50 Years

I was not alive 50 years ago. I wasn’t even conceived yet. Therefore I bring you a repost of an item on JFK from 2009. Oddly enough, I was reading today about Nevada in the 1960s. Some of the people mentioned included John Kennedy, his brother Robert (Attorney General and keen on stamping out the mob and to hell with Vegas), Frank Sinatra (in hot water with the Gaming Commission over the Cal-Neva and certain guests they had and JFK wasn’t happy about it), Marilyn Monroe (who supposedly used to get visits from JFK at the Cal-Neva), and Arthur Miller (in Nevada while divorcing Marilyn). By the way, there was a plot between the mob and CIA to kill a world leader — Fidel Castro! New bits In Closing.

First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the Moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

In 1961, President Kennedy laid out a goal so powerful that it captured the imagination of a nation, survived his death, and finally came to pass.

A lot of people talk about the importance of goal setting, and they approach it in almost magical tones. They quote Paul J. Meyer and Napoleon Hill (sometimes they mistake one for the other), or perhaps more recently they talk about The Secret, and yet how many of them can say they have had a goal that was so powerful it was taken up and executed by other people?

Say what you want about Mr. Kennedy. The man knew how to set a goal.

On this day, the 40th anniversary of the first manned flight to the moon lifting off, let’s look at what he did right. Edit: it was at the time!

The goal was specific, and broken into parts. Both get a man to the moon and bring him home. And do it safely. No “it sure would be  nice if,” no “maybe we could.” Everybody would know when it was achieved, and there would never be a “close enough.”

It had a time limit. By the end of the decade. Not someday.

It was ambitious yet attainable. That goal must have seemed quite daunting in 1961, but they did it in 1969.

He was aware of the obstacles. It was going to cost a lot of money. The technology to do it didn’t actually exist yet. But he knew where to get the money, and how to get the research done to invent the technology.

He had the resources to tackle the obstacles. This is one of those cases where it helps to be in a position of power. The President can make research programs happen; Joe Average not so much. Having a million dollar idea doesn’t mean much if you don’t have the funding and ability to make it happen.

He outlined some of the steps it would take to get there. This is crucial with ambitious goals. He knew that to get there, they would have to develop spacecraft and better fuels and a bunch of other things. If a goal is like a travel brochure, a plan is like a map or plane tickets. You can’t get to the goal without a plan.

He expected the goal to lead to bigger and better things. Namely, the further exploration of space. Perhaps if he were still alive in 1969, he would have urged us to go to Mars, or develop space colonies, or maybe something we haven’t thought about.

He made sure everyone knew about the goal. He made that speech in front of millions of people. In 1962, he reiterated his ideas in another speech before millions of people. He got everybody on board, and got an entire nation excited about his amazing goal.

There is more to goal setting than scribbling “I want to be a millionaire” on a picture of a Porsche and putting it on your bathroom mirror. You can’t achieve goals by hoping and wishing. It takes a plan, hard work, and just a little luck too.

In Closing: hope nobody is surprised by Colorado raids; this NSA thing is just a writing gift that keeps on giving!; a few nice Affordable Care Act links (I’m choosing to stop calling it Obamacare much as I’ve stopped using Conservative and Republican framing elsewhere, and how exactly would people die from actually getting healthcare??); some food and food regimen related links; heat or rent?; and build a better condom.



Ok. There are some people — millions of them to be honest — who are unhappy that their insurance policies are being cancelled. The policies were reasonably priced, the consumers argue. What these consumers fail to understand is that they were crap policies that were inexpensive because they didn’t actually cover much of anything! If any of these people ever actually had a claim, they would have discovered just how bad those policies were, and would probably be far less satisfied. Obama’s claim that if you liked your insurance you could keep it? That assumed you had coverage rather than an insurance fig-leaf.

So getting mad at the government for forcing predatory insurance companies to stop issuing “insurance” that didn’t actually cover much of anything is like getting mad about a crib recall notice because after all, your kid didn’t die.

And for the record, the real way forward is still Medicare For All.

In Closing: cars; problem; recession; some choice NSA, spying, and privacy links; statins; Republicans; Geometry; poor babies; Iran; Too Many Secrets; debt; trash; and an awesome art collection.

A Very Successful Failure

While the Government was having it’s temper tantrum and existential crisis, the very bill the Republicans claimed to have been fighting quietly started working. Of course, we’ve all heard about how the official Federal website hasn’t been running as well as we expect well-established online services like Google to run. Because it’s totally reasonable to expect rock solid performance from what is in many respects a Beta Test. Stick with that story.

In the meantime, a system that was supposed to deal with a half million people over the course of this month racked up 476,000 users in the first 19 days of the month. They could conceivably hit the half-million mark by the time the weekend is over, and more like 750,000 by Halloween. So two little things here. First, this system is racking up 50% more traffic than anybody thought it would. Second, so much for the idea that nobody wants affordable health insurance. Not bad for a failure!

I am still not a fan of the mandatory insurance aspect of Obamacare, particularly since there is no public option. However, I don’t think it’s fair to call it a failure.

In Closing: Modern bridge replacement; PSA; I’m not sure where the Obama Administration gets off telling the Supreme Court what they can and cannot hear (right of Americans to receive redress of grievances, baybee, it’s in the FIRST Amendment); there but for the grace of god; CEO pay; middle path; maybe schools make kids fat?; and I think Drew is on to something here. I wonder what he would have thought about that Wonder Woman outfit from a few weeks ago.

Hospitals Should Not be Allowed to Advertise

Recently, I received two ads for two different hospitals, and of course their emergency departments.

The first hospital’s ad arrived in the mail. It included a map, labeled “You’re only 6 miles from EXPERT ER CARE,” and the actual route I would need marked with a nice bold, blue line. Oh thank goodness, otherwise I might have had no idea how to get to that big hospital building clearly visible just off the freeway.

The second hospital left a card hanging on the door hyping how close they were. It included a refrigerator magnet with “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY,”  the address (including which freeway exit to take), a phone number, and even a web address. Because when you are having a medical emergency, you really want to check their website before going to the hospital. Right?

Now here’s the problem: to get to either hospital, I have to drive by a third hospital that is probably within walking distance of my home. Well, maybe not walking distance if I am having a medical emergency. Heck, the kids who hung the magnet on my door probably drove past the third hospital as well. Why on earth would I go to a hospital that is further away if I actually need the services of an emergency department? In a medical emergency, I need help now, not 6 miles from now.

The point is that both hospitals completely wasted money printing and delivering advertising to me. That money didn’t help a single patient. That money didn’t pay for a single doctor, nurse, medical assistant, or even janitor. That money didn’t buy any medical equipment or medications. That money didn’t keep the lights on in an operating room. That money didn’t even line the pockets of a hospital executive… unless his wife owns a printing company.

Cutting worthless ads won’t solve the issue of health care costs, but it’s a painless first step.

In Closing: Coming together online; frugality; and here’s some bonus health and health insurance links.


Alright, by now everybody and his or her dog has heard the latest about Angelina Jolie, right?

Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.

Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.

On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved.

Needless to say, this has sparked much online discussion. Here’s a featured item on BlogHer by a woman considering the same decision. Here’s one from a Professor of Pediatrics (is he also a doctor of medicine? probably?) who points out that this sort of surgery comes with risks and without promises of a cancer free life.

And do you know what I don’t see mentioned much? Time and money.

Most of us don’t have the ability to be in and out of surgery and recovery for three months — more if there are any sort of complications. Heck, many of us can’t really afford to take 2 days off from work (or school, or taking care of family…). Ms. Jolie is truly blessed that not only could she free up her busy schedule to do this, but also that her loving husband Mr. Pitt was able to be there by her side, and further that they were able to arrange adequate childcare for their six children — ranging in age from 5 to 12 — during this stressful time.

Another area where Ms. Jolie is truly blessed is money. Many women can’t justify spending the “approximately $3000” to see if she has the 1 in 100 chance of ridiculously higher breast cancer risk. In a time and country where it can be difficult to figure out exactly how much any given hospital service is going to cost, she didn’t have to worry about it. She knew that the money was in the bank. Perhaps she did get her insurance company to pay for it; after all, this has to be cheaper than cancer treatments followed by reconstructive surgery!

Some people simply have more options than others.

In Closing: transparency and accountability, and why big brother won’t work; it wouldn’t be a bad idea to retire these; austerity, unemployment, and job creation (for the record, I am currently not in the workforce and not officially “unemployed,” more on that later in the week); mobility; interesting point; the law of supply and demand (and why we desperately need a public option).


Imagine that you work for a relatively small company. One fine Friday in Spring you go to pick up your paycheck, and the owner of the company asks you to sign this:

I agree to use none of my paycheck from XYZ LLC to purchase novels in the Twilight or 50 Shades series. If I am found to own such books, I agree to show that they were not purchased with salary funds (i.e., gift) or face immediate termination.

You might say “What’s this?”

The owner might reply “Those books are sinful, and I won’t allow my money to be spent on them.”

“But it isn’t your money anymore. It’s my money,” you say.

“And you wouldn’t have it if I didn’t give it to you. Now, are you going to sign this, or are you fired?”

I think most of us would be outraged if this happened — even if we never had any desire to read those books. If it were an option, some of us might find other jobs (ha, yeah right, what other jobs?). A few of us might call a local investigative reporter to stick a microphone in that owner’s face. Somebody might think to call the ACLU.

It’s not an accident that I chose two controversial series with a largely female fan base. That’s because the thing some employers are actually trying to censor is access to birth control pills.

The employers trying to do this are using the exact same argument: “It’s sinful and I won’t allow my money to be spent on it.” It sounds a lot siller when we talk about books rather than medication that can prevent poverty and can relieve women of PCOS and endometriosis symptoms — making them more productive workers.

Obamacare requires health insurance plans to cover birth control pills, regardless of what your boss thinks of them. If you think that’s a good thing, click here and sign the petition.