Blood from a Turnip

This morning when I woke up, I had 67 email messages in my inbox. Over 60 were asking for donations: this candidate, that political movement, charities and whatnot. There were more in my spam folder, and yet more that had already been filtered to a “political” folder.” Another half dozen begging messages or so have arrived every hour since then. More than a few have tried to guilt me into giving, imploring me to help unlock matching funds, defeat political bad guys, or simply implying that my lack of giving must surely be a mistake. Yes, I did a bunch more “unsubscribes” today. Part of me wishes I had thought to add up the minimum recommended donations for each one of these emails.

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that I have a total 80 begging emails today — remember, that’s just today, and that’s a bare minimum. And let’s say that on average each one asked for “only $5.” In real life, some asked for only $3, and others asked for $20. So, 80 emails times $5 each is $400.

Yeah, not gonna happen.

I do declare, I have no use for Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or Reince Priebus.

EDIT: 4 more emails asking for contributions arrived while I was writing this post!

For the record, the other emails were almost exclusively asking me to buy stuff. At least I would have something at the end of that transaction.

In Closing: hush now; Japan has always had a knack for making things smaller; let’s do this over the Holidays and hope nobody asks a bunch of questions; well, being forced to buy a product from highly profitable corporations is better than nothing, I guess; Unintended Result; nothing to hide, in a world where buying gardening supplies can get you a SWAT raid; and thank goodness Radley Balko is out there telling the truth.


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.


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. Supports the International T-Pain Autotune Treaty

Be it resolved that henceforth, only T-Pain will be allowed to use autotune in recorded music. Other uses shall be considered a crime against humanity.

It is further resolved that quotations of Rapper’s Delight may only be made with the express consent and permission of the United Nations Security Council.*

Please, join me in support of this desperately needed performing arts issue. If I had a little more HTML talent, I’d put together a little ad for the sidebar.

In Closing: Mongols; he’s got a point; Rolling Jubilee; delayed; I guess it’s hard to win elections when you piss off 50% of the population; but they’re already part of the United States!; we’re all suspicious; belly buttons; new health plan?; politics and religion; filibuster all you like, but you gotta talk!; and oops! Somebody was very sure he’d win.

* Yeah, I’m talking to you too, Pitbull.

My Boss Had Some Things to Say about Fear

He gives us a video update every week at our office meeting. I thought this one was more general interest, not really about real estate this week.

One thing though: why was he smiling about the idea of a knife to one’s throat?

In closing: movie; Zoinks, a ghost ship!; REAL done; don’t let them make it about sluts; moderate levels of chocolate and exercise work well together; the simple version of why mandatory health insurance isn’t the answer; I’ve been wondering the same thing; going in my blogroll; and exercise myths.

An Update: Ok, he wasn’t a good man. He probably would have robbed the place if nobody were home to stop him. Still, I don’t know of any court that sentences someone to death for sneaking into a back yard.