Health Care Issues

We’ve been dealing lots of them recently at YPS Manor. I’m tired of the neat trick large offices use for dealing with patients. If you have a sufficiently large practice, as the doctors at Baylor Clinic do, you have a multiplicity of waiting areas. You shuffle your patients from waiting area to waiting area so the illusion of progress is being made. In reality, you’re still sitting around a doctor’s office looking at 30 year old magazines for 4 hours waiting for someone to tell you WTF is happening.

Anyhow, the lovely and talented Jane Galt has a proposal on how to handle health care insurance in America. Her proposal makes me clutch my head and scream, because a casual glimpse shows more opportunity for unintended consequences than I’m prepared to accept. Additionally, Jane is working on getting herself kicked out of the club by the more doctrinaire libertarians out there. If you advocate the government doing much of anything, you are highly suspect.

Will has a list of suggestions as a response to some of her earlier thoughts on the matter. I freely admit his suggestions are more to my liking. However, they make me scream and clutch my head for the same reason most libertarian policy proposals do. They are completely and totally impractical. I don’t mean his ideas would not work as public policy. I mean they have a chance of happening roughly equivalent to the chance of me flapping my arms vigorously and achieving low-earth orbit as a result.

Both analyses of the problem, I think, miss one simple aspect of health care that has to be addressed first. A large percentage of Americans deeply and firmly believe that someone else should pay for their health care. Whether that someone is their employer, the government, or the health care fairy is something they aren’t going to worry about so long as they ain’t paying for it. Convince people they have no right to health care and they have to pay for the health care they receive and real reform is possible. As long as most people think health care should be cheap and the real costs borne by others, reform is a dead issue. The problem gets worse, not better. We’ll continue shuffling the money around through absurd transfer mechanism to disguise who is really paying for the health care we receive.


Party On the Backyard

Go out and get the following ingredients:
1 sack crawfish
9 cups table salt, divided
3/4 cup granulated garlic
3/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
1-3/8 cup cayenne pepper
6 tbsp dried thyme
6 tbsp dried basil
6 tbsp dried oregano
1 cup paprika
9 tbsp powdered onion
2 cups whole black peppercorn
1 cup mustard seeds
15 bay leaves
12 lemons, sliced
12 heads garlic, peeled
3 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed
12 ears corn, shucked and halved

It helps a lot at this point if you have some friends. I’m antisocial, so I relied mainly on relatives and J’s friends. As long as you have a decent amount of people around for this, you’ll be okay. 12 to 15 is a good number if they’re all adults . Throw in a couple of chilluns if you have some available. A few dogs underfoot makes the scene complete.

Next get a big cooler and purge your crawfish. Use 2 cups of the salt. Drain the water off after 30 minutes and refill, and add 2 cups of the salt again. Repeat, and drain off and fill with fresh water to keep your mudbugs alive until cooking time.

Now you get a big propane burner and a big pot. Fill up the pot about halfway with water. Take the remaining 3 cups of the salt and the rest of the spices and throw them in the water. I find it helps if you bag up the peppercorns and mustard seeds in cheesecloth. Start the water to boiling.

Throw in half of the lemons, half of the potatoes, and half of the garlic in the water when the water boils and give them five minutes. Throw half the corn in and give everything another five minutes. Now fill your pot up with crawfish and let it rip for 10 minutes. Dump it all out on a table. Repeat the whole process. Eat up.

It helps to have a whole bunch of beer. It also helps, since this pretty much has to be done outside, to do it under cover. Or at least if you don’t do it under cover, be smarter than me and put some sunscreen on so you don’t get burned. Anyhow, that’s pretty much how we spent Sunday.


Illegal Is As Illegal Does

I haven’t been following much. Apparently a bunch of asshats demonstrated because the idea of the US actually having some sort of control over the border is offensive to them. I may be missing some subtleties here, but if your country sucks so bad you left and you have the energy to demonstrate and agitate for change, why not try to change the shitty country you left? Go home and make it a better place.

Anyhow, I was reading comments over at GWA.45’s post on the issue. There apparently exists a misconception that we cannot deal with 9 million (or whichever number someone pulled out of their ass this week) criminals. So we should just roll over and let them stay because they’re already here? Screw that. By this theory, once a murder has been committed, we should just let it go. There's other problems with this approach, but am I the only one that thinks giving up isn't the answer?

First off, there’s a time discontinuity here. We don’t have to deal with all 9 million tomorrow. As they come into any contact with officialdom, they get deported. No ifs, ands, or buts. We catch you, you leave swiftly. Tied into this is the recognition that once we catch you here illegally, you don’t come back and apply to be a resident or citizen later. If we can effectively shut off the incoming flow, we can deport the ones here at our leisure. The idea that we need to do something with every illegal immediately is a huge fallacy. It may take a little while, but if we can deport more illegals than can make it in, we'll eventually come out ahead.

Another question that comes up is how we pay for deporting all these folks. I got an easy answer for that one. We determine a figure on how much it costs us to process and deport the average illegal. Then for every illegal we catch, US government aid to the country of origin is reduced by our average cost. The way things are in Texas, Mexico will owe us money shortly. If we can put some of the cost back on foreign governments, especially Mexico, maybe they’ll take some action to help us with the problem.

We're back to a practical problem of libertarian policy. Border control is a legitimate function of the state. I also support the basic idea that people should be free to choose their own destiny. However, open borders are incompatible with a welfare state. Get the welfare state dismantled and we can talk open borders then, mmmkay?

This brings us to anchor babies in the weird place that is my mind. Anchor babies are easy. You need a parent that's a citizen to stay. If both of your parents are illegals, you go home with them. Come back when you're 18. Until then, shoulda had legal parents.

The idea that we should just roll over on border control just because the problem is difficult baffles me and is completely alien to American public policy. Shit, we've been fighting a pointless War on Drugs longer than I've been alive. If we can escalate that to absurdity, surely we can tackle immigration.


Nice Work

So the fine legislators of the state of Kansas told the governor to get bent and overrode the veto of a shall-issue carry permit bill. Well done, you! I prefer the Alaska and Vermont versions, but you can’t have everything. Given the slow and protracted death of personal responsibility in America, I’m sometimes amazed the carry movement is doing so well.

Big tip to Xavier for the post and managing to find the picture he used to illustrate it.


The Plantronics Follow-up

One week after I sent off my headset, I received a brand-spanking new one. No catch, just bad headset gone, new one arrives. I am very very happy with Plantronics. I encourage you to buy their products.



So, the cops in NOLA we all watched help loot a Wal-Mart on television? They weren’t really looting. At least, that’s the conclusion of the NOPD internal investigation. You see, the cops were told by other cops that they could take shit.

Okay, I call shenanigans. You and the rest of your cop buddies do not get to sit down and decide which laws apply to you and which laws don’t. You are subject to the exact same laws as the rest of us. If you don’t want to get busted, don’t break the law. If you do, in times of emergency, find it necessary to violate the law, you get to go up in front of a grand jury just like the rest of us. If the DA decides not to prosecute, good on you. If he does, tough shit. Don’t want to be a felon? Uphold the law. In case you forgot, that is your fucking job. I guess we can add to the list of NOLA officials that need to be fired for being incompetent asshats.


I loathe the UN. I don’t need any more reasons to think poorly of it. Yet strangely, the reasons just keep coming. This week it’s yet another UN official arguing against free speech.

I have, in other places on the internet, argued that the UN needs to be abolished and something better needs to replace it. The happy progressive tranzis will argue about the UN being necessary and blah blah blah. I cannot fathom why anyone thinks that an organization which adds to the sum of human misery, is miserably corrupt, cannot ameliorate the problems it claims to address, and is almost completely ineffective in most areas should not be replaced. When the entire organization has become dysfunctional, reform is not the answer. (See also: BATFE, Depts. Of Homeland Security, Education, Health and Human Services) The answer is to scrape and rebuild.

Of course, the UN has a devoted following by useful idiots who think international law is something other than a polite fiction. Unfortunately, some of the idiots are judges in the US. I would think the oath required would require judges to cast a jaundiced eye on an organization that continually works to subvert constitutional rights, but perhaps that's just me. Some judges appear to be just fine with it.


Which Book?

Heartless Libertarian has a link to a quiz about which Heinlein book you belong in.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
You belong in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. You value freedom above all else. You would fight and die for your family and your home.
Which Heinlein Book Should You Have Been A Character In?
brought to you by Quizilla

Gee, there’s a surprise. It was either that or Starship Troopers, but I guess I didn't score high enough on the crunchy scale for ST.

Surely, We Can Do Worse

We only got a D-? Surely we can do better than that. What’s a state gotta do to get an F? I never found it hard on a personal level, so surely a state full of motivated people can pull it off.

Of course, looking at the areas where Texas scored highly on the Brady Retard-o-meter, I either don't have a problem with the law or don't see it being susceptible to change. Of course, all of this presumes that an organization who's stated goal is to subvert the Constitution is one with an opinion that matters. Unfortunately, people do pay attention to the Brady idjits. I guess my rooting for a lower grade is not the kind of attention they want.


Movie Stunts

A proposal to jam cell phone reception is the latest in a long string of ideas the movie industry has come up with to unsuccessfully attempt to bring people back to the theater. Our local Cinemark now has signs up that children under a certain age (I can’t remember what age) will not be admitted with their parents to R rated movies after 6p.

Now don't get me wrong, I agree that people should leave the screening room to talk on their cell phones, but I think “jamming” is a bit much. What about emergencies? I propose for the most part, movie patrons are self-enforcing on that behavior anyway. My experience is if someone starts some conversation, someone will yell at them to take it outside. They usually get embarrassed and hang up. I just despise the notion that because 1% of people can’t behave themselves, the rest of us have to be punished.

And I like the proposal by our local theater because if you're taking your 5 year old to see Shaft at 10p, you should probably have your head examined and subsequently be flogged. Yes, in case you're wondering, we actually witnessed that. My Mother and I also watched 2 women bring their 4 young children into the South Park movie on opening night. I just wanted to slap them for not doing any research because about 2 minutes into the opening number, those folks were “gone daddy gone”.

The bottom line on the kid rule is that people who have children need to get it through their thick skulls that other people don’t think their child is nearly as cute, smart, or creative as they do. Parents who allow their sprogs to roam the aisles in the dark during the show are not suitable to own goldfish, let alone care for another human being. Some random misbehaving little monster bothers the hell out of the rest of us and needs to have his or her little bottom thwacked. Ahem…but I digress.

Here’s another thought. Most folks don’t like the fact that we’re forced to sit through 30 minutes of commercials and advertising before we are allowed to see the product we paid to see. I pay to see a movie, I don’t pay to see the latest soft drink ad. I don’t mind movie previews, but I think there should be less of them. I remember once upon a time, you’d get 2, maybe 3. Now, it is another 20 minutes in the theater. If I have to get up to pee in the middle of the movie I paid for because my first hour was spent with commercials and previews, I’m pissed in more ways than one.

But back to the original subject at hand, the decline in movie attendance. I guess I don't understand why this is so difficult. Theaters and the movie industry in general should take notes because you don’t need high-dollar consultants and focus groups to solve your problems. Here are some real solutions, all for free.

I am going to start at the root of the problem. The movie industry, for the most part, makes crappy, unoriginal movies. People honestly don't care with empty-headed, America hating, millionaire celebrities think about the state of the world, and we’re sick of having their thoughtless ideology force fed to us despite a myriad of what they think are subversive means.

News flash #1: everybody else is not narrow-minded and intolerant, the movie industry types are.

News flash #2: actors don’t do anything particularly important or life altering.

They entertain us, and that is their job. They make a shit load of money pretending to be other people for a living. What they do doesn’t make them important or brilliant, it makes them posers. The folks on the other side of the camera enable the posers to hone their craft of imitation in one way or another. That’s all. Deal with it, shut the hell up, and produce something of quality that serves its primary purpose of actually entertaining me.

Now, moving on…theater attendance is low because theaters charge too much to see the movies. I can wait a couple of months and watch the same crappy movie on DVD from the comfort of my living room. Our monthly Netflix subscription costs less than 1 Saturday evening at some dirty theater. Plus, I have better, cheaper food at my house--and I can enjoy a fine adult beverage of my choice as part of my movie experience.

OK, this one is for all of you “but it’s about the movie experience” types. Let’s just say for a second, that I really want to “experience” a movie on the giant screen with the surround sound. It costs the theater the same amount of money whether they’re showing a movie at 10a on Sunday, or 7p Saturday. So, why in the hell would I spend the $7-10 each for movie tickets to crowd around with the generally inconsiderate, smelly populace when I can see the same movie on Sunday around lunchtime for $3? Oh, and there’s almost nobody there. Yeah, I know supply, demand, and theaters still somehow behave as if they’re the only entertainment game in town. And yet, people still aren’t showing up.

I remember a time when movies would stay in theaters for months because people wanted to see them over and over. Those days are gone faster than the 2 ladies with their kids at the South Park movie.


Plantronics: A Story of Consumer Satisfaction...So Far...

So all of us are fairly guilty of being the first to bitch and moan to our pals when a company's product doesn't work properly, or when a company treats us poorly or provides bad customer service. I'm going to counter that today with a story about a good product and excellent service.

A little background for you. At the end of December T and I both renewed our mobile plan, and purchased new phones and headsets. We both bought lovely
Motorola Razrs and nifty Plantronics headsets.

Both the phones and headsets have operated famously and we have been happy with our purchases. Then yesterday, tragedy occurred. I unknowingly dropped my Plantronics unit in the parking lot. A coworker brought it to our receptionist saying she had found it, and the receptionist, recognizing it immediately, brought it to me. It had been run over by a car. I have to say it was beat to hell, but overall in not bad condition given that the thing is a 1/3 oz worth of plastic. But still, it was done.

So today, I decide to call Plantronics to find out if I might be able to purchase only the headset unit and not the practically new charger and case stuff that I already have. I told the nice lady on the phone my story, she put me on hold, returned, and explained that if I'll complete the online warranty form, and box up the entire unit (case, charger, and all), they'll send me a new one. Now how sweet is that?

So, today my moral is: buy Plantronics. They stand behind their equipment above and beyond expectations. I never expected my carelessness to be covered by their warranty.

Now, I'll follow up later to let everyone know how it goes.

Hypocrite or Dumbass?

So I hear Isaac Hayes wants off South Park because the show disrespects religious beliefs.

Somebody should point out to Mr. Hayes just how poorly this looks. At first glance, it appears he didn’t care until Scientology was in the crosshairs, in which case he’s a hypocrite. Of course, it’s entirely possible that he just didn’t realize the show he’s been on for the past 10 years mocked and disrespected religion from the very beginning. This makes one look a tad bit worse than clueless. In fact, if that’s true, he’s just a spherical dumbass. Either way it goes, it ain’t looking good for the Duke of New York.


Shooting and a Shotgun

J and I went out to the range again this weekend. We went to Pasadena Gun Center, a mistake which will not be repeated soon. The range is amazingly poorly ventilated. The farther out you send a target, the harder it gets to see because of a haze of smoke. The lanes are also pretty narrow. About half the rounds you fire will come back off the wall and land on or near you, providing a lovely distraction and the ever present possibility of burnt flesh. The range itself has no material anywhere to muffle sound at all, so it’s goddamned loud. When you couple this with the fact that for some reason, J’s earmuffs weren’t sealing real well, and the whole experience just wasn’t working real well for us. Between the smoke, the noise, and the general filth level, we left after about 130 rounds. Given that I walked in with 300, I’d say we left early. The only reason I can see for going there is the machine gun rental. Other than that, I think I’ll stick with Marksman for indoor pistol ranges.

We did take care of the earmuff problem by the simple expedient of buying new ones. Both pairs I have are incredibly old, and will be relegated to yard work. We got 2 new pairs of Leight earmuffs with a NRR of 31db at Academy. As a bonus, they’re nice and shiny and in the only appropriate color.

I also spent some time trying to figure out the issues I’m having with the Winchester Model 12 my mother-in-law gave me. I still can’t get it apart, so I put some penetrating oil into some places to see if that helps. I am stuck at the point of removing the action slide from the receiver so I can get the bolt carrier out. Somebody suggested removing the barrel first. Hmm. If I could get a certain screw out, I would. More penetrating oil, I s’pose. We’ll see how it goes tonight.


Helpful Hints

I don’t get out into rural Texas much. While there’s quite a bit of it, it’s generally not where I prefer to be. Plantersville is about as far out into the woods as I’ll venture on any kind of regular basis. If sushi and exotic beer isn’t readily available, I start to get twitchy.

LawDog lives out in the North Texas boonies and has some helpful advice for travelers from those other, lesser states when they venture into Texas. An unspoken, but strongly implied, bit of advice is don’t mess with the Deputy Sheriff, but those of us that grew up in the South figured out that one a long time ago.

He also brings up a point that Tamara was discussing recently, and asks a valid question: if where you came from is so great, why don’t you go back? Me, I like Texas. That’s why I came back. I don’t like Virginia. I turned down a job offer when I graduated college to go back there. I honestly can’t think of too many other states I’d want to live in. I don’t want Texas to become some watered-down version of Virginia. That’s not why I moved here. One of the many reasons I moved here was that Texas does not have the great concentration of annoying busybodies that infest NoVA. I want Texas to be even less like most other states, if that’s possible.

Isn’t that one of the bonuses of federalism? The states get to work as little laboratories of democracy? Of course, some people are too dumb to understand the attitudes they bring with them are the problem, not the place they left.


Votinatin’ and Such

Slowly but surely, the populace becomes attuned to the new-fangled voting technology. I’ve only had one person ask for help with the machine. She was, of course, old. The number of people under 30 that have turned out for the primary at this point in the afternoon: 2. I am of course guessing, since I don’t check the voter registration cards. One other woman under 30 came in, but wanted the donk primary. The donks are not in the same building today, in a departure from tradition. This means that I don’t have to listen to the donk precinct chair, who is a jackass in the fullest sense of the word.

Since the turnout has been so abysmal, I have been reading. I finished up Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys. Anansi Boys is of the quality I have come to expect from Neil Gaiman. I’m always interested in non-western mythologies like the Trickster tales from Africa that were liberally borrowed from to provide the bones of the story. All of the various mythologies outside of the classic European tradition are interesting, but source material has been difficult to find. By source material, I mean good retellings of the original stories. The drier versions popular with academics don’t make for very interesting reading. I have some new ones sitting on the shelf that I need to get around to reading.

Instead, I’ve also been reading On Food and Cooking. Fascinating stuff, but dense. Harold McGee is what food geeks want to grow up to be. I can see why Alton Brown recommends his stuff so highly. He is the model from which Alton derives. I’ve already figured out I’m going to have to go back and reread certain portions. I feel like I should be taking notes in case I get quizzed later. The book explains a lot of the why behind the what you’ve always been doing in the kitchen. I assume you’ve been doing more than just using the microwave, right? Right? Well, even if you haven’t, the book explains what the heck is actually going on when food is cooked. There’s some things in here that I can use to be a better cook. Or I could if I wasn’t trapped here watching people go through page after page of judicial candidates that are running unopposed.

Update: 215 people showed up to vote in the primary. That's just pathetic.


Primary Ahoy

So tomorrow is the Texas state primary. Once again, we will be working the election on the efenant side. Once again, I remind all of you in Harris County that the eSlate is not a touchscreen. If you are voting on the efenant side, please vote against David Dewhurst. As always, be nice to your poll workers.


Someday, when I'm old and crusty, I'm going to behave like this. Anyone who comes into contact with me at that point had better hope J is around, since she's generally the only person who can moderate my anti-social tendencies.

A fine tip of the headcovering to Josh.


Next Trifecta

Well, we just had the character actor trifecta with Don Knotts, Darren McGavin, and Dennis Weaver. Now it’s time for a new round in the celebrity death pool. Harry Browne is dead. Who will be the next obscure political figure to go? If we limit it to unsuccessful presidential candidates, can I nominate Ralph Nader and Jimmy Carter? Alas, that’s probably wishful thinking on my part. In both cases, even if they die, the damage they have done will live on.

While I loathe both men, I think Ralph Nader’s legacy is the more troubling. Set up a non-profit group with a noble sounding name and then bitch incessantly, manufacture data, and lobby like hell until you get some crappy piece of legislation passed. The entire system of PIRGs should be burned to the ground and all the people working in them given jobs directly affected by the legislation they promoted. The legion of copycat organizations are just as damaging as the original group.

Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, simply provides a shining example of presidential incompetence. While bad, he didn’t set up a network of gullible dimwits to carry on his incompetent doddering. There’s no “Idiocy In Foreign Policy” network that tries to continue his legacy of bitter failure. I don’t count the donks, because they predated him and have a legacy of worthwhile foreign policy they can point to, although all of it predates me.


Letter From Iraq

I recently received this correspondence from a friend of mine who is currently working for KBR in Iraq.

It is sad to say that this part of the world will not change until a generation of kids learns what freedom is. The religious and political leaders in the Middle East know that they can only control the people if they are kept poor and uneducated. If there is ever a generation of kids that learn what life can be with an education and good job then it will most likely be the fall of Islam as they know it.

There are very few craftsmen in this country or at least I have never seen one. The people are only good for labor. Saddam kept them without for so long that they only know how to steal and barely get by. A man that can use his hands to make a living will always be able to provide for his family. These people are amazed at some of the things I have shown them. The simplest technology is usually out of their comprehension.

This just represents a perspective I have not read or heard anywhere.


So I see that some people in France are serving pork soup to the indigent. Of course, devout Muslims can’t eat pork, so it’s perceived as some anti-Muslim effort. I figure if you’re giving out charity, the recipients of your charity don’t get much right to complain. Don’t want pork soup? Get your fellow Muslims to engage more in the 3rd pillar, mmkay?

The episode reminds of a time in my misspent youth when I was standing in a desert listening to a Lieutenant Colonel chastise me and the rest of my squadron for giving the natives, Muslims all, MREs containing pork. He pointed out that while we might (and did) think it was amusing, said natives found it deeply offensive. Then, as now, I didn’t much care what the natives found offensive. If you’re asking for help, whether that help be basic sustenance or military assistance, you don’t get to complain about the help provided. The option always exists for you to refuse the help and handle things yourself. If you can’t manage that, too bad for you, huh? There's an old saying about beggars and choosers that applies here.