Damned Lies

All That 'Death Panel' Talk is Nothing But Lies:


...pages 80-81 of the [Senate Finance] bill. There it says: " "Beginning in 2015, payment [under Medicare] would be reduced by five percent if an aggregation of the physician's resource use is at or above the 90th percentile of national utilization." Thus, in any year in which a particular doctor's average per-patient Medicare costs are in the top 10 percent in the nation, the feds will cut the doctor's payments by 5 percent."
The flaw here is obvious, except to BigGummint people who are Simply Smarter Than You Are.

Is the doc in the 'top 10' because he's a crook? Because he has really, really, really sick patients? Because he and the patients live in a very high-cost-of-living area? Or some combination of the above?

Makes no difference to those who are Simply Smarter Than You Are.
It'll make a difference to someone. Just no one who counts.




Lisa Snyder of Middleville says her neighborhood school bus stop is right in front of her home. It arrives after her neighbors need to be at work, so she watches three of their children for 15-40 minutes until the bus comes.

The Department of Human Services received a complaint that Snyder was operating an illegal child care home. DHS contacted Snyder and told her to get licensed, stop watching her neighbors' kids, or face the consequences.

"It's ridiculous." says Snyder. "We are friends helping friends!" She added that she accepts no money for babysitting.
So, when did it become illegal to stand at the end of your driveway and talk to your neighbors for a few minutes every morning? Even if the neighbors you are talking to are children, how can that possibly be illegal?

'The safety of the children' is a fine excuse, until you notice how seriously the government actually takes its.
President Obama's "safe schools czar" is a former schoolteacher who has advocated promoting homosexuality in schools, written about his past drug abuse, expressed his contempt for religion and detailed an incident in which he did not report an underage student who told him he was having sex with older men.
No, I think I'll rely on my own judgment where my neighbors are involved. Thanks, but no thanks.

Disaster Continues

The Disaster Worsens:

It was bad enough when we were being out-cowboy'd by the Russians. We're now being out-cowboy'd by the French.

Sarkozy: “We live in the real world, not the virtual world. And the real world expects us to take decisions.”

“President Obama dreams of a world without weapons … but right in front of us two countries are doing the exact opposite.

“Iran since 2005 has flouted five security council resolutions. North Korea has been defying council resolutions since 1993.

“I support the extended hand of the Americans, but what good has proposals for dialogue brought the international community? More uranium enrichment and declarations by the leaders of Iran to wipe a UN member state off the map,” he continued, referring to Israel.

The sharp-tongued French leader even implied that Mr Obama’s resolution 1887 had used up valuable diplomatic energy.

“If we have courage to impose sanctions together it will lend viability to our commitment to reduce our own weapons and to making a world without nuke weapons,” he said.

Mr Sarkozy has previously called the US president’s disarmament crusade “naive.”
It gets worse:

Riding a horse in the Camargue in April, Nicolas Sarkozy bore “a vague resemblance” to President Bush on his Texas ranch, a French newspaper said. --NYT
The Guardian has a neat little slide show of some of the pieces.

And another article here.

The gold includes spectacular gem studded pieces decorated with tiny interlaced beasts, which were originally the ornamentation for Anglo-Saxon swords of princely quality: the experts would judge one a spectacular discovery, but the field has yielded 84 pommel caps and 71 hilt collars, a find without precedent.

Somebody's select Fyrd got smashed, Maldon-like. I don't think this is some 'life-time' of hoarding--it's from a single campaign or battle.

"Rise up O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face."

I know a reason why Grim likes the middle ages so much.

The UK's largest haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure has been discovered buried beneath a field in Staffordshire.

Experts say the collection of 1,500 gold and silver pieces, which may date to the 7th Century, is unparalleled in size and worth "a seven figure sum"....

...the most striking feature of the find was that it was almost totally weapon fittings with no feminine objects such as dress fittings, brooches or pendants.

"Swords and sword fittings were very important in the Anglo-Saxon period," Dr Leahy added.

"It looks like a collection of trophies, but it is impossible to say if the hoard was the spoils from a single battle or a long and highly successful military career.

Ah yes, the days when one decorated one's weapons with precious metals, gems and appropriate passages from Scripture.

As a side note, I was told over 20 years ago that the Anglo-Saxons were a much more wealthy society than anybody thought. And here we have some more proof, I think.

Bill Walks the Dog


Confess, Bill.

Antidotal History

Antidotal History:

The Times of London calls it "one of the most important works on the broad processes of modern world history to have appeared for years." Why? Arts & Letters Daily explains:

That racist domination was the true basis for the British Empire has been repeated so often we forget how deeply false it is. Enter historian James Belich...
As an approach within the field of modern history, it's an earthquake. I shall have to try to locate a copy soon.
I keep saying it sounds better in the original German.

But hey, it is a snappy tune.

I keep telling people that you couldn't make this shiat up if you tried.

Newspaper apologizes

Newspaper Apologizes to Mrs. Palin:

You'll never guess why.

Today I must apologize to Mrs. Palin personally and on behalf of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner for the choice of words used on the bottom of Wednesday’s front page regarding her speaking engagement in Hong Kong this week to a group of global investors.

We used offensive language — “A broad in Asia” — above a small photograph of the former governor to direct readers inside the newspaper to a full story of her Hong Kong appearance.
Hm. Well, it's nice to see the apology, anyway. Civility and all that.
To Arthur!

Two hundred and fifty years!

Now that's a legacy, boys. 'Cattle die, kin die,' but a good beer...

I Like The Headline...

...of this news story. The video is good too:

"The secret of social harmony is simple: Old men must be dangerous."

Well done.

Mass Sterilization

A Darker Whisper:

A woman who had fifteen abortions in sixteen years writes that she is worried about becoming the target of "fundamentalism." In reading her story, though, what jumped out were these lines:

Vilar's story is set against the backdrop of the American-led mass sterilization program in her native Puerto Rico from 1955 to 1969... [b]y 1974, 37 percent of all Puerto Rican women of childbearing age had been permanently sterilized in that experiment.
That is a claim I had never heard before. Here and here are a couple of '.edu' articles on the subject. There is a Wikipedia article on forced sterilization here. It states:
The United States was the first country to concertedly undertake compulsory sterilization programs for the purpose of eugenics. The heads of the program were avid believers in eugenics and frequently argued for their program. They were devastated when it was shut down due to ethical problems. The principal targets of the American program were the mentally retarded and the mentally ill, but also targeted under many state laws were the deaf, the blind, people with epilepsy, and the physically deformed. Native Americans, as well as African-American women, were sterilized against their will in many states, often without their knowledge, while they were in a hospital for other reasons (e.g. childbirth). Some sterilizations also took place in prisons and other penal institutions, targeting criminality, but they were in the relative minority. In the end, over 65,000 individuals were sterilized in 33 states under state compulsory sterilization programs in the United States.
We should be well aware of previous attempts by our government to "improve" us through health care at this time. I wonder, though -- 65,000 is a very small number compared to the "37% of all Puerto Rican women" posited by the article. Today, there are just under four million Puerto Ricans; of whom about half would be women; of whom about half would be in childbearing ages. That would be one million women, not 65,000.

There is something wicked hiding here, but it is not yet clear just what it might be. Is it several small imps -- a small sterilization program, a love of eugenics, some racism, and a desire by later anti-Americans to over-tell a true story? Or is it a greater evil, which has somehow avoided our eye until now?

I should like to know more.

Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology:

An article that should warm the heart of at least one of our co-bloggers, on the subject of remaking the world through science:

The theory of evolution explained that every species on earth is related in some way to every other species; more important, we each carry a record of that history in our body. In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick began to make it possible to understand why, by explaining how DNA arranges itself. The language of just four chemical letters—adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine—comes in the form of enormous chains of nucleotides. When they are joined, the arrangement of their sequences determines how each human differs from all others and from all other living beings.

By the nineteen-seventies, recombinant-DNA technology permitted scientists to cut long, unwieldy molecules of nucleotides into digestible sentences of genetic letters and paste them into other cells. Researchers could suddenly combine the genes of two creatures that would never have been able to mate in nature. As promising as these techniques were, they also made it possible for scientists to transfer viruses—and microbes that cause cancer—from one organism to another. That could create diseases anticipated by no one and for which there would be no natural protection, treatment, or cure. In 1975, scientists from around the world gathered at the Asilomar Conference Center, in Northern California, to discuss the challenges presented by this new technology. They focussed primarily on laboratory and environmental safety, and concluded that the field required little regulation. (There was no real discussion of deliberate abuse—at the time, there didn’t seem to be any need.)
The writers speculate that such technology could eventually end the energy crisis... assuming we don't end it first some other way. Still, the parenthetical note here is apt to strike you, as it strikes me, as extraordinary. The author writes:
Life on Earth proceeds in an arc—one that began with the big bang, and evolved to the point where a smart teenager is capable of inserting a gene from a cold-water fish into a strawberry, to help protect it from the frost. You don’t have to be a Luddite—or Prince Charles, who, famously, has foreseen a world reduced to gray goo by avaricious and out-of-control technology—to recognize that synthetic biology, if it truly succeeds, will make it possible to supplant the world created by Darwinian evolution with one created by us.
Yet there are also notes about basement crystal-meth labs, and other negative uses of technology. "At the time, there didn't seem to be any need." Is there now? Should we worry more about the harm to be done, or the joy to be had?

Blessed w/ Rain

"Looks Like We'll Be Blessed With A Little More Rain!"

The Etowah River is twelve feet high and rising, and it's said it will top fifteen feet high by tonight.

Weather report says it's going to rain every day for a week yet. We're all real happy about that, I can tell you.

Real Story Too Much GOVT

Too Much Gov't:

The real story in this Gallup poll isn't the fact that a near-majority of Americans thinks government is doing too much. It's the third graph down: since the administration of Bush I, there has only been one occasion where more Americans thought the government was doing too little: late 2001-early 2002, that is, right after 9/11. The question had a different context in those days, but even then, it was a brief moment.

"The government does too much" is the consistent winner outside of the immediate context of the 9/11 attacks.

The other thing I find interesting is the question of whether the goverment has "too much," "too little" or "about the right amount" of power. The "too little" faction barely registers, ever, on the poll.

These are long-term trends in American thought that are encouraging.

Religious Humor

Religious Humor:

I remember that once we had an occasion here -- I cannot seem to locate it in the archives, which are scrambled badly -- for telling religious jokes. Some of the best jokes I know are about religion, as they tend to speak to truths about disputes in doctrine or dogma that are really funny. One of my favorites is from the late, great Jerry Clower, who told the story of a couple who wanted to marry. The father would not accept the presumptive daughter-in-law, however, because she was not a Baptist but some lesser Protestant faith, and had only been sprinkled on her head rather than fully-immersed for her baptism.

The son offered his father a compromise: he would take the girl out into the river knee-deep with the Baptist pastor. The father refused; so the son came back and said his wife-to-be was ready to go neck deep. The father refused; soon the son said that his wife was prepared to go out into the river so far that only the top of her head was above water.

This, too, the father refused. The son replied, "See? I knew it was just that little spot at the top that counted anyway."

I thought of that when reading this piece by Christopher Hitchens on the jokesters of the day. His point is that liberal humor sneers at religion, but only when it is practiced by conservatives. Nevertheless, his examples are actually three very different types of humor. One of them is really funny:

One could actually write a whole article simply on the Franken-Stewart faction’s attitude toward religion. In their world, the expressions Christian right or Moral Majority are automatic laugh cues, and there is a huge amount of soft-core borscht-belt stuff like this (from Franken) on page 205 of The Truth:
If it hadn’t been for Social Security, I never would have met Franni in Boston my freshman year, deflowered her, and gotten her to renounce the Pope. But I digress.
And this, from pages 1 and 2 of Jon Stewart’s Naked Pictures of Famous People (his book America also carries a rib-tickling cover-line promise of Supreme Court justices posing nude) in a painfully unfunny essay/sketch titled “Breakfast at Kennedy’s,” set this time in Connecticut, at Choate:
That’s where Jack and I bonded. I was the only Jew. My father ran the commissary so I was allowed to attend school there. My room, or the Yeshiva, as Jack called it (he really wasn’t prejudiced and would often defend me to the others as a “terrific yid”), was a meeting-place and a hotbed for hatching great pranks … I’m sure the ample supply of brisket and whitefish from Dad helped.
And in a more goyish form from Stephen Colbert, by no means to be outdone, on page 56 of I Am America:
Now, I have nothing but respect for the Jewish people. Since the Bible is 100% the true Word of God, and the Jews believe in the Old Testament, that means Judaism is 50% right.
If you chance to like this sort of thing, then this is undoubtedly the sort of thing you will like. It certainly works very well with audiences who laugh not because they find something to be funny, but to confirm that they are—and who can doubt it?—cool enough to “get” the joke. What you will not find, in any of this output, is anything remotely “satirical” about the pulpit of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright...
The first piece is merely sneering and hateful, as Mr. Hitchens says. It's not the least bit amusing, except perhaps in the sense that Mr. Frankin is suggesting that a woman might prefer his love to the faith in which she was raised. But people do, sometimes; I've known both men and women who converted to new religions in order to marry, and in fact, we started with a joke on that very subject. That joke was funny because it smiled at the underlying differences; this one was not.

The second isn't really a religious joke at all, but an ethnic joke. It has nothing to do with doctrine, but is simply about being a minority among a majority. It's the same point that used to be made by black comedians, which is that blacks were once fully acceptable in American society if they were jokers or played in sports. Here, too, we have Mr. Stewart saying that he was accepted as a minority, but only because he provided some benefit to the majority -- humor, a place to plot pranks, free food.

The Colbert joke, though, is really funny. It underlines the oddity of the phenomenon that Israel's closest and most dependable ally is evangelical, even sometimes fundamentalist, Protestants in America. It even indicates the direction of the truth of that phenomenon, though of course -- being only a joke -- it doesn't adequately explain it.

You can enjoy such a joke even when it makes fun of you. This is described as a conservative joke:
A driver is stuck in a traffic jam going into downtown Chicago .
Nothing Is Moving north or south. Suddenly a man knocks on
his window.

The driver rolls down his window and asks, ‘What
happened, what’s the hold Up?’

‘Terrorists have kidnapped Barack Obama, Hillary
Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid,
Rosie O’Donnell, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton. They
are asking for a $10 Million ransom. Otherwise, they are
going to douse them with gasoline and set them on fire. We
are going from car to car, taking up a collection.’

The driver asks, ‘On average, how much is everyone giving?’

‘About a gallon’
That's a funny joke! But is it a joke about President Obama, etc., or is it a joke about conservative reactions to them?