Saturday, October 24, 2009

Disappointed that I didn't think of this myself
Christians who believe they’ll vanish from Earth in the rapture can now hire an atheist to care for their pets.

For $110, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets offers a 10-year contract guaranteeing that an atheist will adopt the pet that’s left behind by its raptured owner. Additional pets can be covered for $15.
I shall follow this company's fortunes with interest.

again, via Digby

Cookie Diet - we are the public option
I appreciate the New York Times’ coverage of the cookie diet. The normal problem with crash dieting is that you inevitably go through periods of obsession with denied foods, then cheating on the diet, and then eventual reinvigoration of the original diet in an effort to punish yourself for cheating. Cookie diets (more accurately, “puck of random undisclosed shit” diets) are brilliant, because they take the whole process and wrap it up into a cohesive, yet insanely expensive package. The very food you obsess over is the food you’re asked to eat - because they’re cookies! - and so the inevitable failure of the diet is the diet itself.

And you get to pay a ton of money to do it, because otherwise you just have an eating disorder.
I somehow missed this one.

via Digby

Making A List and Checking it Twice ... or 3 times

Problem Bank List Oct 23, 2009 (Unofficial)
Problem Bank List Oct 23, 2009 (Unofficial)
DISCLAIMER: This is an unofficial list, the information is from public sources and while deemed to be reliable is not guaranteed. No warranty or representation, expressed or implied, is made as to the accuracy of the information contained herein and same is subject to errors and omissions. This is not intended as investment advice. Please contact CR with any errors.
I didn't see my bank on here, is yours?
Update: fixed borked link

Trickle Down Redux

Jen Doll - In the Red – Obama gives AIG the smackdown - True/Slant
Now, I’m not saying that overpaid executives who used taxpayer money to fund their private jet travel and beachside massages don’t deserve some kind of punishment. The only problem is, remember the trickle-down effect of wealth? That masseuse has to get paid by somebody. Or she’s not working, either.
Didn't everyone finally figure out that trickle down was pretty much a myth? I am really hoping that this post is snark but then again, Mark Sanford is doing term papers on Ayn Rand for Newsweek so ..

Cougar Town isn't funny? Imagine my shock

Tina Dupuy - Tina's Page – How Can Cougar Town Not Be Funny?! - True/Slant
This show is the opposite of feminism. In feminism women are empowered. “Cougars” are empowered. The premise is that they have money and power so they can afford to troll for young hot guys. In Cougar Town, women are powerless over their sagging parts and held hostage by their not-as-attractiveness. The only thing that’s made them valuable is on the verge of being completely stripped away.
Which really shouldn't be a surprise considering that the series is written by 2 fortyish year old guys.

Perfect for those nasty monday mornings

Gadget Freak Case 146: Perfect Wake-up Machine Jolts All Five Senses - 2009-08-17 02:00:00 EDT | Design News
Here's an alarm clock that clicks on your favorite music, vibrates your pillow, removes your sheets and makes your coffee. Brian Wagner and his mechanical engineering teammates at Colorado State University (Matthew Cuff, Ryan Seeboth and Steve Schmitt) devised the perfect wake-up machine. The alarm uses a keypad and six LEDs to indicate depressed buttons or command functions that determine the sensory mix to wake you up and ease you into your day. The temperature gauge can be connected to a heater or fan to activate the perfect wake-up temperature.
I hope that they also have it able to run away.

Another one where the funny just writes itself

Emptywheel » Mark Sanford Goes Galt
Clearly Jon Meacham and his deputy editors at Newsweek could use a refresher course in compelling journalism from their sister ship test proctors at the Stanley Kaplan Corporation. Newsweek, you see, has just seen fit to publish a lengthy interpretation of Ayn Rand by none other that Appalachian Trail aficionado Mark Sanford.
This story completely pinned my irony meter.

Banksters acting like banksters

RGE - Why Wall Street Reform is Stuck in Reverse
Wall Street and the Treasury want us to believe that the TARP money will be repaid to taxpayers, but Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general keeping watch over TARP, said yesterday that just 17 percent of the TARP money has been repaid, and “[i]t’s extremely unlikely that taxpayers will see a full return on their investment." Later he told a reporter that it's unlikely "we'll get a lot of our money back at all."

Brian Griffiths, the Goldman international adviser who told us inequality is good for us, doesn't know what he's talking about. America is lurching toward inequality once again, led by the financial industry. The Street is back to where it was in 2007, but most of the rest of us are poorer than we were then -- largely due to the meltdown that occurred because Wall Street overreached. The oddity is that we bailed out the Street, including Griffiths and his colleagues, but apparently won't even be repaid. And now that Griffiths et al knows his firm and the other big ones on the Street are too big to fail, he and his colleagues will make even bigger gambles in the future with our money.
Imagine my shock that the folks that created the clusterfuck are not only walking away from it with bonuses funded by our tax dollars but are telling us that we have to like it.
And before anyone says that the government is clawing back that money, that only applies to a very few companies and anyone that has paid back their TARP money doesn't have to worry about it. Goldman Sachs paid the money they borrowed back in July. Personally I would like to see 1/2 of the bonus pool come back as well.

Give Billy Bass New Life

Gadget Freak Case #150: Hotrod Your Billy Bass - 2009-10-12 11:54:00 EDT | Design News
Perhaps you have a "Big Mouth Billy Bass," given to you circa 2001. If so, its limited repertoire has probably grown stale. As a Gadget Freak reader it probably crossed your mind to teach your "fish" to sing new songs, such as Monty Python's "Lumberjack Song." Well, you can give Big Mouth Billy Bass an ARM-powered brain transplant so it will play .wav files from an attached micro-SD card, and you can choreograph its movements to match.
How could I resist this one?

Sometimes they write themselves

TBogg » Fill My Cup, Lord
Deposed beauty queen Carrie Prejean still owes $5,200 for breast implants floated by pageant organizers in January, a new lawsuit claims.

Ex-Miss California Carrie Prejean stiffed pageant organizer K2 Productions even though she requested the surgery “to be more competitive” at the April 2009 Miss USA pageant and verbally agreed to repay the K2 loan, a complaint filed yesterday states.

Prejean was stripped of her crown June 10 for alleged contract violations.

Seafood watch

Seafood Watch Seafood Recommendations | Monterey Bay Aquarium
Seafood Recommendations
We recommend which seafood to buy or avoid, helping consumers and businesses become advocates for ocean-friendly seafood. You can get our recommendations online, in our printed pocket guides, or on your mobile devices.
If you love seafood as much as I do, it is in your best interest to ensure that what you eat is both healthy and provided in a way that is sustainable. Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great site, and downloadable guides suitable for a pocket or purse so that you can make sure that you are doing your bit.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Superfreakonomics - the story continues

Contrarianism without consequences - Paul Krugman Blog -
Let’s talk about the “brief mention” of global cooling that Dubner feels has been misread. Um, that was a page and a half — and it was the first page and half of the chapter. Why shouldn’t readers conclude that it was supposed to be an important story?

And there’s context. The “scientists used to predict global cooling” is a favorite argument of climate change deniers — see any number of George Will columns. If you put that story at the front of your chapter on climate, anyone, and I mean anyone, who has been following the debate will conclude that you are endorsing that position.

Sadly true

As Goldman Gloats, What Does It Matter For Us? : NPR
Goldman Sachs being proud of its performance this year is like the Harlem Globetrotters bragging that they went undefeated. It's not really a normal competition.

Common Sense on Contracts

Cutting Pay, Wall St. vs Main St.
The hypocrisy of how the contracts of Wall Street executives are being treated versus those of union workers is simply stunning. All I want to see in an economic crisis is fairness. If contracts are inviolable, they are inviolable for everyone, regardless of whether they are between blue collar workers in factories, white collar workers in office complexes, or the multi-millionaire executives on Wall Street. If the economic crisis demands that auto workers take a haircut on their pay, benefits, and pensions, Wall Street executives must be held to the same standard. Conversely, if the contracts between big banks and investment firms and their top executives simply cannot be changed, then it’s time to go back and honor the contracts between the auto industry and organized labor. It’s that simple.

This story surprised me

Cheating husbands should be whipped? | Oddly Enough | Reuters
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Reuters) - Most Bruneians want husbands who cheat on their wives to be whipped, according to a recent survey in the Muslim-majority country.

The survey, conducted by website brudirect (, found 76 percent of 272 respondents said men should be whipped for having affairs while only 55 percent said unfaithful wives should receive the same punishment.
Now a sample size of 272 respondents is pretty small but this is still a very interesting result.

Palin/Lieberman 2012

Palin Endorses Conservative Party's Hoffman In NY-23 | TPMDC
Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) has endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 special election, in a statement provided to the Weekly Standard, and is blasting the GOP for picking moderate Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava:
Seems only right. Both of them VP candidates that are now working against the parties that they ran for.


Backfire! NC GOP-er Delivers Anti-Republican Survey Comments To Dem Gov | TPM LiveWire
When North Carolina state senator Phil Berger (R) trucked a wheelbarrow stacked with Republican surveys into the governor's office, he thought he was delivering a neat blow to Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.

According to The News & Observer, the 3,000 or so surveys, filled out by prospective Republican voters, included questions such as "Do you think death panels made up of government bureaucrats should decide if your loved ones live or die?"

But it seems Berger didn't actually read the surveys before wheeling them in during a press conference in which he attacked Perdue's tax policies, among other things. When Perdue's staff skimmed 1,000 or so of the surveys, they found comments that may have given Berger second thoughts.

Michael Moore's TO DO list

"Michael Moore's Action Plan: 15 Things Every American Can Do Right Now" |
5. Take care of yourself and your family. Sorry to go all Oprah on you, but she's right: Find a place of peace in your life and make the choice to be around people who are not full of negativity and cynicism. Look for those who nurture and love. Turn off the TV and the Blackberry and go for a 30-minute walk every day. Eat fruits and vegetables and cut down on anything that has sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour or too much sodium (salt) in it (and, as Michael Pollan says, "Eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants"). Get seven hours of sleep each night and take the time to read a book a month. I know this sounds like I've turned into your grandma, but, dammit, take a good hard look at Granny -- she's fit, she's rested and she knows the names of both of her U.S. Senators without having to Google them. We might do well to listen to her. If we don't put our own "oxygen mask" on first (as they say on the airplane), we will be of no use to the rest of the nation in enacting any of this action plan!
You won't necessarily like all of them but you should go read them anyway.

On Trading Stock

Moral Of Galleon Insider-Trading Bust: Only Fools Try To Beat The Street
Perhaps you are one of the folks who deludes themselves into thinking that with an hour or two a day of "homework", you can out-trade Galleon. If so, Galleon is thrilled to have you in the game. As are the hundreds of other firms who make their money whipping suckers like you.

There's a saying in poker: If you don't know who the patsy is at the table, it's you.

Next time you feel like bellying up to the Wall Street poker table, therefore, ask youself again who the sucker is. Chances are, it's not Galleon.
Note that the author does not refer to investing, that is a different issue and you can do quite well with that as an individual. He is referring to trading as a form of gambling, since that really is its nature.

On the GOP as 13 yr olds

Op-Ed Columnist - The Politics of Spite -
“Cheers erupted” at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blog post by a member of the magazine’s staff, with the headline “Obama loses! Obama loses!” Rush Limbaugh declared himself “gleeful.” “World Rejects Obama,” gloated the Drudge Report. And so on.

So what did we learn from this moment? For one thing, we learned that the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.

But more important, the episode illustrated an essential truth about the state of American politics: at this point, the guiding principle of one of our nation’s two great political parties is spite pure and simple. If Republicans think something might be good for the president, they’re against it — whether or not it’s good for America.

Christianist Book Burnings

A Good Ol' Fashioned Book Burning : Dispatches from the Culture Wars
A church in North Carolina is holding an old fashioned book burning on Halloween night. What will they be burning, you ask? Copies of Harry Potter? Maybe a little Vonnegut? Nope. They're burning Bibles. Evil Bibles.

John Kerry Finds His Special Purpose

For Kerry, a growing prominence on foreign policy stage -
Kerry's role over the past week in resolving, at least temporarily, the political turmoil in Afghanistan brought him kudos from Obama, who thanked him publicly and called his successful efforts to persuade President Hamid Karzai to accept a runoff election "extraordinarily constructive." It was Kerry -- pressed into action by the Obama administration while on an unrelated trip to Afghanistan -- who stood by Karzai's side in Kabul on Wednesday when the announcement about the runoff was made. For the first time since 2004, Kerry's face appeared on front pages across the country.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thom Hartmann on Medicare Part E

Medicare Part E: Everybody |
Just pass a simple bill - it could probably be just a few lines, like when Medicare was expanded to include disabled people - that says that any American citizen can buy into the program at a rate to be set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which reflects the actual cost for us to buy into it.

Thus, Medicare Part E would be revenue neutral!

To make it available to people of low income, Congress could raise the rates slightly for all currently non-eligible people (like me - under 65) to cover the cost of below-200%-of-poverty people. Revenue neutral again.
For my faithful readers that don't like to click through linky things.

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher Finishes Our Sentences About Family, Work And That Bikini - Monkey See Blog : NPR
"The best and worst things about being bipolar are ... "

The best thing is the mania, the worst thing is the depression.
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Read the whole article though. Is quite entertaining.

Medicare Part E

House Dems want Medicare for everyone -
Say hello to “Medicare Part E” — as in, “Medicare for Everyone.”

House Democrats are looking at re-branding the public health insurance option as Medicare, an established government healthcare program that is better known than the public option.
Has a nice ring to it don't you think?
Looks like someone working on Dem strategy has finally read Thom Hartmann or Ezra Klein or Mark Kleiman.

Facts are terrible things

Mortality due to Influenza in the United States--An Annualized Regression Approach Using Multiple-Cause Mortality Data -- Dushoff et al. 163 (2): 181 -- American Journal of Epidemiology
The regression model attributes an annual average of 41,400 (95% confidence interval: 27,100, 55,700) deaths to influenza over the period 1979–2001.
It seems that the "one in a million: cheerleader disabled after flu shot" video has now gone viral (pardon the pun).

I am not a big believer in getting a shot for its own sake but if you are at higher than average risk of getting and passing on the flu (retail sales for instance) or if you are at a higher than average risk for a negative outcome if you do get it (compromised immune system, very young, very old, previous history of pneumonia, etc) then you should take the above number into account.

Yes, you read that right. 40,000 deaths every year due to flu in the USA. Do the math, then make your decision, but don't make your decision based on one video no matter how sad it makes you.

Offered in the interest of fighting innumeracy.