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Weekend Longread

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.05.19

This memoir post of this woman's ten years as a cable guy in Northern Virginia is fascinating. It's not going to up-end your preconceived notions or have much of a narrative storyline with twists and turns, but it's well-written and a light read that stills reminds you how much you hate humanity.

The points: Every job's assigned a number of points -- 10 points for a "my cable's out" call, four points to disconnect a line, 12 to install internet. We needed about 120 points a day to make our monthly quota.
A cut cable line was worth 10 points, whether we tried to fix it or not. We could try to splice it if we found the cut. Or we could maybe run a temp line. But you can't run one across a neighbor's lawn or across a sidewalk or street. That's what happened with the guy who was adding a swimming pool. The diggers had cut his line. I knew before I walked in. But he still wanted me to come stare at the blank cable box while we talked. I did because the Fox News cult loves to call in complaints about their rude techs.

Dick Cheney makes an appearance.


 

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Hospital prices

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.04.19

How significant is the law taking effect that will require hospitals to post prices online? Is it a game-changer? Or is there a catch that renders it not terribly helpful?

Is the expectation among experts that this will exhibit pressure on hospitals to align their prices a little more closely with the regular world where a shower cap doesn't cost $37? What are the best and worst case scenarios?

Is there a valid reason why it excludes non-hospital medical providers? Or just protectionism?


 

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And who will shutdown the shutdown?

Posted by Stanley
on 01.04.19

One way out of the government shutdown is a lie Trump has already started telling. Back on January 2nd, he tweeted, "Mexico is paying for the Wall through the new USMCA Trade Deal."

Now, that's flatly untrue, but it's a cover story Trump could probably sell to his followers, who don't seem particularly interested in fact-checking anyway. And I could easily see this idea becoming one of the Received Truths of Trumpism: Mexico is paying for the wall. Say it three times, and it's true.

Declaring victory when you've been shellacked is classic Trump. And in this case, I'd welcome the lie, just to get people back to work.


 

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Minor technology with outsized impact

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.03.19

At the other place, J, Robot recently mentioned the transformational power of having a phone case that includes a spot for your id and credit card - allowing you to ditch your purse - and her significant other chimed in on the value of a case with id/credit card plus that little circle lump that people use for holding their phones.

I haven't yet graduated to a big phone - I still have the iphone 5-size (although it's a 6se). I'm concerned about the bigger size and not fitting in my pockets, causing me to misplace it more than I already do. How do people keep track of their phones if it doesn't fit in your pockets? Are you constantly wandering off without it? Do you keep a purse nearby or a special location in your home for it?

Here, Josh Marshall describes the life-changing value of Google Wifi.

I am a notoriously late adopter of technology - I like the sweet spot where all the gripes have been ironed out, but I'm not yet the kind of person who resists as an affect. Jammies often gives me technology for presents and it's great - he's on the hook then to help me implement things I wouldn't have otherwise tried out.

This year he got me fancy noise-canceling headphones - they talk to my phone and have a lot of extra details. Background noise is a big problem for me when I'm trying to concentrate and I'm cautiously optimistic that I may love these.

I would also put Shazaam in this category - the app that identifies an ambient song for you. I don't use it that often, but it makes me insanely happy when I do.


 

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Missing Mom Trope

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.02.19

Why are there so many widowed/abandoned dads in movies?

The exquisite fireside scene between Elsie Fisher and Josh Hamilton at the end of Eighth Grade reminded me of the touching conversations between Molly Ringwald and Harry Dean Stanton in Pretty in Pink. These scenes echoed other heart-to-hearts in motherless movies we thought of: Clueless, She's All That, 10 Things I Hate About You. And on TV, Veronica Mars and Homeland. This fall saw the sweet bond between Lady Gaga and Andrew Dice Clay in A Star is Born; this winter, Ben Whishaw's winsome widower in Mary Poppins Returns. Could these close relationships only exist because the mothers don't?
It's actually rare for a father to be parenting entirely alone. If a dad is single, he's usually divorced, not widowed or abandoned, as depicted in these films. Susan Skoog, a filmmaker and screenwriting professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey, understands this prevalent daughter-single dad relationship on screen. "It's a ploy to make the main character more sympathetic," she explained, "and the dad more heroic."

I think this explanation is wrong. I think it's the same phenomenon as the Missing Parents trope in kid novels, which is that storylines get a lot more interesting if there isn't a loving adult watching out for you.

I think you remove the mom because moms are the adult in the room, and storylines can get a lot more interesting if ol' wet noodle mom isn't clucking about what a self-evidently bad idea the scheme is.


 

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Guest Post - Silver Linings

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.01.19

Mossy Character writes: Silver linings from the CFR. Let's all toss in our own in comments.

Heebie's take: Activism and political engagement are far stronger and far more progressive than any other time in my lifetime. Sure, there's infighting, but that's a by-product of having a lot of energized people trying to change the direction of the country. (Is it worth having Trump as president? Of course not. But it is a silver lining.)


 

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Year end prediction thread

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.31.18

I went back and read last year's prediction thread, here, and there's:
- a lot of arguing about Democrats fundraising
- Moby's brother was expected to stop by with Mexican food, which came true within the course of the thread
- some Roy Moore discussion
- Brexit is mentioned early, and then more thoroughly discussed near the end of the thread.
- But really, the vast bulk of the thread is about campaign financing and the DNC versus the DCCC. Riveting stuff.
- Spike does well with:

Its too easy, but I'm predicting a collapse of the cryptocurrency bubble. It will be fun to watch when all the bitcoin "investors" find out what a bank run is.

Areas of prediction this year: Mueller's report has got to drop. This is so obvious that it would be horrifying if it fails to happen, because then we're into an election cycle again, and, and,...So there's a vein of predictions available about Mueller and Trump. And also the outcome of the many House investigations that will be launched.

Another obvious lane of predictions is that primary season will become obnoxiously pervasive by the summer, and how that will go. My bet is that by next December, Warren, Harris, and Beto seem like the frontrunners. Julian Castro, Bernie, and Sherrod Brown all will be a bit sidelined. I can't remember who else I should be considering.

Brexit, brexit, brexit.

Natural disasters are impossible to predict, but predictable.

Nothing significant will happen on gerrymandering, shoring up election security and voting rights, or the environment.


 

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2019

Posted by Ogged
on 12.31.18

It's just above freezing and rainy in Chicago, and there is, to a first approximation, no one in the Loop. Nevertheless, about ten African-American die-hards are protesting with a bullhorn, on a five second rhythm: "What do we want?" "Ballot access!" "When do we want it?" "Now!" And a white guy, unseen, on a twenty second rhythm: "Shut the fuck up!"

Is this the year of harmony and justice? Fingers crossed, people. Happy New Year.


 

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Guest Post - Call me Innenpolitik

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.30.18

Mossy Charry writes: Japan is commercially whaling again. But only in its own EEZ. So the LDP gets to wave the flag, Japan gets to stop burning money on its high seas whaler subsidy scientific whaling program, and the whalers get to kill megafauna for the ten years or so it takes them to go bankrupt for lack of demand. And meanwhile without high seas whaling the activism fizzles and stops getting sand in the gears of Japan's efforts to grow its system for catching things people actually eat, like bluefin tuna. Which appears to be working (and maybe actually conserving the stocks). (All this from a whole 10 minutes' research, so hopefully hilariously wrong.)

Heebie's take: Everything is always so complicated. So whaling might be going the way of the coal industry on its own? And what appears to be a major setback might actually be smoothing things over to allow for a more sustainable tuna industry to replace it? That all sounds unusually optimistic for Mossichar and also his last parenthetical makes me think I've got it all backwards.

(I clicked through to the "sand in the gears" link and read it. I've got afterimage of Book 5 of Harry Potter singed in my brain from listening to it on 1.25x speed to and from Denver, and the link reads a little like a news article from one of the newspapers: formal, even-handed language about a strange world about which you have no first-hand knowledge. Specifically, it reads like it's trying to fill in plot holes for you.)


 

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