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Weekend Update 05-28-2011

Posted: May 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 05-28-2011

I guess they are determined to be the party of kooks. More than half of GOP voters still doubt Obama was born in the US.

Now this is cool. It’s a javascript program that boots up a Linux PC emulator.

Wheat is possibly a triggering agent for schizophrenia. All of us with schizophrenia manifesting somewhere in our extended families (which with a 1% rate in the US is probably most of us) might want to check out these studies and maybe express to our Representatives that we would like to see studies like this funded rather than rely solely on studies by big Pharma.

In more bad news for Republicans but good news for the country, recent statistics show that, despite its weaknesses, the Affordable Care Act is working. And it looks like Americans are beginning to realize just how much Republicans have lied to them. I had all but given up hope.

Interesting study. My celiac related osteoporosis (now osteopenia) is in my lower back just as the study indicates. Hips are fine.

Weekend Update 05-21-2011

Posted: May 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 05-21-2011

Yes, Ryan’s plan for Medicare is unfair, but its real problem is that it’s a fraud. The numbers don’t even add up in any of his budget. He makes it look like it works by pulling numbers out of thin air and just making crap up. But this does illustrate the unfairness of the Medicare part pretty well. And this was a funny look at the doublethink involved.

This blog post on the Celiac Disease Foundation’s conference is good. Toward the bottom is a PSA on celiac disease. Be sure to watch it!

“Nothing serves the nation’s future more than making sure future citizens lack adequate health care and nutrition.” Think of the Children. I’m not even one of the seniors Ryan is trying (and fortunately failing) to woo and I still worry more about my children and grandchildren than I do my wife and myself.

Good for her. And this 10th grader could almost certainly whup up on Bachman in said debate.

Ryan proceeds to remove all doubt that he was never anything but an empty suit. And he seriously miscalculated how much we all love and care for our families. Unlike Ryan, for most of us family trumps ideology.

Got health insurance? Better hope you don’t get purged. Hopefully the insurance exchanges established by the ACA will also eliminate this aspect, though this is one of the weaker aspects of the law. It really needs a government-run option to rein in the private insurance company abuses. That would also give those who might want more of their premiums to go to health care instead of company profits a better option. A government option (judging by other government-run programs) would almost certainly run at 95-98% medical loss.

So, Newt wants to bring the whole country down to Texas’ level? I dearly love my state, but I’m also acutely aware that we compete with Arkansas and Mississippi to be the worst in almost every meaningful category. The other states that do as poorly as we do on so many measures have the excuse of being poor. Texas is not poor. It’s rich in resources of all sorts and supports multiple industries. We simply choose to act as though we were a poor state and getting poorer all the time. We have one of the largest percentages of our population mired in poverty. We have the largest per capita rate of uninsured citizens and uninsured children. We’re horrible at ensuring pregnant women in our state get early and proper prenatal care. And our public education system consistently ranks near the bottom of the barrel. This year our governor has set his sights on dismantling the research capabilities of our top-flight public universities. Hopefully he won’t succeed and he’s actually getting some significant resistance from his own party. The strange thing in Texas is the way that its citizens keep electing people who year after year make the lives of most people in Texas worse and worse while enriching themselves and those who fund them at the expense of the overwhelming majority of our states’ residents. And they’re open about it. It’s not a secret. I know part of it is because they aren’t the least bit hesitant about using racial fears and tensions, especially in rural Texas. But that certainly doesn’t account for all or probably even a majority of the dynamic. It’s just one piece of the puzzle. The net effect, though, is that the worse Republicans make life for Texans, the more Republicans we elect. That’s been a pretty steady trend for the past several decades. Maybe Newt’s right? Maybe if Republicans can push a third of the country into poverty, uninsured (especially those pesky kids), and leave them desperate, the whole country will reward Republicans by electing more of them? I know it sounds backwards, but it seems to have worked here.

Maybe people will understand a picture better than figures? We either need to let the Bush tax cuts expire or Republicans need to be honest and forthright about how they are going to pay for them. They are the single largest threat to our economy.


Posted: May 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Personal | 6 Comments »

For those who read my blog who don’t already know, my wife was unexpectedly hospitalized with a serious illness. She’s well on her way to full recovery now, but I still haven’t reached the point where I can write again. This week, for the first time, I had the time available, but words simply haven’t come. That’s an unusual and, I’m sure, temporary state for me. My weekend updates have continued in some form because it’s easy to write short blurbs if I read something interesting. I haven’t been reading as much, but for me that’s a relative thing.


Weekend Update 05-14-2011

Posted: May 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 05-14-2011

Those who refuse to learn from history, yada, yada, yada. How bad do things have to get before Americans wake up? Republicans have managed to create their version of an Orwellian society where up means down with little or no resistance.

The “blame the victim” mentality of those blaming the public for the recession is classic. Disgusting, but classic. And this look at the chutzpah of the wealthiest and their apologists is great.

The “very serious” among us note that we dare not allow a high structural employment take root, but then rule out actually doing anything about it because the monster under the bed might get us.

This article on the Five Things Every Boss Should Know About Food Allergies is a really good one. I have coworkers with various other food-related issues, so it’s certainly something people in my office are a little more aware of.

I read here and here and here about Republican complaints (whines) about Democrats telling the truth about their plan for Medicare. It’s hilarious. A bunch of Republicans get themselves elected by successfully lying about the way the ACA affected Medicare and promising to save Medicare, then proceed to vote for a plan dismantling Medicare, and in response to the ire of constituents who feel they were lied to (because, well, they were) all they can do is bitch and moan about Democrats pointing out what they did? Time to break out the world’s tiniest violin. Here’s an idea for Republicans. Stop lying and stop your all-out policy war against 90% of Americans. That would be a good place to start. Krugman actually turned this into a full column.

Speaking of scare tactics and lies, this debunks the core of the scare tactics on waiting times. Under the present system (and the even worse one Republicans want to create after dismantling Medicare), many people have infinite wait times for medical procedures because they have no meaningful access to them at all. Any discussion of “wait times” that don’t factor those into the equation is simply another lie. (And most of those particular scare tactics are lies in other ways as well.) I know a fair number of Canadians. Whatever gripes or complaints they might have about their health care, any suggestion of trading their system for ours outright horrifies them. Universally. Makes no difference if they’re a Canadian version of a conservative or a liberal. Nobody in Canada (or any other first world country, actually) wants anything like our health care system. That should really tell us something.

Eight actual facts about Social Security amid all the lies and misinformation flying around. And the simple solution mentioned at the end to the minor structural issue it faces is indeed the way to “fix” it.

Boehner’s plans don’t make economic sense and fail the test of his faith as well. Given the number of Catholics we have in leadership positions today it might be nice if some them (on both conservative and liberal sides) listened to their bishops. The letter above is from Catholic academics, but the American Council of Bishops (or whatever it’s called) has said similar things recently as well. They tend to speak more generally and not in letters to specific individuals, but the message is the same.

In this talk Robert Reich does a good job of explaining the impact of a stagnant median wage over the last 35 years combined with the unprecedented concentration of both income and wealth at the very top.

It’s un-American to end big oil subsidies? Really? No, I mean really?

Saturday Evening Blog Post – April Edition

Posted: May 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Misc | Comments Off on Saturday Evening Blog Post – April Edition

In this month’s edition of the Saturday Evening Blog Post, hosted by Elizabeth Esther, I decided to share my April post, Free Will and the American Dream. It’s long and meandering, but you might find something interesting in it. Consider sharing a post of your own at the Saturday Evening Blog Post if you don’t already participate.

Weekend Update 05-07-2011

Posted: May 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 05-07-2011

David Bazan. Wolves at the Door. ‘Nuff said.

This post captures my reaction to the celebratory response to bin Laden’s death well, especially in the long quote from St. Cyril of Alexandria. Given the way our world gets twisted I have no intrinsic problem accepting that assassinating one man might indeed be the lesser evil, just as sometimes defending your country in a time of war might be the lesser evil. But we need to be clear. Killing another human being is always evil, even when necessary. And it’s not evil simply because it ends a life. Taking a life damages those who do it. Celebrating death perpetuates the cycle of vengeance rather than healing it. And from a Christian perspective, evil is a perversion of God’s good creation and always produces ripple effects that we cannot control and which may not appear to be directly connected to the act itself. It’s very easy for us to celebrate evil as if it were good. Fr. Stephen’s post on the Hard Reality of the Kingdom of God captures that truth well.

And of course Republicans now claiming that torture “works”. This debunks that idea. In fact, most of what you get from torture is useless and false. People will tend to say whatever the torturer wants in order to make it stop. Still, the fact that we have a political party in our country that continues to try to justify torture makes me sick.

This post on the hiddenness of God captures the essence of what I’ve described as the veil between heaven and earth. God allows us space and freedom within himself so that we might learn to love.

This is a good post on the art of understanding meat labels in the US. Unfortunately, they do their best to make it hard to know what you’re buying. If we had an FDA and USDA that were actually focused on protecting and informing consumers that might be different.

Yes, a Monsanto employee wrote the rules at the FDA allowing Monsanto to determine the “safety” of its own GMO products. Where there is independent evidence, it tends to show that their “food products” are not actually safe. That’s why much of the world bans them. We don’t even accurately label them.

And if you think the USDA is acting in our interest, check this out.

And yes. I’ve said all along that we need to make banking a boring profession again. Of course, the American people seemed primed to believe blatant, unconcealed lies by Republicans. It’s not even a very good bait and switch. Any two-bit con man could do better. But strangely it seems that too many of us are the most gullible sorts of marks. PT Barnum would be having a field day.

Yes, it would be nice if some of our politicians actually focused on the real problem of unemployment. Well, something more than Paul Ryan’s magic budget fairy approach of declaring it will simply get better.

A TEDx talk that explores that asks, “Why is there time?” from a cosmological perspective.

Beware of online filter bubbles.

Ryan’s plan for health care includes an individual mandate similar to the one in the Affordable Care Act. I would ask if anyone can say hypocrite, but honestly is there still anyone out there so utterly clueless as to believe a word that comes out of a Republican’s mouth these days? I’ll note his “plan” removes the regulations in the ACA, removes the group protections and cost-sharing, and dismantles Medicare. Every independent and non-partisan group that has analyzed it says that it leads to less accessible health care and ever-spiraling health care costs. Essentially it’s a disaster. But you can’t even make a disaster sort of work without some form of collective “mandate.” The ACA is the decades-old Republican plan for health care reform. I can’t figure out if the Democrats are just too inept to make that clear or if the American people are really as stupid as the past couple of years (in particular) have made us look.

There are times I’m proud to be a Texan. And then there are those times I’m not.

Surely it’s not a surprise that Republicans in Congress are completely out of touch with at least the bottom 90% of Americans? Somehow they can still get a surprising number of them to vote for them. Racism is a major factor here in the South. Not sure about the rest of the country.

It’s surprising, but even in our day and ideological climate, facts can still sometimes win people over. Read the story of a somewhat prominent climate change convert.

I’ll close with Personal Jesus (the Stargate Mix).