Monday, August 31, 2009

Who shall live, and who shall die?

It all depends on the death tax:

In a 2001 paper entitled "Dying to Save Taxes," economists from the University of Michigan and the University of British Columbia examined 13 changes in U.S. tax law since 1917 and concluded that benefactors die in greater numbers just before tax hikes and just after tax cuts. A 2006 study done in Australia, which abolished its inheritance tax in July 1979, reached the same conclusion. Statistics showed that more than half the people who would ordinarily have died in the last week of June 1979—and whose heirs would have been subject to the tax—managed to avoid it by surviving into July.


Excuse me, but how did they know which people would have "ordinarily died" in June and which were scheduled to expire in July? Did God drop by with an enormous clipboard containing a list of those who were supposed to kick the bucket in June? And wasn't the Almighty almighty annoyed that these upstarts had not adhered to His schedule?

People are supposed to die when they are scheduled to die and not hang around making damn nuisances of themselves for inheritance purposes!

I blame Bush.

Quote lifted from Best of the Web.

Oh to be in Lenox



At Tanglewood, listening to beautiful music in the crystal clear air.

Next year, I hope.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lunch at the winery

 
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This girl looks like she suffers from Marfan's disease



The one is mean is third from the right. The rest are just tall and skinny.

The martyred proletariat pay their respects to Teddy

The online post does not do justice to the photograph in the newspaper edition of the Post.

Mourners ... sported short-shorts, undershirts, dirty tees, and many pairs of infamous Crocs. It was a Casual Friday gone horribly wrong, as if everyone's destination was Fenway Park, not a public casket viewing.


Fenway Park! They look like they are going to wash the car. But wait--maybe they don't have any money left to buy clothes after paying their taxes--federal, state, and local.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

You can simplify your life

This had never occurred to me:

[T]he American and Canadian liberals and greens could already choose to live their own lives the exact same way as the denizens of their ideal countries, e.g. Sweden, Cuba, or Venezuela. For example, if they believe that big houses with one bathroom for each family member are bad, nothing stops them from moving their families into a small one-bedroom apartment.


Wouldn't it be fun to see Al Gore living in a yurt?

Friday, August 28, 2009

No bike helmet for the President?

President Obama doesn't wear a helmet while biking with his daughters.

A reporter writes:

[A]s commander-in-chief and national role model, ex-Sen. Obama declined to wear a helmet.
The reporter, Andrew Malcolm, thinks he looks great.

Ostensibly, the Secret Service will interpose their bodies between the ground and his head, should an accident occur. Maybe.

Governor Jon Corzine (D, NJ) did not wear his seat belt and was nearly killed. And his security detail couldn't do anything about it. Happily, he recovered and now uses his seat belt.

So be careful of that Presidential head. Remember Joe Biden.

Update: Why should he care for his own safety, when he doesn't care for mine? He wants me (and you and you and you) to ride around in tin cans made by Government Motors, even though they are not as safe as big cars.)

i learned that these cars are dangerous through bitter experience, when I survived a crash wile driving one.

The dog that did not bark

Apparently the hot news in Delaware is that people are not shouting at each other:

Unlike other meetings in Delaware and across the country, the audience members didn't scream at Castle or people with opposing viewpoints. There were no pictures of President Barack Obama with a Hitler mustache, no one questioning Obama's birth certificate, no assault rifles.


Apparently the Hitler mustache and the assault rifles are now established urban legends which can never be refuted, whether true of not. The take their place among the other untrue but generally accepted factoids, such as Sarah Palin seeing Russia from her house. She didn't say anything of the sort, but what fun it would have been if she had! A nobody like her, graduate of some cow college instead of Harvard, has some nerve running for office anyway and no doubt says lots of stupid things, if we could only catch her at it. If not true, it might as well be true. It ought to be true! It fits the narrative!

The birth certificate nutcases are a side issue, plain crazy, like those who believe 9/11 was an inside job. They are sui generis and truly have nothing to do with rational citizens who don't like the health care plan. If the loonies should show up at an otherwise peaceful rally devoted to something or other--it's a free country and public places are, well, places where people congregate. Isn't the voice of the people the voice of God?

The newspaper account had nothing to say about whether the attendees had their shirts tucked in or their hair combed. But as a citizen of my new state, I'm glad they behaved themselves. Vicious groups of raving grannies are a fearsome sight to behold and would put fear into the heart of anyone, with or without their assault rifles.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Miscellaneous

1. About that saying, "thinking outside the box"; at this point, isn't using that expression thinking inside the box, big time?

2. Also, how do you "push the envelope"? Is the envelope business size or greeting card size?

3. This morning all the cable news shows were featuring live coverage of a bunch of limousines lining up for Ted Kennedy's memorial service. They weren't going anywhere, just getting ready to go somewhere, some time. I found this neither visually interesting nor informative.

4. Why, pray tell, does Obama hunch up his shoulders and jog up the steps of Air Force I? I noticed Caroline Kennedy ascending a platform the same way during her (mercifully short) bid for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. Is this something only Democrats do, to show they are young and lively and energetic? Bush, a superb athlete, didn't do it.

5. Speaking of Bush, I am starting to miss his gravitas. There was no doubt that he should be seated at the grown-up table, not the kids' table.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reforming health care

Another learned person gives reasons for reforming health care:

Financial barriers should not stand between Americans and preventive or acute health care that they sincerely believe will address concerns over a troubling medical condition, in a timely manner, before that condition grows into a critically serious illness.


In short, we will all have regular checkups which will prevent us from getting really serious or late-stage diseases. Illnesses such as cancer will be caught at earlier stages when a better outcome can be expected. Your cancer will be removed when it is the size of a pencil eraser. It won't cost much and everyone will live happily ever after. Piece of cake.

It sounds terrific. Very logical. What's not to like? Well, as a mere lay person who has seen friends and family members die despite regular checkups, eating spinach, and wearing sunscreen, can I suggest that it's not that simple?

I know these things just from living long enough to see what fortunes and misfortunes have overtaken friends and relatives. Preventive care doesn't always prevent anything. Medicine is an art and not a science; it cannot be practiced by the numbers. Furthermore, it's a matter of chance who gets sick. People who engage in aerobic exercise, watch what they eat, and floss daily have heart attacks. Life is unfair! The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.

Diseases don't always progress in an orderly manner, stages I through IV. Some diseases are not caught early, and it's not for want of trying. A friend of mine developed metastatic breast cancer while she was pregnant and seeing a doctor regularly. She fought it bravely, but still died. Someone else dear to me developed ALS, which eventually killed him. Try preventing that with regular checkups.

There are some diseases for which there is no cure as yet, and early detection won't make a bit of difference. The patients suffering from these diseases, however, will still require expensive interventions: nursing care, hospitalization, perhaps surgery. Unless we just send them home to die because they are not following the script laid out for them by the learned professor of economics.

This fellow is so smart, and he's only a professor of Economics at Princeton! From his superior attitude I would have taken him for a Harvard man, at least.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Advice for spammers:

If you're going to sell me something for Bigger, Rock-Hard Erecetions, please spell it right. Otherwise I might think you don't know what you are doing.

Whatever you're selling, you're barking up the wrong tree anyway.

Painting--violin quartet rehearsing

 
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Sketch

 
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

We need to spend more on health care

Sounds good to me.

The $2.4 trillion Americans spend each year for health care doesn't go up in smoke. It's paid to other Americans.


Yes!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Preventive care

Often pronounced, by those who have too many syllables in their database, as "preventative" care, preventive care is the focus of the Obama Health Plan, called by some the Obama Health Insurance Plan.

In this scenario, doctors will urge their patients to get a grip, stop eating themselves into the grave, get out there and exercise, stop doing drugs and get their teeth cleaned regularly. This should work wonders. We were all just waiting around to be told these things by someone in a white coat, as we have all been locked up in a lead mine or on a polar expedition for the last twenty years and didn't get the latest recommendations for healthy living.

By the way, how's that smoking cessation program working for you, Mr President?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gazillionaires--are they better than mere millionaires?

Whenever I see a story about some evil insurance executive or banker being paid "obscene" bonuses, I notice a deliberate effort by the lefty media to whip up "outrage." These people, we are told, make too much money.

Let's set aside the question of how much is too much money for another day. I have not heard any of my well-heeled relatives complain about having trouble spending their own money, for all they complain about the "greed" of others.

But the bias against the well-off goes into reverse when the subject becomes really filthy rich, like George Soros or Warren Buffett. Their wealth is somehow okay, especially if they back Obama or give a lot of money to left-wing causes. They are benefactors of mankind.

Being really, really rich places one in a different category from the greedy bankers and insurance executives who are destroying the country. Funny how that works.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Courage

Why does everyone who battles cancer have to be labeled "courageous"?

[Specter] has had his very public and admittedly courageous battles with cancer, battles for which he undoubtedly had the best, spare-no-expense, medical treatment.


Seriously, I'm just wondering. I'm not criticizing Senator Specter particularly. I've lost several friends to cancer, and they suffered terribly under the treatment. But when the alternative is death, everyone puts up a good fight.

It might require a bit more courage to fight a health care system that wants to deny you treatment because you are too old.

Dr Zeke Emanuel, 21st century Kevorkian and health care advisor to Barack Obama, surely would not use scarce resources to treat a man Specter's age. Or Ted Kennedy's age, either. Unless he were someone important, not one of the "little people."

Friday, August 07, 2009

Library book sale




The library sent me a postcard--they are having a book sale. Of course, I'll be there--how could I miss a chance to add more useless, unwanted books to those that already fill my groaning shelves, gather in piles on, under and around the nightstand, languish in the spare bedroom and have recently conquered the garage.

I read so many books that I go to two libraries almost every week. The trouble is,"Of the making of many books there is no end," as the preacher says. Most of them don't suit me. When you get older, some of the gimmicks don't impress you any more: the mysterious chap with the secret sorrow, the housewife trying to find Meaning in Life, the young people meeting cute; the clever plot to assassinate some bigwig that is foiled in the end by our clever hero. Similarly, courtroom cleverness, serial killers, heroes who are so smart bullets bounce off their brains. Been there, read that.

But I still like to read, and I don't feel like re-reading Pride and Prejudice for the 11th time, so I live in hope of finding a fresh idea, a new protagonist, or an exotic setting. And I sometimes find real treasures at these book sales: a book of stunning photographs of New Mexico, or the planets, a guide to the statuary in Fairmont Park in Philadelphia--honest! or treasures of the Luevre.

Lately I have enjoyed reading about out-of-the-way places, like Laos, Saudi Arabia, or Iran. Or ancient Rome. Also American history through the Civil War, and biographies of interesting people, like Benjamin Franklin.

So: off to the book sale!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hoyer wrong about everything, including the Erie Canal

In the accompanying video, Steny Hoyer mentioned the utility of the Erie Canal, which was apparently objected to by short-sighted citizens, including then-President Thomas Jefferson, who refused to fund it.

By the way, whatever happened to the Erie Canal? Well, it was superseded in short order by the completion of the railroad, specifically the New York Central. Jefferson was right.

It seems a canal cannot span a nation as large as this one, and a railroad can. So the canal was a boondoggle and made little difference in the long run.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Cash for Clunkers drives people bonkers

Who said: "Socialism for the rich, free enterprise for the poor"? Whoever, that person was a genius. He, or someone like him, is now in charge of our government. It's a good description of what Cash for Clunkers is all about. If you have $20,000 or $30,000 for a new car, we will give you $4,500 extra. Then we take the trade-ins, destroy them, and deny poor people who might need a car to go to work or school the right to buy these used cars.

Instead, do they get cut up for usable parts, or buried in a landfill somewhere, leaching motor oil into the ground? Or do we crush them and sell them at a loss to the Chinese?

Where are the grown-ups?

Monday, August 03, 2009

Cool it, protesters!

Protesters are called a "mob!"

Rep. Lloyd Doggett's office is calling the protesters who swarmed him in Austin over the weekend a "mob," and blaming the chaos on the local libertarian and Republican activists.

The Doggett protests also appear to be part of a larger organizing effort by Tea Party activists who are sending out guidance on how to disrupt a public event by a member of Congress.


I believe that by acting unruly and threatening, protesters allow their critics to dismiss them as "Republicans" and worse. It's playing into their hands. Show up, wave your (homemade) sign, be polite, and stand there.

In short, act like ladies and gentlemen.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

American health care compares favorably with other countries

The idea that our health care system is "broken" is a crock, an urban legend. It is important for someone to tell the truth before the government gets its dirty hands on our health care.

[W]e should consider some unheralded facts about America’s health care system.

1. Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers. Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom. Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the United Kingdom and 457 percent higher in Norway. The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40 percent higher.

2. Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians. Breast cancer mortality in Canada is 9 percent higher than in the United States, prostate cancer is 184 percent higher, and colon cancer among men is about 10 percent higher.

3. Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries. Some 56 percent of Americans who could benefit from statin drugs, which reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease, are taking them. By comparison, of those patients who could benefit from these drugs, only 36 percent of the Dutch, 29 percent of the Swiss, 26 percent of Germans, 23 percent of Britons, and 17 percent of Italians receive them.

4. Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians.



Read the whole thing.

Charlie Rangel said today on Fox news that there is no-one that doesn't have a horror story about health care. I don't. I know lots of people whose lives have been saved by American doctors and hospitals. I also know people who could not be saved, but not for lack of trying.

Some people don't have health insurance, and that is deplorable. It doesn't follow that we need to uproot the whole system.

In any case, would I want to turn over my health to the current regime? I wouldn't trust any of them to take care of a houseplant.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Woman to be flogged for wearing trousers



So what else is new?

She had arrived at the Kawkab Elsharq Hall on a Friday night to book a cousin's wedding party, and while she waited she watched an Egyptian singer and sipped a coke.

...She left less than an hour later under arrest as a "trouser girl" - humiliated in front of hundreds of people, then beaten around the head in a police van before being hauled before a court to face a likely sentence of 40 lashes for the "sin" of not wearing traditional Islamic dress.

The officials who tried to humiliate her expected her to beg for mercy, as most of their victims do.

Instead she turned the tables on them – and in court on Tuesday Mrs Hussein will dare judges to have her flogged, as she makes a brave stand for women's rights in one of Africa's most conservative nations.


Please tell me what makes this hideous regime "conservative?" Did Ronald Reagan disapprove of women in trousers? How about William F Buckley? Did Barry Goldwater declare, "Moderation in the flogging of women who wear trousers is no vice?"

Is the banning of women wearing trousers part of the Republican platform, right up there with opposition to abortion?

No, no and no. To journalists, conservative is the word for evil. They believe Hitler was a conservative. It's the worst thing you can call anyone, except fascist.