August 27, 2004

Neon golden like all the rest

Well, I needed a reason to not vote for John Kerry and I think I have plenty. One is the insulting letter that Nancy Pelosi sent me, which contained a "George W. Bush Disapproval Poll," with questions like "Jobs. Since George W. Bush took office, over 2 million American jobs have been lost. How would you grade President Bush's record on jobs?" and "Prescription Drugs. President Bush supported a Repbulican bill that prohibits Medicare from negotiating lower prescription drug prices from the pharmaceutical companies. How would you grade President Bush on reducing the price of prescription drugs for seniors?" Fortunately, for those with trouble deciphering whether they should give Bush a high or low grade on these topics, Pelosi made it easy: "If you give George W. Bush grades of A or B, then I have bad news: First, you are a Republican. Second, the Democrats are going to win in November."

Second reason: Paul Krugman says I should vote for John Kerry. That's downright frightening. I won't say Paul doesn't mean well (because I assume he does) and I won't say he's always wrong (because he's not), but I'm afraid I just don't understand the logic behind this sentence (from this article):

"John Kerry's economic advisers have a very different analysis: they believe that health costs are too high because private insurance companies have excessive overhead, mainly because they are trying to avoid covering high-risk patients."

I hope, I really hope, that that's not an accurate representation of what John Kerry's economic advisors think. Because it simply doesn't make sense to me. Healthcare costs are too high because of excessive overhead, which is caused by... the mountains of paperwork and inefficient bureaucracies dedicated to avoiding high-risk patients? Ok, that's a tiny bit plausible, but apparently the solution which these economic advisors have come up with is... creating a government bureaucracy to make it more efficient. That's mind-boggling. I'm actually a bit of a fan of universal healthcare (of a limited sort -- mainly to establish a baseline of preventative care that would go a long ways towards cutting down on the amount of emergency care for the uninsured that the healthcare system is currently absorbing), but the one thing I wouldn't expect government intervention into healthcare to do is reduce bureaucracy and inefficiency. He says it would (and even provides vague but impressive looking statistics to back it up... but I'm a bit skeptical).

August 26, 2004

One step inside doesn't mean you understand

If you were a king, do you think you would announce your desire to abdicate online? (Although I hear that Hun Sen, Cambodia's prime minister, insists the king has no right to abdicate). I can't understand the language, either, if that's what you're wondering.

August 24, 2004

Music scene is crazy, bands start up each and every day

Lately real life (i.e. not the internet) has been keeping me too busy so I haven't had time to be putting any 'fascinating' stories up, but be assured (and I'm sure everyone was worried) that I am still keeping up with the news around the world (and no, I have not been pushed towards Bush or Kerry and still intend to write in Stephen Malkmus because that guy would have the funniest State of the Union speeches ever. Or maybe I'll write in Barack Obama, I hear that guy's the hippest thing in politics since Alan "I think its a disgrace that Hillary is running for senator in a state she doesn't even live in" Keyes. Alan, my friend, I used to have respect for you, and that is why I am not angry with you but rather sad for you. Nope, I'm definitely sticking with Malkmus. And Spiral Stairs for vice-president.)

Yes, this truck really was transporting waste in China when it was photographed.

If there's another issue that I might bring to your attention, it would be China's environment. I'd put that down on your list of issues that I've brought to your attention that will shape the world of tomorrow, along with the impending failure of our healthcare system (the way we pay for it), the end of cheap oil (all these stories about oil hitting $50 a barrel are getting to me), and when Ryan graduates from school (I hope you're enjoying New York, Ryan, cause that's a privilege).

Special shout-out to myself because I'm having an interview tomorrow with the only employer who I've ever applied to that I would be genuinely excited to work for. Wife has me convinced that I want to work for a non-profit, and I think she's right.

August 11, 2004

All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day, put the pieces back together my way

If you read this occasionally, you sort of know me. I'm planning on going back to school in some undefined period of time, most likely between one and three years, to get a master's degree in something. My bachelor's degree is in philosophy. I consider it good and useful preparation for life and thought, but I'm not too interested in continuing with that course. What should I get my master's degree in and why? For extra credit, where should I obtain the degree that you recommend?

August 6, 2004

I wrote the book that shook America to splinters in a winter wasteland

... and that means its time to bring the world another edition of Required Political Reading for the Weekend. Voila!

1. Mesh already brought this up (and if you don't know that Mesh already brought this up, you should, because you should be a Regular Reader of the best writer that Covenant produced in my time there), but Tony Kushner is writing an, umm, interesting play about Laura Bush, Dostoyevsky, and Iraq, of which one act and an additional scene are currently available on the internet. Let's just say that if Fox News added "when compared to Tony Kushner" in small print to the bottom of their "Fair and Balanced" trademark, all complaints about their bias would be instantly invalid. So, my point is: sometimes you have to dive into the muck and see what the catfish are dragging their whiskers in.

2. Over at the New Republic, Dr. Jacob Hacker provides us with some interesting insight into our economic condition. He thinks we're not doing so well, but has some rather different ideas about what could be done to fix it. Is he right? Who knows?

3. Respect! Eric Alterman, always worth reading, busts out this piece on Hollywood fund raising. I'll let him advertise his own article: "One night I visited the home of the former TV star Heather Thomas (The Fall Guy) and her husband, the entertainment lawyer and philanthropist Skip Brittenham. I drove past SUVs and assorted luxury vehicles on what felt like a quarter-mile-long driveway to a mansion large enough to house one of the small Amazonian villages the Brittenhams want to save. Just the energy consumed by the house and all the vehicles would power a sizable chunk of Amazonia." Its an ironic job, but someone's got to do it.

Also, it comes to my attention that I have failed to bring the world any exciting pictures since the (excellent) shot of the whale-carcass-eating-worm floating in a watery black void, so I recommend checking out this picture. Kite Flyer totally in the Zone! It also-also comes to my attention that anyone interested in expanding beyond pale people music should pay attention to Aesop Rock while avoiding his latest album.

August 4, 2004

John Henry split my heart

If you're a Presbyterian and you know alot of ninjas flying through the air and chopping peoples' heads off while wailing on guitars, you'll probably enjoy this. Or maybe if you just know some Presbyterians.

August 3, 2004

Little Billy bought a tugboat now he thinks he's Captain Ahab

I know that, at some point in my life, I will be so rich and famous that it is absolutely necessary for my corporation to purchase either an Airbus or a 737 for my personal use. I just hope that they convert it into the VVIP (very very important person) configuration, because that is what I plan on being. A Taggart's life is the life for me!

August 2, 2004

She had a man now: Rico, similar, hermit, they would only see each other once or twice a week on purpose, they appreciated space and Rico was an artist too

On the way to my parents' house Friday, the wife and I heard about these crazy-whale-bone-eating-bacteria-filled-male-harem-having worms from the ocean floor, so I couldn't pass up this opportunity to enlighten people with pictures of bottom-dwelling invertebrates (The press release has the brilliant title "Whale carcass yields bone-devouring worms"). Reminded me of a book I read when I was in middle school that involved man-eating versions of those tube worms that grow near sulfur vents on the ocean floor. Don't ask how the worms were supposed to eat people, but I remember thinking the book was pretty scary; kind of like Aliens, but less plausible.

Bone devourer (click for the full thingy)!

Much like the giant tubeworms ('riftia'), the newly discovered worms ('Osedax') lack both mouths and stomachs and rely instead on a symbiotic relationship with bacteria for nutrition (the bacteria are housed in the green tissue you see in the picture; the green tissue penetrates like roots into the bones of the long-dead whale). Its the bacteria, not the worms, who actually feed on the marrow of the whales. The males are microscopic and actually reside within the female, at concentrations varying from fifty to a hundred males per female (depending on the size of the female). Those frilly pink tentacles you see above are used by the female to sweep free-floating males inside, where they land on the ovaries and begin the great task of their lives, depositing sperm.