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    • Bannon Out
      So, this is Steve Bannon’s last day at the White House. I wrote that this would be a courtier’s White House, with a lot of knife fights, and who won them determining a lot of policy. Bannon’s a white nationalist, and scum, of course, but he’s also the only senior advisor who wants to, say, […]
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JMHO

There’s not much going on right now in primary land. It’s a little bit sleepy, except for the poo flinging. Things won’t really start picking up until the NY Primary.

Is it me or does the Clinton campaign still seem “off” from 2008?  Hillary gave an interview to Glen Thrush at Politico the other day where she, once again, diminished her own political gifts compared to her husband and Barack Obama. The time that I saw her in person in 2007 and got to ask her a question, I noticed a couple of things. She was wary when she came into the room. She sized us up, looking like she was trying to decide if we were threats. But then someone asked her first question and she was fine. She was confident and conversational and completely fluid and likeable. So, I don’t know where this self-assessment is coming from. In the Politico article, it’s implied that her campaign advisors told her about her lack of skills. I think this was a mistake. She grew into being quite an effective campaigner in 2008. The more adversity she faced, the better she got. That’s not to say she needs more adversity.

It’s a given that the unforgiving purity police on the left would always be her adversaries. The media has never liked her because all of their friends don’t like her. Nevermind where they got the idea that Hillary has cooties. Does it matter? They’re unshakeable. I sometimes wonder what the media thinks is going to happen this year. Are they planning on a deus ex machina come September? And who would that be?

Hillary herself did not help her case when she said “Never Ever” with respect to revisiting single payer. (Note: there are many different ways to address the health care crisis. Single payer is only one of many possibilities but all the successful developing countries require cost controls which the US can’t seem to do) As I’ve said before, the people who love Obamacare the most are the people least likely to ever need it. I can remember having a heated conversation with an independent insurance broker about a year ago about the ACA. First, to insurance brokers: never tell someone who is working on a short term contract that it is their responsibility to shell out $500/month for a policy with a $3000 deductible. When income instability is a real ongoing issue and the premiums take up an unacceptably large chunk of that precarious income, attempting to make someone feel guilty about shopping for food in a grocery store so that you can cash in big on a policy you just wrote is not a good idea.

The guilt thing piled on top of the precariat is unbelievable. I was so angry. I shouted at her in the frozen food aisle, “Don’t you think someone should have taken care of the long term unemployment problem BEFORE they asked for a year long commitment to a health care policy that’s neither affordable or useable???”

So, when Hillary said “Never Ever” she drove a lot of people away from her.

Plus, it just seemed like she had finally given in.

I sometimes get the feeling that her advisors have focus groups where the thing that voters really want is carefully kept out of the choices. Like, who really believes that voters would prefer profit sharing over a steady job with benefits? Profit sharing is so easily gamed. The cut can be biased in so many ways. Management vs rank and file, exempt vs non-exempt, contractors vs regular FTE. But having more regular full time jobs vs contracting jobs would make people feel a bit more secure about their future, causing them to spend more, invest more, save more. That would lead to a healthier, more resilient economy. What’s not to like about that? So, who *are* these people pushing profit sharing? Are they the start-up gurus, floating vaporware  that Dan Lyons wrote about recently in Disrupted or the kind of start ups trying to get early stage new drug entities passed vulture capitalists? You know, the companies that only young males between the ages of 22 and 35 can afford to work at? Are these “titans of the gig economy” really the best people to give advice?

Anyway, I digress. She is still the best presidential candidate that we have. I just wish she hadn’t listened to people who want her, and us, to be assimilated.

***************************************************************

I had an unfortunate disagreement on Twitter with Lance Mannion last night. I’m sure it will pass. Go visit his blog at Lance Mannion.  Lance is a loyal Democrat. He was a Clinton supporter in 2008 but swtiched to Obama for the General. But he is also characteristic of a party guy who either didn’t pay attention to the primaries/convention or is in serious denial.

Does anyone really think I enjoy bringing this up again? I know what you’re all thinking. Why can’t she just let it gooooooo?

It’s because voters are reacting to the reality that they don’t really have much say in the matter of who gets the nomination in spite of their donations and primary votes. Think of the millions and billions of dollars that will have been spent before the nominations. Think of all the states that are spending taxpayer dollars on primaries that can be nullified by the sweep of a superdelegate’s carefully manicured hand.

We have been there.

I still can’t believe that there are party people out there who swallowed the story that Obama was just much farther ahead than Clinton and that’s why he won. Seriously?? I thought everyone knew what went on at the convention and had just conspired with each other to tell lies about it.

Ok, here’s the ultimate question for those people who will not admit that there was something gravely wrong with the Democratic primary season of 2008.

Let’s assume that Hillary was Ok with Obama having the nomination in the end, what was the harm of having a legitimate first ballot roll call vote including all of the states BEFORE she called for acclamation?

This question seems like a no-brainer to me, which makes me think that the people who are singing “la-la-la, I can’t HEAR you!” have not been using their brains.

Oh, but they will say it’s just hardball politics. Lighten up, get over it.

Except to those of us who watched it, it looked like political rape of a woman who stubbornly refused to gracefully step aside like they expected her to.

The danger in not taking voters seriously is that it will come back to bite you in the end. Hillary will probably win the nomination this year and as far as we can tell, there hasn’t been anything irregular about the primary season. But the people who supported Obama in 2008 and were burned by him because, Surprise! Surprise! he was NOT the Liberal Messiah they were looking for, and who are now supporting Sanders, seem to think that it is Ok to do in 2016 what they did eight years ago. They are so determined to throw a fit to get what they want that they will use right wing smear tactics and delegitimize Hillary voters again. I’m not talking about all Sanders supporters who were very put off about the Never Ever comment (see above) or who want a more European style social democracy. I’m talking about the hard core Clinton haters who for some reason forget that there have been 16 year since the Clintons were in office. Their insistence that everything bad that has happened to America has had nothing to do with 8 tragic years of George Bush followed by 8 feckless years of Barack Obama is fantastic. As in, it’s a fantasy.

But getting back to the illegitimacy of the Hillary voter, let’s go back to Anglachel, one of the best bloggers of the 2008 primary season. In this post, she lays out the 2008 season and forecasts 2016. Just substitute Sanders for Obama in the following:

All around Left Blogistan, Obamacans are reveling in the seeming victory of the RBC ruling and are disdainfully telling Hillary and her supporters that they need to fall in line, get with the program, and otherwise show that we’re worthy of being part of Whole Foods Nation. Ezra Klein pompously warns Hillary: “[There is an] authentic, deep anger among Clinton supporters. And that’s not a problem the Rules Committee can resolve. This one is up to Clinton herself.”

Erm, no.

The way in which a candidate or faction handles a victory tells us important things about how they will govern. At present, the parallels between Obama’s claim of a nomination victory and George W. Bush’s claim of victory in Florida are shocking. The onus for unifying the country was placed on Gore and specifically for Gore to capitulate before a full and final vote count was performed. Gore’s behavior was held up to ridicule and criticism for having the audacity to defend his win against a background of corruption and intimidation. No one so much as hinted that the legitimacy of Bush’s win was contingent upon his behavior in victory. He acted as though he had won by a landslide with an enormous popular mandate, instead of by suppressing votes in Florida.

[…]

The deep problem of Obama’s campaign is that he and his supporters do not want to face the political reality of their own conflicting desires. They both want to sweep to victory in November and they want to purge the party of anything connected to the Clintons, which includes all of the voting constituencies represented by that amazing and talented duo. The failure of the Unity Pony stems directly from that fantasy of majority status without majority support and the political work and compromises that go with cultivating that support. Thus, their model for unity is unanimity through elimination, purging the ranks of the unclean and unbelievers.

They will not acknowledge that Hillary is a legitimate political actor and reduce her to an inhuman monster and enemy. They will not acknowledge that her supporters have sound, rational reasons for our support, and reduce us to mindless fools and spoils of war. They shift blame for their own choices and actions onto us and expect that we will cater to their whims.

Voters’ loyalties are not fungible just because a party makes a unilateral decision. It’s unlikely that Hillary can persuade the hardcore Sanders supporter to her column this year. They seem determined to kill her politically just like they did in 2008. But in this case, they are rebels without a cause. The vote is clean and unless they want to claim that Wyoming and the other caucus states are more important than the big states that are still remaining, an argument that defied all logic but still won the day in 2008, it looks like voters’ preferences are clear this year. They want Hillary. That’s what pledged delegate counts mean and this year there are no demotions to half strength or helpful reapportionments to make one candidate look like they have a lead which they do not have, to the detriment of the candidate who actually won the delegates. In other words, this is a legitimate, by the book, primary season. Sanders people can sit it out in November or only vote down ticket, but the second attempt at delegitimizing Hillary’s voters by these same guys is beyond infuriating.

It’s time to stop dehumanizing Hillary Clinton. It’s unjust, hyperbolic and damaging to women in general. And the longer Bernie Bots go on behaving this way, the less likely Sanders will make any inroads with Clintonistas. You have to wonder why a guy who sincerely seems to want to be president would be so careless as to antagonize his opponents’ supporters, acting like they don’t matter and that all he needs to do is buy or harass some superdelegates and everyone will fall into line.

Well, it worked so well eight years ago and who benefitted from that? College students with massive debt? Homeowners who lost equity? People in middle age who lost their careers and were unemployed for years? Contractors forced to by exchange policies? Black people gunned down in the street? Seriously, who benefitted? I’d like to know. I mean, other than bankers who didn’t need to go to jail for wrecking our lives and arrogant libertarian silicon valley types who would like to make us all independent contractors. And Republicans. Can’t forget them. Other than that, who benefitted?

Who knows what lies ahead? Maybe things will turn out all right in the end. But this year should make both parties nervous. The days of taking voters for granted, paternalistically directing them towards one person regardless of voter preferences, may finally be coming to an end.

 

Politically Correct Fundamentalists

This is a presentation by Dr. Mary Anne Franks, legal expert on cyber civil rights at a recent Skepticon conference. For those of you not familiar with Skepticon, it’s a conference for free thinkers and skeptics, and some of their presentations are more topical than others with respect to politics.

In this presentation, Franks lays out how current political discourse works. If you’re new to how the news is shaped, this might be disturbing and revealing. But she’s just telling it like it is.

 

Now, I don’t want to be the kind of person who says the left does it too but we do. It’s one of the reasons why we got so turned off by the 2008 elections. We are still living with the fallout of that election. And here’s how it typically plays out.

Take one middle class person who has a contract position and no benefits who is required to buy health insurance from the exchange only to find that the options are very expensive, he doesn’t get a subsidy, the deductible makes this policy almost worthless and a monthly drain on his wallet and substantially impacts his quality of life with little discernible benefit. The ACA was set up specifically to be painful, thanks to Republican demands that people have “skin in the game”. It’s also pretty clear that Obama did not ask for the world up front but came to the table and opened by giving the right almost everything it wanted. STARTED that way. We saw it. Don’t try to sugar coat this Paul Krugman. Fixing this is going to be very, very difficult and many people will spend much of their income on a limited ACA policy in the meantime to their detriments.

Here’s how the left deals with this. And when I say left, I mean my own side. I hate to keep saying that but I am closer to Bernie Sanders on this than Hillary Clinton at this point in time. In my humble opinion, we should scrap the whole thing except for the provisions for people with pre-existing conditions, children up to age 26 and mental illness and start over. We might still end up with private insurance but the way the ACA is currently structured, this is not working for anyone.

But here’s the way these conversations usually go. Let’s listen in:

Average Obamacare policy holder: “I don’t like Obamacare. It’s too expensive, too limited and I could go broke before I see any benefit from it.”

Average Lefty: “You’re a racist Tea Party person”

Well, that went well.

When Fox News loving Trump supporters complain about political correctness, there might be a soupçon of legitimacy about the complaint.

There’s more of course. At some point in time, we need to talk about women.

My frustration with Krugman

The problem is he is only one of a very few prominent liberals with access to a microphone. Today, he wrote some things I can personally relate to in his piece Twin Peaks Planet:

Furthermore, the travails of workers in rich countries are, in important ways, the flip side of the gains above and below them. Competition from emerging-economy exports has surely been a factor depressing wages in wealthier nations, although probably not the dominant force. More important, soaring incomes at the top were achieved, in large part, by squeezing those below: by cutting wages, slashing benefits, crushing unions, and diverting a rising share of national resources to financial wheeling and dealing.

Perhaps more important still, the wealthy exert a vastly disproportionate effect on policy. And elite priorities — obsessive concern with budget deficits, with the supposed need to slash social programs — have done a lot to deepen the valley of despond.

Unfortunately, there is an older generation of Americans who think there is nothing that can be done to stop this trend. They have been convinced by popular media that corruption is inevitable. These are the same older Americans who are benefitting from the Social Security that was  hard won after the last catastrophic depression. They were children back then. They benefitted from the post war economic expansion that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that conditions for working class Americans do not have to be one step away from destitution. It is not the natural order.  But these older Americans fail to make the connection time after time. They have been taught to disbelieve their own past prosperity and the conditions that were necessary to keep the predators at bay.

I blame TV.

But I also have to blame Krugman for some serious rationalization of very bad policy in the last 6 years. He states:

So who speaks for those left behind in this twin-peaked world? You might have expected conventional parties of the left to take a populist stance on behalf of their domestic working classes. But mostly what you get instead — from leaders ranging from François Hollande of France to Ed Milliband of Britain to, yes, President Obama — is awkward mumbling. (Mr. Obama has, in fact, done a lot to help working Americans, but he’s remarkably bad at making his own case.)

Obama hasn’t been bad at making his own case. He hasn’t got a case to make.

I’ve been harping on research for awhile now and people have pointed out to me that my industry has not been the only one to suffer during this downturn and I get that. But it is a perfect example of how this country has allowed our leadership in science erode away and that science has provided benefits globally over the past century. I have watched as this administration and Congress has done absolutely nothing to stop the demolition of the American research industry and that is going to come back to bite this country.

Well, I’m beating a dead horse here but I’ve become convinced that our president, Senators and Representatives have been getting some very bad advice from lobbyists and other industry representatives who deceive them into believing that globalization of a very complex industry was beneficial and inevitable. They are going to regret it before long. We can’t get jobs, can’t make a living and can’t contribute to the welfare of this country anymore. You’d think that would be of interest to this White House but there has been very little interest in creating policy to address this problem. And if the best educated in this country can’t get the attention of the most powerful people in the world, then what hope do the rest of the struggling Americans have for having their concerns addressed?

It doesn’t help when Krugman insists that Obama has done great things but he’s too modest to talk about them. Maybe he’s not talking about them because Americans are finally seeing through the PR machine about “green shoots”, Lilly Ledbetter and Obamacare. We’re all asking ourselves, how stupid do they think we are? Anyone not living off their investments in this country is trapped. It’s a real life Ballad of the MTA with no way to exit the train because we’re always a nickel short and the meter keeps running.

One thing Krugman does have right though is the specter of a return to an ugly malignant narcissism that is creeping into our public discourse. The rise of nationalism and the tendency to kick disadvantaged groups when they’re already down is a bad, bad sign.

Once again, I blame TV.

Give Democrats a piece of your mind

The mid-term election is only weeks away and despite the lack of recovery for the vast majority of us, life is about to get a whole lot harder as the Senate is predicted to fall into the Republicans’ hands.

That leaves us with Barack Obama to guard the door from the lunatics.  In other words, we’re totally screwed.

But why sink into despair?  If you’re disappointed and angry at the way the last six years (and two to go) have turned out, you probably have good reason to be in spite of what Paul Krugman says.  The Democrats are not the Chicago Cubs.  We do not have to feel all sentimental about having a losing team all the time.

So, vent.  Get it all out.  What pisses you off the most about how the Democrats have let us down?  Don’t be afraid to tell it like it is.  Civility is for cotillions.

These student body president types may be perfectly content to ignore you or they may have absolutely no idea why you’re about to allow them to be voted out of office.  Put them on notice in the comments below.

Registered Democrats only please.  If you’re a Republican, Tea Party troublemaker or independent, please sit on your hands.

I’ll go first.  Unemployment is still high for those of us 45-65.  Wages are pathetic.  But the thing that ticks me off the most is how Obamacare 1.) created two classes of American workers, 2.) did nothing to control costs, and 3.) forced the second class Americans without employer based health care into high deductible, tiny network, expensive insurance plans.  Even with the subsidies, which many of us don’t get because we make too *little* money (like that’s supposed to make any damn sense), the plans are unaffordable.  Krugman can go jump in a lake for all I care.  Obamacare is awful.

Ok, your turn.

The Instapaper Queue: September Edition

Straw goes here: Drinking Canadian milkshake

It’s time to see review what was interesting to me in the past several weeks.  Sometimes, these selections surprise even me.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

But before that, I’m still in awe of Ken Burns and his documentary on The Roosevelts.  I don’t know how he did it but he managed to get George Will to champion the New Deal.  Will even admits that FDR stopped stimulating the economy too soon in 1937.  It’s hilarious how Will becomes the voice of reasonable liberalism in this documentary.  I can just imagine what he’s thinking now that it’s being broadcast.  But it’s political genius.  Take one of the most visible conservative twits in America, who has never met a government program he didn’t despise or poor person he wasn’t able to be indifferent to, and make him say laudatory things about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his policies.  It wouldn’t have quite the same impact with Paul Krugman providing the commentary. It’s too easy to pass Krugman off as a shrill socialist.  But making Will explain how the New Deal saved the country from Depression is demonically brilliant.

Now, onto our regularly scheduled instapaper queue review:

First up, here’s a post from Digby about the lack of foreign policy credentials among the potential Republican candidates for president in 2014.  It’s not what Digby says that annoys me, it’s the quote she includes from Chuck Todd.  Here’s the money quote:

Now here’s why I think Mitt Romney, it’s funny you bring this up, because I think the reason why Romney 3.0 has gotten traction is less about Romney, and more about the current issues of the day. I think the Republican 2016 field as we thought we knew it, think Scott Walker, think Chris Christie, think Marco Rubio, think Bobby Jindal, you know, throw those names in. I think if you have issues like national security front and center, that’s an incredibly shrinking, I feel like all of those guys are suddenly shrinking in stature. None of them, if the chief criticism of Barack Obama by a lot of people is you know what, he just wasn’t experienced enough, he just didn’t have a grasp of everything you needed to know to be able to be commander-in-chief, right?

HH: Yeah.

CT: That’s among, particularly among the conservative criticisms. Well then, how does Scott Walker fit into that? How does Chris Christie? How does Bobby Jindal? How does Marco Rubio? You know, they don’t, and so suddenly, Mitt Romney, while not having a lot of experience on foreign policy, certainly running for president and certainly now he can go back and say hey, I made these points against the President, and I look a little more prescient today than maybe some people thought three years ago.

Once we were racists because we didn’t think Obama was ready to be president.  Now, we are conservatives.  The insults just keep on coming.  On the other hand, the rest of the left seems to be particularly slow.  They apparently can not be taught.

Sidenote: I’m constantly surprised that regular Americans would find any Republican candidate fit to be president, regardless of foreign policy credentials.  Teddy Roosevelt, Lincoln and Eisenhower wouldn’t recognize that mob masquerading as a political party.

********************************

Here’s a funny short post by Andy Borowitz in The New Yorker explaining why Bernie Sanders can’t get elected president.  The System is set up to spit out people with integrity.  Says Borowitz:

“Bernie Sanders’s failure to become a member of either major political party excludes him from the network of cronyism and backroom deals required under our system to be elected,” said Davis Logsdon, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota. “Though that failure alone would disqualify Sanders, the fact that he is not beholden to a major corporate interest or investment bank would also make him ineligible.”

Because of his ineligibility, Logsdon said, the Vermont Senator would be unable to fund-raise the one billion dollars required under the current system to run for President. “The best source of a billion dollars is billionaires, and Sanders has alienated them,” he said. “Clearly he didn’t think this through.”

********************************

Olive Garden isn’t doing so well these days.  Maybe it’s because there has been a shocking deterioration in the quality of the food in the past 10 years?  (Just going by personal experience) No, says hedge funds invested in the Darden Group.  It’s the unlimited salads and breadsticks.  Ok, they have other suggestions too but most of them involve further cost cutting, which I suspect is behind the less than stellar cuisine lately.  Maybe hedge funds should stay out of the kitchen.

********************************

There were THREE articles in The Atlantic about the plight of sleeplessness on the workforce:

Americans won’t relax, Even late at night or on the Weekend

Thomas Edison and the Cult of Sleep Deprivation

When you can’t afford to sleep.

The last one is about low wage workers holding down 2 or 3 jobs to make a pitiful living get no sleep but the other two suggest that someone(s) at The Atlantic needs a break.

********************************

Robert Kuttner at the American Prospect speculates what Scottish independence might mean globally in Could Scottish Independence Set off a Cascade of Secession?  And if Texas and other southern states decides to secede, is it wrong to be giddy about it?

********************************

Vox is trying to figure out which party will win the Senate and can’t figure it out in Why Election Forecasters Disagree about Who Will Win the Senate.

I blame the Democrats for failing to provide the electorate with a compelling reason to vote for them.  Really, people, we’re talking about that crazy mob on the other side.  It shouldn’t be this hard.

********************************

This one is for RSB: How to get over your Ex.  The experts agree, trying to get back with your ex usually doesn’t work.  Get some psychological scar gel and move on.  There’s a reason why you broke up in the first place.

********************************

From Reuters, Pennsylvania Mother who gave daughter abortion pill gets 18 months in prison.  I’ve suggested in the past that women might have to take an RV into the desert and manufacture their own RU-486 but it was mostly tongue in cheek.  (or was it?)  It will be harder to shut down than meth labs.  When all is said and done, that’s they way abortions are going to go in the future.  You don’t want to be pregnant?  Take the cure.  There’s no stopping it.  It will be the quickest way to shut down abortion clinics than any crazy Right to Lifer has imagined.  No more screaming at shocked young girls, no more political football.  That being said, for this medication to be safe, it has to be given before 12 weeks.  The sooner the better.  It’s really important to know the gestational age of the fetus to avoid complications.  I’m not sure what went wrong with this mother daughter partners-in-crime pair but I hope this is a lesson on how NOT to do it.

I feel very sorry for this family.  It’s an all around bad situation.

********************************

Vox has 8 Facts That Explain What’s Wrong With American Health Care.  Number one reason: it costs too damn much.  Note that Obamacare didn’t do anything to curb health care costs like most nations with successful health care policies have done.  No, it simply straitjacketed the country into paying for it- with public money, and without a public option.  It ain’t no New Deal, let’s not kid ourselves.

********************************

From Vickie Garrison’s blog No Longer Qivering on Patheos, another entry in the Quoting Quiverful series, Birth Control Pills are for Selfish Women?  Yes, women who take birth control want to have fun without consequences.  We’ve heard that before.  But what’s the buried message?  Men can selfishly have fun without consequences and have an actual life with independence and that’s Ok.

Why do women actually get taken in by this stuff?

*********************************

From the Boston Globe, What’s Fueling Wage Inequality in the US?  From the article:

You might think of low- and middle-wage workers as falling behind in not one but two different races. First, their wages aren’t growing as fast as the wages of higher-income workers. Second, even when the economy does grow, that growth is increasingly flowing to wealthier households that have capital to invest.

Why, you ask?  I think we could go back to Karen Ho’s anthropological study of Wall Street in Liquidated to find the roots of the growing wage gap in the past 60 years.  Another factor is the Culture of Smartness.  Part of it has to do with the idea that people who work, particularly people who work with their hands, are the equivalent to people engaged in “trade” in a Jane Austen novel.  Those 18th and 19th century notions are making a comeback.  It makes it very hard for scientists to get ahead.  For one thing, the best ones are introverted and don’t sell themselves well.  For another thing, they use their hands to explore what is in their heads.  It’s kind of hard to do science any other way.  We used to do research the opposite way before the Black Death and the Enlightenment.  And what was the world like before then?  “poor, nasty, brutish and short”.

Don’t expect the Investment Class to develop a heart.  History shows that they don’t without some stiff persuasion.  But basically, the reasons why wages are falling for most people in the country is because we let it happen.

*********************************

Grain Piles Up, Waiting for a Ride as Trains move North Dakota Oil.  Who needs bread?

*********************************

Hillary beats everyone in 2016.  Water is wet.  Everyone has been waiting 8 years for her to be president.  It’s 8 years too long and probably too late but she’s the favorite.  Woebetide the party activists and party that tries to stand in the way of the American people this time.  Not saying she is going to usher in a liberal paradise or anything.  I’m just saying American are fed up.  They want the change they were promised but didn’t get in 2008.

*********************************

Ebola patient, Kent Brantley says “God Saved My Life”.  Well, he would say that, given that he’s a Christian missionary. He also received the serum from Mapp that we have discussed previously.  He’s an N of 1 and no one’s sure that the monoclonal antibody treatment actually worked. More data required.  I’d like to see clinical trials of God vs Serum.  Could be instructive.

*********************************

I think I’ll stop there for now.  There are a few more items in the queue. One probably deserves a post all to itself.

Gotta go.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Stuff I learned today

So, I visited a resumé guru today because I can’t get through the HR filters of most sites and can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong.  I’ve tried matching my keywords and writing the damn thing over and over and OVER again to meet the most demanding filter but, no go.  Anyway, the guru worked it out, or so he assures me. It turns out I have to apply some sleight of hand. Think of it as CV SEO.  I think I’ve got it now.  What a royal pain in the ass, as if spending a couple of hours per application wasn’t painful enough.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve learned today:

1.) There really is such a thing as ageism.  It’s not just your imagination.  It’s probably due to some cocky young thing thinking you don’t know how to use technology, as if your diligence in filling out the ridiculous, lengthy, everything but your bloodtype online form wasn’t proof to the contrary.  If you’re over 45, you’re probably too old. Thank you New York Times.

2.) In the last three years (hmmm, let’s pause to meditate on the significance of three years, shall we?), an increasing number of employers have been hiring temp positions and not direct to position employees.  Sometimes, these temp positions turnover to permanent positions, but consider that first year a very long audition- without benefits.  And there’s no guarantee.  So, the assignment can end at any time.  Depending.  On what?  No idea.

3.) Obamacare is too damn expensive.  This came out of the blue.  Yup.  And it makes perfect sense.  If you are employed in this economy in a temp position and you have to carry the weight of that premium without a subsidy (because you make too much for Medicaid or live in a Medicaid expansionless state, but make too little for a subsidy because you are a lowly temp worker), it’s just too expensive.  You will spend substantially more of your paycheck than the blessed employee with the employer coverage.  But you’re less likely to become blessed because see #2 above.  I am now beginning to wonder what the purpose of Obamacare was.  Because if it is just a matter of getting kids covered who had  serious pre-existing conditions, there was SCHIP and Medicaid before Obamacare. Soooo…?  Bueller?

Malice or stupidity?  Before the administration gave a pass to the employer mandate, I was thinking “stupidity”.  Now, I’m not so sure.  Let’s just say there was a loophole big enough to drive a train through.

The guru says the tweaks should be enough to get me through.  I remain optimistic because, frankly, what is the alternative?  I don’t think I can sell my body at this point, even if I wanted to.  Thank goodness for the part time work and the no-mortgage thingy.  Still, no fun at all.  And I may live to be 92, which troubles me greatly.  Who’s going to hire me when I’m in my 90s?  Come to think of it, there will likely be a LOT of tail end boomers in our 90s, shlepping around the office, retail outlets and construction sites.  That should be interesting.

Stay tuned.

 

 

What’s in my Instapaper queue?

It’s getting crowded in the Instapaper queue.  Time to clean it out.  This is what I’ve found interesting lately:

1.) The Dragons of Inaction is a 2011 paper from the journal American Psychologist listing the reasons behind the resistance to climate change claims.  As you may expect, resistance can be grouped into ideological and non-ideological causes.  One of the most interesting causes is mistrust.  We should expect that the people most likely to benefit from climate change denialism will play on trust issues in their target audience.  The conclusion section is light on recommendations but I thought it would be a good exercise to learn how the Fox News crew might put this information to use.

2.) An Ominous Health Care Ruling is the latest editorial by the NYTimes on the two Obamacare rulings yesterday regarding subsidies.  The editorial board is remarkably frank, given its boosterism for the ACA:

The 2-to-1 decision issued by the panel hinged on how to interpret language in the Affordable Care Act that most experts agree was poorly drafted and would ordinarily have been corrected by a Congressional conference committee. In this instance, there was no conference committee because the law was passed on a take-it-or-leave-it vote in the House to avoid a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

But then it reverts to form at the end by stating that regardless of what Congress did or didn’t do by rushing the bill through, the judiciary has a responsibility to not use ideology as an excuse to take subsidies away.  IMHO, the ACA perfectly demonstrates my former advanced inorganic chemistry prof’s saying, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” In other words, we are all potentially screwed by the effects of this bad legislation until Congress decides to do it over the right way.  When it has time.  And when it also has the rare astronomical convergence of a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, a majority in the House and a president in the White House who, you know, actually gives a crap.  Maybe some time next century. Maybe that was the plan.

3.) In A $650Million Donation to Psychiatric Research, we find research into the causes and a cure for bipolar disease funded by a billionaire with deep pockets who also has a son afflicted with the condition.  It’s great for people with bipolar spectrum disorder but not so great in that it takes a private person to fund it.  The reason so many pharmaceutical companies are pulling out of psychiatric research is that it’s incredibly expensive and there is an extra hurdle to jump when it comes to the brain.  It’s called the blood brain barrier and it gives drug designers and medicinal chemists fits because only compounds with certain physical properties can cross this barrier and they are devilishly hard to make and get approved.  So, you know, there’s not so much profit in it for Big Pharma.  And now we have to rely on billionaires with a personal stake.  {{sigh}}

By the way, the recipient of this largess, the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA, is primarily a computational biology outfit.  That will be very useful for tracking down the genetic causes and systems biology associated with bipolar spectrum disorder and schizophrenia but biologists don’t make the drugs.  That’s what medicinal chemists, structural biologists and drug designers are trained to do.  It will be curious to see going forward whether the Broad Instituts recruits more of these specialties or decides to farm them out.  Farming it out would be a mistake, I think, since project teams need to see the same material and work on it together.  On the other hand, if Broad doesn’t mind hiring modelers remotely, I am available.  😉

4.) The Atlantic posted an article on The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence.  In short, being acutely attuned to the emotional states of everyone around you might be great for salespeople but it sucks for people working in professions that require concentration and contemplation.  For the latter group, paying attention and kissing up to the people around you is a distraction.  The resulting effects on the working environment of those people expected to play the EQ game when they don’t have time for it are predictable. From the study cited in the article:

Cote’s team assessed how often the employees deliberately undermined their colleagues. The employees who engaged in the most harmful behaviors were Machiavellians with high emotional intelligence. They used their emotional skills to demean and embarrass their peers for personal gain.

Seen that happen with my own eyes.  Depressing but all too common, especially in the uber-competitive environments engineered by biz school grads and propagated throughout the industries they manage.

5.) The website, Ask the Headhunter, has a video for those of you who can’t get through the HR filters that you are required to navigate to apply for jobs.  If you are lucky enough to already have a job and haven’t been through this exercise in futility, it goes something like this: You see a job on a website for which you are (probably over)qualified and are directed to the company’s HR application system.  Then you spend hours per application uploading your resume and then reformatting it (god knows why the reformatting step is necessary but the OCR never gets it right.  Besides, didn’t you just upload a copy of your resume??).  Anyway, after you have edited and reformatted and written a brilliant cover letter telling the company all of the reasons why you would be more than perfect for the job, you never hear from them again.  Oh, sometimes you’ll get a form generated reply saying they received your information.

The truth is, there are filters that are set to weed people out and nobody knows what they are.  In some cases, the HR filter is set so unproductively that most applicants who qualify never make it to the resume review round.  That may be why so many employers whine they can’t get good help anymore.  If they would only hire people who could reset the filters for them they might get better candidates.  But to do that, they’d have to reset the filters themselves in the beginning and that takes vigilance, time and probably one FTE. It’s a vicious circle. Nick Corcodilos says to scrap the resume and don’t bother going through the HR application process.  The best way to get a job is to hang around people in your field or the area that you want to get into, and make connections.  In other words, you need to be a human with a face because HR filters do a lousy job of staffing and are probably not worth your time.

6.) Alistair McCauley reviewed the current production of the Bolshoi’s Swan Lake at Lincoln Center.  It’s not pretty but it is a fun read:

At the start of every dance, my heart would lift again, noting some marvelous feature of Bolshoi style. The communicative generosity of manner! The thick-cream legato flow and keen dynamic sense! The juicy red-meat richness of texture! The unaffectedly erect posture of the torsos and their gorgeous pliancy! The easy amplitude of line! The powerful sweep through space! Yet nothing availed. Each dance soon grew monotonous.

I can’t remember, is McCauley the critic who thinks all ballerinas could stand to lose a little weight?  Anyway, I’m not a fan of companies with a lugubrious ballet style.  Give me something livelier, and, er, probably not Swan Lake.

7.) I. Must. Have. This. Desk from CB2.  I am confident that my life and blogging will be improved by it.

And a heads up to you IKEA fans.  The 2015 Catalog is supposed to hit the interwebs tomorrow.  I can hardly wait!

8.) Finally, I am on the third part of the longest Audible book I have ever “read”.  It’s The Last Lion, a biography of Winston Churchill.  It’s excellent and probably more detailed than any biography has a right to be.  Highly recommended.  5 sponges.

So, I ran across a page on some of his predictions and inventions.  For example, did you know that Winston invented the tank and the onesie?  Ok, maybe not his finest hour.  But he was a great futurist.  Check it out.

The funny thing is, Churchill was never a great student but he had a formidable intellect.  He was definitely not Ivy League material in the most 2014 sense of the word.  That would have been a great loss for England if our current standards of performance were in effect then.  He might have ended up writing Op/Eds for WaPo and gone no further in life.

And here are a few Winston quotes for good measure:

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” (Sound familiar?)

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”

“It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

He made his share of mistakes and was on the wrong side of history as far as women’s suffrage was concerned (they turned out for him anyway).  He failed many times but he learned from his failures and he never surrendered.  Cool dude and an honest guy.  We need someone like him right now.