Sunday, September 21, 2008


This weekend, like most weekends, The Smoking Gun has a carnival of mug shots. The one at right is from this week's collection.

All I can think to say is: YIKES!

But remember... Even this fellow has a mother...

Quote of the Day...

From Jeff Goldstein, at Protein Wisdom:
For those who shout loudest about a necessary “wall” between church and state (which is not in keeping with the plain meaning of the Establishment Clause), there never seems to be any recognition that the actual problem (as opposed to hyperventilating concerns over “Christianists”) is that the new church of politicized science is actively intermingled with the business of the state, elevating political faith to the kind of religion that is infecting public policy to an unhealthy degree.
...and the anthropomorphic global warming phenomenon is perhaps the very best current example, and Al Gore is the high priest. Do read the whole thing, and the WSJ article he's commenting on; both pieces are great Sunday ponder-producers...

Lovely Lawson Valley Weather...

We are having unusually beautiful weather for this season. Normally September is one of our hottest, driest months. We've had some hot days this month, to be sure, but the average temperatures have been well below normal.

Yesterday, last night, and today our weather has been more typical of what we get in November – cool, dry days with very clear air and gorgeous blue skies, and then very cool (cold for us!) and humid nights. As you can see by the chart at right, last night we had several hours at 100% relative humidity – most definitely not normal for September. And the temperature dropped all the way to 47°F (8°C) – certainly not unheard of for us, even on a summer evening, but very welcome nonetheless. We haven't run our air conditioner for several days now – I can't remember that ever happening in September before!

If this is what global warming is, I'd like more of it!

Health Care Choices...

Dr. Paul Hsieh, the wizard behind the curtains at GeekPress, has an excellent opinion piece in the Rocky Mountain News. In it, he takes a stand against Colorado's Amendment 56, a proposed law that Coloradans will vote on in November. This law would require all but the tiniest businesses to provide company-paid health insurance for all of their workers. An excerpt:

Two motivations behind this proposed law are (1) the mistaken notion that health care should be a guaranteed “right," and (2) the desire to force businesses (rather than government) to pay for this supposed obligation. But health care is a need, not a right. A right is a freedom of action in a social context, such as the freedom of speech.

It is not an automatic claim on a good or service that must be produced by someone else. There is no such thing as a “right” to a car or an appendectomy. Any attempt by the government to guarantee a false “right” to health care can only be done by violating the actual rights of someone — in this case, business owners.

Dr. Hsieh is not in the majority amongst doctors, if I believe what I read on the matter. Most doctors would like to see all patients have health insurance, and they really don't care very much how that's done – they'll support just about any proposal to provide universal health care insurance.

I'd like to see a few simple, basic reforms to our current health care system:
  • The removal of the special tax status that health insurance expenses now have for businesses, coupled with making health insurance costs tax-deductible for individuals. This would remove the artificial incentive for employers to provide health insurance, which is the only reason that employers are expected to provide health insurance today. At the same time, it would create an incentive for individuals to purchase health insurance, in exactly the same way that the mortgage deduction provides an incentive for people to purchase a home.

  • The removal of all the current regulatory barriers to providing and purchasing intrastate health insurance. These regulations today primarily benefit the insurance companies, by limiting the competitive environment to individual states, and discouraging low-cost nationwide entrants. Many people aren't even aware of these regulations, because it is primarily the employers who must deal with them. Today a resident of (say) New York is not allowed to purchase a less-expensive health insurance policy from a company in (say) South Dakota. There's no good reason for this from the consumer's perspective, though it's wonderful from the insurance company's perspective (and the state legislators who benefit from the insurance companies' largesse).
I believe that if just those reforms were enacted, our health care system would be transformed by the forces of competition in the marketplace. For example, consumers would suddenly become aware that if they were willing to cover the minor, routine health care costs themselves, they could purchase very low cost major medical insurance to cover the truly catastrophic illnesses or injuries. This is a choice most people simply don't have today – but I'd be willing to bet you many people would make that choice if they could. Similarly, doctors and hospitals would suddenly have an incentive to provide high quality health care at a lower cost. The incentives today that encourage doctors to order extra (but unnecessary) tests would be flipped upside down – suddenly those extra tests will make them less competitive. These are the exact same market forces that give us the modern miracles of production, like personal computers and the fantastically high quality automobiles we drive today...

I know I'm dreaming, but...I'm allowed to dream, aren't I?

Your Morning Mo'i (and Other Dogly Adventures)...

We're seeing progress almost by the hour with Mo'i. Last night when I took him out on a walk, he did something he does when he's happy – he grabbed the leash in his mouth and “took himself for a walk.” It was very nice to see that behavior, because we know he only does it when he's feeling good. This morning Debbie inspected the incision, and she was happy to see that the swelling is down (exactly as the vet predicted), and there still is no sign of infection. All good!

We had a dog adventure of a totally different kind last night, by coincidence (or at least we think so!). Mo'i, for obvious reasons, couldn't sleep on our bed as he normally does. We had him in a crate in our bedroom. Around 2:30 am, he started whining – something he has done before when we've had him crated. The whining could mean he needs a walk, or (more likely) it just means he wants to get up on the bed.

Debbie got up and took him for a walk just in case, but when she crawled back into bed we noticed there was a wet spot on the bed. A big wet spot, as though someone had dumped a glass of water there. Of course our first thought was that one of our dogs had peed on the bed – something none of our dogs has done for years. But no, this wet spot had no odor, and seemed clean, like plain water. The only thing I've been able to imagine is dog saliva, as though one of the dogs slept with its mouth open and drooling.

Whatever it was, it wasn't something we cared to splash about in as we slept. So (at 2:30 am!) we got up, stripped the bed, threw the bed clothes in the washer, and “camped” in the living room. We made a bed on the floor by using cushions from several chairs and sofas and throwing some blankets over them. Not a very satisfactory bed, for sure – Debbie and I are a little stiff this morning...