Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Father is Gone

He had his 84th birthday recently, but didn't think of himself as old. He'd been fighting cancer for the last three years, but didn't think of himself as sick. Going to the doctor was just to humor the rest of us.

When I was a baby, I had persistent colic. He would sit up for hours, rocking me and singing silly nonsense songs so I would sleep. He was one of the few people to admit to liking schmalz, the flavored lard spread (hence the usual meaning, cloying or goopy). He would eat anything except okra. Even the carefully prepared cupcakes with a cotton ball baked in the middle, a prized family practical joke that he had told me about himself. We had to stop him before he swallowed the entire thing. That's when we knew things were bad, when he said "I'm not hungry."

He had an ... adversarial relationship with ladders. Neither of us kids ever had to go to the emergency room, but he had a habit of falling off the roof and collecting stitches. He kept promising to invent anti-gravity and go to the stars. He liked to argue with me about electrons and the Big Bang Theory and anything else that was handy.

I wasn't done with him yet. Give him back!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Funnies

-Schlock Mercenary Lieutenants that change the rules *during* the engagement do not get cookie.
-TwoLumps A firewall is neither fire nor a wall.
-Girl Genius Tarvek is changing colors in an interesting way. Also unhealthy way.
-No Need For Bushido Ina is feeling the responsibility of command. Yori moves in for "support". Non-canon Ken story Monday.
-Dresden Codak You're a Good Man, Charles Darwin.
-Lackadaisy I sorta forgot to mention FOUR new pages. Sorry. That brain cell has been sacked.
-NEW COMIC! Digger, the very strange epic of a dead god (yes really) and a lost wombat. Who doesn't really hold with gods, or magic. And her pet baby demon.

Not Updated, fie!
-My Ninja Family
-Gone with the Blastwave

Friday, August 07, 2009

Submitted for your consideration

The following is an excerpt from a candidate's statement from the Snohomish County voter's pamphlet, for the August primary election.

Instead of the U.S. government bailing out banks by giving them cash, they can support the people. The homeowners in America should be able to refinance their mortgage loan with the government.

The government would let anyone refinance their home at 1% (no cash out). Whatever is owed on the property gets paid off. The owner cannot get a second. (sic)

The position this candidate is running for? Commissioner of the local water and sewage district.

Sigh. I don't *want* to be a witness to the end of civilization ....

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pulling the pin and tossing it back

I got a response from Senator Murray. What are the odds? Significantly higher than the odds she or any other being with a pulse read my original missive, I am afraid. So of course I had to respond...


Dear Senator Murray,
Thank you for your thoughtful auto-generated email that did not address any of the points I raised. I realize you are very busy, so I have included my responses to your email in hopes it might get through to an actual human.

On Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 9:41 AM, wrote:

Thank you for writing me to share your thoughts on health care reform. It is good to hear from you.

I am telling you I don't want your version of health care reform.

Health care reform is one of the most critical issues facing our nation. Our current health care system is unstable and unsustainable.

Prove it. It works fine when government is not involved. I grant you Medicare, the VA, and Indian Health Services are in a lot of trouble. So why do you want ALL of us on Medicare?

Too many people do not have health care coverage

You are doubtless aware that health care coverage does not equate to health care, but you persist in conflating the two. "Health Care" is available, by law, in emergency rooms for emergency situations. Of the purported 47 million without *insurance*, only a handful are left once you remove those in the process of changing jobs (and therefore health insurance plans), those eligible for existing programs that haven't signed up, those who can afford it and choose not to have it, and illegal aliens.

and many of those who have coverage are worried about losing it in this uncertain economy. Businesses and families are finding it harder and harder to deal with increasing health care premiums.

Then perhaps you should fix the economy first, so people can find jobs that include healthcare. See? Simple!

In addition, Washington state family budgets cannot sustain the continual rise in health care costs and hidden taxes in the form of rising premiums to cover the uninsured.

But somehow we *can* afford the extra costs of taxes to cover this single-payer, government controlled health plan we don't want. Oh, and we won't have the doctors to go to since they can't afford to stay in practice with the reimbursement schedules you allow. Not to worry, we will just be sent home with a pain pill instead of the needed hip replacement since that is cheaper.

If we do not get health care costs under control, local, state and federal government budgets will have to take on the weight of rising health care costs. While health care reform may require an initial cost investment, I strongly believe that it will pay off in the long term and the cost letting the system become more unstable is much greater. Without reform to our health care system, premiums will continue to rise, coverage will become more uncertain, businesses will lose competitiveness and it will be harder for Americans to have access to care.

You forgot the plague of locusts and cats and dogs living together. If you really want to lower healthcare costs, you can do that.

1) tort reform to remove the hideous cost of malpractice insurance
2) allow policy portability so that health insurance is not tied to a job
3) allow policy coverage to be multistate. This will increase the competition among insurers, which I have heard Congress is very much in favor of.

After months of hearings and over 50 hours of public markups, I was pleased that on July 15th, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed the Affordable Health Choices Act.

Have you read the entire bill? If not, why not?

The Affordable Health Choices Act lays out policy changes for health care reform in America. This package works to rein in health care costs with a goal of lowering them in the long term and ensure that all Americans have access to high quality, affordable health care coverage.

The President is saying health care options will be restricted. The famous "pain pill instead of a hip replacement" comment. Please inform the President he has it wrong, or tell your constituents the truth.

It allows those who like their health insurance to keep it and provides options to those who do not have access to health insurance coverage.

Big fat lie. You can't "rein in costs" and let people keep what they have. I like my current doctor, but she doesn't take Medicare patients because she LOSES MONEY on them. If your plan passes, I will become a Medicare patient.

This bill includes provisions to implement several key health insurance reforms. For example, insurance companies would no longer be able to refuse coverage to individuals due to preexisting conditions, patients' out-of-pocket expenses would be limited and all annual and lifetime caps on insurance coverage would be eliminated.

Right. Sure. And this will result in lower healthcare costs how? I begin to see why you people have such trouble balancing the budget.

As the Senate moves forward on health care reform legislation, I will be weighing the many concerns that I am hearing from constituents all across Washington state.

Just to be clear, I haven't received a cent from any institution, pro- or con- involved in the healthcare debate, I have not received marching orders from any organization or individual, and I dress like a computer geek (which I am).

It was my pleasure to clarify these points for you. I hope they assist you in changing your mind about what is best for your constituents, and you will vote against the bloated bill that purports to reform health care.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sunny, with 30% chance of falling screwdrivers

Remember the ISS Toolbag? Floating around the planet, visible to binoculars? Turns out you *do* need propulsion to stay in orbit, and toolbags don't have that functionality. The toolbag is coming in for landing. The kind that has a fireball at the end. So if you are in the South Pacific tomorrow, wear a hard hat.