Weekend Update 11-26-2011

Posted: November 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | 2 Comments »

As usual, Ryan makes me think of Ezra Klein’s old line about Dick Armey: he’s a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like. That quote captures the essence of Paul Ryan, I think, at least if he actually believes the BS he spouts. Over the course of my life, I’ve managed to move across multiple quintiles, but a lot of that has just been luck. I’ve also seen how few manage to do it. Nor was I without advantages. It doesn’t suck, after all, to be a white male in this country. That alone carries some privilege. And I came from a highly educated family, which is another sort of privilege, and a family that may not have had a lot of resources, but was and is supportive. And even though intelligence doesn’t really correlate with wealth, it’s another unearned privilege that helped me take advantage of opportunities along the way. The recent movie, In Time, does a good job of capturing the way the poor tend to be trapped by the forces around them, however intelligent and willing to work hard they might be. The cycle of simple survival leaves no time or energy for anything else. Those like Ryan want to make our country increasingly divided between the haves and the have nots. That’s a destructive societal cycle. I’ll note it’s even self-destructive for those like Ryan who are trapped within their own delusion. His way seems to be the way of the passions, which Jesus, the Didache, and many others call the way of death.

The responses by “evangelical pastors” on this survey about age of earth and evolution are both unsurprising and disheartening. Sigh.

The near poor are expanding and the group just below the top 5% or so is shrinking. We really do have two economies now. There’s the booming economy of the rich and the one the rest of us have to live in. I don’t think that’s sustainable.

The middle skill area is being hollowed out. This post has a good summary. To see the occupational breakdown, read the linked full report. I find it intriguing. I’m in a high skill area (computers). And one son is in a high skill area (lawyer). I have a daughter who’s a nurse. Health practitioners are considered middle skill (which seems odd to me). My son in college is majoring in physics with a minor or double major in math. (Do you emphasize the math side to make it a high skill or the science aspect to make it a middle skill? Given that my father is a geneticist, I also find the classification of science as middle skill odd.) Another son works more in the high low skill or low middle skill occupations. (He likes working with his hands and has never been able to stand the thought of being cooped up in an office.) In other words, my children fit all across the spectrum and this can’t fail to impact them. It concerns me.

Faux News viewers are significantly less informed than those who watch no news at all. Big surprise, I know.

Here’s one good example of the Faux News effect — describing pepper spray as a ‘food’ product. Lord have mercy.

Over It. Indeed.

The courts found Texas redistricting maps were deliberately designed to reduce minority voting impact (imagine that!) and wrote their own for the election next year. Likely they’ll change again after that.

Gingrich — the slimy Republican front-runner (in some polls) who wants to repeal child labor laws and save money in public schools by putting poor kids to work as janitors. I was surprised, but repealing child labor laws seems to be a theme with the current, openly evil GOP crowd. They’re pining for the lost world of Oliver Twist. I didn’t realize they were running out of groups to exploit and needed to create new ones.

Anne McCaffrey passed away. I have her Pern books on my shelf. My eldest daughter loved Harper Hall when she was young. I’m just now introducing youngest daughter to the books.

AT&T/T-Mobile deal collapses under regulatory scrutiny. As a Sprint customer, that looks like a good thing to me. The last thing we need is even less competition in the US market. Well, I guess I could live with less competition if it came with serious, ongoing, and aggressive regulatory oversight. But there’s little chance of that in the US.

Robert Reich’s Thanksgiving reflection is a good one. Take a minute to read.

We are the 99%.

I will believe corporations are people when Georgia and Texas execute them. That’s a great line!


Weekend Update 11-19-2011

Posted: November 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 11-19-2011

Vouchers for Veterans. Not that we have that great a track record for the way we treat our veterans, but this is pretty despicable. And here’s the column that expands on his blog post.

So are they all, all honorable men. This Supreme Court ranks up there with some of the worst of the 19th century. It’s certainly the most blatantly corrupt Court in my lifetime.

Perhaps the propaganda from the GOP is losing its effectiveness? One can only hope.

Why are the Wall Street occupiers so angry? This is a nice collection of charts that should be simple enough for anyone to grasp.

Congress has introduced a bill to block the recent healthier school lunch regulations. I heard about this on NPR driving home the other day and had to call my wife to share it with her. Our daughter, of course, couldn’t eat school lunches even if she wanted to do so. (And she never wanted to even in the years before she was diagnosed.) Still, it’s a bit absurd for Congress to be opposing healthy food for our kids and trying to legislate that pizza is a vegetable.

Failure is good. Yeah, I see nothing good coming out of any “accomplishment” by debt committee. Failure is a better option than any likely alternative.

Sex on the brain. The article is a good look at the pitfalls in evidence interpretation. Worth the read.

Most of us are paying more for health care. Most of that increase coincides with employers shedding burden as deregulation let health insurers skim as much as they wanted in premiums as profits.


Weekend Update 11-12-2011

Posted: November 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | 2 Comments »

Telecommuters are more productive and tend to work more. Of course, only a subset of jobs are suitable for telecommuting, but for those for which it is appropriate, the benefits tend to outweigh the negatives. Also? I was sick this week (a bug I caught from my daughter), but simply had too much to do to afford to call in sick. I was, however, able to drag myself to my laptop in my home office and bull through it. Last night I slept for fourteen hours, but I got done what I needed to get done this week.

Boom for Whom? The only group that has benefited from the disastrous financial deregulation that began in the 1980s has been the top 1% of Americans. Pictures make the difference easy to see.

Blame the welfare states for the euro crisis? Of course, by now it should be clear that things like facts have no impact on those making such assertions. But still, it’s getting a little ridiculous.

Judge Silberman’s opinion supporting the ACA is an incredibly important one leading up to the Supreme Court decision on the case. While four of the five “conservative” judges (actually neo-conservative activists) will almost certainly rule against it, Justice Anthony Kennedy has tended to be a serious justice, concerned about actual jurisprudence and precedence more often than not. I would say he’s the swing vote on this matter. I’ve disagreed with many of his opinions and believe he made an error that will forever stain his service as a Supreme Court Justice in Citizens United, but it remains an open question whether or not he will repeat his error in this case. Of course, in this instance, I will note that it’s speculation which direction the corporate lapdogs on the Supreme Court will lean. While the health care industry certainly wants to see many provisions of the ACA gutted, the individual mandate is actually one they want. For the record, I still think either Medicare for everyone or a tightly regulated health insurance exchange of private non-profit insurance providers (like Switzerland) is the best approach for our country. Nevertheless, the ACA was what we were able to pass and is immensely better than nothing. It’s a starting point, at least.

LaVonne Neff captures the essence of the health care “debate” eloquently. Screw whether or not it’s the Christian thing to do. Health care reform in the US is the human thing to do. It really has gotten that bad. And if you can’t see it, you’re either deliberately wearing blinders or you’re a callous, heartless ass. Or both. There really is no nice way to say it. And if you don’t believe it could be you or your loved ones suffering at some point, then you’re a fool on top of it all.

If you missed it, this is Jon Stewart enjoying Governor Goodhair’s debate “blooper“.

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Saturday Evening Blog Post – October Edition

Posted: November 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Misc | Comments Off on Saturday Evening Blog Post – October Edition

In this month’s edition of the Saturday Evening Blog Post, hosted by Elizabeth Esther, I shared my 10-22 Weekend Update. I didn’t post anything beyond those this past month. It’s been a busy month.


Weekend Update 11-05-2011

Posted: November 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 11-05-2011

Law school son (well, former law school son, I guess) passed the bar on his first try! He had been stressed about it, so it was great to get the good news!

Assuming my youngest daughter is well, this is where we’ll be today.

Extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy. This isn’t some new insight, of course. But we seem to periodically forget it.

If you haven’t been watching the Dragon Age: Redemption web series, you really should.

Michael Pollan was on The Colbert Report discussing his food rules. Definitely watch it.

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What are babies really thinking? An excellent presentation.