As some of you (probably all of you) may have heard, through a series of probable and improbable events, Roy Moore won the Republican nomination for US senator from Alabama. Since then, there has been a revelation that when he was younger, he had an eye for the younger ladies. As young as 14. That’s a subject in and of itself (a post on related issues is coming).

There have been some moves recently to fiddle with the special election and perhaps even cancel it.

The narrative from the left has shifted from the Republicans can’t or won’t do anything about Roy Moore to being aghast that they might have found a way to prevent him without actually losing the seat. Someone cynical might even say that the opposition to Moore had less to do with him being particular bad and more to do with him being a Republican, and maybe a belief on their part that Moore might actually be useful as an anchor around the party. if one were cynical. It has a fair amount of explanatory power, at any rate.

Actually, I believe 100% that is the case with some. With others, I am relatively certain it isn’t. But we’re all blinkered by our political and partisan desires to some degree or another. I would suggest that at least some of the outrage at the possibility that the election might be canceled (it won’t) is a hair-trigger for revulsion at anything the GOP does to its own advantage.

In 2002, New Jersey had a senator named Bob Torricelli. He was corrupt. Democrats were perfectly okay with that corruption – never putting up as much resistance to him as the GOP put up to Moore, for example – right up until it appeared that he was going to lose. Then they got him out of the race. The problem is that the deadline for changing the ballots had passed. So they went to court and demanded that the ballots be changed. Preventing a Democrat from appearing on the ballot was against democracy and by trying to prevent a new Democrat from being on the ballot – you know, enforcing the law – Republicans were actively trying to prevent democracy. The bastards! (Remember what I said about hair-triggers?). Democrats took it to court and won. Oddly enough, a few years later, Democrats actively sought to prevent Republicans from pulling the same trick in Texas, and succeeded.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts Democrats changed the procedure for replacing senators twice in order to prevent Mitt Romney from nominating a successor to John Kerry in 2004 (if he’d won) and enable Deval Patrick to do so for Kennedy later that decade.

The notion of canceling elections in Alabama has one major advantage over all of these things: It’s actually in accordance with existing law. Existing law gives the governor the ability to call elections or not. The ability to let the appointee serve out the balance of the term is legally at her discretion. They wouldn’t have to go to court. Others might go to court to overturn the law, but not to create new law as was the case in New Jersey (and was attempted in Texas). It is actually reminiscent of parliamentary systems, where elections are frequently called to the advantage of the incumbent party. They’re not explicitly canceled, but you hold an election now precisely so that you don’t have to hold it at a later date.

For what it’s worth, I am conflicted on the idea and actually lean against. I don’t like changing the rules in the middle of the game and Moore is awful but one senator in 100 doesn’t really justify it. I’m also not sure it’s worth the backlash in this case. If they do it, I won’t really raise a stink. I’ll just be glad that Moore isn’t in the senate.

I am relatively sure a lot of Democrats are approaching this from a standpoint of saving/losing a seat and all that. Indeed, ironies of ironies, they’re prepared to go to court to prevent a ballot change because changing a candidate after the filing deadline would be cheating! Huh. But anyway, this isn’t a matter of the election being canceled or the Democrat winning. It’s as likely as not a case of Senator Moore vs Senator Bogstandardrepublican. Even with all that’s going on, Roy Moore is hanging roughly even with Democrat Doug Jones. As the heat dissipates, it seems more likely than not Moore will recover. Democrats themselves were telling me this not a couple of days ago.

So if opposition to Moore is opposition to Moore, one would think that they might actually give the idea some consideration. If opposition to Moore is opposition to the GOP, it makes sense to reflexively cry bloody murder here and do everything you can do keep Moore on the ballot.

As for the Republicans… we’ll see. They have actually done more here than I expected them to do. After watching the Access Hollywood Carousel last year, I have taken all wiggle room to be deliberate and immediately pounced on the “if” of their statements (if he did it). But right now they’re doing everything I would expect of a party that is actually repulsed. Governor Ivey has declared that she won’t call a new election. Moore isn’t going to step aside. They’re either going to help Moore and more-or-less secure their senate majority in 2018, or they’re not and they’re going to imperil it. I suspect I know which path they’re going to take, though I’m open to being pleasantly surprised.


Category: Elsewhere

Ben Joravsky at the Chicago Reader (a weekly “alternative” newspaper in Chicago) has written an article purporting to show how Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is trying to cripple the Democratic Party.[1] The gist of Joravsky’s argument is this. Rauner is using his pro-choice policies to gain neutralize opposition from liberals and gain support from those Illinois Republicans who lean pro-choice. At the same time, however, he has done a lot of work to destroy public employee unions in Illinois. Exhibit A for that is his role in initiating the pending US Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME, which could (and probably will) end compulsory fair share dues for public sector employee unions.

In sum, Joravsky is saying Rauner is using abortion to distract people from union policy. here’s the clincher:

As for Rauner’s friends at Planned Parenthood—well, with a drop in membership, unions will be less able to help elect Democrats. So really the assault on unions is an attempt to cripple the Democratic Party. You don’t think the Koch brothers actually give a hoot about workers like Mark Janus, do you?

If Democrats can’t beat Republicans, they can’t enact liberal-minded measures, like—oh, just to pick one—reproductive rights.

Think about this, Planned Parenthood. Your good friend, Bruce, is throwing you under the bus once again. Only this time he’s got a more roundabout way of doing it.

There’s an irony here that Joravsky doesn’t acknowledge. He seems to play right into the notion that unions are adjuncts to the Democratic Party. That notion is grist for the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME. Janus, in Joravsky’s own words,

is a state employee who argues that his First Amendment rights are being violated because state law requires him to contribute a “fair share” portion of his paycheck to the union that represents him—in this case, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. In particular, he doesn’t think he should have to donate money to a union with which he disagrees politically.

Supporters of compulsory fair share for public-sector unions often say, quite correctly, that unions are forbidden to use compelled dues for political campaigning and that compelled dues are to be used only for implementing and negotiating union contracts. Opponents of fair share claim that the process of negotiating contracts is inherently political when the employer is the state.

But Joravsky has just reaffirmed another reason to view unions as political. Joravsky bases his argument about Rauner “crippling” the Democrats on premises that lend support for Janus’s views. According to Joravsky, unions prefer and advocate for a political party with which many union members do not affiliate, and they do so in the service to a political position with which many union members might disagree.

[1] Ben Joravsky. “How Bruce Rauner is trying to cripple the Democratic Party.” Chicago Reader. October 17, 2017. <https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/how-bruce-rauner-is-trying-to-cripple-the-democratic-party/Content?oid=32566550>. Accessed October 20, 2017.


Most months, we don’t really run low on our data plan. We’ve had maybe two months or the last twelve where I’ve had to say “We need to cool it” for the final week.

It’s going to take something Herculean this month to avoid going over, because everything converged into a single billing period.

The first thing that happened was a stupid error on my part. I was downloading Wikipedia when I left to drop Lain off at preschool. The result was that on the very first day of the plan, we lost 20% of our usage for the month. Last month – one of the two where we had to cool it – we ended at 9%. So right off the bat, there were going to need to be some adjustments. The second thing is that we had a storm and it took out our Internet, and made it more unreliable than usual. Actually, for about 48 hours it was deader than dead. Then it was extremely unreliable to where I could do emails and Twitter but that was about it. Now, a good portion of our data usage in general is compensating for our unreliable home connection. So when we need to “cool it” we usually just accept the unreliability. But you can’t do that when it’s out entirely, or nearly so. Oh, and Monday was Procrastinators’ Tax Day, and we procrastinated. The Internet should be working again at the end of the week, but then the last one is that I agreed to help Decision Desk HQ with vote totals in a nearby county for the Virginia gubernatorial race. And, of course, I’ll be using my own data. That’s on 11/7, which is the second to last day of the billing period.

All of this is screaming for us to go with an Unlimited Plan, but money is kind of tight right now and we just can’t justify the price hop. We’re on the highest data plan otherwise.

The phone companies are working on the rollout of 5G. I’d rather they work on the bandwidth of existing networks so that using data is less expensive.


Category: Home

Netflix is raising its prices:

Netflix is raising two of its pricing tiers for US subscribers beginning next month, Mashable reports. The standard tier, which allows subscribers to watch on two screens at once, will be bumped up from $9.99 to $10.99 per month. The premium tier, which is available in Ultra HD and allows users to watch on up to four screens, will go up from $11.99 to $13.99. The Basic $7.99 per month plan will remain the same.

“From time to time, Netflix plans and pricing are adjusted as we add more exclusive TV shows and movies, introduce new product features and improve the overall Netflix experience to help members find something great to watch even faster,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge.

It’s a little awkward that they’re doing this right as they’ve dropped a couple of popular shows (30 Rock and… something, can’t remember what, but I’ve heard complaints), but they’re often losing (and adding) shows. And they’re slated to lose Disney Stuff soon, so there is probably no best time to pull off this bandaid. Might as well get it over with.

It’s still a pretty good deal, though, all things considered. The standard level price is still cheaper than Hulu, the other main streaming-network-shows service. It’s also cheaper than HBO, the biggest original-programming streaming service rival. (It is more expensive than Showtime-Starz-Cinemax, however.) Netflix right now is straddling the line between being a general content vault (Hulu’s domain) and an original programming service (like HBO) and seems to be in the general process of a transition from the former to the latter once it has ramped up production of enough original content. My advice to people who want to see familiar or better yet nostalgic programming is to go with Hulu, and original programming to go with Netflix. That’s where things are.

But if you’ve Cut the Cord, it’s all pretty much worth it. Even if you’re using a slim cable service, it’s probably something you want to do. You can get Sling/Vue/etc and Netflix and Hulu and other service and still save a whole bunch of money even with this modest price hike.

I’m not sure at what point that ceases to be the case. If they went up another three or four dollars I would probably go from Netflix+Hulu to Netflix or Hulu, doing one six months of the year and the other for the other six months. That’s one of the liabilities with Netflix’s model: You can get it for a few months, get caught up on everything, then cancel. Hulu is in a slightly better spot because it’s more of the go-to if your mind says “Hey, I remember that TV show Silk Stalkings, I should catch an episode!” which is more likely to happen sporadically and makes it nice to have Hulu twelve months of the year. This will become a bigger issue from Netflix if they do become more of an HBO and less of a Hulu.


Category: Theater

The diagnosis

In 2000 I was diagnosed with “Bipolar II” disorder, which is like regular Bipolar disorder but not as bad. The “manic” episodes are milder and called “hypomanic.”

At the time, I had heard a little about bipolar disorder, but I didn’t know much.  I asked the doctor–I’ll call him Dr. W–if he could recommend a book for me to learn more. He recommended Bipolar Disorder by Francis Mark Mondimore (not the exact edition I linked to, but whichever one was current in 2000).

Reconsiderations

I read the book. What it described didn’t seem like what I was going through. While there were some superficial similarities between my situation and the malady the book described, the diagnosis mostly seemed wrong.

I tried to imagine episodes in my life that could plausibly be called “hypomanic,” but they didn’t  seem to match what the book described as hypomania. I may have had some episodes that could be described as “depressive,” but those, too, didn’t quite fit what the book said.

I came to believe Dr. W had made a hasty diagnosis. At least one of the questions he had asked seemed in retrospect leading. He asked, “do you ever have racing thoughts?” (“Racing thoughts” is a symptom of mania or hypomania.) I took the question to mean something like, “do you ever have a lot of ideas that come up at the same time so that you have a hard time staying focused on one of them?” I am an intellectually curious person who really likes to read. When left to myself and with nothing else to do, I think about a lot of things–things I’ve read, things in the news, ideas I’ve learned about. I let my imagination run and yes, sometimes I don’t focus on just one thing and my thoughts therefore plausibly seem to “race” from one to another.So, I answered “yes” to the “racing thoughts” question.

I also had also answered one of his questions wrong. There had been a period in my life (in 1993, about 7 years before I saw Dr. W) in which I got very little sleep because I was taking 19 credit hours in college and working about 30 hours per week. Dr. W asked if I had been tired. I foolishly answered “no” when I should have said, “yes.” Looking back, I was always tired. I’m not sure exactly why I said what I said. But I said it, and Dr. W interpreted that as a hypomanic episode.

And finally, I don’t recall us discussing any other alleged hypomanic episodes since 1993. I’m no expert on bipolar disorder, but 7 years without a documented hypomanic episode seems like it should be a long enough time to make someone wonder if Bipolar II disorder is the presenting problem.

The 15-minute revisit

Up to that point, my sole interaction with Dr. W had been a single one-hour appointment. So I decided to go back and discuss some of my reservations about his diagnosis. We met again for 15 minutes. (Fifteen minutes cost less than the full one-hour appointment, and I was uninsured.) During that 15 minutes, I tried to explain that what the book he recommended described didn’t seem to match match my situation.

Dr. W treated me as if I was desperately in denial, as if by simply raising the possibility he might be mistaken reflected my refusal to face reality. He lectured me about my 1993 “hypomanic” episode, saying that’s not what happens with healthy people.

In fairness to him, I did not relate my reservations as clearly as I have in this post. I didn’t mention I found the “racing thoughts” question too leading, and I didn’t try hard enough to change my answer about being tired seven years before (neither did I remind him that I had been 19 years old in 1993 and possibly just had more energy at that age). In light of my failure to bring up these two points, you could be forgiven for thinking that he simply didn’t have the information to reconsider his diagnosis. All I can say–and I have not proof other than my own testimony–is that he struck me as very dismissive of my concerns.

Second opinion

The irony is that I had actually wanted the diagnosis to be true. It gave a name and some legitimacy to whatever it was that I was going through. And, to use a cliche that understandably irks people who actually suffer from bipolar disorder, the illness itself seemed “interesting.” Looking back, I now believe that one of my primary problems at that time was a lack of emotional maturity and my refusal to take responsibility for my life choices.

At any rate, when my 15 minutes with Dr. W were up, he suggested I get a second opinion. Here my memory is suspect, but I believe he said something like “don’t tell the other doctor you came to see me.” (However, he might have just said, “don’t tell the doctor about the diagnosis I gave you.”) I interpreted that statement to mean “lie to the next doctor you go to about having seen a psychiatrist and see if he comes to the same conclusion.”

I did get a second opinion. About halfway through the first session I felt so guilty about not telling the guy that I had already seen another doctor, that I spilled the beans about everything. I apologized for deceiving him and explained I was just looking for a second opinion. This new guy accepted my apology graciously. He also, after several sessions and several uninsured payments later, eventually concluded that I don’t have bipolar disorder.

This post is not about bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a real thing. Those who suffer from it face real challenges. I’ve known a few people in person and online with the disorder, and from everything they’ve said, it’s no picnic and it’s definitely not an “interesting” personality quirk. I’m not against treating bipolar disorder as something serious. When I said above that I now believe my main problem was “lack of maturity,” I in no way mean to say that people who suffer from the disorder or other disorders lack maturity. I’m just talking about my own situation as I see it now, seventeen years later.

When I reflect on the experience, I still get angry with Dr. W. It’s not because he was (as far as I can tell) wrong. Anyone can make a mistake. Instead, it’s that he didn’t seem even to acknowledge that he might be wrong or that I had anything legitimate to add to the discussion.

My readers are at a disadvantage here. I’m asking you to believe my account when Dr. W isn’t on this blog to defend himself or explain his thinking. After all, I did say I had racing thoughts. And just because there was only one documented “hypomanic” episode from seven years prior doesn’t mean that there hadn’t been others since then. I also haven’t told you other “symptoms” that may have led Dr. W to his diagnosis.

There are a few different lessons I could take this situation. One is, “always get a second opinion (if you can afford one).” Another is “be wary of getting a first opinion if you can’t afford it.” Yet another is, there’s a little bit of Dr. W in all of us and maybe we should be wary lest we come off as dismissive of others’ legitimate concerns.

At any rate, I just wanted to tell my story.


Category: Hospital

The truth is that the translators have gotten ridiculously better than they used to be. I used to actually rely on them being kind of bad, and I’m not sure if I can anymore. We’re going to find out at the end of this post.

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a simulated wrestling league, with the WWF wrestling game on the N64. Everybody got two and eventually three wrestlers, though I would eventually take over for other people and then I’d have more until I had eight or so. Three of them were non-Americans. My premier wrestler was a guy from an undisclosed country. Nobody understood what he was saying so his manager made stuff up. One was a Best Buy security guy who immigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-speak. The last was a middle-eastern guy who spoke in broken English.

How did I produce the broken English? Through translations of course. What I would do is I would take what he had to say, run it through Russian (I think) and then back to English. The result was English words that sort of made sense but something had obviously gotten lost in the translation. Bounty Hunter got re-translated to “Hunter of the Cousin.” Words with dual meaning plus syntax and it really worked out pretty well. I want to say that I used Russian because Spanish didn’t shake things up enough and other languages weren’t available.

So today we’re going to find out if that would even work by running this post through three languages. Spanish, because obviously, Russian because that’s what I think it used, and Arabic because that’s what I would use today:

Russian

The truth is that the translators got ridiculously better than before. Previously, I relied on them as a bad thing, and I’m not sure if I can anymore. We will find out about this at the end of this message.

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a pretended wrestling league, where the WWF wrestling game on N64. All got two and, ultimately, three wrestlers, although I will eventually take on other people, and then I will have more until I have eight or so. Three of them were non-Americans. My main fighter was a guy from an undisclosed country. Nobody understood what he was saying, so his manager earned. One of them was a guy from Best Buy, who immigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-talk. The last was a middle-aged guy who spoke broken English.

How did I make broken English? Of course, translations. What would I do, I would take what I had to say, run it through Russian (I think), and then return to English. As a result, there were English words that made sense, but something clearly lost in translation. The Bounty Hunter was transferred to the “Cousin Hunter”. Words with a double value plus syntax, and it really turned out pretty well.

Spanish

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a simulated wrestling league, with the WWF wrestling game on the N64. Everyone had two and eventually three fighters, although they would eventually take control of other people and then have more until they had eight or more. Three of them were not Americans. My first fighter was a guy from an undisclosed country. No one understood what he was saying, so his manager did things. One was a Best Buy security guy who emigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-speak. The last one was a Middle Eastern guy who spoke in broken English.

How did I produce broken English? Through course translations. What I would do is take what I had to say, run it through Russian (I think) and then go back to English. The result was English words that made sense but something was obviously lost in the translation. Bounty Hunter returned to translate to “Hunter of the Cousin”. Dual meaning words plus syntax and really worked pretty well.

Russian

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a pretended wrestling league, where the WWF wrestling game on N64. All got two and, ultimately, three wrestlers, although I will eventually take on other people, and then I will have more until I have eight or so. Three of them were non-Americans. My main fighter was a guy from an undisclosed country. Nobody understood what he was saying, so his manager earned. One of them was a guy from Best Buy, who immigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-talk. The last was a middle-aged guy who spoke broken English.

How did I make broken English? Of course, translations. What would I do, I would take what I had to say, run it through Russian (I think), and then return to English. As a result, there were English words that made sense, but something clearly lost in translation. The Bounty Hunter was transferred to the “Cousin Hunter”. Words with a double value plus syntax, and it really turned out pretty well.

Arabic:

When I was in college, my friend Denis started to simulate the league wrestling, with the Wrestling Wrestling game on the N64. Everyone got two eventually three wrestlers, although I would eventually take over to other people, and then I would have even more had me eight or so. Three of them non-Americans. The premier wrestler was a man from an undisclosed country. No one understood what he was saying so that his manager made things. One of the best security man was to buy Hagar from Germany, who spoke in Arnold’s speech. He was the last man in the Middle East who spoke in broken English.

How did English produced a break? Through the translation of course. What I will do is that I will take what he had to say, run it through Russian (I think) and then return to English. The result was English words that were sensitive but something had obviously lost in the translation. Hunter’s reward got re-translated into “hunter cousin”. Words with double meaning plus syntax and they really worked very well.

Verdict:

Well, Spanish works too well to work, but that was the case back then, too. Russian worked well enough at the time, but now wouldn’t work. But Arabic would work! There is work to do there, apparently. The sign in question above was in Hebrew, which would probably (?) have some of the same liabilities.


Category: Theater

So last week, we had an eye appointment to check up on Lain’s intermittent lazy eye. Coincidentally, the day of the appointment, Lain started getting some redness and puffiness around the eyes. Not “she’s been crying” redness/puffiness. More like an allergic reaction or some sort. One thing about Lain is that she doesn’t talk much. We have made some progress there, but it’s still a struggle. It can be easy to think that because she doesn’t she can’t hear or understand. But she understands. And she understood her mother and I were talking about some sort of problem with her eyes. And then talking about more problems with her eyes.

After we got there, Lain got an eye test. Before that happened, the tech asked what the concern was with her eyes. Lain, usually the quiet one, spoke up in defiance, “It’s only bad when I don’t blink. When I blink it’s okay” blink blink. So, evidently, she had been dealing with some dry eyes? That might have helped explain the redness. In any event, she seemed to do okay with the eye test and identifying the little images. We were lead to a waiting room where we waited for quite a while.

The next round was with the doctor himself. She got her eyes dilated, which we were not really expecting. He checked her eyes and discovered that the bow-eye really had returned, except (a) it was not nearly as bad as before and (b) this time it was both eyes. That second part is actually better than one eye because they sort of play off one another. I started to notice something in her demeanor, however. She started looking… guilty. Like she had done something wrong. Or she was bad. I can’t quite say how I picked up on those signals, but I did.

The dilation made her vision blurry and uncomfortable. As we were driving home she said “Closing my eyes doesn’t work anymore!”

To recap:

  1. She overheard us talking about problems with her eyes. On some level, took it as criticism.
  2. Had eyes that didn’t feel especially well.
  3. Took an eye exam which involved being asked to identify things she couldn’t identify (Because, of course, they keep going until you can’t get them anymore.)
  4. She gets these things put into her eyes. Further information about her eyes having a problem.
  5. She can’t see anymore.

Needless to say, it ended up being a pretty traumatic evening. I really can’t recall if they’d told me that they were going to dilate her eyes. I wasn’t even sure that was what happened until afterwards, because they never gave her the famous sunglasses you wear after. In any event, she hadn’t really been prepared for anything except the implication of not being able to see. Then, of course, she couldn’t.

So, not my best day.


Category: Hospital

Politico caught a lot of grief for this cartoon:

The Washington Post explained why:

The first problem with the cartoon is its crassness. People are still being saved, and it’s making fun of those same people.

The second problem is the stereotypes. It’s almost a caricature of what you’d expect a liberal cartoonist to draw in response to conservative Texans relying upon the government in their time of crisis. The Confederate flag T-shirt. The Gadsden Flag. The reference to being saved by God (which seems extremely dismissive of Christianity). The Texas secession banner. It’s all kind of … predictable?

The third problem is that, while this tragedy struck Texas, a red state, the most acute devastation in a populous area is in Houston. Harris County went for Hillary Clinton by double-digits, and neighboring Fort Bend County was blue as well. The population of both combined is more than 5 million — about one-fifth of the entire state of Texas.

This overlooks the fourth problem, in my view, which is that it didn’t match what the nation saw. In fact, there was so much of a disconnect that I think he drew (or at least mentally designed) before the hurricane even hit.

He had an image in his mind of how it was going to go. All those once proud Texans would sit around waiting about the federal government to come get them, complaining that the feddies didn’t save their fat, confederate-flagged arses sooner. And everybody else would see his cartoon and say “Yes! That is exactly it!’

Instead, what we saw was something different. The (mostly local) authorities did all they could, which by virtue of being not nearly as dysfunctional as New Orleans was not nothing. But people came from all over Texas and Louisiana to lend a hand. Slate can talk all it wants about how this is to be expected, but it’s not what people were expecting. This cartoonists expected fat-asses. A lot of others were gearing up on a wave of expected looting. Instead we saw an awful lot of Texans helping Texans.

All of which makes the piece bizarre outside of an exercise in confirmation-bias and, I can’t not say it, cultural sneering. He can say that it was just about secessionists and confederates and only “bad” Texans, but those were the Texans he chose to showcase.

Politico would go on to announce the death of Texas individualism, which misses a similar mark in that individualism is not really what we saw. Of course, what is meant is at least partially the federal funds that are about to go the state’s way. I think it’s completely fair to take Ted Cruz and their congressional delegation to account for their foot-dragging on Sandy relief, and to point out that generally the states rely on one another, but it’s also worth noting that Texas (like NY/NJ) has been paying into that pot for years, and while the temptation is to think that because it’s a red state it takes more out than it pulls in but it’s one of the exceptions to the rule. Not that it should matter. But by all means, rake Ted Cruz and company over the coals if they don’t successfully demonstrate that it actually was about the pork. But leave it at that.

Which, I should add, is what people have been doing for the most part. In fact, I have been pretty pleasantly surprised at how few people responded the way that cartoonist did.

Good job, America.


Category: Elsewhere

Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 2007.

Tavris and Aronson explore how and why we “justify ourselves and avoid taking responsibility for any actions that turn out to be harmful, immoral, or stupid.” [p. 2] They demonstrate the role confirmation bias plays in how we suss out what is and is not true. They point out that we each have “blind spots”–prejudices, for example–in the way we view the world. They examine the way that we construct our own memories, so that what we “remember” is not necessarily what happened, but what is consistent with certain narratives we adopt to explain ourselves. They look at the strategies we use to deny our own role in our mistakes. In the last chapter they look at ways to go beyond the self-serving self-justification.

When I Google this book, the reviews praise it to the nines. One partial exception, a review at Metapsychology Online, praises it only to the eights, listing a few of what the review’s author sees as its ultimately inconsequential weaknesses I agree that this book is overall good and should be read.

The book doesn’t deserve that much praise. I found its authors’ approach frustrating and at times misleading. Tavris and Aronson don’t acknowledge the paradoxes of their argument, and they oversimplify what strike me as complicated processes. None of that invalidates the points they make. But if they had shown a little more introspection and more willingness to acknowledge counterarguments, their book would have been richer.

(more…)


Category: Coffeehouse

One of the things I didn’t realize I did was blame virtually every health ailment on my smoking. Snoring? It’s probably the smoking. Shortness of breath? It’s probably the smoking. Cold? Smoking, probably. Sore throat? Smoking, probably. Coughing? Puh-leeze.

Granted, if you had ever asked me I wouldn’t have said “But for smoking, I would be the picture of good health!” but for any individual problem, I’d attribute to the smoking.

Smoking was responsible for quite a bit of it. Especially, as you can imagine, the lung stuff. I learned this when I switched from smoking to vaping. It took longer than expected, but eventually a lot of the problems I’d had did start getting better. But not all of it. Which is consistent with using a product that has some of the dangers of smoking but not most of them.

Now I don’t vape anymore. And some of the remaining problems went away. I don’t know how much of it is attributable to quitting the ecigs and how much of it was attributable to other lifestyle changes that occurred at the same time. I quit vaping and started eating healthier at about the same time. This wasn’t a coincidence – I wanted to make sure I didn’t start putting on weight I couldn’t afford to put on. So I’ve lost more than 20 pounds and am rarely gorged out. The combination of the two has given me new levels of energy. I feel a lot healthier.

Right now, though, it hurts to swallow. Eating isn’t especially pleasant. My uvula is swollen something fierce. It’s the exact sort of thing that used to happen not-infrequently when I was smoking. The solution has always been “cut back on the cigarettes.” I would and it would get better.

But I can’t cut back from zero. My fallback problem and solution is gone and I don’t know what to do but… I don’t know. Wait I guess? So weird.

I am also reminded of all those times I cut back on smoking when it may have had nothing to do with smoking at all because the swollen uvula happens anyway.


Category: Hospital

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Queenland

Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.


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