aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, April 23, 2005
To celebrate the doctor!
UPDATE: The party was a success. The evening was a bit cold, so it ended early, but fun nonetheless. A good time was had by all. At Doug’s suggestion, a few photos follow below.
I vote for deliberative debate
Ann Coulter on the cover Time (find it yourself, I can’t bring myself to link to it) caused a week of blogger ire, much too much to point to (if interested I’d start at the Ann Coulter topic on Media Matters) and Brew at I’m Just Waiting for the Robot Invasion asked Monday, Are you a helper or a hurter, Ann?
His conclusion? Ann and her ilk make a positive contribution:
I often hate everything they have to say, and disagree with their positions with every fiber of my being, but they’ve brought something back to American politics that I think has been missing. The American public.
Fair point, but still I didn’t agree. All week I wanted to comment but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then finally yesterday Digby said it best:
There is an overt advocation of group hatred evolving here that should be offensive to everyone. Politics is a rough game and nobody says that we all have to speak as if we are at a tea party for Queen Elizabeth. But you have to look at the substance of what people like Coulter and Limbaugh are saying. They are making millions of dollars selling the message that liberals are enemies of America. Not just wrong. Not just stupid. Not just ugly. Dangerous traitors in a time of enormous challenge and global military action. People are reading and listening to this stuff and if they don’t know better they might just think she isn’t joking. Which I would argue, she isn’t.
So I went back to Brew and commented, quoting Digby, then added: That’s wonderfully clear and I completely agree. But I have a second point and that is about the tone of the debate. I like the term and the concept of “deliberative” and what she and others do (and too many liberals too) is the opposite of deliberative. It blocks deliberative impulses and replaces them with gut reactions.
Our media (and blog) culture encourages the shouting match, when what our culture and politics would benefit from is deliberation. (On my own blog I try to resist the temptation to stridently rant, and use it instead as a place for my own deliberative development. I like I’m Just Waiting for the Robot Invasion because it strikes me as thoughtful and deliberative too.)
I believe people can be engaged in other more healthy ways. The rant is a sometimes useful but intellectually lazy and culturally destructive shortcut.
“Wikipedia, Wikipedia, my favorite thing”
Now they’re applying the Wiki process to news:
The Wikinews site follows essentially the same set of rules as the Wikipedia encyclopedia, which allows anyone to create entries or edit and correct other people’s work, so long as each change is recorded. Unlike Wikipedia, however, which is solely a reference work, Wikinews reporters are encouraged to submit original stories and photos. [...]
David Speakman, a Wikinews administrator who posts under the username Davodd, says it will take time for the site to live up to its potential as a news outlet for the masses. Over the last few months, Speakman says the news operation has been gaining new participants at a faster rate than other sites operated by Wikipedia. However, he doesn’t believe the site is generating enough fresh material yet.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Senator Santorum and the Weather Bug
I’m an IT Professional and I have the WeatherBug on my machine. This, my colleagues cannot abide. They say the weatherbug is odious spyware. They want me to remove it and use something like Forecast Fox or a Windows weather monitor instead.
Today I learned that Rick Santorum wants to keep the world safe for the WeatherBug:
The bill, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would prohibit federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites.
He’s not really doing it to protect The Weather Bug (though it would). No, he’s doing it to protect AccuWeather and claiming he wants to modernize the weather service. The Weather Bug is headquartered in Gaithersburg, MD. AccuWeather is in Senator Santorum’s home state of PA.
Santorum says the NWS has no right to provide ordinary weather reports because the Service’s mission is only to monitor extreme or dangerous weather. Actually, the official mission of the NWS is “the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy.” Obviously, farmers, fishermen, pilots, and others depend on accurate weather bulletins for their safety and prosperity all year round, not just during hurricane season.
The outrageous thing about Santorum’s bill is that it’s a gag order on data NWS has to collect anyway. The Service can’t even forecast extreme weather without continuously monitoring weather patterns across the country.
Currently the NWS makes this information available to citizens, other government agencies, and the private sector (including AccuWeather!). Santorum’s proposal would forbid NWS to offer this information for free on its website. Presumably the NWS would still have to give the data to AccuWeather and other firms to sell back to the public.
I’ll delete that damned bug on Monday. My colleagues will be pleased.
In response to Microsoft’s withdrawal of support for legislation that would have outlawed discrimination against gay and lesbian people in Washington, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, which presented Microsoft with its Corporate Vision Award in 2001, is asking the company to return the award.
Credit card debt is going down
This was surprising news to me:
It turns out many customers are having entirely rational reactions to rising interest rates (and perhaps the new bankruptcy law). They’re taking the sometimes painful steps necessary to reduce credit card debt before it gets too onerous.
Guest post by Jen.
”Against Depression,” by the author of ”Listening to Prozac” (and, as of last week, host of NPR’s The Infinite Mind!), debuts next month. Sunday’s New York Time Magazine article by Peter Kramer gave us a sneak peak of the book, which seems to reiterate his recurring theme:
Depression is not a perspective. It is a disease.
Blogs not dedicated to psychology/psychiatry seem curiously quiet about depression. Does the exhaustion of depression discourage blogging? Are bloggers (more male than female) less depressed than the general public? or just more reticent about it?
Microsoft bails on gays
The Microsoft Corporation, at the forefront of corporate gay rights for decades, is coming under fire from gay rights groups, politicians and its own employees for withdrawing its support for a state bill that would have barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Many of the critics accused the company of bowing to pressure from a prominent evangelical church in Redmond, Wash., located a few blocks from Microsoft’s sprawling headquarters.
The bill, or similar versions of it, has been introduced repeatedly over three decades; it failed by one vote Thursday in the State Senate. Gay rights advocates denounced Microsoft, which had supported the bill for the last two years, for abandoning their cause. Blogs and online chat rooms were buzzing on Thursday with accusations that the company, which has offered benefits to same-sex partners for years, had given in to the Christian right...Microsoft officials denied any connection between their decision not to endorse the bill and the church’s opposition, although they acknowledged meeting twice with the church minister, Ken Hutcherson.
I believe they did bow to the Religious Right. But I don’t believe that the American public is turning against gays, nor do I wonder as John does is it safe to be gay in America. All of us, straight and gay, are allowing a fanatical minority to push us around. It’s a serious threat, not just to lesbian and gay people, but to all of us. We will fight back. I don’t believe it will last.
In the meantime, buy a Mac.
Update, more from Salon:
As The Stranger had it, Microsoft supported the anti-discrimination legislation for more than a year but switched its position to “neutral” after an NFL-linebacker-turned-minister named Ken Hutcherson met with company officials and told them that he’d launch a boycott of Microsoft products if the company continued to support the bill. In an interview with the New York Times, Hutcherson backed up that part of the story: He said that Microsoft “backed off” from supporting the bill after he told company officials he was “going to give them something to be afraid of Christians about.” Washington Rep. Edward Murray also backed up The Stranger’s version of the story, telling the Times that, when a Microsoft senior vice president told him that the company would no longer be supporting the bill, he cited pressure from Hutcherson and concerns raised by Microsoft employees who were “connected” to him.
But Microsoft tells the Times that it’s all a big misunderstanding. Although the company admitted to the Times that it met twice with Hutcherson, it says its decision to withdraw its support for the bill had absolutely nothing to do with him. “Our government affairs team made a decision before this legislative session that we would focus our energy on a limited number of issues that are directly related to our business,” a Microsoft spokesman told the Times. “That decision was not influenced by external factors. It was driven by our desire to focus on a smaller number of issues in this short legislative session.”
Murray, who sponsored the legislation, called Microsoft’s characterization “an absolute lie.” We’ll ask about that when we get a chance to talk with Microsoft; We tried to contact the company early yesterday, but we didn’t get a phone message back until the evening, and now the game of phone tag has begun. We’ll also ask about something else: If Microsoft was so worried about “focusing its energies” on a limited number of issues this year, how is it that it found time to meet with Hutcherson twice, brief Murray and, presumably, other lawmakers about its change in position, and meet with gay and lesbian employees to fill them in on both its political switch and Hutcherson’s threats? Wouldn’t it have taken less time—wouldn’t it have been less of a distraction from those issues “directly related to our business”—just to leave its previous position as it was?
Conservative pressure at PBS
Liberal commentator Bill Moyers is out on PBS stations. Buster the animated rabbit is under a cloud of suspicion. And right-wing yakkers from the Wall Street Journal editorial page have been handed their own public-television chat show.
Some observers, including people inside the Public Broadcasting Service, see these recent developments as troubling. PBS, they say, is being forced to toe a more conservative line in its programming by the Republican-dominated agency that provides about $30 million in federal funds to the Alexandria-based service.
Recent changes at CPB are unprecedented:
Typically one of the quietest bureaucracies in Washington, the quasi-governmental CPB has been unusually active in recent weeks. CPB this month appointed a pair of veteran journalists to review public TV and radio programming for evidence of bias, the first time in CPB’s 38-year history that it has established such positions. PBS officials were unaware that the corporation intended to review its news and public affairs programs, such as “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” and “Frontline,” until the appointments were publicly announced.
In negotiations with PBS earlier this year, the corporation also insisted, for the first time, on tying new funding to an agreement that would commit the network to strict “objectivity and balance” in each of its programs—an idea that PBS’s general counsel described in an internal memo as amounting to “government encroachment on and supervision of program content, potentially in violation of the First Amendment.”
There’s that (code)word “balance” again. And again:
A senior FCC official, who would not speak for attribution because he must rule on issues affecting public broadcasting, went further, saying CPB “is engaged in a systematic effort not just to sanitize the truth, but to impose a right-wing agenda on PBS. It’s almost like a right-wing coup. It appears to be orchestrated.”
In an interview yesterday, CPB board chairman Ken Tomlinson called such comments “paranoia,” and said critics of CPB’s initiatives should “grow up.”
“We’re only seeking balance,” said Tomlinson. “I am concerned about perceptions that not all parts of the political spectrum are reflected on public broadcasting. [But] there are no hidden agendas.”
Roger Ailes must be proud.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Armstrong finished a disappointing ninth in Thursday’s time trial at the Tour de Georgia, nearly two minutes behind the winner in a go-all-out style of cycling he usually dominates.
See also my post Enhanced Lance?
Google maps on TiVo
Cool. I’ll have to try it…
He’s the best-selling comedy recording artist of all time. Who knew?
Jeff Foxworthy’s Web site highlights two noteworthy bits of trivia about the Atlanta-based comedian: His wit has been compared to that of Mark Twain, and he is the best-selling comedy recording artist of all time. The first point is debatable-there aren’t many one-liners about mudflaps in Pudd’nhead Wilson. But Foxworthy’s astounding album sales are undeniable. His 1993 debut You Might Be a Redneck IfÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ went multiplatinum, and the release of last year’s Have Your Loved Ones Spayed or Neutered pushed his total album sales above 15 million. His greatest-hits disc is currently No. 3 on the comedy charts. Not bad for a performer whose eponymous sitcom flopped in 1997.
Search your searches
Whenever a user is logged in, Google will provide a detailed look at all their past search activity. The service also includes a “pause” feature that prevents it from being displayed in the index.
Users will be able to pinpoint a search conducted on a particular day, using a calendar that’s displayed on the history page. The service sometimes will point out a past search result related to a new search request.
“Privacy advocates” don’t like it:
But privacy rights expert Pam Dixon is worried the service will make it easier for mischief makers, snoops and perhaps even the government to get their hands on a user’s entire search history.
“It’s really a bad idea,” said Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. “If you need to keep track of your past searches, I recommend using a notebook. It would be a lot more private and a lot less risky.”
I believe in privacy. And I like the feature. The remedy to privacy concerns is not to block the technology but to come up with rules, regulations and procedures to enable and protect appropriate use.
RELATED: Why Google is like Wal-Mart.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Bankruptcy Bill signed
President Bush signed the biggest rewrite of U.S. bankruptcy law in a quarter century on Wednesday, making it harder for debt-ridden Americans to wipe out their obligations.
From Think Progress:
George W. Bush, 4/20/05: “If someone doesn’t pay his or her debts the rest of society is left paying for them.”
Amount added to the federal debt during the George W. Bush presidency: 2.2 trillion
Citizen journalism or citizen schlock?
Current will be looking for video submissions in three categories. “Current Gigs” wants to see the most incredible, bizarre, or mindless jobs in the world. “Current Soul” seeks videos on what connects people to the divine, whether it’s Jesus or Allah, yoga or tantra, churching or surfing. Finally, “Current Fashion” wants those with style to turn the cameras on themselves or others to show us what’s in, or what should be out.
Via Thomas Hawk.
UPDATE, Dan Gillmor is more optimistic:
The citizen-journalism movement is one of the great opportunities for the radio/TV news folks, because a new generation of audio- and video-fluent people will supply more material than we can comprehend today. Much—most—will be garbage. So what? The good stuff will be a vital part of how people see and understand the world.
We’ll see and hear it one way or another, whether via a truly bottom-up method like video blogs or peer-to-peer networks. Yet established media can, and I believe must, embrace the emerging citizens media.
I most certinaly agree.
I take it for granted that smart broadcasters make this a more common practice, in everyday news, just as the about-to-launch Current TV operation says it will do.
I don’t know that I’d take that for granted. Yes, the new talent is out there, but will the old-line TV people recognize and inspire it to something better? Or try to channel it into nothing more than what was?
Family Entertainment and Copyright Act
The House just passed the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, which is a classic DC compromise bill: on the one hand, it panders to the Hollywood filmocrats by promising mandatory beheading for people caught videotaping movies in theatres, and on the other, it throws the tiniest, most noncontroversial of bones to the copyfighters by legalizing tools that automatically fast-forward, audio-mask, and otherwise munge DVDs during playback, a technique largely employed by Christian companies that sell paranoid parents players that guarantee nipple-and-cussword-free playback of movies from the corner Blockbuster.
Weird as it seems, the Directors Guild of America and the studios hated the idea that viewers should be able to skip past the bits they don’t want to see while watching movies in their living rooms, proffering a bunch of self-serving, mystical crapola about the need for “artistic integrity” in the viewing experience you get from watching Police Academy n-1. This was transparent horseshit from the same groups that willingly redact their “content” for packaging by the censorious Blockbusters, airline movie providers, and TV broadcasters to eliminate toddler-damaging mentions of bodily fluids and glimpses of hoo-hahs, nee-nos, pee-paws, and other grotendous anatomical elements that no one needs to see more of.
Videotaping movies in theaters is so 1990s passÃƒÂ©. Give it to them. But I do wish this legalization of tools that trump Hollywood’s artistic integrity could turn out to be some kind of precedent with teeth. I won’t hold my breath.
UPDATE: Alan Wexelblat at Copyfight is asking, What, Exactly, Did Congress Propose to Legalize?
Jim Romenesko: journalism superhero
Improving the business may not have been Romenesko’s intention when he started his one-man-band site as “Media Gossip” in May 1999 or even when Poynter hired him to do the same job (with the same solo staffing) that October. For all I know, it may not even be his goal today. Collecting stories across the political spectrum, he never tips his hand to reveal his views or prejudices. I imagine him working diligently in his home office dressed in a fire-engine red body stocking, a matching cowl pulled over his eyes, a big white “R” embroidered on his chest. Every profession-lawyers, accountants, police, doctors, bankers, et al.-should have such a superhero keeping vigil.
Jim Romenesko’s site is irreplaceable because it gives honest reporters public leverage over their corrupt colleagues, their timid editors, their bullying publishers, and their craven owners. Let them transgress, the site seems to whisper. How badly do they want to see their names in boldface and linked to?
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Lance Armstrong announced his retirement last night, and then took off today on the Tour de Georgia, which passed by campus this afternoon (photo). He placed 15th at the end of day 1 of the six day race. Here is a very cool map that tells you precisely where the race is throughout the day.
Lance has been dogged by accusations of performance enhancing drug use:
Almost immediately after Armstrong’s announcement, the scoffers pounced. In the cycling chat rooms, as gossipy as you will find in any sport, there are constant debates about whether Armstrong has received artificial help to dominate a sport that has been rife with doping scandals. And now, the debate has begun about this latest move.
Seems odd timing, doesn’t it? Last month, one of Armstrong’s former personal assistants basically accused Armstrong of cheating. In court papers filed over a financial dispute between the two men, the former assistant claims he discovered a banned performance-enhancing substance in Armstrong’s apartment early in 2004.
The theory goes this way: Armstrong is trying to deflect attention from that case by making the rest of this year all about his retirement, not the alleged drug violations. A brilliant diversionary move.
I like to think that these accusations will be proven false, but I find the concept of enhancement fuzzy. And I’m not real clear on why “natural abilities” are more worthy than those you work for. It’s not like they take the drug then head to the beach. This is the reasonable result of a system of coaches, trainers, scientists and businesses creating new drugs, and fans applauding the results of their use.
On Sunday William Saletan asked, if steroids are cheating, why isn’t Lasik?
A month ago, Mark McGwire was hauled before a congressional hearing and lambasted as a cheater for using a legal, performance-enhancing steroid precursor when he broke baseball’s single-season home run record.
A week ago, Tiger Woods was celebrated for winning golf’s biggest tournament, the Masters, with the help of superior vision he acquired through laser surgery.
What’s the difference?
Good point. Saletan looks at the three objections (it’s illegal, unhealthy and cheating) handily dismissing the first two (illegality doesn’t explain why a drug should be illegal and human growth hormone is “generally considered to be safe” by the NIH) then takes on cheating:
Wait a minute. If the andro that helped McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998 was an unnatural, game-altering enhancement, what about his high-powered contact lenses? “Natural” vision is 20/20. McGwire’s custom-designed lenses improved his vision to 20/10, which means he could see at a distance of 20 feet what a person with normal, healthy vision could see at 10 feet. Think what a difference that makes in hitting a fastball. Imagine how many games those lenses altered.
You could confiscate McGwire’s lenses, but good luck confiscating Woods’ lenses. They’ve been burned into his head. In the late 1990s, both guys wanted stronger muscles and better eyesight. Woods chose weight training and laser surgery on his eyes. McGwire decided eye surgery was too risky and went for andro instead. McGwire ended up with 70 homers and a rebuke from Congress for promoting risky behavior. Woods, who had lost 16 straight tournaments before his surgery, ended up with 20/15 vision and won seven of his next 10 events.
Since then, scores of pro athletes have had laser eye surgery, known as LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis). Many, like Woods, have upgraded their vision to 20/15 or better. Golfers Scott Hoch, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, and Mike Weir have hit the 20/15 mark. So have baseball players Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Cirillo, Jeff Conine, Jose Cruz Jr., Wally Joyner, Greg Maddux, Mark Redman, and Larry Walker. Amare Stoudemire and Rip Hamilton of the NBA have done it, along with NFL players Troy Aikman, Ray Buchanan, Tiki Barber, Wayne Chrebet, and Danny Kanell...Does the upgrade help? Looks that way. Maddux, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, was 0-3 in six starts before his surgery. He won nine of his next 10 games. Kite had LASIK in 1998 and won six events on the Champions Tour over the next five years. Three months after his surgery, Irwin captured the Senior PGA Tour Nationwide Championship.
Sounds like performance enhancement to me.
There’s an upside to Ratzinger
...there are encouraging signs on other issues of global justice from Ratzinger’s history. Take the issue of the Iraq War, Ratzinger opposed “preventive war” and spoke out in support of the US working through the United Nations. And on social justice, while Ratzinger is well-known as “the Enforcer” who attacked Libertation Theology advocates throughout the developing world, his major statement against the trend, Instruction on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation” is actually a very strong statement of his view of the Catholic Church’s commitment to economic justice, even as he attacks church leaders for not emphasizing spirituality during such campaigns and for endorsing ideologies that he sees as based on violence. But the commitment to justice is clear.
In the latter, Mitch Albom added color to his story:
To most people he’s a novelist, and they don’t hold him to the same journalistic standard as they would others. This is not as if Bob Woodward got caught manufacturing quotes from the president.”
In a column April 3, Albom described two former Michigan State basketball players, both now in the NBA, attending an NCAA Final Four semifinal game on Saturday. The players told Albom they planned to attend, and Albom, filing Friday before the game, wrote as if the players were there, including that they wore Michigan State green. But the players’ plans changed and they never attended.
But in the former:
In the “Today” segment, Mr. Oppenheim talked about products made or sold by 15 companies. Nine were former clients and eight of those had paid him for product placement on local TV during the preceding year.
Mr. Oppenheim is part of a little-known network that connects product experts with advertisers and TV shows. The experts pitch themselves to companies willing to pay for a mention. Next, they approach local-TV stations and offer themselves up to be interviewed. Appearances frequently coincide with trade shows, such as the Consumer Electronics Show, or holidays including Christmas or Valentine’s Day.
The segments are often broadcast live via satellite from a trade event and typically air during regular news programming in a way that’s indistinguishable from the rest of the show. One reviewer may conduct dozens of interviews with local stations over the course of a day in what the industry calls a “satellite media tour.” While this circuit is predominantly focused on the local television market, the big prize for marketers is a mention on national television shows, which carry far more clout with viewers.
Mr. Oppenheim offers no apology, only explanations.
Who needs pharmacists?
Have you noticed that what pharmacists have become in our modern era is nothing more than computer jockeys who look up the med, phone the insurance company for approval, then pull the bottle from the shelf, stick it in a bag and send you off to be rung up? Who needs ‘em! Give me mail order from Canada any day. Especially with this nonsense.
Inside today’s NYTimes story is this:
Some of the bills could become moot if the Food and Drug Administration approves the morning-after pill for over-the-counter sale by pharmacists, something advocates for women’s reproductive rights and several Democratic senators have pressured the agency to do.
If over-the-counter sales are allowed, experts on the issue say, pharmacists who do not want to provide the pill on moral grounds could simply decide not to stock it, which current state laws already allow them to do. If a large drugstore chain decided to stock it, but an individual pharmacist in the chain objected, such a dispute might be governed by the employment agreements between the chain and the pharmacist.
But the bills may also lay the groundwork for pharmacists’ actions regarding future controversial medications. And both sides in the debate may consider the publicity generated by any proposed legislation to be beneficial to their cause.
Let’s go for it! Get rid of the middleman. The folks from the spooky Constitution in Exile Movement would likely agree with the elimination of pharmacists. (Rosen’s article moves me even more towards Nathan Newman’s anti-filibuster and anti-court views.) “They challenged state licensing laws that made it hard for small-business entrepreneurs to break into highly regulated professions” so maybe they’ll help me because hey, I want to be a pharmacist too! (And I’ll get my pill bottles at Target.)
While on the topic of the “right of conscience” do they and their lawmaker friends respect the ethical rights of a conscientious objector to refuse to serve in the military? Opportunistic hypocrites who cherry pick their morality from a politically conservative menu, all of them!
RELATED: Crooks and Liars helpfully posts on the Plan B Pill. For more on pharmacists see The Carpetbagger Report, Majikthise and me. And for a laugh, God knows we need one, here’s the video of Bill Maher going after these ridiculous pharmacists.
Monday, April 18, 2005
The house tour (name dropper edition)
Doug and I went on a house tour this past weekend - the photo is of our friend Revel’s house, which was on the tour. It’s a Folk Victorian house from 1835 that she had moved to the site from Devereux, GA and lovingly restored. Of note is that it is made up of three free-standing buildings connected only by porches; the dining room and master bedroom suite are their own units. It’s quite a house.
We went on the tour with our friend John and his friend Don, who was visiting from Phoenix and is, as it happens, one of the biggest stars in evolution. Some irony huh? Here we are in the cradle of creationist Georgia (some won’t even believe in dinosaurs) with Don Johanson, one of the world’s leading and America’s best known paleoanthropologists. Don’t get me wrong, I know nothing of paleontology. I didn’t even know who he was until sitting at Sonic over hot dogs John asked, “So what about those Leakey’s?”
Don explained that in 1974 in Ethiopia he found Lucy, “it’s interesting making a career of a 3 million year old dead woman.” Prior to Lucy the question was, in the path to becoming human, which came first, big brains or walking upright? Lucy, a hominid named after the Beetle’s tune “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” had a small skull and walked upright. Bipedalism, it seems, was the first step towards becoming human. Evidently, somewhere in there was a major spat between Richard and Mary Leakey and Don, but they lost me at “Hominid” so I don’t know what it was about (and a web search turns up nothing but creationist drivel).
Don’s quite a character. No fan of Bush ("the government just wants to put spies on your expeditions") he talked about how he wants to get God off our money. This caused John to quip, “you want God of our money, we just want God off our lawns.” (These lawn signs are everywhere around here.) At the last house on the tour we asked a nice Methodist church lady if she would snap our picture. She said yes, aimed the camera, and said, “Smile and say cheese.” To which Don replied, “I usually say double orgasm.” She didn’t blush, but lurched forward, ruining the framing of our group photo.
As we left we made plans to visit Don in Phoenix this December and John whispered to me with a wink, “This better turn up on your blog.”
How could it not?
The Flash Mind Reader
Then read how it works from Adrian Ziemkowski, “Let us take a look into the crystal ball that is math...”
Doug figured it out on his own, “I guess that’s why I’m a doctor.”
Nightline stays, Cronkite imagines a better nightly news
In a story on the challenges at ABC News there is this on Nightline:
On Friday, Anne Sweeney, president of Disney-ABC Television Group, said in an interview that she had decided that the news division - and not the network’s entertainment or sports units - would be given the first opportunity to put a program on the air in Mr. Koppel’s slot.
While Ms. Sweeney refused to say how long that news program, whatever its format, would be given to succeed, her decision is the most public vote of confidence that the network has extended to Mr. Westin after months of internal wrangling over what exactly to do at 11:35.
“It’s not going to be radically different,” Mr. Westin said, emphasizing that, while it may evolve, the new “Nightline” would nonetheless retain “the DNA” of Mr. Koppel’s program.
And in TV news just isn’t what it used to be, Wlater Cronkite (who ought to know) says:
“It’s understandable, to me anyway, that the management should attempt to do what they can to get a lot of that audience back,” Cronkite said. “However, I personally - and this is purely a personal feeling - would rather see more devotion to the major stories in politics and the culture of the nation, rather than quite so much entertainment news, if you will, of crime, of less-important news...Let’s do the headlines at 6:30 or whenever,” he said. “And then when we come back for those (prime-time) magazines, instead of Hollywood and crime and all that kind of thing, we could do instant documentaries” on the news of the day.
Following up on his healthcare around the world post from last week, today Kevin Drum looks at healthcare satisfaction levels in America. This paper finds that among poor Americans it’s 45%, elderly Americans 61%, and everyone else 34%:
This is pretty remarkable. First, the elderly in America, who are covered by a state-run national healthcare system (Medicare and Medicaid) are way more satisfied with their healthcare than everyone else. As it happens, the elderly in other countries also tend to report higher satisfaction levels than other people, but usually by just a few percentage points. In America, where the elderly are covered by a national system and others aren’t, the elderly are more satisfied by a whopping 27 percentage points.
Second, even the poor are more satisfied with their healthcare than the rest of us. The poor generally rely on a combination of Medicaid, emergency rooms, and free clinics for their healthcare, a system that’s hard to beat for sheer inefficiency and appalling service. But even at that, the rest of us, who are mostly covered by employer-provided health insurance, are less satisfied than the poor. The system of health coverage provided to the vast majority of American citizens is so bad that we like it even less than the jury-rigged system the poor are forced to use.
Related: Angrey Bear on waiting for healthcare, “Clearly government financing of health care does not, in and of itself, cause waiting lists for medical procedures.”