Monthly Archives: October 2013

Title Town!

Congratulations, Boston Red Sox – the second team in the history of baseball to go from last place to World Series champions, and to deliver the first World Series win at Fenway since the Sox defeated the Cubs in 1918.

It was a team effort – no more Big Papi batting over .700 while the rest of the team averaged .150.  In fact, they didn’t even pitch to David Ortiz until the eighth (if memory serves me correctly); those six runs were scored with other batters hitting them in.  When Victorino said that Boston could get the duck boats ready, he was serious: the entire team played great baseball to get the trophy.

Baseball: that sport that has changed so little in over a hundred years. The players are stronger and the bat technology is better, but it’s still the game it has always been. It lacks the showboating of basketball, the physicality of hockey and American football: aside from the occasional brawl, it is players matching strength, skill, and strategy against the same.

Baseball is the game of hope – a game that is not over until the last out is made.  Hockey, football, and basketball are all timed sports, wherein there’s often some point, long before the official end of the game, when the game is over; but it’s never too late for a comeback in baseball. In a nation with more rags-to-riches stories than any other, where octogenarians finish their college degrees, what could be more appropriate than a sport wherein teams rally during the ninth to win a game, or overcome 3-0 deficits to win a series?

Baseball is Americana at its best. I’m excited for the duck boat parade on Saturday morning; after all this city went through in April, we could use the unbridled joy of watching the boys of October up on a duck boat. I’m even happier that it’s a duck boat parade for baseball – for the team that visited the injured in the hospital, reunited Jeff and Carlos to throw out the first pitch, and for the sport that is so quintessentially American.

Thank you, Cardinals, for a great series; thank you, Red Sox, for winning it for Boston.

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The people who were not interviewed in “After Tiller”

There is a documentary out called After Tiller, which interviews  four MDs who perform late-term abortions.  Maya of the radical pro-choice Feministing reviews it here.  The movie also interviews women seeking late-terms abortions and some pro-life activists.

The group that is not interviewed, however, are the little kids whose mothers are considering aborting them. Their stories are not told in After Tiller nor in any other media outlet.  The only time when we hear from these kids is when they are adults, like Gianna Jessen. By not telling their stories, or finding grown abortion survivors, the After Tiller writers make their conclusion one of their founding premises: that an unborn child has nothing of value to say, no story to be told, no rights to a life that could be lived.

An unborn child cannot speak, but  neither can a newborn and even some toddlers.  Yet, we understand that they are all members of our society, with basic human rights, and who will eventually be able to tell their stories about the meaning of their lives.  If there were a debate about ending a young toddler’s life, the toddler’s right to life would obviously figure into whatever decision-making process were to happen; yet, with abortion, one side has unilaterally decided that another party has no rights, no voice, no future worth fighting for.

After Tiller cannot be complete without hearing the voices of those who are most deeply affected by abortion, i.e. those whose mothers are considering aborting them.  The producers could have talked to Gianna Jessen (survivor of a botched abortion) or Rebecca Kiessling (whose father raped her mother) – women who would have said, “If my mother had an abortion, I would be decaying medical waste, not a grown woman with a valuable life.”

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What’s the difference between Ayn Rand and George Orwell?

I just finished reading Nineteen Eighty-Four.  (Yes, this was the first time. Yes, I picked it up in college and read about thirty pages before getting inundated with thermodynamics homework, and I didn’t like it enough to pick it up later.)  Linguistically and thematically, it was reminiscent of Atlas Shrugged, if it can be reminiscent of a novel that was written a decade later. Both Orwell and Rand spoke at length about the motives of those who promote socialism and collectivism, the need for precision in language, sexuality as it relates to the State, and what reality really means.  Neither believed that socialists are in it for the good of mankind; both believed that the trend towards eviscerating language is one way to control people.

Yet, Rand is reviled among the Left and Orwell is worshipped.  Perhaps it is because Orwell so strongly condemned perpetual warfare and means by which government finances the military.  (I find it a bit bizarre that he was so strongly anti-war in 1949.) Rand believed that a military is a fundamental responsibility of government; one must protect one’s nation against invaders.

Perhaps it is because Orwell wrote about snivelling people who struggled for any semblance of an upright life, while Rand wrote about heroes.  John Galt did not give away Dagny in the depths of his torture, but Winston Smith and Julia each sacrificed the other. Rand’s heroes expressed that the natural state of life is joy and freedom; 1984 is devoid of a single character who can keep alive the flame of the human spirit. It is not for their setting; We the Living is a novel about communist Russia, and Rand’s heroine, Kira, lies dying and thankful for her life, individuality, and dignity.

Perhaps that is the real reason why one dystopian novelist is revered and another routinely reviled: the latter sets standards for us as human beings – standards of work ethic, individuality, devotion to our chosen friends, and fire.  When Orwell shows us that it is hopeless, he gives second-raters an excuse, a cop-out, a reason to not be on fire for greatness.

 

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When did “feminism” come to mean “acting like a child who doesn’t understand cause and effect”?

Emily Yoffe discusses the relationship between consumption of large amounts of alcohol and sexual assault.  Men and women process alcohol differently, so matching a man drink-for-drink results in a woman who is significantly more impaired than her male companion.  Some men will stay relatively sober while getting drinks for women; they are then good “friends” who cart the intoxicated women off to their beds. Other times, two people are simply too inebriated to make good decisions or articulate what they want.  Yet, we live in a society wherein telling women to not get black-out drunk is somehow “victim-blaming.” As Yoffe explains,

Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.

An examination of any other crime-prevention strategy shows this to be true.  We tell kids and adults that it’s wrong to steal, but theft remains a very real problem.   As a result, society encourages people to take affirmative steps to not be victims of theft, and we have multi-million-dollar industries devoted to this: people have door locks, car locks, car alarms, Lojack, ADT or other home alarm systems, safety deposit boxes, checking and savings accounts, traveller’s checks, fraud alerts on their credit cards [deep breath], anti-virus software on their computers, lock boxes, passwords on their personal accounts, PINs or signature requirements for their credit cards, homeowner’s and renter’s insurance on their personal property – you get the point.

Victim-blaming?  Hell, I haven’t started on what corporations do to prevent theft.

In a world in which we go to such great lengths to prevent theft, knowing for a fact that there are bad people out there who would take advantage of us and steal from us – despite a constant barrage of social and religious pressure to not do so – what whackadoodle thinks that it’s “victim-blaming” to tell women to not be black-out drunk around men they don’t know?  “Don’t get black-out drunk, because someone might steal your wallet” isn’t victim-blaming, and neither is “Don’t get black-out drunk; some guy might rape you.”

Because really, if women are adults and not children, we are capable of taking charge of our own well-being.  That is actual empowerment.

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Doing the math that the Obama Administration will not do

Here are a few central claims of the Obama Administration: the programme will cover an additional 30 million people; the website crashed because it was only designed to handle 50,000 users at a time; and the penalties for the individual mandate will apply to those who have not purchased coverage by Valentine’s Day 2014.

There are 137 days between 01 October 2013 and 14 February 2014.  In order to sign up thirty million people in that time frame, then an average of 219,000 people would need to sign up every single day.

This is a low-ball estimate: it assumes that 0% of the people who currently have health insurance will try to get on the exchanges, i.e. that the only people using the exchanges will be those who did not have health insurance on 30 September 2013.  However, an estimated 37 million people will be tossed from employer-sponsored coverage and put onto the exchanges, meaning that an estimated 67 million people would need to sign up in the 137 day open-enrollment period, i.e. an average of 489,000 people per day.

Certainly, some of these people will be on state exchanges, not the federal exchange, but what kind of neuron-deficient moron designs a website to handle 50,000 people at a time, when it must handle ten times as many people per day?  That is at or over capacity all day, every day.

Of course, that 489,000 people is an average: in reality, there will be a huge crush of people signing up at the beginning of a month (when they lose coverage), at the end of the open enrollment period, and right before Valentine’s Day, in order to avoid the penalty.

 

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ObamaCare Links

A quick round-up of some of the more fun ObamaCare roll-out stories:

Steven Hayward calls the ObamaCare roll-out a “Hayekian teaching moment.”

Instapundit links to the connections between the IRS scandal and ObamaCare.  No, it’s not right-wing fear-mongering to point out that it’s a bad idea to put the IRS in charge of health care.  (Sorry to link to more links, but we’re going for brevity today.)

Megan McArdle says that ObamaCare needs a “drop-dead date,” by which time we decide the law is unworkable and repeal it.   She touches on the scope of ObamaCare, e.g. the volume of regulations and how those must interface with either a state or federal online exchange system, and how that has hindered the roll-out of the exchanges. As a conservative, I know that the sheer scope of this project is precisely the problem: the federal government simply lacks the knowledge and ability to run health care for three hundred million people.  HHS has very little actual knowledge of what actual people want and can afford in a health care plan, and has almost no knowledge of how insurance companies price their products – or even what products they choose to offer.

Doctors and hospitals are requiring patients to pay their entire deductible up-front.  Yay, ObamaCare!

 

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The ObamaCare rollout disaster

Sorry, folks, for not blogging much: things around the Bridget&Boots household have gotten a little busy recently.

The ObamaCare exchanges have been an unmitigated disaster: almost $650 million for a site that crashes, selling plans with premiums that are hideously expensive, and not encouraging young, relatively affluent people to enroll.

There is some evidence that the sites are crashing due to a deliberate decision to not allow people to browse plans without first submitting their information.  (Story here.)  The theory is that people will first see what subsidies they are eligible for; they will not first wince at the cost of plans, which are artificially high for those who are young and healthy. Problematically, that creates a huge bottleneck as one server verifies everyone’s personal information, determines their subsidies, and then shows them what plans will cost.

Whatever ObamaCare is about, it’s not about getting cheap health care for the fifty million people in America who lack health insurance.

 

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Welcome to Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For those who are living in a cave: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  It is also the “Month of Absurd Slacktivism Memes,” such as this one:

BC Awareness

Leaving aside the grammatical issue (I presume that the creator wants to support breast cancer awareness, not breast cancer), what on earth is the point of all this?

We are not living in the nineteenth century or some third-world country wherein women do not know that there is such a thing as breast cancer, or are not able to receive treatment for it absent massive social stigma.  Angelina Jolie told the whole world that she got a preventative double mastectomy; do we really need more “awareness” of this disease? Does removing one’s bra really make other women think, “Oh, breast cancer – gotta get my mammogram”?

The sad thing is that social media could be very effective in preventing breast cancer.  Even “Self-Exam Saturday” or “Mammogram and MRI Monday” could educate women about how to detect cancer earlier, prevent the disease, or speak to their doctor about appropriate screening.

Occupy Wall Street had a “99%” meme; breast cancer internet memes could have a “We Are The 90%” meme to represent the 90% of women who get breast cancer but lack the genetic mutation of BRCA1 or BRCA2.

I am not being facetious with “Self-Exam Saturday”: my breast doctor told all of her patients to do daily self-exams. It’s hard to remember to do them the day after the last day of your period, but people can remember do to “daily” exams frequently enough to detect breast and lymph node changes.  Yes, lymph nodes: invasive breast cancer usually spreads to the lymph nodes in the armpits first, and can be detected by a hardening of those lymph nodes.  Breast self-exams should include the entire breast, including the “tail” (the outer part that leads up to the armpit).

Raise your hand if you’ve purchased “breast cancer awareness” products in the supermarket but were unaware of how to do a proper breast self-exam.

Raise your hand if you’ve seen cheesy “post your bra colour on Facebook” memes but did not know that the supermajority of women who get breast cancer do not have the gene.

Raise your hand if you think that the slacktivism memes are more harmful than useful.

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Merck cuts $2.5 billion from budget and 8,500 jobs

Merck & Co. announced that it will cut $2.5 billion from its budget and will also lay off 8,500 employees.  Of the budget cuts, $1 billion will come by the end of 2014, and approximately half of that will be to cuts in research and development.  Merck cited regulatory hurdles for experimental drugs as one reason for the cuts. Many other drug companies have announced similar cost-cutting measures.

Most drugs take approximately 10-15 years to develop; they are on-patent for over ten years before being brought to market.  The drugs that are on the market today were developed in the 1990s; the drugs that Merck is now developing (or rather, may be halting development on) would reach the market any time between now and the year 2030.   New drugs cost approximately one billion dollars to create and bring to market.

Ultimately, this is a signal that the large pharmaceutical companies do not think that they can recoup R&D costs in the future.  It is not for a lack of diseases to treat or ways to improve the lives of people suffering from chronic conditions; it is a statement that money being invested into drugs today will not see a profit when they are brought to market a decade from now.

Merck, Pfizer, and the rest could all be wrong about this – or it could be an early warning about the deleterious effects of socialised medicine. The medical device tax does not affect pharmaceutical companies, but there is nothing in the Constitution that prevents such a tax from being levied on new drugs, nor is there anything preventing the government from using its ever-increasing buying power to force the drug companies to sell at cost.  Companies that sell at cost don’t stay in business for very long.

Ultimately, it may look like Merck is being short-sighted, but it is really the American people.  We twice voted for a President who is willing to asacrifice expensive medical innovation in order to have “a big f-ing deal” of a law.

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My advice to college students

Boston.com posted two very sexist lists of advice for men and women.  (The original post is here.)   No, seriously; go read them.  You won’t believe it until you see it.

My #AdviceToCollegeWomen would start off with “Don’t listen to old hags who tell you to ‘moisturize’ and keep a hot little bod while telling men to set goals and network.”  My more-serious list:

  1. Go to all of your classes, all of the time.  Or at least keep your total absences at or below once per class per semester.
  2. Colleges have three types of people: those who study and don’t party; those who study and party; and those who party and don’t study.  Don’t be the last type.
  3. Don’t get pregnant and don’t get an STD.
  4. Don’t ever drink so much that you black out, become ill, or cannot control what happens to you.
  5. Do not leave a friend who is that drunk.
  6. Major in something useful; minor in something fun.
  7. Make sure that you graduate in four years, keep your debt to a minimum, and work every summer (and during the school year, if possible).

My #AdvicetoCollegeMen is:

  1. Go to all of your classes, all of the time.  Or at least keep your total absences at or below once per class per semester.
  2. Colleges have three types of people: those who study and don’t party; those who study and party; and those who party and don’t study.  Don’t be the last type.
  3. Don’t get anyone pregnant and don’t get an STD.
  4. Don’t ever drink so much that you black out, become ill, or cannot control what happens to you.  Do not have sex with a woman when either of you are that drunk.
  5. Do not leave a friend who is that drunk.
  6. Major in something useful; minor in something fun.
  7. Make sure that you graduate in four years, keep your debt to a minimum, and work every summer (and during the school year, if possible).

Any additions?

Update: Welcome, Legal Insurrection readers!  You’re just in time for my snark about “victim blaming.”

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