Monday, October 30, 2006

Saving your health from the government

Boy, ain't this the truth:

The U.S. government alone spends about $5 billion a year just on cancer research. Let us suppose that you have a serious portion of that budget to spend. What will you do?

... I have performed this exercise a number of times myself. No matter how often I reconsider the issue, I just do not see people arriving at something like this:

I have it; I see the key principle. What we need to do first is to make it impossible for anyone to take a drug that might kill him. That is where we should start. Then we need to construct a list of cures that have been proposed but probably won't work. We will make sure to prevent such scams.

The idea that sensible people might come to such conclusions strikes me as completely preposterous. Yet as you know, these are the policies that are now in place, supported and mandated by government and the health care establishment. The result is predictable: Our ability to provide medical technology to patients in need is dramatically constrained, and the cost-benefit analyses that underlie all business decisions, and should underlie all practical decisions about health care, are heavily skewed to reflect the costs of conforming to regulatory requirements.

Read the rest of Ross Overbeck's article here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Breaking news: Laws of physics still apply

I have seen some really, really stupid news stories as the nannies move from the successful rights-stripping of smokers, and the business owners who cater to them, and begin to focus their attention on overweight folks. But this one may just be the stupidest news story I've ever seen.

Want to spend less at the pump? Lose some weight. That's the implication of a new study that says Americans are burning nearly 1 billion more gallons of gasoline each year than they did in 1960 because of their expanding waistlines. Simply put, more weight in the car means lower gas mileage.

I'm not arguing about the logic - anyone who has ever grokked the most basic physics lesson knows that the heavier an object is, the more energy, i.e., fuel, it will take to move it, let alone bring it up to 70 mph.

It's the concept that going on a diet will make a significant difference in the gas mileage of the one-ton or two-ton machine you use to travel to work.

Easy example. In 1980 I weighed 160 pounds and drove a 1975 Pontiac Bonneville. Today I weigh 220 and drive a Dodge Stratus. Which "me" was burning more gas - the skinny me or the middle-aged me?

"If only we had laws against obesity!!!" the trim young thing screamed at the portly guy in the Geo as she eased herself behind the wheel of her Cadillac Escalade.

What next?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Things that go bump in the attic

It's clear my podcasting bud Warren Bluhm has been having fun with his new show Uncle Warren's Attic, but his latest effort jacks up the fun ratio. From the opening spoof of our litigious society and pulling out the old 50s "Flying Saucer" record, to the big finish, which I probably shouldn't describe here, Warren is definitely enjoying himself.

He even pulls an old Ballantine beer commercial with Mel Brooks off an ancient AM radio signal. Very interesting.

If you haven't checked out the attic yet, you're missing something. Warren's Green Bay Free Radical blog has been gathering a few cobwebs lately, but his time seems to be well spent.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A slap upside the head

A firestorm of emotions these past 16-17 hours. The darkest fear of every wage slave has come true, and I've been told to do something I absolutely disagree with. Nothing illegal, just wrong. Sweetie says there must be a way to compromise and do the deed without betraying my values (I'm not sure that's possible) and if not, I should just cave to the demand and get serious about shopping the resume around. She is not ready to support my simply saying, "No, this is wrong, I refuse," and let the chips fall, and while I don't blame her, I must admit that leaves me with a very lonely feeling.

So. If you might have a use for an award-winning, middle-aged writer, journalist and editor, or if you know anyone who might have such a use, I'd sure appreciate an e-mail. I can tell you a little more about me if you're serious.

It's a focusing moment. I have long known my dream job was becoming a nightmare, and that I should do something about that, but late last night, crying helpless tears of frustration, I think I finally clicked the "on" switch on the "do something about that" drive. I have made a few weak stabs at it over the past year, but my full attention is had at last.

Therefore it was a lovely surprise to wake up this morning and find that Sunni's Salon for September/October is here. The feature interview with Marc J. Victor was so invigorating, I forgot my conundrum for a few minutes and actually felt a bit of hope that the sun'll come up tomorrow, even in this dark land we all inhabit and in this dark place I've stumbled into. Victor has sound advice about choosing your battles carefully and the way things oughtta be.

I'd like to give you more details about the choices before me, but they're not important. At several points in our lives, I think we wage slaves all have to make choices that involve doing the right thing, and here I am at one of those points. I'll keep you posted as best I can.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How about a little quagmire, scarecrow?

In the news today:

"Bush: U.S. will stop N. Korea nuke moves"

President Bush said Wednesday the United States would stop North Korea from transferring nuclear weapons to Iran or al-Qaida and that the communist regime would then face "a grave consequence."

Bush refused to spell out how the United States would retaliate. "They'd be held to account," the president said in an ABC News interview.

In light of North Korea's Oct. 9 test detonation of a nuclear bomb, Bush warned that any transfer of nuclear material elsewhere in the world by the North would be considered a grave threat to the security of the United States. He previously used "grave threat" in relation to Iraq's Saddam Hussein, whose government was toppled in the U.S.-led war in 2003.

"If we get intelligence that they're about to transfer a nuclear weapon, we would stop the transfer, and we would deal with the ships that were taking the — or the airplane that was dealing with taking the material to somebody," the president said.

Asked how he would retaliate, Bush would not be specific, "You know, I'd just say it's a grave consequence."

You'd think enough graves had been dug.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

You know what's dopey about that old cliche? Every day is the first day of the rest of your life.

Every day you have the power to change. Every day is a fresh start. You may have to start by cleaning up the mess you made yesterday, but at some point between waking and tucking yourself in, you'll have an opportunity to work on the rest of your life.

The cliche implies, at least to me, that "the rest of your life" is something more important than what has come until now - but I disagree. The past is prologue. "The rest of your life" depends what your life has taught you until now. The cliche is a call to action, to muster your talents into a purpose that you can spend the rest of your life on. And maybe the purpose you've tried to fulfill until now is already the right one for you.

And another thing - hey wait a minute. Why am I wasting time trying to parse a cliche into something more meaningful? Lesson digested. Time to get on with the rest of my life.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The addiction returns

It's been years. In fact, I can tell you approximately how long: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. That's how long it's been since I had to record a TV show so I could return to it again and again.

I know now that I would have felt that way about Firefly and Wonderfalls if I'd known they were there at the time, but even though good series have come along over the years, I haven't felt this level of addiction. I love a few current shows - Monk, House, Battlestar Gallactica - but not at the gotta-have-an-archive level.

Now, all of a sudden, I've got two of 'em. I realized that as I was dubbing the first two of this season's episodes of Veronica Mars from VHS onto DVD, extracting the commercials, and trying to figure out when I'd have the time to do the same with the first three Heroes. That reminds me, I have to set the recorder for tonight.

If you haven't encountered Veronica before, get the first two seasons in your Netflix queue or catch up somehow. But allow yourself some time - I pretty much guarantee you'll want to watch several episodes at once. If you haven't encountered Heroes yet, well, it's on NBC Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern. You've missed the first three but I think you can pick it up as you go along at this stage. Oh! gee, I'd better get to programming the TV before I leave for work ...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster

did ya miss me? Ah, g'wan, you know you did.

It's been a hectic week. Not in the frustrating calm-damaging way that has afflicted friend Sunni, but busy busy busy. Got a lot done, got a lot left undone. A good conversation has ensued in the comment section to Sunni's post.

I like Michael's "I.B.M." approach:

Picked it up in Egypt quite a few years ago and it manages to get one by. Insh'Allah is just what it seems like. "Insh'Allah it'll get done". Fate, Ba'al, Hern, Allah, the Universe whatever...

Bukra is just Egyptian for Mañana. Didn't get it done today? Bukra, Insh'Allah.

But my favourite is, by far...Ma'alesh. Sh*t happens, don't worry, can't be helped, never mind.

Let's face matter how much we plan and schedule, stuff happens and everything gets re-prioritised whether we like it or not. Stressing about it doesn't do us any good. Tomorrow is soon enough to get it done.

That's the frame of mind I've been in the last few days. That one project was due Wednesday and didn't get done until Thursday? Yeah, but it got done, and I like the way it turned out. Other stuff has gotten in the way of the plan for the week? "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

Yep, I yearn for the time, energy and resources to handle everything I'm trying to juggle - did I mention all this is happening while I attempt to revise a novel into podcast-worthiness? - but I use the time, energy and resources to handle what I can, and the rest waits. The stuff that's important, that'll get done in its time. It always does.

I love the mantra in Shakespeare in Love voiced by the beleaguered but calm stage manager Philip Henslowe:

Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Hugh Fennyman: How?
Philip Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery.

God, I love that movie. Because the production of a play is a beautiful metaphor for life itself: We are always negotiating through "insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster," and yet the show goes on, because it must, and we survive - only once in our lives does it actually kill us.

Oh, I waste my share of time mourning for what woulda been, what coulda been, and what shoulda been - too much time. Sometimes the woulda-coulda-shoulda overwhelms my calm - doesn't just damage my calm, but throws it to the ground and stomps it to pieces.

It's those days when I can release the regrets for what could be and accept what is that I find myself most at peace. No, strike that, your honor: The most-at-peace days are when I both accept what is and accomplish something that was important. Maybe it wasn't the important thing I wanted to get done, but it was important. How this happens, I'm not sure. It's a mystery.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Wheaton: Make new TV seasons, not movies

Wil Wheaton makes an excellent case for spending money to do another season of Firefly direct-to-DVD rather than spend the same amount of cash to make, distribute and promote Serenity 2.

Oh, and by the way, he mentions Babylon 5 is going that route.

Yippee Skippy

Oh boy, they named a big boat after George Bush, the emperor's father.

I'm sure I could work up a lather over this, but I'm too busy being gleeful, because one of my favorite days of the year came sooner than many people apparently expected: The Yankees are gone for the season.

"Funny game, baseball. The Tigers are the ones laughing loudest now. And the New York Yankees? Well, they're the joke." Hee hee hee.

I really don't pay any attention to baseball much anymore. But I was a huge Mets fan as a kid. So therefore, it still happens that every season when the arrogant SOBs from the Bronx assume room temperature for another year, I break out the champagne.

Back to the Bushes, are you sure this Onion article from 2002 didn't really happen? Thanks to Wally Conger who thanked the Lew Rockwell blog, where Karen DeCoster also is pleased about the Yankees' early departure from the playoffs.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Oh! You talkin' to ME?

I haven't been deliberately avoiding Kirsten's tag, it's just that - oh, you wouldn't believe me if I told you, or maybe you would, but I'm not ready to tell you anyway.

I'm a sucker for quizzes and lists, and music, so this one is custom-made for my passions. So:

1. Have you found a song running through your head on more than one occasion? What is it?
"Breaking Up is Hard to Do." I don't know why, but when my brain enters a lull (frequently), next thing ya know I'm humming "Down doobie-doo down down, cumma cumma down doobie-doo-down down" till the cows come home.

2. If you've gone through a particularly bad breakup, what song do you associate with it?
Can't hear Art Garfunkel's "(I Love You and that's) All I Know" without thinking about a big grin, lovely and meaningful lovemaking, a hilarious joke that her dad told once, and WTF I'm graduating next week why'd you have to do this now!?!?!

3. What's your musical guilty pleasure? A band, song, or genre that you enjoy but are ashamed to admit it?
Kirsten got me - da Monkees. When the down-doobie-doos calm down, next thing that comes up is "You Just May Be The One." (All - men must - have - some - one ...)

4. Name a song that makes you sing out loud when you're alone in the car?
I - should have known better with a girl like YOU - that I would love everything that you DO - and I do - hey hey hey - AND I DOOOOO! Woe-oh-woe I - never realized a lot of things beFORE - if this is love you gotta give me MORE - oops ... sorry ...

5. Name a song, band, or genre that forces you to change radio stations and possibly even rip the knob off?
Rap music is an oxymoron.

6. Is there a song that can make you cry?
"The End" by the Beatles. Has there ever been/will there ever be a more perfect finish to the last project of a splendid group of musicians? The second half of "Abbey Road," starting with "Here Comes the Sun," is one huge and wonderful climax to an incredible body of work.

7. Is there a song that always cheers you up?
"If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out," by Cat Stevens from the "Harold and Maude" soundtrack. I've never tracked this one down, so when a friend sent me a copy the other day, I was really, really, really cheered up!

8. Is there a single song that reminds you of high school?
More than one, but there was this girl I had a crush on who didn't return the favor but was a good friend, and when we went to see John Sebastian and he sang "She's A Lady," ooh, I wished she would want to be more than friends. So that song brings out all the angst of a geek who didn't have a "real" girlfriend until college.

Time to tag someone else ...?
Naah. If I mention someone, I'm leaving everyone else out. If these questions get you thinking, go ahead and answer 'em, whoever you are. I'm interested.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's a little thing in the overall scheme of the universe and all, but starting today typing the Web address will give you access to the "B.W. Richardson's Imaginary Age" page.

That's a lot less than Warren and I were hinting you might get today, Oct. 1, but it's our latest sign of progress toward where we're going.

For some reason I'm reminded of the song on George Harrison's final album, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there." But while I don't know exactly where I'm going, the roads I'm choosing are taking me generally in the direction I want, which is good enough for me.

A nation of Eveys

Michael at Uncivil Defense said it after my post about V for Vendetta the other day:

I think it's becoming painfully obvious that we've become a nation of Evey's. Helpless and stunned are the norm for most folks, as the powers that be continue down their chosen paths.

The good news here is that, locked in her cell with all of her freedom seemingly extinguished, clinging to a scrap of journaling preserved on pieces of toilet paper, humiliated to the point where the only remaining thing her captor could do to her is take her life - and yet still unwilling to betray her friend - that is the point where her captor concedes, "You have lost your fear - now you are truly free," and releases her from the cell.

Perhaps we have become a nation of Eveys who feel helpless and stunned by the accelerating pace at which the Powers That Be are crushing the principles America supposedly stood for. This was an especially heinous week, with the passing of a bill authorizing the use of torture by U.S. government agents and equating criticism of the president with terrorism. But Evey didn't feel helpless and stunned forever.

"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." Good line. Memorable line. And true.

What could you accomplish today if you shook off your fear?