Sunday, June 12, 2011

Those Pesky Facts

I'm in a hurry to run out and take some pictures before the sun rises too high on the horizon, but this post from Paul Krugman's blog is important.

The takeaway quote:
... we don’t have a Medicare problem, we have a health care cost problem. And Medicare actually does a better job of controlling costs than private insurers — not remotely good enough, but better.

If you look at Medicare in isolation, the cost rise looks terrible, because it is:


But it looks a bit different if you look at private insurance, too:

If Medicare costs had risen as fast as private insurance premiums, it would cost around 40 percent more than it does. If private insurers had done as well as Medicare at controlling costs, insurance would be a lot cheaper.

It’s a mystery why anyone claims that shifting more people into private insurance is a good idea.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Worth 5 Minutes

I understand there are reasons why asphalt is usually the preferred surfacing material for roadways. It provides good traction. Snow and ice melt faster than with concrete.

But there's a big problem with it: it's black, so it absorbs energy and heat from the sun. It's a big contributor to Global Warming.

Is there another approach we can take to roadways? This little video raises interesting possibilities. I recommend it. It suggests how newer technologies could be applied to the problem.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Well Said

Amanda Marcotte, writing on, summarizes the Tea Party approach to history (see prior post):
... I think it helps to understand that, for right-wing populists, this thing we call "history" is less about real people who did real things in the real world, and more like just the Bible Part II. It's a myth that can be manipulated to suit their purpose, which is usually to establish themselves as the only Real Americans. When Palin says she got it right, I believe she believes that, because her story wasn't really about Paul Revere. Her story was a thinly veiled allegory of the Tea Party worldview, and in it, Tea Partiers are Paul Revere and the British stand in for Obama, the foreign usurper who is out to take their guns. (That Obama is a gun-snatcher is also a lie worth noting, and of course there's a bit of Birtherism going on here, too.) In a sense, Palin's mangling of history is minor compared with some of the major whoppers that have percolated through Tea Party lore, with the big ones being that the main demand of the revolutionaries was an end to taxation (in fact, the main concern was lack of representation in the government, and frankly a larger desire for independence), and that the Founding Fathers were interested in establishing a government based on Christian principles, instead of those pesky secular ones they accidentally wrote into the Constitution.

There's a Good Novel in This

My readers being the smartest people on the face of the earth, you're all familiar with George Orwell's novel, 1984. In an ironic move (you will see why in a minute) let me quote from the Wikipedia article on the book:
In the Ministry of Truth, protagonist Winston Smith is a civil servant responsible for perpetuating the Party's propaganda by revising historical records to render the Party omniscient and always correct ....
Okay, keep that thought in mind.

Now let's look at Sarah Palin's recent, addled ramblings on Paul Revere's ride:

If this was the first time you've seen that, I should apologize. Please resist the urge to bang your head against a brick wall. It's okay. She's never going to be President.

Okay, now let's move the story up to yesterday, when she was asked about this on, of all places, Faux News. Remember, she had had several days to think of how she was going to answer the question about this ... um ... unique understanding of Paul Revere's ride.

Here's what she said:
You know what, I didn't mess up about Paul Revere. Here's what Paul Revere did:

He warned the Americans that the British were coming, the British were coming and they are going to try to take our arms so we have to make sure that we were protecting ourselves and shoring up all of our ammunitions and our firearms, so that they couldn't take them. But remember that the British had already been there, many soldiers, for seven years in that area. And part of Paul Revere's ride, and it wasn't just one ride -- he was a courier, he was a messenger -- part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there that, "hey, you are not going succeed, you are not going to take American arms. You are not going beat our own well-armed persons, individual private militia that we have." He did warn the British, and in a shout-out gotcha type of question that was asked of me I answered candidly. And I know my American history.
Let's just sit here a minute with blank looks on our faces, and then say, "Uh-HUH!"

But the story doesn't stop there. Talking Points Memo reports that "Palin's supporters have apparently taken to Wikipedia, and are editing the entry on Paul Revere to better fit the former Alaska governor's account."

So we've come a long way since 1984. In the novel, history is revised to suit the centralized, collectivist state.

In the real world, it turns out, things are a little different.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

It's About Time

Of the many hypocrisies that are the Republican Party today, one of the most puzzling has been the ability of the Ayn Rand cultists to coexist with the rapture-believing crazies. Rand did, after all, take Judeo-Christian morality and stand it on its head. Might makes right. Financial success makes right. It's wrong to help those less fortunate than you. It's a wonderful moral system for billionaires (read: Koch Brothers) who think they should rule the world.

Paul Ryan, author of the GOP budget, is a high priest in the cult. He reportedly requires his staff to read all of Rand's novels, and he's gathering the other True Believers around him.

I am delighted that somebody is finally going after him:

And here:

"No disrespect, sir."

Do I believe atheists are immoral? Of course not! Do I believe you need to believe the Bible is the Word of God to run for public office? To me, that is a preposterous idea.

But I sure am glad somebody is finally going after these Ayn Rand jokers. Maybe, just maybe, the right wingers who really do take their religion seriously will, like Colonel Nicholson, wake up to see what kind of bridge they've been building.

Addendum: Here's more.