Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I figure I need to say something about James DeMint

We are revisiting terrorism since Christmas. There appears to be a lot of blame to throw around.

One of the biggest offenders, for lack of rationality, appears to be Senator James DeMint.

He's had a "hold" on President Obama's nominee for the Administrator of the TSA for some time now. His reason, he doesn't like the fact that the Obama Administration may allow TSA workers to engage in collective bargaining. Just what does that have to do with whether the guy has the qualifications to be the administrator? The guy isn't going to decide the issue, Obama and Congress are.

DeMint and some Republicans are throwing out the "go slow" mantra just as they are on health insurance reform. Let's do nothing rather than something, since the something that will happen won't be what we want.

I'm thinking, right or wrong, it is time for Obama and the Democrats to start playing hardball, win or lose in 2010. I'm pretty sure I won't like the results; but, I'm getting real tired of the Goppers. If you guys have something to say, say it, and convince the electorate to inundate Congress with calls to go the way you say we should go. Quit with this filibuster garbage. Let the Dems hang themselves and go into the midterm elections having failed.

Party of NO, there's an inspiring way to go forward.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Restaurant Review

From a smart phone, thus the brevity.

A very nice pinot noir.

Turtle soup.

Gulf fish, lightly fried with an egg and potato crust,

Strawberry "shortcake" (actually an amazing biscuit).

Quit counting the people serving things at ten.

Commanders Palace. Mmmm Good.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One Year

I don't remember how old I was. My best guess is maybe six or seven.

We always put up the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve afternoon. The main ornaments were varied colors of plain globes - blue, gold, red, green. Colored lights with the same colors. Tinsel, the non-crinkled kind. At this point in time, I was below the age of participation. Maybe I was allowed to put some tinsel on a low branch, under careful supervision.

When the tree was up, it was time for cleaning up for church. An early dinner, then the service. The only lights in the sanctuary were on the altar, the Lenten candle and the Christmas tree, over in the corner next to the baptismal font on the right. Kids from all the classes sang songs appropriate for their age. The liturgy and the sermon were shortened to make way for us kids.

Then the highlight. As did each Lenten service end on Wednesdays, the altar candles (and this night, the Christmas tree lights) were extinguished. To the light of the Lenten Candle we sang Abide with Me, a cappella. Then the candle was extinguished. Rather than the normal bustling leaving, we walked out silently.

Back home, pajamas were put on, then milk and cookies to the accompaniment of Christmas music. Parents in their chairs, kids on the floor. This particular year, next to the tree, I was daydreaming about the globe ornaments. Something about planets and rocket ships - the kind of stuff a kid my age thought of. My fantasy flowed, then the call for bed. We put out a glass of milk and a plate of cookies for Santa Claus, and off to bed.

The next year, everything was the same. We put up the tree, I might have been allowed to attach a low hanging ornament or two, under careful supervision. Clean up, early dinner, low lights, singing and Abide with Me. Back home, pajamas, milk and cookies. Parents in their chairs, kids on the floor. And try as I might, having thought about it off and on for the past year, I couldn't settle into my planet and rocket reverie. Cookies and milk for Santa and off to bed, trying to figure out what went wrong. Same everything except a different, older kid.

Health Care Reform Winners

"Nebraska, with help from [Sen. Ben] Nelson, won a particularly generous arrangement under which the federal government would indefinitely pay the full cost of covering certain low-income people added to the Medicaid rolls under the bill."

Louisiana: "Back on November 21st, Senator Mary Landrieu provided the 60th vote for the Senate Democrats to cut off a GOP filibuster and start the debate on a healthcare reform bill. In exchange for that vote, the Democratic leadership offered her a $300 million ‘bribe’ in the form of additional Medicaid benefits for her home state of Louisiana and for other states ravaged by Hurricane Katrina."

Vermont: "At least partly alleviating the impact, [Sen. Patrick] Leahy this weekend won a $250 million increase in Medicaid payments to Vermont over six years as part of the Senate's health care bill."

WCAX. com (Vermont TV station)

Sundry States: "Another item in Mr. Reid’s package specifies the data that Medicare officials should use in adjusting payments to hospitals to reflect local wage levels. The officials can use certain new data only if it produces a higher index and therefore higher Medicare payments for these hospitals.

Senate Democrats said this provision would benefit hospitals in Connecticut and Michigan.

Mr. Reid’s proposal also provides additional money to several states to help pay for the expansion of Medicaid to cover many childless adults and parents who did not previously qualify.

Senate Democrats said Saturday that the cost would probably be less than $100 million over 10 years. But the Congressional Budget Office said Sunday that the cost of this provision, benefiting Massachusetts, Nebraska and Vermont, 'is approximately $1.2 billion over the 2010-2019 period.'”

"[David] Axelrod [Presidential Advisor] said the provisions benefiting specific states, like Nebraska, and favored constituencies were a natural part of the legislative process.

'Every senator uses whatever leverage they have to help their states,' Mr. Axelrod said on the CNN program “State of the Union.” 'That’s the way it has been. That’s the way it will always be.'”

Yes, all of the Senators mentioned above are Democrats. It's of course true that were Republicans running things the largess would flow differently. But, sausage making isn't pretty, regardless of the sausage brand.

Oh, and if you thought that big business is unhappy with those damned liberal Democrats:

"Here's a quick breakdown of major health insurance company stock performance from Oct. 27 to Friday's market close:

• Coventry Health Care, Inc. is up 31.6 percent;

• CIGNA Corp. is up 29.1 percent;

• Aetna Inc. is up 27.1 percent;

• WellPoint, Inc. is up 26.6 percent;

• UnitedHealth Group Inc. is up 20.5 percent;

• ... Humana Inc. is up 13.6 percent."

The major stock indexes are up 1 to 2 1/2% in the same period.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Equal Time

I just got a response from Sen. Johnny Isakson (my other Georgia Senator) to my my Email last week asking for the nuts and bolts of the Republicans' health care proposal. He was a co-sponsor of Sen. Bill 1099 in May of this year. It didn't get voted out of committee. I outlined some of its provisions in my post talking about the response I'd gotten from Sen. Chambliss. Much of Sen. Isakson's Email was the same description I'd gotten of it from Sen. Chambliss.

Both Senators want nothing to do with government involvement, trusting market forces to give us near universal, affordable, quality health care. Assuming you can afford to buy insurance, you will get a couple of thousand dollars credit on your tax return, a little over $5,000 if you are married - but you will also pay taxes on the amount your employer spends on a group plan. You couldn't be denied coverage by state and regional "exchanges;" but, your premium will be based on risk. I read that to mean you are going to pay a lot of money for coverage if you have a health problem.

As I said last week, this plan doesn't do anything for the very poor or the working poor.

Read for yourself:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Pleasant Saturday

There's chili simmering in the crock pot, just shy of spicy hot, some cinnamon to balance it. Good stuff even if I have to say it about my own cooking.

No golf as it hasn't hit fifty all week (and from the forecast, won't for the next week). And it's rainy. Yesterday a cold, windy, clammy rain. Today, not so much. The kind of day you want a fire going.

Instead, with the help of Bill the Engineer, I got Airport Express, Airport, Airfoil (beyond the first being a kind of modem you plug into a power outlet, the second being Mac's wireless name and the third being a program that lets non-Apple stuff talk to Apple stuff (courtesy of a tip from Fermi), don't ask me what they are) and the Macbook to talk to the speakers and play Pandora streaming music. I could do that sentence again but I'm too lazy; and, I think it is grammatically correct.

There are a couple of drawbacks on Pandora. You choose an artist, a song or a genre and it creates a "channel." You get the artist; song type or genre but, you don't get him,her or it all the time. You get what the software thinks you will like based on you liking him, her or it, along with him,her or it. Like everything in life, the software isn't always right. Though mostly it is. Next drawback, a very short ad is inserted between every fourth or fifth song. Google is spending money today to advertise its Chrome OS. And, on the free version, you are only allowed to skip so many songs in any given period of time. So far, I'm saving my skips. My early opinion, it's an intelligent jukebox.

After a chili dinner, it will be a Netflix movie. Hope you are having a good day too.

Friday, December 18, 2009


This is that number. Of posts here.

Some, like the last quick link to Wikipedia shouldn't count. There are some that I like, that I'd like to count double. I guess it all evens out.

Three years, and a bit over two months. I can't say there was a compelling, or even good, reason for starting this place. As I remember, I'd heard and read about blogs; and, I was bored at work. I did a Google search (of course) and looked at Blogger/Blogspot (I've never figured out the two names). I signed up to find out how it worked. It told me I had to have a name for the blog. Since it was mid-afternoon and I was feeling guilty, the name was born.

Over the years, I'm feeling less guilty: working isn't everything.

For the occasion, I went to,, and Google something or other, and found out what's up with the statistics.

I've dropped off and stabilized with visitors. Last year I hit highs with over a thousand a month. This year, I'm pretty stable at about 800. The blog has had over 50,000 visits. I'm not sure just what that is; I think it is a page view. Big Rick thinks there are about ten of you with a lot of time on your hands. I'm thinking it's more like 30 or so.

Alexis ranks me mid pack in U.S. blogs. Technorati says I'm at about number 11,000 of a total of mid-hundreds of thousands of blogs. I like that statistic. My Google Page Rank is always about a 4, whatever that means.

All that aside, of all the things in life, I like reading and writing. The blog gives me a place to write about what I read. Physical friends get a bit bored with my thoughts. Ya'll may also, but you don't give me the glassy stare, you just click away to somewhere more interesting. More importantly, you do read and occasionally tell me what you think. And sometimes, I read what you've written, or talk to you, and realize that what I've had to say has influenced your thinking and writing. I like that.

I can't say that if no one stopped by that I'd keep this up; but, I might. I can say that since you stop by, you've given me a bit fuller life. Thanks.

What Ohers Are Doing

Not much of a post; but, here's an overview of how other countries handle health care, from Wikipedia of course:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One Republican's Health "Plan"

I promised that I would let you know what responses I got to my Email to my two Republican Senators in my last post about the Republican health care "plan." In my Email, I asked for the nuts and bolts of their plan, requesting that they not respond with boiler plate.

I've gotten one response so far, from Sen. Saxby Chambliss: more boilerplate than I wanted and not much in the way of nuts and bolts. Here are some representative quotes, I don't think I've cherry picked to make him look bad.

"Rather than attempting to overhaul our entire health care system, we should be focused on incremental reform to improve the areas with the greatest need.... [none of which are identified]

"I am an original cosponsor of S. 1099, the "Patients' Choice Act," which was introduced on May 20, 2009…. S. 1099 would put individuals back in charge of their own health care by giving them a tax rebate, worth $2,300 for individuals and $5,700 for families, to be used for the purchase of health insurance…. Individuals who are most vulnerable of being turned down due to preexisting conditions could not be denied coverage due to age or health....[got to give him some credit for wanting to get rid of preexisting conditions]

"I also believe that a health care bill should address tort reform….

"During the health care reform debate, I will monitor the initiatives with the view that health care reform should focus on keeping health decisions between doctors and patients, empowering and entrusting individuals with their health care savings and decisions, and promoting competition in all areas of health care. Americans are right to demand access to affordable health care. We will move closer to this goal as we see more promotion of the same innovation and competition in health care that we see in every other American industry."

So, Sen. Chambliss wants to give a tax rebate to those buying a health insurance policy. I would note that he doesn't talk about a credit, which you get regardless of whether you pay taxes. You can't get a rebate if you don't pay taxes. Chances are if your income is low enough that you don't pay taxes, you don't have a spare few thousand laying around to buy health insurance. So much for the very poor and the working poor.

Tort reform is the only other concrete part of Sen. Chambliss' plan. Have at it - Public Citizen reports that total payments for malpractice judgments were about $226 million in 2004. To be flippant, any dollar amount that doesn't start with a "B" these days isn't significant in the context of national policy.

You'll note that the last of the quotes has Sen. Chambliss focusing on "keeping health decisions between doctors and patients, empowering…individuals…and promoting competition." No specifics and nothing about insurance company influence on health care decisions and their de-powering of individuals. Nothing about how he's going to promote competition.

So much for the Republican alternative, at least from one source.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This Just In From the Loyal Opposition

I did a Google search for "republican health care reform proposals" just now. The first result was paid, from, and was from August.

The second result was a CNN story about the GOP wasting a day by requiring that the Dems' proposed bill be read out loud in the Senate.

Third result: from itself. What is talking about? "Nancy Pelosi's 1900 page bill…." Is that what anyone's talking about this week? Then there's a list of ten bullet points of the GOP's "plan" that uses words like "encourage, allowing, promoting." There's a tort reform bullet point (bad lawyers, bad!), a unjust insurance company bullet point (bad Aetna, bad Blue Cross, on Donner and Blitzen), a healthy lifestyles bullet point (bad all of you unhealthy people), a health savings account bullet point (don't we already have those?) and a few others. Then ends with this:

Scorecard: Speaker Pelosi’s Government Takeover vs. GOP Common-Sense Solutions

Speaker Pelosi’s Bill/GOP Alternative

Job Losses
Up to 5.5 million/0

Medicare Cuts
$500 billion/0

Tax Increases
$729.5 billion/0

Lot of detail to sink your teeth into there, huh? Almost as vacuous as Change You Can Believe In and Yes We Can.

Clicking to Google News results for the same search, pretty much nothing except more articles about filibusters and all day readings of the Dems' bill.

I'm going to send an Email to both of my Republican Senators asking just what are the nuts and bolts of what they propose we do. I'm going to be civil and polite, using words that might make the lowly staff person charged with responding think they have a shot at my vote, I'm just a concerned citizen. I'll share the boilerplate pap I get in response.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where's the Dictator when you need him?

I was recently described as a liberal libertarian. Comparatively, I'm quite liberal. Were the philosophy practical, I'd be a libertarian.

But, neither trait seems to be of any value when it comes to politics and getting something done.

I'm kind of paying attention to the health care "debate" in the news. Harry Reid floats an idea and it gets shot down by the Republicans and moderate Democrats. He floats another idea and the left wing of his party whines. Joe Lieberman, never the homecoming king, relishes in all the invitations he's getting to the cool parties. Obama calls in the squabbling kids, telling them there will be no recess until they rally around a plan. The Republicans sit back with no real plan of their own, seeing no downside to letting the Democrats play out their fights.

So what will they come up with? Something, but it will be a cut and paste job with no overall strategy to provide affordable, quality health care which is the goal all of the politicians of all stripes say they have.

As a general rule, I'm a fan of legislative ineptitude. The less done the better fits nicely with my libertarian instincts. But here, it's getting in the way.

So, I propose legislation to appoint five people that have no political affiliation or bent (pick your own manageable number) with expertise in health care, economics and infrastructure. They provide the plan. The plan is implemented unless Congress (by two-thirds majority) and the President veto it. They stay at it, tweaking as they go, subject to the veto. I know, it's unconstitutional; but, in five or so years, I bet you would have a working, affordable health care system.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Chantix is a drug that helps you to quit smoking. I noticed when turning on the TV, prior to going to the recorded stuff, that the fast talk was more lengthy than normal in a commercial pushing it. What caught my ear is "if you have thoughts of suicide, please contact your doctor."

I'd loved to have been in on the meeting that got that included in the warnings.

"Shit, someone tried to off themselves, we can't sell this stuff."

"It was just one guy, he was a loser, it isn't proven that it's a problem, we'll add it to the fast talk at the end of the commercial."

"OK, but it's your ass."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Book is a Book

Subtitle: Legal Reasoning and New Technology

You look over your shelves for something to read and see an old copy of Catch 22, pick it up and spend some pleasant time reading the book.

You got a Kindle for your birthday. But you can't download Catch 22. What's up?

Joseph Heller's estate and Simon & Schuster are fighting, that's what's up. S&S has the publishing rights for the "book;" but, the family says those rights don't extend to an "e-book." The fight isn't esoteric: the print book sells to the tune of 85,000 copies a year due to it being on hundreds of school reading lists. The family wants a bigger cut of "e" sales, S&S says they get the old print royalty.

"While most traditional publishers have included e-book rights in new author contracts for 15 years, many titles were originally published before e-books were explicitly included in contracts.

And with electronic readers like the Kindle from Amazon and the Nook from Barnes & Noble attracting new readers and sales of e-books growing exponentially, authors and publishers are trying to figure out how best to harness the new technology."

And of course, who gets what part of the money.

S&S reasons that it made a deal to publish Heller's books, it didn't talk about paper and electronic media, S&S should be able to put Catch 22 on the Kindle. A book is a book is a book.

The family reasons that there were no Kindles extant when the deal was done, "books" were implicitly paper books, we didn't do a deal for an electronic book, we want a better deal.

Authors and publishers will work it out. In the meantime, lawyers will write, ironically, using electrons on their computers, "reams" of paper setting out the the arguments for each side.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

It isn't only Tiger, we're monogamously challenged here in Georgia

It seems that Teflon doesn't last on the surface of world class golfers or politicians here in Georgia, degradation happens.

Tiger's apparently on his yacht on his way to somewhere to patch things up.

Here in Georgia, the Republican party is in disarray, suffering from the same foibles that are troubling Tiger. We have this Speaker of the House that has a temper problem. He didn't play well with others, except lobbyists for Atlanta Natural Gas, or one in particular, she being a female, he being married. This has been going on for years now. I'll spare you the evolution of his fellows turning on him, reluctantly, other than to say that their reluctance seems to be based on the impending exposure of their own sexual foibles. It seems that the Goppers who run the executive branch and both houses of the Assembly have no one who is squeaky clean, Southern Baptist enough to take the helm of the party.

The backbenchers in the GOP are making noises about throwing them all out of the leadership. "Rep. Jim Cole (R-Forsyth) said last week anyone who wants his vote for speaker needed to sign a good-conduct pledge that included such requirements as being faithful to one’s spouse." The Dems are chuckling (especially those that have committed the same sins).

There don't appear to be any calls by the rank and file for competency.

In the meantime, we don't have any more money here in the Peach State. A U.S. District Court Judge told us we can't get anymore water from what we thought, and isn't, our reservoir, Lake Lanier, starting two years from now. Bridges are crumbling, sewers are collapsing. We have more failed banks than most states, having lent money to every residential developer that walked in the door for the past decade. Many of the banks' stockholders and directors are elected and appointed leaders in the aforesaid state government.

The fact that Tiger is on his yacht is only significant to his family and his advertising clients. The fact that our guys are more concerned with their image than their responsibilities doesn't bode well for the near-term future of Georgia. You can vote the bastards out; but, they seem to replicate quite easily.

Friday, December 11, 2009

But I was wearing a tuxedo!

It apparently is not true that all men look good in a tuxedo. I base this on empirical evidence: Up until a couple of months ago I had my picture on the blog. It was cropped from a picture taken while I was attending the Atlanta Heart Ball a few years back in my little-used tuxedo.

If you've visited here for any amount of time, you've seen comments from Fermi, who lives in Metro Atlanta. She kindly invited me to have drinks with her and PDM, her husband, last night at Zuffy's, a bar/restaurant convenient for all of us. Almost immediately after we introduced ourselves she remarked "you look a lot better in person than in your picture." So, no more pictures on the blog.

I enjoyed hanging out with them last night. You can learn a lot about a person from reading what they write over a period of time; but, in person adds intangibles you can't get from words. And pints of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA don't hurt. Friends found, I think.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My Stories

My Mother watched soap operas. Not too much years ago. It isn't like she had a lot of time, working full time, raising three kids. She made up for lost time after we were out of the house and she and my father were retired.

"When are we leaving? I don't want to miss my stories." I'm not much of a "stories" kind of guy. I don't even watch much (any) network TV of the comedy, drama, reality sort. But I've seen a story or two; and, having done so, it was always a bit disconcerting that Mom watched them.

What I remember about soaps is that the women always had pretty impressive cleavage and wore too much makeup. What the hell was my mother doing watching that? Or was she rather watching the slick guys with their shifty back stories? In any event, she watched them and could tell you who was who (and who else they were in the fantasy sequences or whatever).

CBS has announced that it is canceling As the World Turns after 54 years on the air. I'm thinking, though I don't know, that that's one of the ones she watched. I know she watched The Guiding Light, that I found out today was recently canceled after 72 years on radio and television.

"'As The World Turns' has been a cornerstone of our business and a tremendous asset to the company," TeleNext Media [a subsidiary of Proctor & Gamble, hence, soap opera] managing director Brian T.Cahill said in a statement. Cahill said TeleNext Media was searching for a new outlet to carry both shows."

There's hope for the remaining Moms.



So you and I are members of a club - the Under Read and Unappreciated Bloggers of America (URUBA). URUBA has 100 members (the membership chairman is slacking, there's a sea of articulate but ineffectual potential members out there). Like all clubs, many members are content to go with the flow. They aren't interested in most club issues, they don't want to be an officer and don't particularly care who's running the club.

There's some important issues the club has to deal with coming up. Should we institute a pay wall, that would force our small collective, but free riding, audience to pony up for the privilege of reading our brilliant writing? Should we contract with a media company to get strategic URUBA mentions at Politico and RedState? How much would it cost us to get Larry King to do a "Brilliant!" blurb about us in his newspaper column?

The guy who's into structure stuff mentions that he was reading the bylaws last night when he couldn't sleep and they are quite clear that any vote requires a majority of all the members on the books, even the dead ones, not just a majority of those voting. The historian guy notes that we have never had more than 40 people vote on any issue since the club started up.

Our empire plans are screwed, the silent majority of our members are effectively no votes, dooming any action by the club.

Our political life is like URUBU club life, the majority of the citizenry isn't much interested in politics and doesn't vote. Were the URUBU bylaws used by local, state and federal governments for elections, government would shut down (I'm not saying that would be an altogether bad Idea in all instances).

Did you know that the URUBA election rules are used by the National Mediation Board, the federal agency that oversees railway and airline union issues? Does it surprise you that mostly non-unionized, larger, Delta Airlines, having absorbed mostly unionized, smaller, Northwest Airlines, is opposed to a proposed NMB rule change that would require a majority of only the employees voting in an upcoming unionization vote to favor union representation to certify the union?

I'm not a union fanboy, if I worked for Delta, I’d almost certainly vote against unionization, but still. From what I’ve read, Delta’s basis for opposition to the proposal is “we’ve done it this way for 75 years, there’s no reason to change now” A possibly cheap shot, but still valid, analogy: slavery was an institution, why change?

But, fair is fair. People opposed to the change point out that the current rule applies to union decertification votes. The rule should be changed for both kinds of vote. Goose and gander and all that.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Lawyer is an Ass

The title is a complement. The full quote is "tell Dave OK, but he's an ass."

I finally resolved a dispute last week. Resolution was a lot harder than it needed to be.

First, the other side tried the "we'll tell you how this is going to be" tactic. Then they hired a lawyer that knows nothing about construction. Then he involved his partner "a construction lawyer" who specializes in "cram downs." His words, not mine. Threatening letters. Half hour "conversations" ensued in which I said maybe 50 words, including "hello" and "goodbye."

Any uncomfortable facts were ignored. Law that was inconvenient was labeled an "asserted theory." I was accused of "fraudulent" conduct. (My response citing the applicable fraud statutes and reciting the underlying facts didn't stop the accusations.)

So, I quit talking to the "construction" lawyer and took to written communication. No responses for days and then I was accused of delay.

Then a tentative settlement that reflected the validity of the ignored facts and applicability of the inconvenient law. I'm thinking the other side got a bill from the lawyers.

But we weren't done yet. Settlement Documents sent as PDF's so as to make revision more difficult. Revisions done with no highlighting so as to hide subtle changes. Artificial deadlines. Threats.

So, I resorted to something I should have done earlier. Just say no. Take it or leave it. They took it; but, as noted above, I'm an ass. I can live with that.

I hate natural gas

Or maybe I hate Atlanta Gas Light Company or the Georgia Public Service Commission, or a combination thereof.

I had natural gas years ago and have had it again for a little over a year. Back when, AGLC had a monopoly and made the most of it, gas was expensive. Sometime back, Georgia decided to open up the gas market with "competition." So we have a host of "marketers."

I got my monthly bill today and had the same reaction I have every month. Grimacing and sotto voce swearing.

I only use gas for hot water and heat. So far the winter is very mild. Showers and a couple of loads in the dishwasher a week are it for hot water (clothes get washed in cold water).

Bills over the summer months averaged $33-34.00. Today's bill is $39.00 reflecting furnace usage. How much of that is gas? I used 17.3 therms of gas in November at 83.29 cents a therm for a total of $14.41. The rest of the bill is for "Customer Service Fees" and "AGLC Base Charges," the latter of which exceeds the gas cost.

So, you say, vote with your feet, move to one of the other marketers. But, they all market the the same gas, supplied by AGLC, merely adding their overhead and profit to the passed on overhead and profit charged by AGLC. The only competition is in the therm rate, pennies on the dollar.

At least I only have to look at it once a month.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

This is going to work

Hamid Karzai was interviewed on CNN today. First he wants us to know the 18 month thing isn't going to work, we need to be patient with the Afghan people who are going to work really hard to gear up to providing their own security by the end of his current five year term in office.

He then warned us to "halt practices that … create what he called 'parallel governance issues."

"He seemed to laugh when he was played a video clip of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs saying the United States would bypass corrupt government officials if necessary.

'Afghanistan is a sovereign country, it has a sovereign government, it's not an occupied country,' Karzai said, adding that a foreign power can't undermine or go around the government to deal with whomever it chooses."

He did say "he would do all he can to root out corruption and improve governance."

So, let's sum up, Karzai says get over this corruption thing, don't even think about trying to bypass me when giving out money and keep the money coming at least till I'm out of office.

Gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling, how 'bout you?


If I were in retail, I don't know that I'd be afraid of Walmart

If I were in retail, I don't know that I'd be afraid of Walmart

I didn't used to shop at Walmart as it hadn't moved into urban areas. A couple of years ago it opened a store a couple of miles from my office. Early on I tried it for groceries, finding that it wasn't much cheaper and didn't carry a lot of things that I regularly bought. Score a point for Kroger.

Over the last couple of years I've bought a few things, a wheeled travel bag, a few shirts, a couple of pairs of slacks. Maybe I'm snake-bitten; but, the bag's zipper froze on the first trip, two of the shirts had bad stitching, as did one of the pair of slacks. Score a point for K & G (local discount clothing store) and Target.

I wanted to buy a roasting pan with a rack this weekend. Cook's Warehouse in Decatur had several fine examples, starting above $50.00 and going into three figures. Target had a really poor selection. On to Walmart. I'm the proud owner of a Graniteware (porcelain enameled metal) pan (the old timey kind, black with white speckles) with a quite nice rack in it. The price? $9.99. We'll see how it works before I give a point to Walmart.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I hope for not long...

you'll have to do the word verification thing. Starting a couple of weeks ago, and accelerating, I'm getting comment spam. In the last few days, it has spread from the original french to two english spam messages. I suppose I could just delete them like I've been doing; but, my hope is that the program that's sending them will quit when it "finds out" that it can't leave its spawn over a period of time.

So, sorry over the short term, if it doesn't work, I'll go back to the open commenting and just angrily hit delete when I see the spam.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Free Form Hannukkah

Don't you just hate spelling Hanukkah? Google's not much of a help with all the variations. I chose the acceptable spelling that I typed in, rather than the variations.

Though the holiday doesn't start until next week, since I can't play golf this weekend (it may actually snow for a bit), I'm making latkes, with apple sauce and sour cream and sausages for breakfast Saturday and Sunday. Not kosher in any sense; but, a very good combination (and I bought the food at a Kroger that has a kosher deli and bakery - the sausage wasn't more than fifty feet from the blessed food).

Private health insurers are on your side

They are, really: if you want to pay them a lot of money.

Aetna announced that it was increasing premiums in 2010 to drive away 600-650,000 customers so as to increase its profit margin. It did the same thing earlier in the decade, cutting the number of its customers from 21 to 13 million and increasing its profit margin from 4% to more than 7%.

Got Aetna? Get ready for change you can believe in, courtesy of the that old free market magic.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Law and Technology: Another Question

The City of Atlanta held a run off election for Mayor and a few council seats on Tuesday. Kasim Reed "won" over Mary Norwood by about 620 votes. The applicable statutes allow people who voted but didn't have the proper ID two days to present it. That bumped Reed up to a bit over a 700 vote margin. The statutes also allow any one that loses by less than a percent to demand a recount. The margin is 0.84 and Norwood has said she will demand the recount.

Following the 2000 election follies in Florida, Georgia went to computers. No more paper ballots, with or without chads. How do you do a recount? Put the little cards into the reader again? Check the cards for flaws? Hire forensic IT people to verify that the software is working, a week after the election? (My MS Dell worked right up to the time it froze.) Does a representative from each campaign watch them insert the cards and play with the software?

I can't wait for the Supremes to weigh in on the next election challenge.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


A caveat: I am totally unqualified to write this post. I'm not married. I've never been in a position to cheat on a spouse or a significant other. I've not been cheated upon, to my knowledge (see below for irony).

I've had friends and acquaintances over the years who have cheated, several, and several times for some. (Of no significance, I've always been amazed that the victim doesn't know, everyone else does. How does that happen? See above.)

I'm not talking about a relationship about to end, where one of the parties starts moving away from it. I'm talking about people in a long term relationship that don't live up to the rules that I think exist.

If you commit to someone, doesn't that require fidelity? As demonstrated by the current reports about Tiger Woods, apparently not.

Maybe it's a personality type. Thinking through the list of cheaters (it's not all that long), all of them are Type A's, aggressive, they'd be really upset if they were the victim of cheating.

From an Australian site:

"An American study by Tricia Orzeck, called Big-Five Personality Differences of Cheaters and Non-Cheaters, found general dissatisfaction, revenge, sexual incompatibility, boredom and insecurity were the main reasons people gave for cheating.

But Ms Orzeck also sees a strong link between personality and cheating behaviour.

People who have a distrust of others, are possessive and prone to jealousy, neurotic, immature or have low self-esteem are more likely to cheat on partners.

Those who are agreeable and conscientious within a relationship are more likely to be happy being in it.

'The results in this study suggest that cheaters may perceive themselves as having stronger intellect and stronger creativity compared to that of their partners, leading them to seek out partners that may be a better, that is, similar, match,' Ms Orzeck said.

'Due to this inflated image, cheaters may seek out partners who can meet them at a similar level of intellect and ... cheat as a way to satisfy this need.'"

I don't know, from my non-risk outlook, the whole thing just seems wrong. In case you haven't figured it out, I'm not very religious. But, I like things that come in tens, like the Bill of Rights. And there's something to be said for the Commandments: Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shall not covet your neighbor's wife.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Are You Convinced?

The President said tonight (with my thoughts):

We are going to partner, train and transition the fight against the Taliban and al Quada to Afghanis who will know that they are responsible for their security. There will be no blank check, we expect no corruption and will give no help to those that are corrupt. (All fine and good, just how is that going to happen?)

All of this will be accomplished by July 2011 when we will begin withdrawing. (Huh? Thirty thousand in and begun to be turned around in eighteen months with all of the above accomplished? Don’t hold your breath.)

The three point plan:

Pakistan has to step up. We are going to mutually step with them. (No details there. There has been nothing from Pakistan to date on this plan and nothing done by Pakistan that gives any indication that it is going to stick its neck out against the people hiding out in its border areas. This part of the plan is doomed to failure.)

We will provide military protection (this is probably the only doable part of the plan, until the day we start withdrawing, at which point the bad guys will ramp up) for

Civilian security, coupled with money and aid to those that do good, none to the corrupt, which will do the trick. (So we give our money to the warlords that are not aligned with Karzai? That will freeze him and his friends out and make them fall in line?)

That Afghanistan is another Vietnam is a false statement, we were attacked and we have a 43 country coalition. (Which for the most part isn’t participating with money, troops or aid. We weren’t attacked by Iraq either and had a “coalition” of sorts – Obama was opposed to that war – what’s the difference?)

We can’t muddle through with the troops we have there now it wouldn’t train Afghan to take over. (Agreed.)

We won’t stay ten years or forever, that wouldn’t provide incentive for Afghans to step up. (Agreed, but neither will this eighteen month surge.)

In Afghanistan and Iraq we’ve spent one trillion dollars to date – we aren’t going to spend that much but no number was given. (At this point in our hemorrhage of money, I don’t even care.)

We are just like FDR and his generation we fight for the future of all, not for our own gain, we want freedom for the whole world. (We actually kind of do, not that it works. See W.) And more patriotic stuff. And more patriotic stuff.

The women and children have a few year reprieve of sorts. I'm extending my I told you so's from the year stated in the last post to eighteen months.

Fascinating Pre-Obama Speech Reading

I started a post that would compare Bush and Iraq to Obama and Afghanistan. I slogged away at it for a while and then discovered that it had been done, and done far better than I would have by Glenn Greenwald at Do read about surges, benchmarks, timetables, accepted demands of the country's government and all the other trappings of our serial interventions in quagmires.

Check back in a year or so for the I told you so's.