter tried to out, let me be the seven thousandth person to say: ha.


 

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Coffee Break's Over, Back To Complaining About The Sexist Boot On Our Necks

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.02.14

The Times has an article about a book by Walter Isaacson on women who have been written out of the history of the tech industry. Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, very nice, nothing wrong with that, I approve.

Putting the article on the front page of the Styles section, on the other hand, seems to send a mixed message.


 

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Guest Post - Maps, gentrification, and class segregation - should be fun, right?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.01.14

Ydnew writes: Well, at least it's not about the grinding boot of sexism on our neck, right? Or whether mid-tier colleges doom nice children to subpar careers and inadequacy?

I saw the blurb about this report in the Washington Post. The whole report is here.

Maps start on p. 11 (page 19 of the .pdf), and they're really interesting. It's a series depicting where certain classes live in major cities (or their larger metropolitan areas). Classes are grouped into creative class, service class and working class. As one might expect, areas like Manhattan, Bel Air, Chicago's North Shore, and basically all of NW DC are majority creative class. What surprised me was how few major cities has no majority working class areas to speak of. Also, it looks like LA and Dallas still have majority working class residents in the city center with the creative class outside in a ring. The text of the report itself is a little silly, concluding that the creative class drives desirability of a location, and the creative class likes to live near universities, public transit and other amenities. The maps are neat, though.


Heebie's take: As long as we're talking about maps, this guy won "Best In Show" for his artisanally hand-crafted map at the Cartography and Geographic Information Society competition this year.


 

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Vegas

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.01.14

One of Jammies' best friends is getting married in Vegas this weekend. We're going, and I'm not going to know anyone besides the bride and groom, and Jammies is going to be golfing and so on.

Originally I was going to ask what I should do to have fun by myself in Vegas, without committing to any show or something that starts a fixed time. But it's supposed to be in the 90s, and I cannot tolerate the fucking heat whatsoever.* Anyway, I have a bunch of work I should do, and lounging by the pool and in my room sounds quite pleasant, thank you.

*(My OB and I had the stupidest conversation yesterday. She asked if I had any complaints, and I said (conversationally) that the heat is killing me. She responded "Oh, we're used to it down here! In fact, this isn't as bad as it is, other years!" and other things that made it sound like I was boiling because I'm a Yankee Transplant and not because I'm 8 months fucking pregnant.

I don't expect her to remember that we've been seeing her for a full five years, that I've lived in Texas for 15 years, or that I spent most of my prior life in Florida. But I did expect her to make the connection with the giant fetus whose heartbeat she was listening to. I couldn't figure out a way to say "You twat, the heat is not so bad to you because you're not really fucking pregnant" so instead I weakly said "This is different..." It was lame.)


 

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Radley Balko On Trigger-Happy Police

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.01.14

Starting from the South Carolina police shooting we linked a couple of days ago. I don't agree with him completely; he seems to actually want to let the individual police officer who shot the driver for no reason off the hook. But his general point is a good one, and I think is borne out by the video of the shooting: that a lot of the unjustified killings seem to arise out of a belief that the police should be terrified in any interaction with the public, and that this belief really isn't justified by the statistical realities of their jobs. And that is what the South Carolina shooting looked like to me: while I still want him to go to prison for a long time, the cop didn't sound like a sadist or a homicidal maniac, he sounded terrified, and then once the shooting was over he sounded like someone who thought he'd behaved reasonably in the face of a real threat.


 

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Tough But Fair

Posted by Ogged
on 09.30.14

Once again, we find ourselves asking, What Would Isis Do? Would they behead every NCAA official and college football coach? Available evidence says yes. And though we might differ somewhat in our justifications, it would be the right call.

Also.


 

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Nice Shades, Though

Posted by Ogged
on 09.30.14

I hate it when things I hoped were competently run (although the Secret Service has been embarrassed about a dozen times in recent years) turn out to be a clown show. If they can't protect the President's home, I'm going to assume that the fact that he hasn't been killed is just dumb luck.


 

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Alcohol

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.30.14

How much do you drink? The bottom 2/3rds of Americans barely drink. Then the top 10% consumes an average of ten drinks a day. Holy shit. I definitely know people who drink that much, daily, but I thought they were alcoholic outliers. (And I know plenty of people who would drink ten drinks over the course of an evening, but not every evening.)

I've had stretches where I've drank a nightcap daily, and then some more on the weekend, but in the past few years I barely ever drink, except some socially.


 

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Up-front deductibles

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.30.14

Remember how my OB was charging me $400/visit, so that my 2K deductible would be paid off by the time I was 32 weeks along? The phenomenon is spreading - hospitals are starting to collect deductibles up-front, and for ER patients, to collect before discharging them. So many rich lines:

[Bad-debt expenses] expenses, which amount to billions of dollars in losses for U.S. hospitals each year, have been soaring due to increasing numbers of uninsured patients and changes in health insurance that push more costs directly onto patients.

No. There are not increasing numbers of uninsured patients.

But hospitals are increasingly implementing these strategies now, or making them tougher, for several reasons. For one thing, improved technology gives more hospitals the real-time information to figure a patient's deductible and co-payment amounts.

Oh, the technology improved. Before, our measly computers just couldn't handle a price-check, despite everyone's good faith efforts to provide one. Thank goodness for technology.

This is all the fault of Obamacare:

The policies available on the Obamacare exchanges are hastening this trend. Many enrollees are opting for the bronze and silver plans, which often carry deductibles upwards of $5,000 and $2,000, respectively.

which is the same line my OB gave me.

The most rich part, of course, is the sanctity of deductibles. Of course a 2K deductible is a perfectly sane way to keep your population healthy.

Via Jammies


 

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Assignment

Posted by Ogged
on 09.29.14

On the tenth anniversary (next year!) of the commencement speeches by Steve Jobs and David Foster Wallace, compare the classes who attended them with the classes graduating one year before, along measures of subjective well-being, income, and socially-conscious pursuits.


 

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Refusal of Treatment

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.29.14

I heard Ezekiel Emmanuel (Rahm's brother) being interviewed on the radio last week, and he sounded like such a colossal idiot that I wrote the whole thing off. But it keeps popping up, so I'll weigh in here about what a colossal dolt he is.

He's addressing a real problem: how we prolong life without giving much consideration to the quality of life that is being preserved. Here's his solution:

At 75 and beyond, I will need a good reason to even visit the doctor and take any medical test or treatment, no matter how routine and painless. And that good reason is not "It will prolong your life." I will stop getting any regular preventive tests, screenings, or interventions. I will accept only palliative--not curative--treatments if I am suffering pain or other disability.

So dumb. I would never wish for a 76-year-old person to break their arm, but I would love to be there when he says "Just give me morphine. No cast, nor setting the bones, please."

If you're worried about declining quality of life, then you should evaluate treatments within context, and hold them up to your specific goal, "how will my quality of life be after this bout of treatment?" (Also, he's obsessed with how he'll be remembered in a way that I find a bit off-putting. "If I become totally daft, no one will remember me as the idiot that I was in my prime" seems to be his big fear.)

Bottom line: the big problem, healthcare wise, is when you have someone who is 80 years old, very sick, likely to live for 3-4 more months, and you're going to great heroics to extend that to 5-6 months. All these end-of-life directives, living wills etc: great. When implemented well, they seem to completely solve this problem. Zeke Emmanuel is just being deliberately provocative for giggles.


 

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Cuddlr

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.29.14

There exists a new app called Cuddlr, along the lines of Grindr and Tindr, that is supposed to be all for giving you the opportunity to cuddle (without the expectation of sex) with strangers. Get your cuddle on? (This person tried it out, and found that everyone was after sex, after all. So it isn't working as promised.)

Anyway: suppose it were working as promised - non-sexualized cuddling with strangers, facilitated via this app. Verdict: SO GROSS. Cuddling with a stranger seems much more repulsive than sex with a stranger. Maybe because there are so many portrayals of stranger sex, so I'm used to the idea that the novelty heightens the adrenaline and hormones of it all? Cuddling is about offering and recieving comfort, whereas sex is about satisfying your own sex drive. I don't want to be comforted by a strange person, and I don't find appealing the offering comfort to a strange person. Cuddling with a stranger just seems like brushing their teeth or something.

(Also I hate cuddling and can only tolerate very small amounts of it with exactly one specific grown person.)


 

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Guest Post - Adulthood

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.29.14

Nick S writes: When I saw the A.O. Scott essay about "The Death Of Adulthood In American Culture" I thought it didn't fit the medium well, and that it wasn't well suited to being a magazine piece. My initial reaction was that it would be more interesting essay if he knew what he wanted say, and that it suffered from the need to have a thesis of some sort, when it felt like he hadn't really pulled the ideas into shape.

I thought that it could have worked better as a series of blog posts in which he could have just said, "here are things I'm kicking around, and some provisional thoughts."

However, listening to the conversation at Grantland (starting at 24:00) made me more sympathetic. It was clear that Scott didn't intend any grand statement and really was trying to just throw out some ideas that he'd been chewing over for a while, and he seems happy to have people react to it however they will.

I also enjoyed when the conversation ended up with them discussing the potential awkwardness of being an adult and sharing cultural touchstones with one's children. I like Scott's joking comment that, "One great gift that parents can give their children is their own squareness. You're supposed to be boring and uncool and that's my job as dad. So if I can recite all of Morrissey's lyrics, it undermines that gap which from her side is a very useful and important one."

Heebie's take: I don't really know what Scott is nattering on about.

Adulthood as we have known it has become conceptually untenable.

I get that he's talking about plot-wise, in films and movies, and not me personally with my bills to pay, children to feed, sabbatical to sleep through.

And I've long said that no one writes books or movies about people with small children because it would be too fucking boring to depict it realistically - but that's hardly the only way to portray adulthood. But I still didn't find it terribly convincing that we've left an era of portrayals of adulthood in American culture. I think he's confusing adulthood with a lack of whimsy or impulsive humor, and since MPDGs and the boys who love them all have a certain sense of humor which has been on the ascent, that there must not be adults anymore? Ok I give up.


 

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