Back To LJ

Even if I can't get here from work. I prefer the long form for talking--when I have something to post--and miss my LJ friends--soldiergrrrl and everraven--I miss the updates from Warren, Coffee Maker, Quinn and company.

And facebook doesn't seem like a good place to talk about Occupy Wall Street.

Osama Bin Laden Dead

Apparently killed in an US military action in Pakistan.

My thoughts are dominated by the ideas that first off, no matter his crimes, he was a human being and neither his death nor anyone else's should be cheered. It lessens us, if nothing else.

The second though is closer to "so what?" the genie is long out of the bottle and my impression is that he was no longer needed to keep Islamic terrorism going. The Arabic Spring will do farm more harm, in the long run, to Osama's cause than his death.

Club For Growth

More than once, as a lefty (politically) I have been tempted to contribute to them. Sometimes I think they are far more effective at getting results I want than any money I could conceivably give the democrats.

Picking off moderate Republicans in the primaries seems like a great strategy.


In what may not have been my wisest decision ever, mcd000 and I went in half and half on a Rock Band Squire Guitar. So I am picking up a guitar for the first time in my life. I am what is no doubt the most tedious part of the learning process--learning where the heck the strings and frets are. Oh and reprogramming my mind--that a note further right on the screen isn't closer to the body along the neck--it's closer to the floor.

I probably put in an hour-hour and a half, switching off with ghosteangel for another hour. I didn't quite pull a Brian Adams--"playing until my finger bled"--but my first finger (aka the pointer) is sore, as is my back--having to balance this new 5 lb weight.

I have never had guitar lessons--but what is interesting about doing it though RB3 is that while I am struggling to find frets and strings--the reward for finding the correct notes is not an in tune plonk but a whole section of music fitting into a whole band. Easy is ridiculously abstracted away from the songs--and may not even be music--but after 2 days it seems a good way to learn and make the tedium less.

I am sure I will be muttering interesting things when I have to start learning chords--but I imagine that is a couple of weeks away.


Human kind has made unimaginable leaps forward in the last 200 years. Childhood mortality, a scourge of the ages, is effectively non-existent in the industrialized countries and on the decline everywhere else. There are many reason for this, from vaccinations to nutrition.

A parallel development is the government protecting the rights of the people--and being an effective actor in many spheres as an effect, stabilizing and fair force in commerce and regulation. The union movement achieved a lot for the wage earner--and like the government has been a leveling influence.

The creation of these safety nets--immunization, modern government, the union and benefits for the old--are all responses to seeing the results of not having these systems in place. I doubt any mother who had seen polio strike a friend or family member would hesitate having their child vaccinated--oh whooping cough, or measles, or mumps.

The modern age though--the risks of these diseases seems to be remote at best. How many parents these days have any sort of experience with the serious childhood diseases? The risks of them seem far less serious than the possible side effects of immunization. And I suspect there will be an oscillation between enthusiastic immunization--and acknowledging the risks of the diseases--and in increase in fear of the immunization over the disease.

And I think you can see that same behavior repeating itself in politics: we haven't seen corporate excess like the robber baron days in 100+ years and until we fear corporations and the rich as we once did--because we haven't seen the company town, script, and 72 hour work weeks since then.

We are proposing dismantling the safety net for the not yet old because we haven't seen massive numbers of the retired homeless on the streets because of social security and MediCare. And sure enough we are seeing attacks on them--after the dismantling of the defined benefit pension system.

I have no doubt as we see the consequences, assuming we still have any sort of power--that the pendulum will swing back. I also fear that I will be on of the screwed generation. Paul Ryan's MediCare plan that has me paying more than $50,000 a year for equivalent benefits at 81 really crystallizes that feeling.

I Would Have Some Rude Words For Mr. Ryan

But I am not big on cursing in the title of my blog.

This is giving the emotional, first reaction to his proposed changes to MediCare.

In a nutshell, I am supposed to pay into MediCare for the entirety of my working career, providing a good benefit to everyone. Then when it gets to be my turn—24 years from now in 2035 to start getting those benefits, I am going to need to come up with more than 2/3s the cost of my benefits for myself? At well over $10,000 a year?

To rub salt in the wounds, there is also a 28% tax cut for corporations and the highest earners from 35% to 25%.

From Brad DeLong: Under the Ryan plan, however, the CBO projects that a 75-year old Medicare patient in 2050 will have to spend $52,000 year-2010 dollars to buy a Medicare-equivalent plan in 2050. Of this, Medicare will reimburse the patient for--a mere $10,000.

House Republicans Overplaying Their Hand

I haven't followed the current continuing resolution (CR) so this is going off my impressions of the current bill. The democrats have already negotiated themselves into a 33B in cuts from the current years budget--which is insanity in itself. But along with those are the House Republican policy measures contained as riders on the CR.

Currently the CR would defund Planned Parenthood, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the health insurance reform act and the EPA from enforcing certain regulations in the Clean Air Act and regulating CO2 as a green house gas.

My guess is that the noodle backed Democrats could have caved on any one of these policy riders--but what the Republicans have done is gone after all of them--instantly creating an alliance of the greens, the pro-choicers, the NPR fan, financial reform groups, and public health. You can throw in the public employee unions because they are all fired up right now too. Do you think that a highly concerned coalition of just about every major Democratic cause will actually get Senate Democrats and the President to tell the House, ok shut it down?

I say the sooner the Dems let the Republican's overplay their hand, the better off we will all be.
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XKCD: Usual Methods

Today's XKCD has me wanting to say "You're doing it wrong." Without taking away from the emotion of the piece--and Randall's willingness to take on big, hard, emotional issues, I have a problem with his alt text "My usual approach is useless here, too".

I have news for you, which it should not be...You will die. As will everyone around you. Hopefully in the right order--from oldest to youngest, at ripe old ages--but still--you and everyone around you will die. Not to be morbid, but you should be prepared, at least on some level, for death at all times.

Without being trite, if death isn't something your usual approach can't handle, you're doing it wrong.