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.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

This just doesn't seem all that hard to me

This, being how to fix the problem with print and internet news.

Rupert Murdock is mad at Google and talking up an exclusive deal with Microsoft's Bing for his content. It may be just me; but, I can live without Fox and The Wall Street Journal. Hell, I live without them now for the most part, and they're free (WLS only kind of free and that only proves my point, see below).

But, if I've got some money, some of it will go towards news. I've written this before. I'm willing to pay for news. For years I paid for a paper newspaper and various magazines at various times; but, with the free versions online available, the price of the paper got too high (though I spend a couple of bucks a week to read the paper paper a couple of days at lunch).

Since News Corp, NYT, ESPN, CNN, ABC, the other alphabet sources, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Apple and others don't know how to solve it, Rather Than Working News (RTW News) is willing to step into the breach (get ready for a big increase in bandwidth hereabouts Comcast and Blogger).

The trick is economy of scale, critical mass. You a news source? Give me your content at what, 1/100th of a penny per hit? I'll sell it for 2/100ths of a penny to everyone else. Discounts available for volume readers. Think about it, it's a perfect market. Thousands of sources (and that's the part that Rupert doesn't get, see above) and millions of consumers. Quality gets more hits than dreck, and quality is defined by the consumer. ENews!, TMZ and others like them will have every opportunity to compete with The New York Times, Fox, CNN, and so on. If you publish good stuff, the pennies add up. Dreck, you have Rather Than Working's income; but, that's about to change!

People pay for ringtones and fart applications on their cellphones. Media, if you can't compete with that, you either don't need to be in business; or, the world as we know it has slid over the cliff.

And it shouldn't just be RTW News that does this. Competition in quantity, quality, price, access, layout, bring it on!

So Rupert, Sergey, Larry, Bill, have your people call my people. And you venture capital angels/vultures? I could use some cash for all the servers I'll need and a couple of Georgia Tech grads to figure out the boring stuff.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sometimes you should do what you are told

I've always been resistant to the title.

My parents learned early on not to tell me what to do; rather, they told me what they wanted and why and most of the time I did it (or didn't but hid the result).

Back when when I worked for a corporation, I followed the rule that "they" only mean it when they say it for the third time. I made it in the corporate world by doing a pretty good job, not by my superiors' admiration of how I did it.

I'm still the same as I was when I was a little kid (except when a judge tells me to do something). Thursday I cooked dinner. I switched from the dressing recipe I've used in the past to a more herby dressing. It called for more of some things than I was used to, one of which was chicken broth. It said three cups which seemed too much. I read the ingredient and the interim advice that I should add the broth a half cup at a time until "you have the moisture you want." I dumped it all in.

I got moist, bordering on mush. It tastes good, but.

I just got done fixing the moist/mushy leftovers by about an hour in the oven at 250 degrees. Browned it up and dried it out.

I'm not saying I'm going to completely change my ways; but, I may pay a bit more attention to what I'm told, especially if I'm not sure what I'm doing.

Trailing by a few decades?

An article at

So, the Chinese want a pseudo-egalitarian, capitalistic semi- democracy, though they don't want to call it that.

Here's hoping H1N1 isn't much of a threat

Because if it is, I'm screwed. I just spent an hour or so trying to find a place that has the vaccine, in person at two drug stores and then online. No dice.

And if multiple and varied Google searches don't find something, it doesn't exist. How hard would it be for or (and other news sources) to have a page that provided, say on a daily basis, just where you can get the shot? This is the third time I've spent time trying to find a location that has the vaccine. I'm persistent and I figure most people aren't. As time passes, fewer and fewer people will make the effort. When it's finally widely available, I'm thinking a lot of people who would have gotten it, won't.

Who's fault is that? Got to call it as I see it: the Obama Administration and the media. The Administration can't be blamed for the slow pace of incubating (?) the vaccine; but, from what I can find it's doing nothing to make information available about where to get the vaccine. The media would rather do the easy story about how the government is screwing up, rather than assigning a reporter to track down the available doses and update the information on a regular basis.

Bad government! Bad media!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Going to a store is not among my choices today. Even if I weren't shopping averse, I haven't started thinking about holiday shopping. And, I won't for a couple of weeks.

The list of people to buy for has gotten shorter by family edict. Some years back, also by edict, my brothers and sister-in-laws and I stopped giving each other gifts. This year, two of my nieces graduated from college and I'm told they are not to be on the list. It kind of bothers me; but, family peace requires that I comply. So, the family shopping is reduced to one niece who's still in high school.

The office list has grown by two. There's a new secretary and a new assistant. But they're easy, I traditionally buy tree ornaments for office staff. That sounds cold doesn't it?

The personal list has decreased by one, Big Tony. And it isn't too hard either, sweaters, shirts, wind shirts, books (sorry Rick, but, you knew that's what you were getting - maybe I'll surprise you).

I'm going to expand the charity list to the local NPR radio station, WABE. It has been moving, slowly, from boring classical and opera to more news and features. A reward is in order.

It seems I'm done thinking about what to get early. Other than Rick's surprise, that's it.

If it wasn't 33 degrees outside, I'd go play golf.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Yin and Yang

I've got a lot to be thankful for. Health, family, friends. An occupation that lets me live comfortably. And, I live in a country that has a high standard of living and that, despite inroads, allows me to live as I will for the most part.

But, as I grow older, I'm more and more struck by the fact that I don't have much control over the things I've just listed, except at a personal level. I can maintain and improve my health and my relationships with family and friends. Though I have control over my law practice, if the economy really crashes, I'm down the tubes with it. And here's the thing, there isn't a damn thing I can do to prevent that.

Nor can I stop the inroads on the freedom of action I enjoy. I also have no control over the disparity between the life I live and the lives of many, many people around the country and around the world. My comfortable and relatively free life and their struggle to eat enough to live a life that has nowhere near the freedoms I enjoy.

History teaches that it's always been this way, haves and have-nots. Augustine made a nice reputation telling the latter group that they would get theirs down the road. Some would say that the free markets of economy and ideas will over time correct the imbalances. The economic part hasn't done too well lately. The ideas part doesn't seem to be going well in North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and a score of other places around the world.

Others would say that the haves need be regulated and taxed to distribute wealth to those that don't have the means to live a decent life. Interestingly, these people, to my knowledge, don't deal in the problem of repression of ideas. Perhaps they think if everyone has enough to eat people will quit trying to make others think and act as they do. Or, maybe that's a problem for down the road to their mind – first things first. And of course, their view isn't going to work either.

I’m not sure which view I’m talking about is yin and which is yang, or whether the dichotomy I feel is properly described by the phrase. Wikipedia says “yin and yang are complementary opposites within a greater whole. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, which constantly interact, never existing in absolute stasis.” I do know that I’m growing more pessimistic that anything good is going to happen anytime soon, for me with my relatively privileged life or for those many that are just getting by.

Maybe I should return to what I said at the start. I can control my local life, family and friends. And by control, I mean that I can be a good family member and a good friend. Those at the other end of the economic and freedom scale, with no ability to control anything, can perhaps only do the same. Our local lives will wax and wane never achieving stasis in the greater sense; but, finding equilibrium where we are and how we are. For that, should we give thanks? I’m going to.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Job

A headline on today said that Obama has vowed to "finish the job" in Afghanistan. Details next Tuesday.

It will be interesting to find out just what he thinks the "job" is so as to judge his "plan."

Are we going to track down and kill all the al Qaeda folks, the original job identified by Bush? Are we going make the Taliban play nice, convincing them of the benefits of a Western style democracy and getting them to renounce their centuries old views? Are we going to provide security for the Afghan people and rebuild their infrastructure to the tune of trillions of dollars to allow them to "grow into democracy," in the face of centuries of tribalism? Maybe we're going to settle for getting Karzai to not fix two elections in a row. Cut stealing by government officials by say 30%?

I got a buck that says Obama's version of the "job" makes little, or no, more sense than did Bush's.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Computers do, and don't do, the darnedest things

All in one day I learned that the title is true, not that I didn't know it before.

It started with my appointment at the "Genius Bar" at one of the local Apple Stores. I had several nagging problems, one that I thought would need repair services and I wanted to confirm that before making a technician come all the way to my office. Did you know that only the very newest Mac laptops have a "right click" function? The thing where you highlight some text then right click on the bar below the track pad to get a drop down box so you can cut, copy, paste, etc. I thought the laptop had been broken since I got it a couple of months back. Nope. On a Mac, you highlight text by holding the bar and swiping the track pad, then you lift your fingers and then mash Control and the bar at the same time, or something like that, and that drops down the box. I'm going to have to unlearn 20 years of right clicking. And, I'm going to have to be an ambi-clicker: If you use a mouse, which I do on the office Mac, the mouse does the normal right click thing.

Right after my humiliation before the Apple Genius guy, I read that Google had magnanimously made its Google Navigator available as a download for all smart phones using its Android operating system, including my G1. A minute or so later, I had, from what I can tell from a bit of playing with it, a fully functional GPS driving directions machine in my phone, pretty much just like a Garmin or TomTom device. The difference? Mine's free. The voice is annoying though, just like a GPS that you pay for.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ready Made Lawsuit

A report in the Consumerist today says that Apple is not honoring warranties for its computers that have been used in a "smoking environment" as the nicotine residue is an OSHA biohazard.

Maybe true, but, Apple will lose. I just flipped through the warranty for my Macs, no exclusion for biohazards, smoke or nicotine.

Having read the report which says two owners have been denied warranty service, something seems to be missing. I just can't see Apple being that stupid, taking a position that is a dead loser if challenged. Microsoft, sure; but, Apple?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Are Republicans afraid of market forces?

Here's a link to an interview with Senator John Kyl on NPR this morning (I'm lazy, you get the ugly version):

In the interview he says the public option is step one in a two step plan to have only government insurance. OK, maybe all the Democrats are socialists or communists; but, I've got a problem with his logic. Some think tank did a study he says. It determined that within three years 119 million people would opt in to the new public insurance, 88 million of whom currently have private insurance through their employers who would switch to the public option because it's cheaper.

Just what does that tell us about the competitive nature of the insurance industry today? My quick, economically unsophisticated view is that the industry isn't very competitive. Senator Kyl is horrified by the fact that the main purpose of the public option is to provide a competitive source for insurance coverage, one that will draw people to it. He seems to assume that private insurers will just give up, "hell, they the gubmint, let's quit now." Assuming the study is valid, possibly a stretch, wouldn't the equally probable result be that the private insurance industry, paying the same providers, doctors, nurses, hospitals, drug manufacturers, would look at the margins and say "damn, they caught us, I guess the free ride is over? We're going to have to settle for a reasonable profit."

Market forces either work or they don't. Senator Kyl seems to assume that they work and doesn't want them to do so because they'll result in lower health care costs, with or without the private insurers participating. Tell me I'm wrong.

A Premature Thanksgiving Post

Earlier this week, Jim Donahue at the Velvet Blog (see Recommended sidebar) posted his annual Grandma's Stuffing recipe. I went shopping this morning for Turkey Day food (I forgot to get chicken broth. The menu is roasted chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, acorn squash, asparagus, pumpkin pie and Kool Whip. And lots of gravy. And as you will find out below, no jello or canned cranberries.)

That got me thinking of the obligatory Thanksgiving post. There being no present inspiration, I did a word search for Thanksgiving on the blog and found there are a lot of posts with the word in them, some not too bad, search if you like. I may well do a real post; but, here's the one I did three years ago, right after I started this thing up, when some of you weren't reading what I write, that I like the best:

Tryptophan and Thanksgiving


"Does turkey contain a natural sedative that makes you feel sleepy after eating a lot of it?

In this instance, lore almost intersects with science. Turkey does contain tryptophan, an amino acid which is a natural sedative. But tryptophan doesn't act on the brain unless it is taken on an empty stomach with no protein present, and the amount gobbled even during a holiday feast is generally too small to have an appreciable effect.

That lazy, lethargic feeling so many are overcome by at the conclusion of a festive season meal is most likely due to the combination drinking alcohol ...overeating a [solid-food] carbohydrate-rich repast, [and] increased blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract."

I have been to many Thanksgiving family feasts over the years. With or without the aid of Tryptophan, they invoke a warm, lazy, comfortable memory.

In the early years they rotated among my parents', an uncle's and an aunt's house. In the pecking order of cousins and brothers I was mid-level. Four older, two younger, plus my two younger brothers. In my childhood and teen years I never graduated to the big people table. There were just too many people with seniority.

Just before family started arriving, or just before we got to the relatives' house, my father would lecture us on proper behavior. In my young world there was no functional difference between a father or mother and an aunt or uncle. Any adult trumped any child. Woe to the child that didn't understand that. We were not to run, there was no yelling. You could not ask for anything. If offered, you could say yes. As a sullen teen I fantasized during the lecture, still given for the benefit of my younger brothers, about the permissability of asking for emergency life-saving treatment if I had a run-in with the carving knife.

While sitting on the front porch, a cousin taught me to tie my shoes on Thanksgiving Day. I went to my first non-drive-in movie, The Old Man and the Sea, on Thanksgiving day. I was introduced to the wonders of Kool Whip (the look on my mother's face told me all I needed to know about asking my Aunt for another dollop). White meat turkey slices with salt and mayo on white bread (a starch source I have out-grown) and cold stuffing, mid-evening is actually better than the feast during the day. Choking down a teaspoon of yellow or green Jello with stuff in it is an acceptable price for the rest of the day, though no one should have to eat canned cranberry sauce.

My generation is somewhat scattered over the Country. Me in Atlanta. A brother in Phoenix. A cousin in Florida. My youngest brother and some of my cousins are still close enough to each other to carry on the tradition.

My last family feast was in 1999 when I traveled not for the holiday but to attend my mother's funeral a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was held that year at one of my cousin's son's house. Tradition was turning full circle. My brothers had daughters. They had cousins. I was disappointed to see that the kids were not at card tables. Long tables had been borrowed from the church and everyone sat together. At least I got to sit at the big people table.

I'm going back this year to my youngest brother's house. There are a few more kids and no more of the original generation. I plan on eating dark meat, lots of mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pie. I'm going to dollop on all the Kool Whip I want, which won't be much. I am not going to eat any Jello or cranberries, sauce or whole. I plan on smiling more than I did when I was sullen teen.

Portents of What Will Surely Come

The U.S. has spent $53 billion for reconstruction projects in Iraq. Much of what has been built isn't being used, and quite possibly won't be used. Why? Lack of Iraqi funds to maintain and equip the projects and lack of trained people to operate the projects. Details to be found here.

Then there's the upcoming January election; or, more properly put, the election that doesn't look like it will happen due to a veto by a Sunni guy and a threatened boycott by the Kurds. Details here.

But we're going to do much, much better in Afghanistan: Obama and the Republicans say so, just like Bush and Cheney told us about Iraq.

I can see a swath of sinners settin' yonder
And they're actin' like a pack of fools
Gazin' into space lettin' their minds wander
'Stead of studyin' the good Lord's rules
You better pay attention, build your comprehension
There's gonna be a quiz at your ascension
Not to mention any threat of hell
But if you're smart you'll learn your lessons well!

Every bright description of the promised land mentions
You can reach it if you keep alert
Learnin' every line and every last commandment
May not help you but it couldn't hurt
First ya gotta read 'em then ya gotta heed 'em
Ya never know when you're gonna need 'em
Just as old Elijah said to Jezebel
You better start to learn your lessons well!

(from Godspell)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Follow-up: Food for Thought

On Tuesday I wrote about the announced terrorist trial to be held in New York. Today I read this piece at To summarize the author's point: bad trials make for bad precedents.

This post is mostly for Curmudgeon and Michael. For the non-lawyers, unless you have a thing for turgid (especially for Slate) argument that you have to struggle to parse, I don't know that I would bother clicking the link.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Free Commercial Idea for Verizon

As I noted a few posts ago, AT&T sued Verizon saying that its absolutely accurate adds weren't understood by some people. The dumb people thought that the white area on a map in the ads meant that AT&T had NO service in the white areas of the map.

AT&T was denied a temporary restraining order today by the judge hearing its lawsuit against Verizon.

I think Verizon should take the high road in this and be very clear. Show the maps; but, in the white areas ( EDGE service which is slow: huge for AT&T, much smaller for Verizon) in big letters put SLOW service. Even dumb people will then know that AT&T has much more SLOW coverage than Verizon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oh God, I think I agree with Sarah Palin

Newsweek has a story on Palin this week. The cover picture is one taken of her for Runner's World in which she appears in pigtails, a warm up jacket, shorts and glistening legs.

"The choice of photo for the cover of this week's Newsweek is unfortunate," [Palin] wrote. "When it comes to Sarah Palin, this "news" magazine has relished focusing on the irrelevant rather than the relevant. The Runner's World magazine one-page profile for which this photo was taken was all about health and fitness -- a subject to which I am devoted and which is critically important to this nation. The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now. If anyone can learn anything from it: it shows why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, gender, or color of skin. The media will do anything to draw attention -- even if out of context." (Quote from

And, those are all sentences with nouns and verbs, subjects and so on. The only quibble I have, shouldn't it be the plural "subjects" when referring to health and fitness? I could be wrong, the subject is compound requiring the singular subject? And she used "for which" and "to which!" Hell, she didn't write it, did she?

I'd have done a montage with her face, the coastline of Siberia, a thousand dollar dress or two, a wolf, a big gun, a clip of Obama's birth certificate and other symbols of her recent career as a celebrity. But that's me.

A Trial No Different Than Many, Many Trials Before It

I've not read much about the details; but, it seems that the Palins and O'Reillys of the world are incensed by the Government's decision to put what's his name Mohammed on trial for his role in 9/11 in New York. Imagine that, holding a trial where the Government alleges the main crime occurred!

How dare we give him what he wants! It'll become a circus! I've got a few facts for the loyal opposition. United States District Court Judges are not known for giving defendants what they want, defendants get what, and only what, the law requires in federal courts. It also won't be a circus.

Then too, what's the problem that it is what the Defendant wants, that he tries to make it into a circus, that the Government is made to prove its case? All have been part and parcel of high profile trials for a couple of centuries now.

There's the pesky Constitution and all those statutes we've passed. The right to a public trial. Facing your accusers. Due Process. Those kind of things. Dump them? He doesn't deserve the rights we have?

He's not one of us! He's a terrorist! Yep, as were many of the 195 accused foreign terrorists tried in U.S. courts over the last couple of years. Many, most, are sitting in prisons, and will be for a long, long time.

It's the bad guys that "try" their accused in secret, without the ability to face the witnesses, with no procedural protections.

Monday, November 16, 2009

An Expensive Post

I spent the weekend in New Orleans, nice town, nice people, great food, corrupt government; but, you can't have everything (the Congressman with the money in his freezer that just got sentenced to the big house is from around NO).

The title not making sense yet? OK, I'm going to publish this via GoGo Internet from an Airtran plane at about 30,000 feet. It costs $9.95 which is a bit pricey to my mind for about an hour of use; but, I've rationalized getting it by working for about 15 minutes answering Emails. The other plus, they give you a coupon for a free session on your next trip.

I'll sign off and read the paper on line, got to justify spending all that money.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One Down, Four or Five to Go

Lou Dobbs just resigned from CNN.

Hannity, O'Reilly, Scarborough, Olbermann, Limbaugh, Savage, hell, that's six already.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Rainy and Cold Night in Georgia

Hurricane Ida is apparently a bust on the Gulf Coast. Its forward bands found their way to the Peach State sometime last night (at the point I woke up and heard the heavy rain). They and their following bands are slowly making their way through town, projected to end tomorrow.

Hurricanes are supposed to drop WARM rain. Not Ida. The winds are blowing and the high was something below sixty degrees. Pelting describes the result.

A few months ago as our drought was ending, I'd have shrugged it off with "well, we need the water." Not now, we don't need the water. The Corps of Engineers is just going to let it out of Lake Lanier and let it flow back down to Alabama and Florida where it came from. Lots of extra, unneeded effort - just keep it there in the first place.

Then, there's the fact that I had a great idea, that's turned into another bust. I mentioned on Sunday that I'm going to NOLA for the weekend. I hate the little earphones they give out on the plane; and, I hate flying. The solution to both was to buy a decent set of earphones and get some DVD's from Netflix for the trip. The earphones work great on the Macbook. Today, as the rain fell, I realized that I get most of my Netflix movies in BluRay. But, you can't play them on the Mac I realized and confirmed today. So, do I pay the exorbitant charge for GoGo and watch a streaming movie on an hour and a couple of minute flight?

Finally, it's November, and despite all my efforts, bugs think that where I live is a place they should be. I know it's getting cold outside and they want to find a way to get to the inside of the walls; to where it's warm but, really, they've been around for millenniums longer than we have and survived! Quit coming in and dying from the poison, making me pick up your little carcasses. Thank you.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Throw Away Sunday Post

First, we'll go back to last night, Fermi was right, Georgia Tech moved up in the rankings, just beating Wake Forest in overtime. Rick, I'd go hide somewhere when your team plays Tech.

Second, still last night, Tina Turner is still hoofing it. I saw her in a 2009 concert on some cable channel. She's a bit thicker (actually quite a bit) and a bit (more than a bit) less supple; but, she still belts out the tunes.

Today was a superb, gorgeous day here in the South. Something like 75 and blue, blue sky. Can't putt. Can't putt. Cut putt.

Falcons aren't great, they put away a really bad Redskins team. DeAngelo Hall, a former Falcon, former Raider and now Redskin is a hugely overpaid, twenty-something adolescent.

I'm listening to This American Life on WABE here in Atlanta, a station that seems to be moving more to my liking. Less and less Muzak like classical music and more news and features.

I'm going to watch a Netflix movie tonight that rates well for me, almost a 4 (that's big in what Netflix rates for me), A Straight Story - a brother travels 300 miles on a lawnmower to get to his sick brother.

Next weekend I'm in New Orleans, I hope, not giving money to Harrah's. I'm scoping out restaurants in the Quarter and Central Business District. And, there's a slow moving hurricane that's projected to hit mid-week. Isn't mid-November a bit late for that sort of thing?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Keep Your Mouth Shut

I’m not sure what the title of the post will turn out to be; but, it’s about saying things to people. The older I get, and I adopted this policy a long time ago, the less you say of any significance, the better off you are.

That’s true for business, and sadly for personal interaction. The second you let words out of your mouth, they aren’t yours anymore. Or perhaps more accurately, they are yours but they aren’t within your control. (Some of you are thinking, what the hell is he talking about, he says crazy things here! Yes I do; but, you’ll notice that what I say here is very, very seldom personal. When it is, I’m careful that it is not directed at people I know or care about. And I’m breaking that rule with this post.)

Yesterday I said something that I thought was funny, a bit sardonic, definitely sarcastic; and, it was. Today I learned that my bon mot had been repeated beyond the audience that I had chosen, leading to messy results. Damn teenage stuff.

Had I followed my rule, I’d have missed the opportunity to amuse my audience but would have denied my audience the ability to expand the chosen audience for my wit.

No one that matters is hurt by what I said, it just brought up an old and unresolvable divide with a former friend to the former friend and the mutual friends torn by the divide between former friends. The funny wasn’t worth the dredging. In my defense, I didn’t think what I said would travel; but, I didn’t think and should have known better.

I just figured out the title.

A New Way to Read Online

That would be Readability. It isn't for getting rid of the junk on a website. It's for when you want to read an article and see the pictures, if any. Put it on your tool bar and click it. Clear, easy to read text with the pictures. No ads, no flashing, as far as I've seen, no pop-overs, pop-unders or interstitials.

Credit goes to David Pogue at in his Pogue's Posts. Here's the link.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I just love living in Georgia

Surfing today, I learned that one of Georgia's representatives, Nathan Deal, who's going to run for Governor next year is joining with fellow troglodytes in sending a letter to President Obama asking that he produce his birth certificate. This is the same guy that got outed for making a couple of hundred grand a year on a no bid contract with the State and then tried to strong arm the head of the Department of Revenue into not changing the sweet deal he had.

Then I read this in Atlanta's alternative paper, Creative Loafing:

"Moral Georgia lawmakers could be offended by transgendered woman

November 5, 2009 at 12:56 pm by Thomas Wheatley

The AJC’s Christian Boone today brings us the story of Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgendered woman who three years ago was fired from her state Capitol editing job. Why exactly? Well, her higher-ups feared she might be “extremely harmful to work operations” and make state lawmakers uneasy and Glenn, who was born Glenn Morrison, filed a federal suit against her former employers to get her old job back.
Here are some choice quotes from the deposition of Georgia Legislative Counsel Sewell Brumby, who was Glenn’s boss at the Capitol:

“It makes me think about things I don’t like to think about, particularly at work … I think it’s unsettling to think of someone dressed in women’s clothing with male sexual organs inside that clothing,” said Brumby, in a deposition taken May 11th in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. [...]

“I think some members of the legislature would view that taking place in our office as perhaps immoral, perhaps unnatural, and perhaps, if you will, liberal or ultra-liberal,” [Brumby] said.

Now on that last quote Brumby does have a point. The Georgia Capitol, after all, is a beacon of morality. No one’s ever raised flag about anything scandalous allegedly happening at the Gold Dome. Nope. Never. Check out Boone’s entire profile."

In case you hadn't figured it out, Creative Loafing doesn't align itself with Fox News.

I'm thinking Hannity or Beck could do a good half hour with these bozos and drive up the ratings with the true believers. I guess it's good to have Mississippi and that idiot Magistrate in Louisiana to lord it over if I've got live in this moral and cultural wasteland.

A Flair for Oratory

I don't feel like making the link pretty:

And the link doesn't work, so cut and paste.

Ah, every now and then I just want to be a flaming liberal. This Grayson guy from rural, as much as Florida can be, Ocala has a flair for oratory. Yes, he's the far left side opposition to the GOP right wing flamers but he is so much better at it than they are (You lie!).

You only need to watch the first and third videos, he explains what he is doing in the first, you can quit once you get a flavor of the recitation and skip to the third where the GOP guy tries to cut him off.

So tell me, he isn't just cool?

And if you didn't go to the link, his point was that people without insurance die more than people with insurance, to the tune, if I remember correctly, of about 4oK a year. He noted that we would be incensed if el Quada (or however it's spelled these days) killed that many Americans each year. He then pro-rated the number of uninsured dead attributable to each Republican Representative, reading the number of dead, the district number and the name of the Representative.

So much more compelling than You Lie!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Ad Biz at Death's Door

Verizon has been running a TV ad touting its extensive 3G coverage area.

AT&T admits the ad is factual - Verizon has a significantly larger 3G footprint which is very obvious when looking at the two coverage maps that are shown in the ad.

AT&T's complaint? It surveyed some people in a mall, 53% of whom thought that the maps meant there was no cell service in the white (non-3G) area of the maps. When AT&T complained, Verizon put a caption in the commercials that said "voice and data service available outside 3G coverage area." That wasn't enough for AT&T, it sued Verizon for false advertising.

I guess the legal analysis goes if enough people are stupid enough to get the wrong impression from an ad, the ad must be "false."

This is a body blow to the advertising business. Are they going to be forced to kill all those beer and after shave commercials that have gorgeous girls surrounding scruffy guys quaffing brews and slapping on smelly liquids? No more ads for Lexus convertibles that come with a beautiful girl with long legs only partially covered by a slinky dress in the passenger seat? Will Hair Club for Men be forced to use the same lighting and poses for the before and after photos?

Does this mean the end for the push-up bra, the sine qua non of false advertising?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

So what is the requisite number of idle workers at a road construction site?

I left for work this morning to find a water main break on North Druid Hills - water flowing everywhere - it took a while to get to I-85.

I just got home, having creeped at an average speed of maybe a mile an hour from I-85 to my turn off of Druid. Our county's finest are still at the repair. I'd forgotten about the problem and couldn't figure out why traffic was so bad until I saw all the trucks and orange cones as I approached the work site, taking the road from four to three to two lanes.

Many trucks, not so many workers. But there was the classic view of four guys leaning on shovels watching a guy with a jack hammer break up pavement. So what is the right number? I'm thinking three is the minimum, four adequate. When does it get to be featherbedding?

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Special for J

J commented on my last post about Rush Limbaugh's decidedly casual and dated sartorial choices when he appeared yesterday on the Fox Sunday morning news show.

J thought I should give equal time and go after Hillary and Pelosi for their appearances which I did in a comment. He also thought my approach to Limbaugh should be more substantive.

OK, here it is, admittedly cherry picking, but substantive nonetheless.

Limbaugh asserted that the 3.5% increase in GDP third quarter growth was the sole result of "cash for clunkers" and the first time home buyer tax credit, claiming there's no private sector growth. No analysis, no facts, just bald assertion.

From the Bureau of Economic Analysis (U.S. Department of Commerce)

"The increase in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, private inventory investment, federal government spending, and residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased."

Rush missed a few factors it seems. And, last I knew exports, imports and private inventory investment are not government spending vehicles.

Rush on health care:

"This is not about insuring the uninsured. This is not about health care. This is about stealing one-sixth of the U.S. private sector and putting it under the control of federal government. And when they get this health care bill, if they do, that's the easiest, fastest way for them to be able to regulate every aspect of human behavior, because it will all have some related cost to health care -- what you drive, what you eat, where you live, what you do. And there'll be penalties for violating regulations. It's going to be the biggest snatch of freedom and liberty that has yet occurred in this country."

Is it necessary to point out Rush is engaging in some minor overstatement? Perhaps as stupid as the Democrat a couple of weeks ago saying the Republican health care plan was to get people to die faster. And you have to admit, he was more pithy than Rush.

And this rigorous analysis of how to fix health care:

"Well, I've run the numbers, and the real number of uninsured that want insurance is 12 million. Take some of the unspent stimulus. We have 85 percent of the stimulus unspent. Take some of it. For 35 to $40 billion a year, you could insure those people, not $2 trillion, not 1.4 -- if that's the objective, do it now."

That want health insurance?
Raise your hands if you don't want health insurance. Don't be shy.

From something called the National Coalition on Health:

"According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 47 million Americans, or 20 percent of the population under the age of 65, were without health insurance in 2008, their latest data available."

According to Rush, who's run the numbers, there are 35 million uninsured Americans who don't want to have health insurance. There are more idiots running around than I thought, Rush included.

Finally, Rush thinks Sara Palin is ready to be the President:

"See, I am a -- one thing I do not do is follow conventional wisdom, and the conventional wisdom of Sarah Palin is she's not smart enough, she needs to bone up on the issues, she's a little unsophisticated, she -- Alaska, where's that? -- doesn't have the pedigree. I've seen -- she's the only thing that provided any kind of a spark for the Republican Party. This is not an endorsement, but I do have profound respect for Sarah Palin. There are not very many politicians who have been through what she's through -- been put through and still able to smile and be ebullient and upbeat. I mean, this woman, I think, is pretty tough."

So, let's parse that non-endorsement. He doesn't rebut the people that think she's less than intelligent, non-conversant with the issues and unsophisticated. She's a firecracker and tough. She'll make those Iraqis and Iranians and North Koreans and Taliban people shake in their boots. Does that shed any light for you on the issue of whether his opinion that Obama is "immature, inexperienced, in over his head" is valid? Obama - doesn't do things the way I would - bad. Palin - shoots from the hip, decidedly unread, but blathers like me - she's my gal!

Substance, thy name is Rush.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Rush - A Wild and Crazy Seventies/Eighties Guy

I tried to capture a screen shot of Rush Limbaugh on the Fox Sunday morning show being "interviewed" by Chris Wallace; but, my skills aren't up to the task.

Here's a word picture. Blue blazer, vertical striped shirt, with TWO buttons undone, white pants, no socks. I'm thinking he was off to the boat for brunch after the show. Maybe his captain's hat was in the limo. Think Ted Knight in Caddyshack.

I often don't wear socks, though I think I'd put them on were I to appear on TV. Minor chest hair is a real no-no. He then accused Obama of pomposity and said Sarah Palin is capable of being the President. She's capable of playing a bimbo in Caddyshack being leered at by Ted/Rush.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Public Service - Maybe

The link takes you to as article on preserving the life of the batteries in your laptop, camera, phone, etc.

It contains advice I've not heard before - keep your batteries charged between 20 and 80% and they'll last longer; there's no such think as "memory" in a lithium battery and you don't need to run them down to zero periodically, other than maybe, depending on the device's manufacturer's software, to recalibrate the discharge meter.

Reader beware!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

No Wonder it Costs So Much

I'll get to the title in a bit.

Today's mission (see the last post) was successfully accomplished. The surgery went well, now my friend the cop has to endure weeks of rehab torture. I had to sign a form that promised that that I would do a lot of things that I may not actually do to spring him (they won't let you leave unless a responsible adult promises to hang for 24 hours - I've reached the age of majority). The walk from my car to the front door was a bit slow; but, it was successfully accomplished. The cop is sleeping peacefully, aided by a couple of pills.

I haven't been in a hospital in a while. Piedmont Hospital here in Atlanta may not be typical; but, it is huge - a warren of halls in a hodge-podge of wings. When I went this afternoon to pick up my charge, I went to where I dropped him off this morning. The receptionist sent me from there to the "main waiting room" where I checked in again. The path took me though halls with labs, patient rooms, conference rooms, etc. Tons of workers in all of them (but no security that I could see). I realized by looking out a window on to Peachtree Street when I got there that I'd walked about a city block (the whole hospital takes up three or four blocks). From there I was directed to the recovery room which is better described as the recovery "wing," another half a block away. Piedmont is doing a booming surgery business. Again workers everwhere you looked (and again no security that I saw). In the recovery wing there was probably a two or more to one ratio of nurses/aides to patients.

Back to the title, all those halls, labs, rooms and people reminded me of why health care is so expensive. One nice thing, you get friendly people when you spend that kind of money. I didn't see a worker during my journey that didn't make eye contact and smile.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting Something Stuck in Your Head

I got up this morning at five and was in the car a half hour later, picked up some coffee, and was at my friend the cop's place early, five minutes before six.

"Why are you here? It's tomorrow."

I'd agreed a week or so ago to pick him up and take him to the hospital to get his ACL (MC?L) repaired and then pick him up afterword.

We'd talked about the day back then, I'd mentioned Wednesday and he corrected me, Thursday. I guess I just ignored it.

The alarm is already set for tomorrow morning.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Who says the Internet isolates us?

I've spent the last few hours laying on the couch, TV on, but mostly ignored, surfing and carrying on multiple conversations with my brothers (pulling in a friend to answer one of my brother's questions about streaming internet on a new TV), a friend/former client and some current clients.

It's kind of like sitting in the family room. Some of the family are watching TV, others have some music going on their headphones, there are a couple of sporadic, varying conversations going on. I even have the new commercials via Emails from the various companies I patronize - Special AirTran deals to the Carribean! Jersey Mike's One Day Specials! The phone rings and you answer, be it brother, friend or client. Repeat all as the evening progresses.

And it turns out, the former client is a returning client. Communication is a good thing whatever the medium.

Real Live Breaking News

RTW News Service. Atlanta.

There's a bunch of stuff on news sites today about the two Delta pilots not nodding off at 37,000 feet. None of what I saw reported what the NTSB put out about mid-day (thanks to one of my brothers for his heads up). I think I believe the pilots, though I don't feel all warm and fuzzy about their attention level (I don't use my laptop while I'm driving, I'm thinking you shouldn't while flying a big plane):


Sent: Monday, October 26, 2009 11:39 AM




National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594

October 26, 2009


In its continuing investigation of an Airbus A320 that overflew the Minneapolis-St Paul International/Wold-Chamberlain Airport (MSP), the National Transportation
Safety Board has developed the following factual information: On Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 5:56 pm mountain daylight time, an Airbus A320, operating as Northwest Airlines (NWA) flight 188, became a NORDO (no radio communications) flight at 37,000 feet. The flight was operating as a Part 121 flight from San Diego International Airport, San Diego, California (SAN) to MSP with 144 passengers, 2 pilots and 3 flight attendants.

Both pilots were interviewed separately by NTSB investigators yesterday in Minnesota. The following is an overview of the interviews:

* The first officer and the captain were interviewed for over 5 hours combined.

* The Captain, 53 years old, was hired in 1985. His total flight time is about 20,000 hours, about 10,000 hours of A-320 time of which about 7,000 was as pilot in command.

* The First Officer, 54 years old, was hired in 1997. His total flight time is about 11,000 hours, and has about 5,000 hours on the A-320.

* Both pilots said they had never had an accident, incident or violation.

* Neither pilot reported any ongoing medical conditions.

* Both pilots stated that they were not fatigued. They were both commuters, but they had a 19-hour layover in San Diego just prior to the incident flight. Both said they did not fall asleep or doze during the flight.

* Both said there was no heated argument.

* Both stated there was a distraction in the cockpit. The pilots said there was a concentrated period of discussion where they did not monitor the airplane or calls from ATC even though both stated they heard conversation on the radio. Also, neither pilot noticed messages that were sent by company dispatchers. They were discussing the new monthly crew flight scheduling system that was now in place as a result of the
merger. The discussion began at cruise altitude.

* Both said they lost track of time.

* Each pilot accessed and used his personal laptop computer while they discussed the airline crew flight scheduling procedure. The first officer, who was more familiar with the procedure was providing instruction to the captain. The use of personal computers on the flight deck is prohibited by company policy.

* Neither pilot was aware of the airplane's position until a flight attendant called about 5 minutes before they were scheduled to land and asked what was their estimated time of arrival (ETA). The captain said, at that point, he looked at his primary flight display for an ETA and realized that they had passed MSP. They made contact with ATC and were given vectors back to MSP.

* At cruise altitude - the pilots stated they were using cockpit speakers to listen to radio communications, not their headsets.

* When asked by ATC what the problem was, they replied "just cockpit distraction" and "dealing with company issues".

* Both pilots said there are no procedures for the flight attendants to check on the pilots during flight.

The Safety Board is interviewing the flight attendants and other company personnel today. Air traffic control communications have been obtained and are being analyzed.
Preliminary data from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) revealed the following:

* The CVR recording was 1/2 hour in length.

* The cockpit area microphone channel was not working during this recording. However, the crew's headset microphones recorded their conversations.

* The CVR recording began during final approach, and continued while the aircraft was at the gate.

* During the hours immediately following the incident flight, routine aircraft maintenance provided power to the CVR for a few minutes on several occasions, likely
recording over several minutes of the flight.

The FDR captured the entire flight which contained several hundred aircraft parameters including the portion of flight where there was no radio communication from the flight crew. Investigators are examining the recorded parameters to see if any information regarding crew activity during the portion of flight where radio contact was lost can be obtained.

The Safety Board's investigation continues.