Thursday, September 24, 2009

the buscycle

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Celia Cruz sings Guantanamera, with 'la Fania'. And Pete Seeger, with Rosa Valentin and Rafael Martinez below:

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

and now it's Tuesday

I seem to remember that we used to make fun of Abba in my high school days, but now people in their 40s and 50s wax nostalgic over them.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

"A Vision of Students Today"

Michael Wesch of Kansas State calls his class "digital ethnography"; there's also a longer (about 1 hr) version of this video, which I hate to say I find kind of repetitive.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Space:1999 (1975 intro)

I remember, when I was 11 years old, watching the ads, probably including this one, on TV in San Antonio and looking forward to it because it I thought it looked exciting and interesting. Then when channel 12 finally started showing it and I finally got a chance to see it, I thought it was excessively cerebral and uninvolving, and, well, boring. Looking at this old "cold open" ad I realize how cheesy and ridiculous it must seem to a modern audience. If it no longer looks exciting and interesting to me I can only imagine how an 11 year old today might regard it.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

c. 1970 interview with Pedro Rodríguez

Monday, September 14, 2009

René Arnoux in 2008

I always liked René Arnoux. Arnoux raced in F1 from '78 till the end of the 1989 season, and while his stock had fallen considerably by the late 80s, it's easy for people today to forget how much he was regarded as a rising star around '79-'81. If I recall correctly he even held the record for most pole positions in one season at one time.

He left the Renault team when they were on top to go drive for Ferrari, presumably seduced by the legend. After two more seasons with Ferrari, the first good, the second somewhat less so, he was canned at the beginning of the third (1985) season after only one start-- and not allowed to drive for anybody else for the rest of the year because the Ferrari people wouldn't release him from his contract. Peering into the psyche of a famous person you've never met is probably silly, but it's difficult not to think that this may have soured him on the sport a bit and hurt his confidence.

After that he spent his last four seasons with Ligier, 1986-'89, and like Arnoux, Ligier didn't have the same form as in the early 80s, especially after their engine supplier (coincidentally, Renault) left F1 at the end of '86 and they had to make do with lesser equipment.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

"a record of life"

A Record Of Life from Owen Gatley on Vimeo.

"Life on Earth", via Pacific Views

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

9.12. Now what?

First, the nice young lady above is Lori Harfenist of The Resident. I imagine a lot of people, whether they lived in NYC in 2001 or not, share her view that fretting about conspiracies is redundant, while allowing that a generally corrupt government is likely. I wonder if she actually does look at things that way, given how she characterizes suspicion of the government, and I wonder what she and Bob from Pacifica would make of each other's views.

As you may have noticed, I closed the comments on Rob's 9.10 post, "Riding old 9/11". For now, comments still aren't moderated. I'd prefer to avoid that, and I don't want to have to reprimand anybody, regular visitors especially. I regard all the persons who participated in the previous comments as regular visitors, and feel all are due respect, and need to offer it in kind.

Over at A Tiny Revolution, Bernard Chazelle posted "Everything's a Lie" discussing some the same issues Rob and the commenters touched upon below, in Rob's post.

Here's Chazelle:

But here's the funny thing. People don't seem to mind [i.e.the lying] very much. This is pure Hegelian alienation: the acceptance that some creatures, by virtue of their function status, are normatively alien from us. They may do things (lie, kill, steal) that no one else would be allowed even to consider. Normative is the key word here, because they can't just do anything. They are strict norms of conduct they must abide by. So a senator who steals a stamp may go to jail, but if the same senator pushes for a billion-dollar bill to favor a baby-killing (military) industry that will make him mega-rich once he leaves office, that's fine. He can go on and give speeches about taking on the baby killers. If a president lies about his intern's extracurriculars, he gets impeached. But if he lies about a bogus threat and bombs the crap out of the Sudan, that's OK. So it's not true that anything goes. The modalities of lying have to be accepted. It's what you might call a normative alienation. See the division of labor: they get to lie and the little guy doesn't, but the little guy gets to approve the norms and they don't. This applies not just in politics but across all modes of power.

Here's part of what I wrote over at ATR:

I don't know if Walter Mondale was uniformly honest, I imagine he wasn't. But he was honest about the possibility of raising taxes, and got walloped in '84. Bill Clinton promised everybody that he would be a warm, huggable kind of conservative-- essentially-- and was wildly successful.

I'm lying myself, because that's not what Clinton said in '92, but a more accurate description of how he refashioned himself in '95.

If regular readers of lefty blogs all sit on their hands and stay out of the 2010 midterms, I'm guessing this will reduce turn-out by 1 or 2 percent at the most. If those same blog readers go and vote for whoever among 3rd party candidates make the ballot-- even if it's libertarians-- then presumably 3rd party candidates might poll at 1.5 to 2.0 percent nationally, instead of 0.5 to 1.0 per cent.

But some liberals would blanch at the thought of doing this, in part out of fear that the TV talking heads would spin it as support for social security privatization. (But most who think of doing it but decide against it, I'd wager, would only stop themselves because of the thought that it might mean the republican might get in or stay in.)

cross-posted at Dead Horse.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Regarding Hillary's 2008 plan, and individual mandates

I posted this at Dead Horse, in response to Buzzcook, a commenter who encouraged me to read a blog post(referenced below):

OK Buzzcook, I read the lengthy(4,000+ wd) post you referred to in the comments,
"An analysis of Clinton's [2008]Health Plan Proposal"

Robert Laszewski talks about how H. Clinton's 2008 healthcare plan(hereafter I'll just call it HRC-08)says that there will be a public option allowing regular people to buy a plan that's the equivalent of the "Federal Employee Health Benefit Program", something a lot of pols talk about.

Yes, the healthcare plan for federal employees is pretty good, but SO WHAT? If you've ever actually looked at buying health insurance on your own, you'd see that the major companies don't offer a one-size-fits-all plan for everybody, but rather a pretty wide array of plans, with the economy plans offering negligible coverage with high deductibles, and the top of the line plans offering at least as much coverage at the "FEHBP" plan, sometimes more. If you're curious, go to and plug in your personal data and see what's available to you. Blue Cross and Humana, for example, offer an especially wide range of plans, but the prime ones are well out of my reach.

(incidentally, the reason I recommend you look at ehealthinsurance is because they don't ask you, as of this writing, for an email or home phone number, which many of the other online comparison services do, presumably so agents in your area can subsequently pester you. For the record I have not purchased anything from them, just window-shopped.)

Laszewski also discusses the HRC-08 approach to individual mandates,

"Limit Premium Payments to a Percentage of Income: The refundable tax credit will be designed to prevent premiums from exceeding a percentage of family income, while maintaining consumer price consciousness in choosing health plans."

OK, the devil in her plan finally shows itself. Tax credits are all well and good, but what if they're not enough to purchase decent coverage? Then you have to purchase sub-standard coverage(I guess that's where "consumer price consciousness in choosing health plans" comes in.)

I'm a male in my 40s, and from what I've looked at, it would cost me at least 250/month to purchase meaningful coverage, as opposed to plans with 3,000/yr or 5,000/yr deductibles* that don't cover dr's visits until the deductible is satisfied, which are often more "reasonable."

Except they're not. The canard that individual mandate proponents often trot out is that individual mandates will force healthy people to buy coverage when they're well, and quit gaming the system by waiting until they're sick, implicitly suggesting that is what the bulk of the nation's 45 million plus uninsured are doing.

I don't believe that for a moment. If I had a spare 250 dollars a month I would buy a policy, but I'm really poor. I'll wager that most people who don't have health insurance just can't afford it, and some have looked at the bargain-basement policies and figured out they're essentially worthless. And of course some had insurance and were bumped by their insurance companies, and can't find anybody who'll cover them, except at exorbitant rates.

Let's say you are a cashier or a short-order cook, earning 8.50 or 9 bucks an hour. (Let's also assume you have no dependents and no pre-existing conditions.)

Sure, maybe you could, with some difficulty, afford to enroll in a plan that only costs 80 or 90 bucks a month, assuming you can stay healthy and don't actually need that 80 or 90 bucks that month, should you actually need to see a doctor and buy some medication, something the economy plans generally wont help you with, or will only help you a spitting-in-your-poor-face, token amount.

Let's see. You're paying 80 bucks a month, 960 dollars a year, the doctor charges 80 bucks for a visit, and the 80 bucks a month plan reduces your out-of-pocket expense to 45 bucks? Wow! But you don't have 125 bucks to spare on healthcare for the month, not if you want food, and some electricity? You're a bum.

And since you're making, say,18,000 dollars/yr, that 960 bucks a year is still too little to deduct off your income tax, because even if it's more than 7.5% of your taxable income, you still don't make enough to be able to itemize.

My point, buzzcook, is that plans with individual mandates are eminently gameable-- they're designed so the politicians can take credit for dramatically reducing the number of uninsured folks while forcing a large segment of society to buy junk policies, by defunding vouchers so they only pay for worthless coverage, or by making eligibilty for tax credits that phases out below a certain point, in the same way that making something tax-deductible means only people who make enough money to itemize may benefit.

Do I know HRC created a plan with this aspect designed to be a deliberate gimmick? No, but I don't have to. It's not about her, any more than it's about Obama now that he's president. It isn't even about the democrats. It's a systemic vulnerability that's built into individual mandates and that's why it's foul public policy, period. I'm sure you've heard of unfunded mandates in other contexts.

They won't call it cutting the plan off at its knees;

they'll call it "reaching a bipartisan solution" or

"allowing the private sector breathing room to innovate"

and when a New York Times story about some Duke or University of Michigan study questioning the effectiveness of individual mandates comes out 3 or 4 years later, it will studiously avoid connecting the dots, to prove that the democrats deliberately created legislation to "allow" themselves to be played by the other guys, as they both wink at each other from across the aisle.

That's why I think my criticism of HRC-08(and BHO-09) is legitimate.

Later this week I'll post about my thought on how to fix healthcare. Maybe my ideas will be just as flawed, just differently flawed. We'll see.

(*I've even seen some companies offer 7,500/yr deductible plans, although they're still rare.)

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Time magazine guy on labor day

Thursday, September 03, 2009

from MSNBC: heckling the handicapped

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

the Ventures, live in Japan

I'm at a loss what to do with HZ. My impression is that over 90 percent of the people who find and visit this site do so inadvertently, generally via a Google search for a couple or more keywords that just happen to also appear in a post of mine, as opposed to any intrinsic interest in anything I might have to say, or even occasional idle curiosity about what that Hugo Zoom guy has to say. Undoubtedly that's a useful bridle for my ego, given the common assumption that the unbridled variety are bad, etc. C'est la vie.

Anyway, enjoy the Ventures.

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