Less For You; More For MEEEE!
From a Daniel Pink tweet. And actually, to be grammatically correct, that would be "fewer" things. (All the money in the world and the guy can't buy grammar!)
Americans need to have 'less things', says US billionaire who flew wife, kids, & 2 nannies to Davos on private jet. http://dailym.ai/1uxuM65
Sure, he can afford the jet and all and I sure don't begrudge him those things.
And I'm all for having things and not being run by them.
And there have always been people who live beyond their means.
But the reality is, right now, many people are just not able to find the jobs to give them the means. We have a president who toppled the healthcare applecart instead of taking care of serious economic problems in front of him, and many people are still paying for that.
The Republicans bear responsibility for this, too.
But this President could have focused on economics when he needed to and instead he played around with his pet. To all of our detriment.
It Isn't The Muslims Being Assaulted In Sweden
A non-Jewish reporter puts on a Jewish skullcap and scary and ugly times ensue, reports the Times of Israel:
A Swedish reporter who walked around Malmo while wearing a kippa to test attitudes toward Jews was hit and cursed at by passersby before he fled for fear of serious violence.
Sveriges Television on Wednesday aired secretly recorded footage from Petter Ljunggren's walk through Malmo, which documented some of the incidents that occurred within the space a few hours.
In one scene, Ljunggren -- who, in addition to wearing a kippah was also wearing Star of David pendant -- was filmed sitting at a café in central Malmo reading a newspaper, as several passersby hurled anti-Semitic insults at him.
...One person on a scooter approached Ljunggren to warn him to leave for his own safety. In the heavily Muslim Rosengard neighborhood, Ljunggren was surrounded by a dozen men who shouted anti-Semitic slogans as eggs were hurled at his direction from apartments overhead. He then fled the area.
...Dozens of anti-Semitic incidents are recorded annually in Malmo, a city where first- and second- generation immigrants from the Middle East make up one third of a population of roughly 300,000. Several hundred Jews live there.
Fred Kahn, a leader of the local Jewish community, told JTA that most incidents are perpetrated by Muslims or Arabs.
Seems that #illridewithyou should be #illwalkwithyou and that it should be the Muslims who aren't haters accompanying the Jews to protect their safe passage throughout their day.
Remember European civilization? Take a picture of it where you see it, because there's a good chance it won't last much longer.
This Is Not The Behavior Of People In A Free Society (Attempt To Ban Germaine Greer From Speaking At Cambridge)
It's like people are pining for an Orwellian unfree society with all their outcry every time somebody whom they disagree with is going to give a talk. Pathetic and dangerous.
Charlotte Ivers writes at Cambridge.tab.co.uk that the members of the "CUSU Women's Campaign" at Cambridge are rising up to condemn the Cambridge Union for hosting Germaine Greer as a speaker:
Greer, a prominent feminist theorist, has previously been accused of transphobia. Most notably, she publically opposed appointing a trans woman to an academic position at Newnham.
From a statement that CUSU Women's Officer Amelia Horgan posted on Facebook:
Greer does not represent feminism, and she does not represent us.
Why should a speaker "represent" you or your views in order to be allowed to speak?
A totally childish view -- the view of entitled brats who see no danger in yanking the Enlightenment value of free speech. (Children, the world does not owe you emotional comfort at every turn.)
The answer to speech you don't like is more speech, not squashing speech.
Oh, and happily, the president of the Union, Amy Gregg, and her colleagues seem to agree:
"The Union maintains its commitment to free speech and, as ever, rejects no platform policies. We neither condemn nor condone the viewpoints of any of our speakers, but provide a neutral forum where they may be questioned and challenged by our members. We respect the decision of CUSU LGBT+ to issue their statement condemning someone they believe to represent views contrary to their core aims, but our speaker program will remain unchanged."
If There's Unregulated Fun, Never Fear, The Government Will Leap In To Stop It
An Encinitas hardware store had a popcorn machine and free popcorn for customers coming in -- until it was shut down by the health department, writes Ken Harrison for the San Diego Reader.
I'm sorry -- if they had a raw oyster machine, I could see the possible danger.
But this is another example how we have too many laws, too many lawmakers, and too many people employed to stop things that aren't actually endangering anyone.
According to ACE's assistant manager Mark, an inspector from the San Diego County Health Department came into the hardware store a few weeks ago and said the establishment had to stop offering popcorn, as the store didn't have a health permit to serve food. Mark reported that the inspector said her department received a formal complaint about it.
"We've always been very conscious of cleanliness [of the popcorn machine], said Mark. "We cautioned people not to reach in with their bare hands," he added. While Mark says the inspector was cordial, almost apologetic, her concern was that the popcorn was unattended.
Unattended? Do we think a few kernels might jump out and try to run away?
Oh, maybe they're worried somebody would try to poison everybody. Guess what: All the food in the grocery store and the OTC medicines in a drugstore are largely unattended. So is all the produce. So are those scoopable candies in the containers that people eat/steal while walking around the grocery store.
More from the piece:
ACE employees said they checked into what would was entailed to get a permit to offer free popcorn. "We'd have to have it like a restaurant -- three sinks, food-handler cards, just to serve popcorn," said an ACE supervisor.
Do you like what this country is coming to?
We're now a land of overlegislated weenies.
Oh, and who complains about "illegal popcorn"? My wild guess: The hardware store without the popcorn machine.
Why The U.S. Swaps Prisoners But Doesn't Pay Ransoms
Piece at Rand by think tanker Brian Michael Jenkins, whom I heard speak there a while back:
The policy against negotiating with terrorist kidnappers has its origins in the early 1970s, when terrorists began seizing diplomats and other government officials to attract publicity, win the release of imprisoned comrades or demand cash payments. Initially, the United States took the position that the host country was responsible for the safety of diplomats accredited to it. Therefore, if American diplomats were kidnapped, it was up to these host countries to secure their release. The governments of Brazil, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia have all released prisoners, arranged for the payment of ransom or allowed terrorists to escape in order to secure the safe release of American diplomats.
But attitudes hardened as the tactic proliferated. The U.S. policy of refusing to negotiate with terrorist kidnappers was sealed in blood in 1973 when two U.S. diplomats were taken hostage by the terrorist group Black September in Khartoum, Sudan. The terrorists initially demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, members of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang held in Germany, and Sirhan Sirhan, the man who shot Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.).
The United States was willing to talk to the terrorists, but not release a convicted assassin. President Nixon made this clear when asked at a press conference specifically about the demand to release Sirhan. He responded: "As far as the United States as a government giving in to blackmail demands, we cannot do so and we will not do so." News of the president's remarks was broadcast in Sudan, where the terrorists heard them. Hours later they murdered the two Americans along with a Belgian official. The response to a specific question in specific circumstances became general policy. It has been U.S. policy not to make concessions or negotiate with terrorists ever since.
The premise is that yielding to terrorist kidnappers only encourages more kidnapping. However, a RAND study in the 1970s showed little correlation between the negotiating policy and the occurrence or absence of further political kidnappings. The study found that, even when their demands were not met, terrorists derived benefits from kidnappings, including publicity, alarm, and throwing governments into crisis. Still, U.S. government officials insisted that terrorists were aware of and affected by the policy.
Hostage situations are political kryptonite that can threaten government survival. This is precisely why a number of European governments are willing to quietly pay cash ransoms and avoid debilitating crises. Many people believe that the inability of the Carter administration to rescue or negotiate the release of Americans taken hostage at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran in 1979 contributed to his defeat in the 1980 presidential election. And the revelation in 1986 that the Reagan administration, in contravention of U.S. policy, had secretly sold arms to Iran in an effort to bring about the release of Americans held hostage by Iran's protégés in Lebanon, caused an embarrassing political scandal. Evasions aside, the policy stands.
U.S. policy does not prohibit private parties from paying ransom. In domestic cases, families routinely negotiate and pay ransoms with the assistance of the FBI, which uses information gained during ransom exchanges to help apprehend kidnapping suspects. And U.S. policy discourages but does not prohibit American families or corporations from paying ransom in kidnapping cases abroad. Whether these private actions contribute to the greater good is arguable, but banning them would expose families to prosecution for doing what they will desperately try to do anyway.
Paying large ransoms to terrorist kidnappers -- whether the source of funds is public or private -- finances further terrorist operations. The kidnappers of James Foley reportedly sought a ransom of $132 million, among other demands. That is the equivalent of several hundred thousand AK-47s at black market prices or more than 200 times what it cost al Qaeda to carry out the 9/11 attacks. One can only imagine the uproar if it were revealed that the United States had paid millions of dollars to the group it currently regards as the most serious global threat to U.S. national security.
What would you do? Cash payment? Prisoner exchange? Other?
The Case For Using Drugs To Enhance Our Relationships And Minimize The Pain From Breakups
Ross Anderson of The Atlantic interviews Oxford ethicist Brian Earp about the thinking behind papers he's written with colleagues Anders Sandberg, and Julian Savulescu:
At first blush, love may seem like a poor prospect for pharmacological intervention. The reflexive dualist in us wants to say that romantic relationships are matters of the soul, and that souls ought to be free of medical tinkering. Oxford ethicist Brian Earp argues that we should resist these intuitions, and be open to the upswing in human well-being that successful love drugs could bring about. Over a series of several papers, Earp and his colleagues, Anders Sandberg and Julian Savulescu, make a convincing case that couples should be free to use "love drugs," and that in some cases, they may be morally obligated to do so. I recently caught up with Earp and his colleagues by email to ask them about this fascinating ethical frontier. What follows is a condensed version of our exchange.
What's the threshold for the use of anti-love drugs? Should people use them in cases where they aren't in any particular danger, like in the case of a tough break-up? Some might argue that you can't learn from a break-up without experiencing it in full. Do you buy that?
In a forthcoming paper, we argue for four conditions for the use of anti-love biotechnology: (1) the love in question is clearly harmful and needs to dissolve one way or another; (2) the person would conceivably want to use the technology, so there would be no problematic violations of consent; (3) the technology would help the person follow her higher-order goals instead of her lower-order feelings; and (4) it might not be psychologically possible to overcome the relevant feelings without the help of anti-love biotechnology. But the question here seems to be, what if it were possible to overcome the attachment, only it would involve a lot of protracted pain and difficulty, and the person would rather just move on with the business of living?
Philosophers will disagree about what should be allowed in a case like this. So-called "bioconservatives" would probably remind us that even great and seemingly unbearable suffering can impart unforeseeably important lessons, and that people should be very careful about turning to drugs to solve their problems or dull their pains. They tend to say things like: "With suffering comes understanding" - and of course, there is a kernel of truth to that. Bioliberals, on the other hand, would be likelier to point out that "traditional" methods of getting over heartache aim at changing our brain chemistry just as much as drugs would, only indirectly and sometimes less effectively. "Sometimes suffering is just suffering," they would add, and then they might go on to suggest that such fruitless pain should be eliminated by whatever means the individual judges for himself are best.
For our part, we certainly don't deny that there can be great value in experiencing the world "as it really is" - in its heartbreak and agony as much as in its joys. But we think that even if it could be shown that human beings had some sort of existential duty to experience pain along with happiness, this duty would not absolute: it could be trumped by the debilitating effects of certain traumas, and sometimes a broken heart might qualify in just this sense.
Related, from my column:
Brain imaging research by UCLA's Naomi Eisenberger and Matthew Lieberman finds that the same regions of the brain that are activated by physical pain are activated by social pain, and Eisenberger reports that "individuals who are more sensitive to one kind of pain are also more sensitive to the other." Further pointing to a connection, what's good for a sprained ankle seems good for a sprained ego. In research Eisenberger collaborated on, 500 milligrams of acetaminophen (think Tylenol) taken twice daily was actually found to diminish emotional pain.
Your Hiding You Is On You, Not Your White Or Chinese Roommate
"I'm tired of suppressing myself to get along with white people" is the headline on the Priscilla Ward Salon piece. The subtitle: "I pocket my black rage, and swap 'hey girl' for hello. But in making others comfortable, I'm making myself sick."
Wow -- not being true to yourself makes you sick. This is not a surprise.
She writes that her roommate, a few weeks after Michael Brown got shot in Ferguson, had only a vague sense of what went on there.
Guess what: Not everybody pays attention to the news. I mentioned Charlie Hebdo to someone I know -- someone highly intelligent but who's not really all up in the news -- and she hadn't heard of it.
I was tired of catering to everyone else's comforts. How much of my day-to-day experiences as a black woman do I have to filter? I replace "hey girl" with boring hellos. I eat my leftover fried chicken outside the office. In order to have some common point of identifiable communication, I pretend to care about Taylor Swift, or white movie stars on their I've-lost-count remarriages and those other white pop stars I could not care less about. "Oh yeah, she's cute," I tell them. "Yeah, that's cool."
Ridiculous. That's on her, not on the white, Chinese, and whatever people around her.
If you're around people who think ill of you because you eat fried chicken, maybe they're recent converts to low-carb. Fried chicken is one of my favorite foods ever. If you eat it, I won't think ill of you -- unless you don't offer me a piece. And I'm the color of fresh Wite-Out.
Could it be that you just think they think ill of you? Because it helps you maintain what might be your (covertly narcissistic) identity as being special because you are an "outsider"?
There's still DWB -- getting pulled over for Driving While Black -- and other absolutely rotten and sometimes deadly stuff people go through just by virtue of being black. But the reality is people are divided by class in this country more and more. My black friends don't stick out from my white friends -- and same goes for friends of other races and from other countries. We're all in the same social circle and have the same sort of jobs and similar lives and concerns.
On the language issue, I'm from Detroit, and I absolutely love hearing "Hey, girl" and the way some black women speak, same as I love hearing Southern accents. A woman manning the Hardee's drive-through in Detroit once called my boyfriend "baby" -- "Thank you, baby" -- while I was on the phone, and it was so sexy (without trying to be) that I still remember it.
Quite frankly, if you are in Western society and don't talk how you want to talk or eat the lunch you want to eat, or aren't real about the music you listen to, you're probably doing that because you don't have real (intrinsic) self-esteem.
About the music thing, I got scared the other day because I had to get a second mammogram. When I'm scared, I listen to Julie Andrews. At full blast. (Also at other times. I just love Julie Andrews.) I tell people this on occasion. When it's relevant. Though I think you probably couldn't get uncooler in musical taste.
As for Ward, I suspect that her problem is that she sees herself as a black person first and a person second.
Back on the language thing, my Catholic boyfriend told me his (Jewish) Hollywood agent used the word "macher" today. I don't think he was troubled that the guy didn't speak the Latin of the whatever mass my boyfriend talks about everybody getting their panties in a bunch about somebody changing.
Who has time to be this agitated that the world is not formed exactly to their cultural specifications? That some people listen to Taylor Swift when they listen to something else? (As I noted about feminists the other day, the victimist focus does allow one to avoid the hard thinking about life and working toward becoming somebody.)
Oh, and if she wants something worth being upset about, there's this from her piece:
I don't talk about what happens every 28 hours -- a black person is killed.
These are mainly black men being killed by other black men.
But that misses the mark of her agenda, so...never mind!
Tax Rates Are Higher In Floodville -- Imagine That
Jeff Harrington writes in the Tampa Bay Trib that Floridians pay more for insurance -- an article accompanied by a photo of mobile homes partly under water:
It's still more expensive to buy homeowners insurance in Florida than anywhere else in the country.
In fact, Florida homeowners are now paying more than double the national average.
Average insurance premiums statewide for the most common type of homeowners policy rose nearly 8 percent in 2012 to $2,084, according to data released this week from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
That makes Florida the first state to cross the $2,000 mark in average premiums and widens the gap between the next two states on the list, both of them coastal: Louisiana (average premiums of $1,742) and Texas ($1,661).
The national average: $1,034. For the record, Florida's premiums are 102 percent higher.
And the truth is, taxpayers do a whole lot of subsidizing of seaside-dwelling wealthy people and others who choose to live in areas where disaster is prone to strike. This should be on them, not on the rest of us.
UPDATED: ("Flood," which I erroneously included before "insurance," has been removed.)
Not jeggings. Never jeggings.
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My Boobs Got A Passing Grade -- Despite How Obamacare Killed My Healthcare
Yes, I have healthcare -- still -- I just can't afford to use it.
Mammograms are considered part of preventive care, so I only had to pay $30 for the visit today, but I'm in a small group of people deemed by a breast surgeon I saw a while back to need a little more than just a mammogram. (Sorry to get so personal, but large, dense breasts and Ashkenazi Jewish origins -- see BRCA bit below.)
I went for a follow-up mammogram and ultrasound today -- scary -- because the radiologist thought he saw something on the mammogram I got a few weeks ago. Thankfully, upon closer examination, it seemed to be nothing.
I joined my HMO 20-some years ago, thinking I'd get in when I was at my youngest and healthiest and then have good rates as I aged. (The rate was only going up with age, not health conditions, as long as you were "in.")
Before Obamacare, I had a small co-pay for services, like $50 for the boob MRI I was supposed to get every two years, per a breast surgeon who, per family history, decided to test me for BRCA. (BRCA-negative back then, phew!)
After Obamacare, my monthly dues shot up -- unaffordably -- and the care I'd get for them shot down...dramatically. With Obamacare, I have a hefty deductible to hit.
This means that breast MRI I'm supposed to have is now $700. Not in the budget. Beyond not in the budget.
Also, I've been having really bad lower bad pain, but realized that the look-see for that is an MRI. So I'm doing back exercises and hoping -- just like I'm hoping I won't get breast cancer and hoping that they catch it in mammograms if I do get it, despite how difficult my boobs are to see into in a mammogram.
"Hope for change"?
Well, yes. My hope is that someone will invent a time machines and I can go back two elections and successfully campaign for people to elect a libertarian President and a bunch of Senators and Congresspeople who won't pass a huge, costly, and damaging shift in healthcare that they didn't even bother to read.
Of Course This Was Coming. (Did You Think TSA's PreCheck Would Stop At Just Sticking A Finger In Your Personal Data?)
There's a story at The Hill by Thomas P. Bossert about where the TSA is going with PreCheck:
You know those PreCheck lanes at the airport that promise expedited screening? The TSA wants to fill them and it has come up with a troubling new twist on an old, contentious scheme to do it. While Congress and the rest of us were slipping out for the holidays, the TSA quietly published its intent to hire big data companies to solicit you for PreCheck enrollment, and seek your consent to mine your grocery receipts, your credit card purchases, and even your Facebook posts to determine if you are a terrorist risk - not just once but on an ongoing basis.
The TSA's approach raises serious concerns about citizen privacy, and security...
...TSA hopes to not tell you what exactly their private sector contractors will collect or what they will use to determine your suitability for reduced screening. The government will remind you that the program is voluntary, rightly. But, how do we give informed consent? It is unknown what predictive factors will be used in the algorithm to determine whether a passenger is a threat.
Beware what you post on social media while you are enrolled in PreCheck - it is fair game, according to the TSA's request for proposals. It is also unclear whether the information collected by the agency's private sector contractors could be used for other government or private purposes. The type of information collected appears to be unlimited and the government will not say what these big data companies may or may not collect. Worse, if you are rejected by a private sector contractor, you may never know why.
The privacy and civil liberties implications alone are astounding. But, there is a more important issue. The TSA is gambling with the security of civil aviation and expanding its scope irresponsibly. The problem with computerized passenger profiling is that it simply does not work.
Frequent flyer miles might be a factor in the secret algorithm. However, Mohamed Atta, a ringleader and 9/11 hijacker, had a frequent-flyer gold card. Current members of the military are considered low risk by the TSA. Yet, Nidal Hasan, the convicted Fort Hood shooter, was a U.S. Army Major. Perhaps the algorithm will be programmed to trust doctors. Yet, the attempted 2007 car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow were planned and executed by doctors.
According to a recent report on Homeland Security News Wire, "about 40 percent of lone-wolf terrorists are driven by mental illness, not ideology."
If you voluntarily submit for a PreCheck background check and are green-lighted by the big data companies who have fed your discoverable personal data into their algorithms, you are promised quicker transit through airport security, dedicated faster moving lines, and you will not be asked to remove your belt, shoes, liquids and gels. If you do not, you are guaranteed the opposite. So, either these security measures--removal of belts, shoes, liquids and gels--are unnecessarily kept in place to drive passengers into the allure of PreCheck, or they are prudent flight security measures waived by the TSA because it is willing to gamble on the effectiveness of its prescreening. Either conclusion is unsettling.
Of course, the place to profile people is before they get to the airport, and the way to do that is using highly trained intelligence officers operating according to -- yes, that old Constitution thingie -- probable cause.
Macaroni art links.
Blame "The Patriarchy"! (Beats Working)
A friend wrote me about a 20-something female employee in her workplace who goes on about "the patriarchy."
My reply: "The patriarchy"?! Women (like her) grew up in the land of opportunity, the freest country in the world, at the time women have it better than at any time in history.
But rather than having identity through accomplishment (takes work, ick!), women like this one have it through shared whining.
Somebody should open whine lodges (like sweat lodges) for feminist women. They'd make a mint.
Frum: Obama's Entire State Of The Union Address Was Aimed At Hillary Clinton
Interesting analysis by David Frum at The Atlantic that the President's State of the Union address was aimed at forcing Hillary to campaign and govern on his terms:
There's a subtext to President Obama's slew of domestic policy proposals since the November elections: President Obama does not trust Hillary Clinton very much.
None of the president's domestic-policy brainwaves has much chance of becoming law in the next two years: not free community college, not cash grants to selected middle-income households, and certainly not heavy tax increases on upper-income earners. The president knows these odds better than anybody. So why keep propounding such no-hopers? The intent, pretty obviously, is to box in his presumptive successor as head of the Democratic Party.
Every time the president advances a concept that thrills his party's liberal base, he creates a dilemma for Hillary Clinton. Does she agree or not? Any time she is obliged to answer, her scope to define herself is constricted.
Hillary Clinton emerges from the Democratic Party's business wing. Whatever her own personal views--still an elusive quantum after all these years in public life--she is identified in the public mind with her husband's record, her husband's appointees, and her husband's donors. Not just in the public mind, but seemingly in the president's mind, too. So as the clock runs down on his administration, he seems determined to set the post-Obama Democratic Party on a more leftward course than he himself had the strength to steer.
"My Gullible Americans..."
We'll open with a little bullshit bipartisanship, my tweet of a quote from the President's State of the Union address:
"We can come together, Democrats and Republicans..." And I will wake up tomorrow morning & flap my arms & fly to the 7-Eleven. #SOTU
Other bullshit and assorted nibbles, from my #SOTU tweets:
If we "condemned the persecution of women" & LGBTs, we'd have govt officials being vocal daily on what goes on in Islamic countries #SOTU
"We stand united" against terrorists... that is, from across the ocean while all the other world leaders are marching in Paris. #SOTU
Veterans have been ignored by VA medical facilities. They are convenient at speech time. #SOTU
The truth is that we are a people who've grown lazy and too comfortable about big government and erosions of civil liberties. #SOTU
Apparently, "who we are" is people who see nothing wrong w/ removing due process from men on campus (Obama admin interp of Title IX) #SOTU
"Avoiding another Mid-East conflict"? How? By clicking our heels together three times & saying "Take me back to Kansas"? #SOTU
Obama, OCTOBER 2004: "What I believe is that marriage is between a man and a woman ..." (a politician's right to opportunism) #SOTU
Congress does not work on OUR behalf. Anything but. #SOTU
"Top one percent" -- Obama's special Satan. Yawn. #SOTU
"I won both of them" was kinda yicky. When you're the "leader of the free world," it's gross to gloat. #SOTU
FREE! FAIR! FREE! FAIR! FREE! FREE! FREE! #SOTU
And about the response from the other team, given by former Hardee's employee and current freshman Republican Senator Joni Ernst:
Sorry, but this sounds like a Saturday Night Life Opener #SOTUresponse
Why is she talking to us like we're learning-disabled children? #SOTUresponse
Also, I think she stole Newt Gingrich's hair.
Your thoughts on any or all of the above?
Your Govt, Selling Your Personal Data To The Highest Bidder
The President talked pretty talk about privacy and techno threats to it in the State of the Union address:
"No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism."
Oopsy. Peter Suderman at reason notes that the President said this on the same day it was revealed that HealthCare.gov shares citizens' private information with outside marketers:
Earlier tonight, the Associated Press reported that HealthCare.gov, the federally run web portal for Obamacare's health insurance exchanges, has been quietly sharing potentially identifying personal information, including age, zip code, and Internet address, with as many as 50 third party advertising and marketing agencies. The White House could not say how it was ensuring that the outside firms were complying with federal data privacy guidelines, according to the AP. In September of last year, the Government Accountability Office reported that HealthCare.gov still had security vulnerabilities that left personal information submitted to the site "at risk."
And regarding "no foreign nation" being able to "invade the privacy of American families," they'd just have to get in line. Beyond the HealthCare.gov selling of citizens' info, there is the DEA and NSA spying on us.
So, what we really need is to "combat cyber threats" from our own government.
No promises on that, unfortunately, from the President.
Is Somebody At The LAPD High On Drugs? (Illegal Drug Dropoff Box At Police Station)
How many people do you think drive their illegal drugs to the police station to carry them in and drop them off in a "drug drop box"? Posted by @Venice311.
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Bake Slaves: Forced By The Govt To Make Cakes That Violate Their Beliefs
First it was bakers who are Christians who had the state come down on them for their refusal to make wedding cakes for gay couples; now there's a bakery in Colorado under investigation for refusing to make an anti-gay cake.
From KDVR: "Man takes legal action after Denver baker refuses to make anti-gay cake." A religious discrimination complaint has since been filed with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.
In case it's important for anyone to know, I'd run the bakery that refused to make the anti-gay cake. However, what's important overall is that we should not be allowing the state to force businesses to do business that violates their beliefs.
There have to be some exceptions, like if you're a hospital owned by people who dislike, oh, the Irish or people from Toronto, and somebody comes in having a heart attack.
But as law professor Jonathan Turley points out:
Bakers and photographers view themselves as engaged in a form of speech generally. The loss of a bright-line defining free speech has meant that we are finding ourselves increasingly on a slippery slope of speech regulation. On the other hand, we fought hard to guarantee accommodation for all races in places of public accommodation. Stores are not allowed to ban black customers under the same rationale. The question is whether there is a difference between refusing to serve customers on the basis for sexual orientation generally as opposed to taking an active or direct role in a same-sex wedding.
And actually, horrible as it is, I think private businesses should be allowed to exclude customers if they so desire. I would not patronize these businesses and I would probably organize boycotts and pickets of them. But also support what should be their right to choose who they do and do not do business with.
"Every Year, The Rulebooks Get Thicker"
We have become a land of way too much government and way too many laws and rules. Philip K. Howard writes at The Daily Beast that regulations are strangling Good Samaritans, making it harder to do the right thing:
In January 2014, a lifelong District of Columbia parks employee, Medric Mills, collapsed while walking with his grown daughter. They were across the street from a fire station, close enough for his daughter to yell for help. Mills was lying on the sidewalk, dying, right in front of people trained to save him. But they refused to cross the street to help because, they told bystanders, the rules required them instead to call 911. By the time the ambulance arrived, over 10 minutes later, it was too late--Mills died soon after arriving at the hospital.
This is how many public safety officers are trained nowadays. In 2011, firemen in Alameda County refused to rescue a suicidal man who had swum out to sea because they hadn't yet been re-certified for "land-based water rescues." Therefore, they explained to passers-by, it would be illegal for them to try to save the man's life. Later that day, when the fire chief was asked by a reporter what he would have done if it had been a drowning child, he said, "Well, if I was off duty I would know what I would do, but I think you're asking me my on-duty response and I would have to stay within our policies and procedures because that's what's required by our department to do."
Law is essential to freedom because it safeguards citizens against misconduct and abuse. By drawing boundaries against wrongful conduct, law provides a protective zone of freedom within those boundaries. Companies can't pollute; businesses can't cheat; people must honor contracts. On this open field of freedom, people can act spontaneously without undue defensiveness
Modern law goes a giant step backwards--it often bars people from doing what's right. Law's proper role is now seen as instructing people how to make daily choices. Instead of providing the framework for freedom, law has replaced it, creating a legal minefield rather than an open field for free choice.
We see it every day. Teachers are told never to put an arm around a crying child. Principals are required to suspend students who did nothing wrong, such as the seventh-grader who had "possession" of a pill for one second before immediately rejecting the supposed gift. Employers don't give job recommendations. Children are barred from playing tag. Doctors are prohibited from doing what a patient needs by rigid practice guidelines. Social workers can't rescue a child from a dangerous home because of mandatory waiting times. Workers escaping the Deepwater Horizon explosion couldn't cut loose the lifeboat and nearly died because of a rule that prohibited them from carrying a knife.
We need a Department of Repeal, and we need to start complaining about idiocies like these above and demanding our freedom and freedom of choice back.
Mississippi Wants To Yank The License Of An 88-Year-Old Doctor For Treating The Poor Out Of His Toyota Camry
Peter Holley writes in the WaPo:
In small-town Mississippi, where poverty is endemic, transportation is limited and a trip to the emergency room can lead to financial ruin, an alternative exists for those in the know.
His name is Dr. Landrum -- Carrol Frazier Landrum -- and, even if your pockets are empty, the 88-year-old physician from Edwards, Miss., will schedule you for an appointment.
For the last two years, Landrum has been working without an office, but he's happy to meet his patients wherever they are. Sometimes, the meetings occur in a home; sometimes they take place in a parking lot. Other patients meet the doctor on the side of a quiet country road -- or inside his 2007 Toyota Camry.
The location doesn't matter because Landrum, a World War II veteran who has been in private practice for more than 55 years, believes it's his duty to help anyone who calls on him.
"I've always had a heart for the poor," Landrum told The Washington Post this week, struggling to hold back tears. "I grew up poor, and when the doctor would come to us, and he was happy to see us, I pictured myself doing that some day. I try not to ever turn people away -- money or no money - because that's where the need is."
But his work may soon come to an end.
Landrum said he's being asked by the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure to surrender his medical license, which he's carried in his pocket with pride since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. The reason for the request, according to Landrum, is that the board balked several months ago upon learning that he was operating his practice out of a car.
At a recent hearing, Landrum said, he was labeled "incompetent" by the board. He said the charge is a catchall, one designed to avoid citing a specific occupational violation, and he maintains he's done nothing wrong. He said he doesn't recruit patients and only responds to those who have nowhere else to turn.
... A visitation starts with a phone call in which Landrum tries to get as much information about the patient's condition and medical history as possible. Next, a meeting is arranged, with the doctor driving as far as 50 miles to reach patients who can't come to him. Appointments might occur while he leans his head inside the cab of a pickup truck as it idles in a vacant parking lot.
I love this guy. It's sick what we've come to, where we want to grind a guy like this out of business -- the business of helping people nobody else is going to help.
Meanwhile, a headline: "Rural hospitals even fewer and farther between"
A networking site for umbilical endings.
Murder Meets The Sharing Economy In Chicago
No, not for real -- a parody piece in The Onion:
Chicago Introduces New Citywide Gun-Sharing Stations
CHICAGO--Touting the program's convenience and affordability, Chicago officials unveiled Monday the city's new gun-sharing service, "QuikShot," which allows individuals to check out a loaded firearm for short periods of time.
The municipal initiative, through which users can rent semiautomatic pistols, shotguns, rifles, and submachine guns at more than 250 self-service kiosks, has reportedly been designed to make firepower easily available to residents and tourists alike nearly everywhere within the city limits.
Adds the element of speed to contract killings and drive-by shootings. Always nice to modernize!
"Manblaming" is my word for the desire by elite but weakly women to generalize that all men are guilty -- of something -- simply because they're male.
Believing that they're "oppressed" by men gives these women a shortcut to an identity and a sense of belonging to something (and never mind how hard they have to work to feel "oppressed" in the freest society in the world).
Strong, rational women, on the other hand, get their identity through their accomplishments -- they don't need to drag men down and deem them guilty as a gender to feel better.
Unfortunately, as I've said before, feminism has degenerated to demanding that women be treated as eggshells, not equals. (Feminists tend not to be into scrapbooking, so they need some sort of hobby.) In this world, a man with his legs spread on the subway isn't a lazy oaf; he's part of a crime syndicate acting out on female humanity.
This thinking would be hilarious if it didn't also serve to infantilize women and lend social support to serious, state-supported discrimination against men, like the removal of due process from men on campus by the Obama administration.
Elissa Strauss, at The Week has a piece on the "man-izing" of all problematic behavior -- with "mansplaining," "manspreading," and "manslamming" (called "the sidewalk M.O. of men who remain apparently oblivious to the personal space of those around them.")
The origins of "mansplain" lie in a fantastic essay by Rebecca Solnit called "Men Explain Things to Me," which opens with a story about the time a man explained to her a book she had just written. That guy definitely sucks. But most men, or people for that matter, are not that deluded and deserve to be heard out. After "mansplain" caught fire, it became all too easy for women to avoid conversations with men who disagree with them; all they had to do is charge them with "mansplaining" and case closed.
I wrote a blog item about this "fantastic" essay, "Rebecca Solnit Is A Sniveling Idiot":
Meanwhile, Solnit herself, who, most annoyingly, Likes To Use Capital Letters For Emphasis All Over The Damn Place, says that even she, a woman who has "public standing as a writer of history," had a moment when she "was willing to believe Mr. Very Important and his overweening confidence over (her) more shaky certainty."
Sorry, but if you have "shaky certainty," do you blame men, or sign up for a little assertiveness training? So much of what women do blame men for -- women's lower starting salaries in the workplace, for example -- traces back to women passively accepting what's presented to them, whether it's some boorish jerk's assertion, or the first dollar offer they're made for a job. This is correctable, but not by writing long-winded screeds against men in the Los Angeles Times.
Although Solnit comes up continually short on guts in conversational situations, she's remarkably gutsy about aligning herself and other privileged Western women with a silenced sisterhood of women living under Islam, "where women's testimony has no legal standing; so that a woman can't testify that she was raped without a male witness to counter the male rapist."
Of course, the difference is that women in Muslim countries are not, by law, allowed to testify. Western women like Solnit simply refrain from speaking up. Some loudmouth cut her off? Wow. While Muslim women fear lashings and death if they speak their minds, Solnit's simply too limp-willed to say, as I've said numerous times, and to men and women, "Don't interrupt!" or "My turn to talk!"
When that doesn't work, as it didn't when I was on the TV show, "Faith Under Fire," with the booming blowhard Frank Pastore, I began removing my mike, and told the host I was going to walk off if Pastore kept shouting over me. (I may not have been born with balls, but I keep a little set in my makeup bag, and bring them out on an as-needed basis.)
And guess what: People in bars or at parties sometimes tell me all about evolutionary psychology or behavioral science research -- often telling me wrong notions about research I've read or a paper I've heard presented at a conference. Why? Because they're trying to show me they know more than these subject than I do? Fuck, no.
These are their attempts to seem knowledgeable and interesting.
Because they are not mind readers, they have no idea I know anything about these subjects.
Because my life does not center on feeling that men are always trying to get one over on me, I am able to understand this.
The fixation on male entitlement creates a world in which the genders are at war, and women must spend their days stationed on enemy lines. Not only is this bound to exhaust all the energetic young women, it's also a distraction from the big issues at hand.
Women I know who are accomplished and doing things with their lives have no time for this sort of crap.
Links with tongue.
Advice Goddess Radio, LIVE, Tonight, 4-5 pm PT: Dr. Laurence Steinberg On The Science Of Helping Your Kids Succeed
Amy Alkon's Advice Goddess Radio: "Nerd Your Way To A Better Life!" with the best brains in science.
**Slightly different time tonight to accommodate an East Coast guest.
The smartest kids aren't necessarily the most successful. Instilling resilience and self-control are essential in helping kids succeed, explains Dr. Laurence Steinberg, a world-renowned expert on adolescent psychology. Steinberg makes a strong, science-based case for changing how we parent, teach, and understand young people.
On this show, he'll take us through science on the brain and motivation -- including his own ground-breaking research -- to bust widely held myths and explain how to support and guide kids to develop traits they need to be at their in their work and other endeavors and to live to their fullest.
His book we'll be discussing: Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence.
Listen to the show at this link at showtime (4-5 pm PT today) or download the podcast afterward:
Join me and my fascinating guests every Sunday, 7-8 p.m. Pacific Time, 10-11 p.m. Eastern Time, at blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher.
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Along with positive reviews in the WSJ and other publications, Library Journal gave the book a starred review: "Verdict: Solid psychology and a wealth of helpful knowledge and rapier wit fill these pages. Highly recommended."
Kids Today Are Treated Like Felons Doing Time
They're always behind gates. Never without a "guard." Driven to gated play dates where they are watched by other "guards."
We walked over to the park everyday (sans adult!) after school and were expected to come home before dark for dinner. Which we did.
This allowed me to play in the stream and get an understanding of salamanders and do all sorts of testing of my limits on the swings and monkeybars. While having unsupervised fun.
I also biked miles and miles all by myself, probably from the age of 13.
Accordingly, there's advice for parents today in an op-ed by Lenore Skenazy, per a tweet by Virginia Postrel:
Oped by @FreeRangeKids: "Instead of imagining the worst, send your kids out to do something you did at their age." http://buff.ly/1xH84CI