the old parachute ride, complainer becomes an obamacare supporter

Coney Island (Parachute Jump)

Coney Island (Parachute Jump). Gelatin silver photograph, 1969.  By  Stephen Salmieri. Like some of the other steel structures that made their way to Coney Island, the Parachute Jump originated begin life as a ride at a fair, in this case, the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

Obamacare “victim” now says loss of previous health plan may be “a blessing in disguise”

Because her $54 per month plan was cancelled due to Obamacare’s new higher requirements — and because her insurance company’s recommended replacement would cost her nearly 10 times as much — Dianne Barrette became the face of Obamacare’s so-called victims.

But in a new report from the New Republic, Barrette, after factoring in her tax credits and going through her options with reporter Jonathan Cohn, is now singing Obamacare’s praises, even going so far as to say her previous plan’s cancellation was “maybe” a “blessing in disguise.”

Like many people M’s Barrette was living in an information bubble. A friend or some on TV or AM radio  told her that the changes in health care insurance were bad. She believed it without looking at the numbers. Like many people in the individual insurance market – those who buy their health insurance on their own instead of getting it through their employer, did not realize how awful her insurance was. She had a high up front deductible, and after the deductible she had to pay a high percentage of the costs and the total payout by her insurance company was capped at a certain amount. She, like many other would have been liable for everything over their cap – frequently $15k to $20k. In other words if she had a heart attack, she would have had some real financial hardship. Now, once she and similar policy holders have no cap and with many of them qualifying for tax credits, she will pay about the same for much better coverage. Insurance is not that complicated so I’m assuming that reading and making comparisons is like high school homework, these people just don’t want to do it. And since there is no parents or teachers to force them to do their homework now, they just go by bits of misinformation floating around the bubble.

The thirteenth labor of Hercules

The thirteenth labor of Hercules. Poster created 1914. Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915 : opens February 20, closes December 4.  The Exposition of 1915 was both a celebration of the completion of the Panama Canal and an opportunity for San Francisco to show it had recovered from the Great Earthquake of 1906. In the legend, Hercules had only 12 labours. Building the Canala was probably more difficult than Labour 9, to ‘Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons’.

the storm, an emily dickinson manuscript, six ways conservatives just don’t get it

The Storm, 1946. By Grace Arnold Albee, American, 1890-1995. Wood engraving on paper.

Ghost-Hunters and Psychical Research in Interwar England. It sounds quaint, but they took it rather seriously for a number of years. Science or something resembling science was going to break through to the ethereal  plain.

The hand written manuscript of the Emily Dickinson poem that begins “HOPE is the thing with feathers” and the seldom cited “To die – takes just a little while”

HOPE is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I ’ve heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

———————————————————

To die – takes just a

little while -

They say it does’nt hurt -

It’s only fainter – by degrees -

And then – it’s out of sight -

A darker Ribbon – for a Day -

A Crape opon the Hat -

And then the pretty sun – sunshine

shine comes -

And helps us to forget -

The absent – mystic – creature -

That but for love of us -

Had gone to sleep – that

soundest time -

Without the weariness -

Emily Dickinson (1830–86).  “HOPE” from the Complete Poems.1924. “To die ” from Franklin Variorum, 1998.

6 Ways the GOP Congress Is Out of Step With the American People. From drug policy to fiscal policy to gay marriage, a profound disconnect. Have you noticed that most of the world’s wackiest people have one  – or maybe more things in common. The one that constantly arise is the desire to live in another century. The Republican Party wants to put the country in a time machine and take it back to the Antebellum South of 1850. Fundamentalists Muslims want to take the Middle-East back to the 17th century.

winged griffin sculpture, spanking and impact on vocabulary

Winged Griffin Nibbling on Sacred Tree, 8th-7th century BC (Neo-Assyrian). Levantine origins. Ivory & Bone.

 

If you’re a blogger, especially one with comments and you do not want to piss off your regular visitors, you do not write about two things, religion or how to raise children. Since I have been blogging long enough to have pissed off just about everyone I have nothing to lose, Spanking your kids could affect their vocabulary down the road

To spank or not to spank: For most American parents, it isn’t a question.

The majority of U.S. children have been spanked at some time in their life, despite a robust body of evidence that suggests spanking a child leads to problems in the future.

The latest evidence of the negative effects of spanking comes from researchers at Columbia University. After analyzing data from more than 1,500 families, they found that children who are spanked in early childhood are not only more likely to be aggressive as older children, they are also more likely to do worse on vocabulary tests than their peers who had not been spanked.

I have heard parents make good, if problematic arguments for at least a little corporeal punishment – much of it based on the parents being at a loss as to how to stop some bad behaviors. Though corporeal punishment may work to some extent, there also seems to be a price to pay. Perhaps some parents know that spanking produces resentment and hostility in their children, but see that as a good thing.

 

the automat, obamacare versus the private sector

Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue, Manhattan, 1936. Gelatin silver print. Berenice Abbott  (American, Springfield, Ohio 1898–1991 Monson, Maine).

A nice history of the Automat from The Smithsonian here.

The Truth About the Obamacare Rollout The feds botched the website. But the states are doing much better. It has not been a smooth roll-out. Though it has not been a disaster either. Many of the problems is just less than great programming. On the people side, clearly people are interested. Jonathan Cohn is a great source for the facts about the ACA or Obamacare. So those interested in an unbiased account of how things are going might want to give it a read or pass it on to those who swear the ACA is a complete failure. One of the fundamentally dishonest criticisms is the lack of comparison to the real world. Anyone ever been cheated by a business, bought an inferior product or service that the business touted as great, ever received shoddy service from private business, ever been billed in error and it has been a headache to get someone to straighten out the error, ever been to a private web site that was dysfunctional? Of course. We all have. Private enterprise is run by humans, frequently not the brightest people around, who employ a lot of underpaid and overworked employees to sell products and take care of complaints.

Internationale Hygiene-Ausstellung Dresden (International Health Exposition, Dresden), 1911. Designed by Franz von Stuck.

 

the economic superiority complex, wealth is considerably more heritable than genes

Police Dogs Attack Demonstrators, Birmingham, Alabama Protests]

Police Dogs Attack Demonstrators, Birmingham, Alabama Protests, 1963. Charles Moore, photographer.

Nozick: Libertarians are “filled…with resentment at other freer ways of being”

The Reactionary Mind:

Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force—the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere. Such a view might seem miles away from the libertarian defense of the free market, with its celebration of the atomistic and autonomous individual. But it is not.

One of the most insightful and concise definitions I’ve read of of what conservatism and con-libertarians are about. Things like religion do play a role. Regardless of what else it says in the Christian Bible about business and taxes, certainly Jesus Sermon on the Mount would take precedence. So conservative leaders twist what is in the Bible and deflect form the issue by claiming to know that their invisible friend really likes that Wal-mart pays less than a living wage and it is his will that business be run this way. Those conservatives that see any for’ners as a threat, are always inventing new threats and making existing ones much larger than they are. The far Right interpretation of religion and the pandering to paranoid minds both coalesce under what they see as their rightful place as everyone’s superior. The far Right has had this tendency in culture and economics since before the Civil War – Slave Capitalism.

Bread line at kitchen

Bread line at kitchen, 4th and Jefferson [streets], Feb. 1934. And related – Low Wages Cost Taxpayers A Quarter-Trillion Dollars Every Year.

Over the last couple years research suggests that genes alone are not destiny. How one – thus their genes interacts with the environment tends to have a large role. So may be it should not be that be a surprise that one’s economic status has much more to do with how well one’s life goes than genes, Wealth is considerably more heritable than genes. Policymakers who misuse genetics to argue a child’s fate is preordained are deliberately ignoring the effects of inequality

In his latest book, The Serpent’s Promise, Jones examines how nurture and nature are inseparably intertwined. The human genome project was for a while the modern version of eugenics, but Jones says it has disappointed those who thought it would reveal the destiny of physical traits, let alone psychological ones. “The more we learn about genes, the more important the environment appears to be.” Plomin spent years scanning top children for success genes, but never found them, says Jones. In life, “success and failure depend far more on the economic than the genetic accidents of birth”. Wealth is considerably more heritable than genes. The most equal nations with the best Gini ratings score the highest average intelligence.

Milburn’s report will pull no punches about unequal Britain. With destiny all but set by five years old, he wants redoubled investment in early years, targeting extra money at low-earning families: 500 Sure Starts have closed, many more are hollowed out, and a third of nurseries in poor areas are low quality….

…Teacher quality and status matter: in Finland, the leader of international league tables, teaching is first choice for the top 10% of graduates. Our top 20% of pupils do well, but our bottom 20% drag down UK results, as the shocking OECD report on basic literacy and numeracy shows.

If someone is lucky enough to be born into an upper middle-class family, even if they have slight below medium level intelligence, there is a built in safety net that makes sure they do not fail  – or at least not pay the way others do for failing. I remember a lot of the discussion about George W. Bush’s record in 1999. His supporters claimed he was a successful businessman. Not true in the least. He lead three business ventures into the ground. His family and their connections rescued him every time. yet many of these lucky people believe they are entitled to what they have regardless of the great advantages they started with. That lack of humility might be one of the biggest personality factors in public policy right now certainly, but for the last fifty years.

april tulips wallpaper, nobel prize winner gets some vindication over iraq

april tulips wallpaper

april tulips wallpaper

Many of the details of events that lead us into the disastrous invasion of Iraq are fading, like too many other important details tend to do. One of the things the Bush administration did was to get rid of the director of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, José Bustani. Bustani got some justice when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, To Ousted Boss, Arms Watchdog Was Seen as an Obstacle in Iraq

But Mr. Bustani and some senior officials, both in Brazil and the United States, say Washington acted because it believed that the organization under Mr. Bustani threatened to become an obstacle to the administration’s plans to invade Iraq. As justification, Washington was claiming that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, possessed chemical weapons, but Mr. Bustani said his own experts had told him that those weapons were destroyed in the 1990s, after the Persian Gulf war.

“Everybody knew there weren’t any,” he said. “An inspection would make it obvious there were no weapons to destroy. This would completely nullify the decision to invade.”

…..Getting Mr. Bustani fired took some doing. Washington failed to obtain a no-confidence motion from the chemical weapons watchdog’s executive council. Then the United States, which was responsible for 22 percent of the agency’s budget at the time, threatened to cut off its financing and warned that several other countries, including Japan, would follow suit, diplomats have said.

Former UN ambassador John Bolton ( and unbelievably also mentioned to be a possible presidential candidate in 2016) said that Bustani did not make the chemical weapons argument until after the invasion. Which is ridiculous considering the timeline, Bustani was working on getting Iraq to join the OPCW since the late 90s and was getting more and more cooperation. Bolton was and still is a very good neocon, he believes in the doctrine of the Big Lie, repeated loud and often, he is a master of bull. He probably suffers from something like O.J. syndrome, he has been BSing for so long he has begun to believe the twisted narrative in his head.

Grand Bal poster for a Swiss film festival, March 23, 1929. They’re difficult to see, but the Cubist-style jazz musicians are an especially nice touch.

yellow fall wheat wallpaper, the myths of free trade and growth

yellow fall wheat wallpaper

yellow fall wheat wallpaper

 

‘Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism’

Second, the way “infant” economies become “mature” economies is not via free trade. It never has been and never will be. Whether it be the mature economies of Britain (which began to seriously grow in the early 1600s), America (late 1700s), Japan (1800s), or Brazil (1900s), in every single case, worldwide, without exception, the economic strength and maturity of a nation came about as a result not of governments “standing aside” or “getting out of the way” but instead of direct government participation in and protection of the “infant” industries and economy.

The modern history of protectionist trade policies goes back to ancient Rome, stretches through the reigns of a series of King Henry’s in the UK, through Alexander Hamilton’s tenure as Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington, through the trade policies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and JFK, and continues today with China, Korea, the Middle East, and the rapidly-growing Brazilian economy.

[  ]…Once “strategic” and “important” industries are identified, government both encourages and protects their domestic growth in a variety of ways. These include subsidies, legal protections (like patent laws), import tariffs to protect against foreign competition, strong industry regulation to ensure quality, and development of infrastructure to ease manufacture, distribution, sales, and use of the product.

As Ha-Joon Chang points out in his brilliant book Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism,” in 1933 a clothing manufacturing company decided to branch out into the manufacture of automobiles. They had everything going against them – their nation had no really serious domestic auto industry, the company had no experience with the product, and other nations (particularly the US and Great Britain) were already making world-class vehicles that had captured most of the world’s markets.

But the company caught the imagination of its country’s leadership, and a ministry of trade decided to help it along. Government subsidies helped the company develop their first car. Decades of high import tariffs protected it from foreign competition as it grew into a serious contender. Domestic content laws both made sure the company used parts made within the country, and also guaranteed that domestic competitors would have to, thus building a strong base of domestic companies supportive of an auto industry, from tires to plastic components to precision machine tools and electronics.

In 1939 the country even kicked out both GM and Ford from sales within the country, and the nation’s single wholly-owned bank bailed out the struggling textile manufacturer as it moved relentlessly forward in the development of an automobile.

That company, originally known as The Toyoda Automatic Loom Company, is today known as Toyota, and manufactures the infamous Lexus that Tom Friedman mistakenly thought was successful because the world is “flat” and trade is “free.” In fact, the success of the Lexus (and the Prius and every other Toyota) is entirely traceable to massive government intervention in the markets by Japan over a fifty-year period that continues to this very day.

Like so many other words heard in everyday political speech, free trade has been a code word for some time. My neighbors think of it as this nice little system that means they can buy ham slightly cheaper at store X than at store Y. In reality it becomes the nice sounding grand old American tradition morphed into the right to ship jobs to Asia and hobble organized labor – though who object are Marxist radicals who do not want everyone to live up to their potential to be the next billionaire. Free markets is code for not allowing labor to have too much power because it takes away the freedom of rent-seekers to squeeze as much money as they can out of labor without paying them a living wage or simply taking the lion’s share of the profits created by someone else work, ideas, research or invention.

What’s That Smell?

Using advanced statistical techniques, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Bates College have developed an approach to systematically describing smells.

This work may help guide future studies pertaining to how smells are represented in the brain. The research suggests that there are 10 basic categories of odor including fruity, minty, lemony—and sickening.

Senses such as hearing and vision can be discussed in terms that most people understand and that are tied to measurable physical phenomena. But the sense of smell, or olfaction, has thus far not lent itself to such a systematic understanding of what smells we perceive and how those perceptions relate to physical phenomena.

I’m amazed at how the brain, to an extraordinary degree, links smells with memory. Suede, which is probably partly a smell from the chemical tanning process, brings back very distinct sharp memories of someone I knew as a teenager. While some perfumes/colognes bring back other memories.