Return to BloodShorties Lake

You can thank Drew for the title inspiration. It’s sometimes tough to keep thinking of Shorties titles!

Beating the same drum: so here’s today’s tab dump on the freaking mess that continues to be the NSA, DEA, FBI, and Edward Snowden.

And now for something completely different: a nice selection of  health, health insurance, and healthy diet links.

Armchair economist: yeah, still collecting choice bits on the economy and how it effects Joe Average for you. But hey, at least Congress gets plenty of vacation days. After all, they work so hard preventing legislation.

Oh Look: the Duhpartment of Research has been at it again.

I can’t bring myself to spend that: Average price of a new car is now over $31k.

Education Official has Moment of Sanity: Huh, maybe school should start later.

On Libertarianism and Property Rights: Seriously.

Don’t you think you should have read the book before writing about it?:did read the book, thank you. I wasn’t required to. I wanted to as part of a research project. How about we stop focusing on the fact that there was a lot of racism years ago, and celebrate the improvements that have been made to medical care, medical privacy, and race relations since then? Not saying everything is perfect, just better. How about we temper praise for the author compiling primary source materials with the fact that it’s hard to find any scholarship on the subject not filtered by her findings and bias?

Speaking of medicine: Gin and Tonic and the British Empire.

Shhhhhhh: A judge has thrown out the right of the US to maintain an international no-fly list.

And Finally: a couple of nice videos to waste your time.

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.

Nevada Firestorm

And no, I’m not talking about the two multi-acre blazes within 4o miles of Las Vegas.

Well, the internet has been all abuzz over the latest from Sharron Angle. Everybody and their dog has already had something to say about her latest interview, including the guy who interviewed her. No wonder she does so few of them! Ezra Klein points out that the choice should be fairly simple, given that Nevada has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, Angle thinks all those unemployed people should get up off their lazy asses and find a [nonexistent] job, and Reid keeps trying [and failing] to get unemployment benefits extended to at least try and prevent all those unemployed people from becoming homeless too. At least her website has been updated with a little less crazy. She still does think it’s unreasonably hard to get a ballot initiative up in Nevada. I have long urged people to Just Say NO to all voter initiatives, so this is just fine with me.

But wait! Let’s not forget that The Other Reid (he’d prefer to just be known as “Rory“) is in an election too, and his opponent Brian Sandoval has also been campaigning. This week he announced a plan for Nevada schools. It includes giving a “grade” to each school and allowing kids in poorly graded schools to transfer to better schools. Now, there’s 2 problems I see with this. First is that No Child Left Behind already allows the same freaking thing; why reinvent the wheel? The second problem is geography. Nevada is a big state with a small population, and 73% of the population is in one county. While the idea almost makes sense in the Las Vegas Valley, the Reno area, and the Carson City area, it makes no sense in the rural areas where the next school might be an hour or two away.

His second plan is the popular idea of making teacher pay dependent upon student performance. Well, here’s the thing. Teachers can only control what happens in their classroom, and even then only most of the time. When you’ve got kids worried about living on the street, kids stealing ketchup packets so they can have dinner, gang violence, child abuse, parents who don’t give a damn, official curricula that still use sight words*, limited ability to discipline students who are out of line, a bureaucracy that would make any government proud, and a half dozen impediments to learning in the classroom, merit pay is a sick joke.

And idea three is to outsource non-educational services. That would include janitorial services, human resources, and food service. It makes me wonder what firms I would find if I were to look closely at Mr. Sandoval’s investments! There is just no way that it’s cheaper to have a cleaning crew come in at night than to have one or maybe two people on hand all day to clean messes as they occur. Hiring a for-profit catering service to put the cafeteria ladies out of work is just madness. This is aside from the concern some parents will have over whether the employees of these firms might maybe have some desire to harm a child. As much as I would like to dismiss this as tinfoil hat lunacy, the fact of the matter is that Clark County School District has had incidents where non-teachers are accused of harming students.

* I was just horrified to learn what constitutes homework for a first grader!

In closing: A tangible Good Thing from health insurance reform starts today; mortgage rates at record lows, why aren’t we borrowing? (because unemployment is around 10% and most homes are worth less than what is already owed, duh); a financial reform package passed the House and is headed for the Senate, let the hunt for loopholes and political favors begin (it’s ok, banks will ignore what they don’t like anyway); fiscal austerity still doesn’t work; Real Socialists beg the wingnuts to stop calling Obama one of them; a bit of follow-up, the list of countries Van Der Sloot can be extradited to for more charges grows; both of these statements are logical, but both cannot be true; 100 Yen shops, the Japanese Dollar Store; vaccinate your kids!; smart pet tricks; flying cars; and libertarians.

Learning By Osmosis

It took University of Nevada researchers 20 years to figure out that kids who live in homes where they own books — as few as 20 books — have higher academic achievement. The shocking realization was apparently that it had little to do with the parents’ educational level: “Books in the homes of even the barely literate were found to further a child’s education by an average of 3.2 years. In fact, children of parents with less education had more to gain by having books in their homes.”

Well gee whiz.

You don’t suppose it could be that when parents own books, they are showing that reading is a valid activity and education is a valuable thing? Even if those books are all picture books, even if they are all religious books, even if they are all trashy romance novels, the precedent that they are worth having around influences what the kids will think is important by the time Kindergarten rolls around.

Sorry, sending a box of books to the families of “at risk” kids isn’t going to magically make their test scores better.

In closing: Tropical disease hits Sub-Tropical Florida (but no, global climate change is a hoax! All that snow last winter proved it!); the Social Security system is at risk (remember, it has never ever been a savings program so anybody who talks about “returns” on it is an idiot or a thief); just a few miscellaneous oil spill items; miscellaneous medical items; some choice financialreform” items (Banking index didn’t crash? We’re still screwed then); unemployment and mortgage delinquency (gee, whoda thought those were related??); why we can’t take true libertarians seriously; and help out an animal shelter.