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).



Taken in my back yard with a “potato”*. At least one lantana is starting to bloom, which means the hummingbird and butterfly buffet will soon be in full swing.

In Closing: Why doesn’t Johnny just go to broadway and get it over with?; Save Our Post Office; Wingnut screaming about how if we had Russian wiretap laws we could have prevented Boston in 3…2…1…; there just has to be a middle ground between “college for all” (value of a degree for none) and “you are clearly doomed to menial labor because of your race/ethnicity/gender”; the monolithic “left“; dumbass; Compare and Contrast.

* Derogatory term for certain cell phone cameras.

Music Monday: Daft Punk Returns

Hey Kanye: Imma let you finish, but “Isotoner” doesn’t rhyme with “told you.”

In Closing: I really, really wanted to say something about austerity last week and it didn’t happen (how could they have looked at this chart and not suspected an error??); this only works if every single person has a fully charged smart phone with texting and nothing bad happens to the cell towers; Go West; not much; yeah, people at the low end having a living wage probably would help the economy (nice side effect, might make young people need student loans less); and now under 250 calories.

Music Monday: What’s Going On


In Closing: the cat came back; the wages of austerity; aww rats; adventurous surrogate mother wanted; rubber duckies; well yeah, it looks silly when he does it; too redacted; Clouds! Pork Exercise! Mexico! Pass the word; backtrack; never occurred to them that’s not an option for everybody; locking up the dumb b**** for not knowing what’s good for her baby; dealing with climate change; some bosses think Jesus wants them to break laws they don’t like (I seem to remember a line about rendering unto Ceasar…); on math; on history; and a prototype of facebook.

No Reason to Subscribe to Fortune

Let’s cut to the meat:

[I]f America fails to enact historic, structural reforms in spending, an entirely new source of revenue will be needed. And it’s likely to be enacted in haste and near-panic, as the only option to forestalling a crisis. “The gap between revenues and outlays will be simply too large,” says J.D. Foster, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation and a former budget official under President George W. Bush. “Three points of GDP need to be closed to make budgets sustainable. Either government spending gets back near where it used to be, or we’ll need an completely new type of tax.”

The new levy will need to be big, so big that the most probable choice is a European-style value-added tax or VAT. That looming revenue machine is the phantom in the room, the tax that’s still invisible to most Americans, but that threatens precisely the group that’s supposed to emerge from all the deal-making as the Great Unthreatened, our middle class.

Now then, let me explain why a VAT — particularly a hastily enacted VAT — is absolutely not going to happen. It’s called the 16th Amendment:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Congress has two ways of taxing us. The first is a tax based on the number of people in the state. It should be obvious that it’s not entirely fair to make your tax bill based on state population without regard for your ability to pay (it seemed like a good idea in the 18th century), so the 16th Amendment had to be passed to make income tax legal. I am not a lawyer or a constitutional scholar, but I don’t see a damn thing in the Constitution or Amendment 16 that makes a national sales tax legal.

Anybody who wants a VAT had better start working on an amendment to the Constitution. That cannot be done in haste.

This article is supposed to scare you and I into insisting on austerity rather than implement this improbable, middle class “crushing” tax. Heaven forbid we should raise additional revenue through higher taxes on the wealthy at the rates they were under Reagan, or Nixon, or heaven forbid Eisenhower (all “conservative” Republicans of their day). Nope, easier to frighten you into giving up the things your taxes have paid for: well maintained roads; safe water coming out of your tap and safe food available at your local grocer; police and fire services; public schools that make sure businesses can hire literate employees anywhere in the nation; a minimal retirement income you already paid for. Nope, gotta cut back somewhere.

In Closing: scientific method suggests that when your experiment doesn’t work, you change the hypothesis; what a sleeze; let’s not lock kids up in solitary; wealth gap grows; agreed; women will die because their parents are afraid they will think sex is ok; I find it hard to believe that’s cost effective; “Just how many female-headed single-parent families with two children under 10 are there in the United States making $260K/year, anyway?”; and wouldn’t that be a waste.

On the Jobs Numbers

So I have some open tabs that I’ve been saving for a discussion on employment, unemployment, and job creation. Luckily for me, job creation and unemployment numbers came out today. Unemployment does continue to go down, and it looks like we [barely] create enough jobs to keep up with demand. However, many of those new jobs are low wage jobs that don’t actually help our nation at all. Wages are still kept artificially low, even though corporate profits are riding high (I bet higher corporate taxes would encourage those companies to pay people fairly).

But there’s a couple of things missing from the official figures. Well over half of employed people have their eyes open for better employment opportunities. There’s over 3 times as many job applicants as jobs to apply for.

That’s not the only reason it’s important to create more jobs. It seems that when people have jobs, they pay taxes.

In Closing: Russian small arms; depressing; Common Core; austerity; resume tips; good for her!; um no, it’s the blue “welfare” states supporting the red states; and irony.

And it Happened in Texas

Sorry, I’m not going to add my somewhat useless two cents worth to the discussion of the Supreme Court and the Affordable Care Act. You can get that from almost every other blog on the interwebs today. I still hope we end up with an option beyond being forced to pay the highly profitable insurance companies that arguably created the problem in the first place.

A couple weeks ago in the In Closing bits, I said that “the case that will show ‘stand your ground’ laws have gone overboard involves a grade school teacher who was killed because the stereo was a little loud.”

It turns out that in a rare victory for common sense, I was right.

A unanimous jury was smart enough to say “Hey wait a minute, you were so scared that you went and confronted an elementary school teacher with a freaking gun because his stereo was a little loud?? Didn’t think to call the cops on a noise complaint?”

He probably thought he was being clever recording the incident on video. Maybe he shouldn’t have “bragged about his guns and told [a neighbor] a person could avoid prosecution in a shooting by telling authorities you were in fear of your life and were standing your ground and defending yourself.”

What a shame that somebody had to die for logic to prevail. It’s one thing to shoot at someone who is trying to kill you. It’s another thing to make up a threat to justify murder.

Comrade E.B. Misfit has a knack for putting thinks briefly: “Stand Your Ground” Does Not Mean “Go Looking for Trouble”.

In Closing: funny how libertarian utopias are only grand in the absence of disaster; and Americans would rather have Obama than Romney in charge should there be an alien invasion. Nice to see we have our priorities straight.

The Lords of Shorties

Haven’t got much today. Hope to find something outlandish I can take a picture of when I do my weekly shopping tomorrow.

Follow Up: In a stunning display of stupidity false modesty, the Texas girl put in jail for truancy because her parents are vapor and she’s working two jobs has decided she doesn’t want the money that’s been raised for her.

Hide, Watch, and Wait: Employers aren’t hiring yet because they want to see what happens next. Eventually, they will reach capacity and have no choice but to hire. In the meantime, I’m sure they see an upside in having terrified, overworked employees.

More research says fish oil is good for you: Specifically, it might prevent age related vision loss, in addition to all the other good stuff it is known to do.

Channeling Andy Rooney: “Have you noticed that people who are screaming up the terror over deficits are the very same people demanding tax cuts for the rich, no cuts in military, cuts in the minimum wage, selling off public assets, etc?”

And finally: “Gotham is safe.”

Music Monday: The Killers

Ok, look. She’s been dancing with you for 17 songs and she still won’t tell you her name? If an average song is 4 minutes, that’s over an hour. She’s too polite to say it, but she wants nothing to do with you! I don’t care if “anything goes in a place like this.” Pestering her about her effeminate boyfriend won’t help. Or are you calling her a lesbian because she’s not into you?

In Closing: Foxaganda; whose fault??; austerity could kill your baby; apparently terrorists and the experts who try to stop them don’t know history (what a disasster); who cares about probable cause; and profiling still doesn’t work.