Water, Water Everywhere…
Posted on March 29th, 2010 at 1:57 pm by Steve

The image above is the National Weather Service’s Quantitative Precipitation Forecast for the next 48 hours. It predicts 4-5 inches of rain for the Boston metro area between now and midday Wednesday!

Tim Anderson Bubbles Up in the New York Times!
Posted on March 26th, 2010 at 5:17 pm by Steve

Friend of the blog Tim Anderson bubbles up in a New York Times article about Kombucha (a drink many NII bloggers were enjoying back in the mid-90’s thanks to Shwilly B!):

Kombucha’s popularity has also attracted home brewers. Tim Anderson, founder of a 3D printer technology company, moved from Boston to Berkeley, Calif., with his “mother” — passed on to him from a friend who got it, as the story goes, from gypsies in Russia.

Mr. Anderson, an advocate for all things do-it-yourself, made step-by-step kombucha brewing instructions complete with videos for Instructables.com (one of over 200 tutorials he has made on everything from tire sandals to wheelchair shopping carts). Nearly 60,000 people have viewed the kombucha guide to-date, according to the site’s page-view statistics.

“I’m surprised people would pay to get this stuff,” Mr. Anderson said. “The kind you can buy tastes vinegary and dry, whereas the one you can make yourself is so incredibly delicious.”

Mr. Anderson has given kombucha culture to dozens of friends and strangers. Recently he put out a call to get some back after he neglected his brew and let the fermented patty dry out. “You can’t go around saying you killed your mother,” he said. “It freaks people out.”

Republican Talking Points on Health Care Reform
Posted on March 26th, 2010 at 2:40 pm by Steve

…from 1961! Voiced by the actor RONALD REAGAN!

[audio:reagan-medicare.mp3|titles=Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine]

“One of the traditional methods of imposing Statism or Socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it. Now, the American people, if you put it to them about Socialized Medicine and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it. We had an example of this: under the Truman Administration, it was proposed that we have a compulsory health insurance program for all people in the United States. And, of course, the American people unhesitatingly rejected this.”

This recording was distributed in 1961 as an LP, and was apparently funded by the American Medical Association. You can read all about it on Wikipedia!

PG&E is reading our blog!
Posted on March 26th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by Mutt

Steve recently noticed that my previous post, “Public Utility Chutzpah,” had a comment, a mysterious person named “meagancb@gmail.com.”  This comment said,

Prop 16 will actually help communities design alternative energy programs that are more likely to have strong community support and be successful. This initiative does one thing; it ensures taxpayers and ratepayers, who will foot the bill or repay the debt, have the final say if their local elected leaders decide to get involved in the retail electricity business by using public dollars or incurring public debt. By requiring a local vote, this initiative will increase, not diminish, local control.

Funny — this text appears almost identically on the FAQ at the site http://www.taxpayersrighttovote.com.

And who pays for that site?  It says on the front page:

Paid for by Yes on 16/Californians to Protect Our Right to Vote, major funding from Pacific Gas & Electric Company, a coalition of taxpayers, environmentalists, renewable energy, business and labor.

Hey, PG&E — thanks for spending the fees that I pay to you, a monopoly public utility, on paying a PR company to troll blogs and post comments without attributing them to you!  Is that legal?

Yes, Mr. President, You Showed the Insurance Industry Who’s Boss!
Posted on March 26th, 2010 at 12:44 pm by Steve

President Obama is now out on tour daring the Republicans to try to repeal the new health care reform law. Here’s what he said yesterday:

“If they want to have that fight, we can have it. Because I don’t believe the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver’s seat.”

Yeah, not after we worked so hard to shove the insurance industry aside, right? I mean, before the law passed, if you wanted to buy insurance, you paid whatever the Insurance industry demanded.

Whereas now, you will be obligated by law to give your money to a private insurance company, at whatever price they name, or else pay a tax penalty.

Yessirree Bob, we certainly wouldn’t want to let the insurance industry back in the driver’s seat! We showed them who’s boss!

…Now, to be fair: eliminating lifetime payout caps, limiting annual payout caps, and requiring the companies to accept customers regardless of pre-existing conditions are all good reforms. But there are currently no provisions for limiting the costs of insurance premiums! And, if you earn more than 400% of the Federal poverty limit, you receive NO FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE from the government (this year, the magic 400% number is about $43,000).

So, the government is mandating that you buy insurance, but they’re not setting limits on what the companies can charge for it.

I seem to remember one of the Presidential candidates opposing this idea… saying something about how it wouldn’t work, and it wasn’t fair… Now let me see, who was it again…?

Never mind, I can’t remember that far back!

I Have the Perfect Defense Against Tigers
Posted on March 25th, 2010 at 3:00 pm by Steve

Since 1997, every night before I go to sleep, I turn around three times and chant “on-gay iger-tay”. In more than thirteen years, I have not been attacked by a tiger. My method is perfect!

Everything I know about logic, reasoning, and causality, I learned from Peter Wehner, former deputy assistant to President Bush, in this op-ed:

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when virtually everyone assumed we’d be hit again, Bush put the United States on a war footing. He mobilized the entire federal government, including the military, Homeland Security, the Treasury, the FBI, our intelligence agencies and more.

We have not been attacked since.

Update 3/26/10:

I should add that I have also learned a great deal about logic and causality from former Bush administration speechwriter Marc Thiessen, from his fabulous new book Courting Disaster:

“In the decade before the C.I.A. began interrogating captured terrorists, Al Qaeda launched repeated attacks against America. In the eight years since the C.I.A. began interrogating captured terrorists, Al Qaeda has not succeeded in launching one single attack on the homeland or American interests abroad.”

Q.E.D., baby!

(BTW, the Thiessen quote comes from this excellent takedown by Jane Mayer in the current New Yorker magazine.)

The Biggest Con in History EVAH!
Posted on March 3rd, 2010 at 3:31 pm by dr.hoo

the con

Matt Taibbi breaks it down (once again). Make the time to read this and you’ll get a much better grasp on the insane shit that’s gone down over the past year of “recovery”. This “bailout” has been like having the guy who mugged you sending you his dry cleaning bills for getting your blood on his shirt AND THEN charging you interest for the bill ($1billion).

It seems to me that the calling this a “Recession” is a misnomer and misdirection. It kind of implies that this is some sort of natural dip to the economic flow. What we are really witnessing is the largest and most egregious transfer of wealth from the American tax-payers to a few large players on Wall St.

As Warren Buffet said in 2006, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Nothing Sucks Like a Hoover!
Posted on March 3rd, 2010 at 11:23 am by Steve

J. Edgar Hoover, that is! Via BoingBoing, I came across The Kisseloff Collection, which is author Jeff Kisseloff’s collection of photos and stories stretching back through the 1920’s. Some of the photos are gorgeous, some are disturbing, and some are just weird:

Jeff writes about working with Alger Hiss in the early 1970’s, and in the process going through more than 40,000 pages of FBI files. He recalls many of the nasty, anti-Semitic writings he found in Hoover’s personal collection, and fires off this bon mot about the FBI director:

he had his agents compile lists of left-wingers to be picked up and placed in detention camps in the event of a national emergency. If he compiled lists of right-wingers it was only for dinner invitations.


iTunes Crops Description, Chuckle Ensues
Posted on March 1st, 2010 at 2:08 pm by Steve

That’s how iTunes showed the description for this week’s episode of This American Life. Stupidly funny.

For the record, the full description reads, “The story of how the American Psychiatric Association decided in 1973 that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness.”