Friday, February 24, 2017

Offensive Mike Pence ObamaCare Tweet At Least As Bad As Trump Tweetstorms

One of the noisy Congressional town halls this week. Here
angry constituents confront Obamacare foe Rep. David
Brat, R-Virginia.
I don't know about you, but I was totally offended by a tweet Vice President Mike Pence sent out Wednesday.

He said, "Obamacare will be replaced by something that actually works. - bringing freedom and individual responsibility back to American health care. "

Yep, he wants us to go back to the old days of us having the "responsibility" of going bankrupt under the weight of medical bills and the freedom to die because we can't afford a doctor - all because insurance companies don't cover people that say, have pre-existing medical conditions.

Or they simply don't feel like denting their huge profits by helping to pay for life-saving surgery.

Or, as one response to Pence's tweet by @thomdunn says, "My buddy Matt would be 31 today if he didn't lack the freedom and individual responsibility to deal with his own leukemia. His fault!"

Or from Amelia Gapin (@EntirelyAmelia) "How does 'individual responsibility work when one member of a family gets cancer and bankrupts the whole family?"

Or, from @RAFinley: "Ohhh right, right. If we haven't worked hard enough at the right jobs to be able to afford our emergencies = irresponsible."

No wonder GOP lawmakers have been having such a difficult month, what with those angry town hall meetings where people yell at their Republican Congress Creatures about repealing Obamacare.

 I've always been amazed that they've railed against Obamacare for six years now.

Republicans are now in power and you'd think during all that time they'd come up with a plan to replace Obamacare with something "better."

But that was never the point. They're much more craven than that and the Pence tweet proves it.

I'll be blunt. Many Obamacare opponents want people to die from lack of health care. After a certain point, after sick people are bled dry and can't any more, they stop being profitable to insurers and hospitals and such.

These people stop being useful, so kill them off. It's the ultimate death panel.

Or, they just hate Obamacare because Obama came up with it, and to many GOPers, anything Obama did is evil.

Of course, a lot of people see through Republicans' hatred of Obamacare and that's why those town hall meetings have gotten so raucous. And it's why some Republican Congress Creatures are actually too afraid of actually holding town meetings. Or falsely accuse the angry crowds as being paid by liberal lobbyists or something.

Republicans like Paul Ryan say repealing Obamacare will give us all more freedom, to buy what you want to fit your needs, as he put it.

Like the freedom to go bankrupt with those medical bills, the freedom to stay trapped in a horrible job because the only way to get insurance is through the employer, the freedom to be victimized by a poorly regulated insurer who decides not to cover some medical treatments, and the freedom to die because you waited too long to see a doctor because you didn't want to bear the expense.

It's wonderful being free, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Why I Don't Like Ceding Control To Technology

Kim Novak was rescued from a burning car by Police Officer
Tim Schwering, but the rescue would not have been necessary
had the door locks and windows not been fully electronic.
Wouldn't it have been better if the car allowed Novak to
manually open the door and escape herself? 
A news report from KTLA in Los Angeles earlier this month is more proof as to why I don't like letting technology always do the work for me.

I like my Toyota Tacoma, but the one thing I dislike about it is I have to hit a button to electronically role the windows up or down.  

Gone are the days of the hand crank.

I know, I know it's sooooo much work having to work the crank than just hitting the button.

But one day, it will rebel against you. This doesn't happen to often, but it does.

Which leads me to the KTLA story.

It involves a woman named Kim Novak who was driving down a street in Spokane, Washington and the car suddenly died. The engine caught fire. But the doors locked themselves, and the window controls did not work. She was trapped in the burning car.

In the old days, all Novak would have had to do is open the car door and get out. Or failing that, roll down the window using the hand crank and spring out to safety.

No, now, we have to die in burning cars because - technology!

On the bright side, technology ultimately saved the Novak. She called 911 and police were nearby.

Windows these days in cars seem to be shatterproof, so the 911 dispatcher's advice that the woman trapped in the car kick out the windows didn't work. They wouldn't budge.

Finally, a cop came and with a lot of work, was able to smash out the window with his baton. He and another good Samaritan got the woman out just in the knick of time, just before the car was fully engulfed in flames.

As you can see in the video, the "safety glass" almost killed the woman, too.  The cop wearing the bodycam really had to hack away at the window for the longest time to get the woman out of the car.

Also, note some of the comments on the video from people who agree with me: Why the hell are the locks in the car fully electronic? Why can't there be manual back up?

The automatic door locks are a small but annoying inconvenience for me. Say my truck is safely parked in my driveway, and I'm working outside, retrieving tools from the truck from time to time. If the windows are rolled up, sometimes the truck just suddenly locks the doors.

If I left the keys in the truck, maybe because I was planning on going to the store in a few minutes, I'm screwed. It's another thing I have to remember: Never leave the keys in the truck because I might get locked out.

What if I temporarily have my dogs in the car with the keys. They can get lock inside. That happened to us once, and we had to get a locksmith to free the dogs. What if it had been sunny and hot. Our dogs could have died.

There have been several instances of kids accidentally being locked in cars. Isn't that dangerous? Why can't we have manual locks?

Car makers don't like manual locks and windows because they've convinced the public they are must-haves. And now there's supposedly no room for both manual and electronic controls on door panels.

Granted, this is a First World problem. But still. I don't like it. Automakers: Just let me do some of the work for myself. Don't do everything for me. I want to have at least a little control.

Here's the video of the rescue from that locked car in Spokane:


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Congress Wants Crazy People With Guns To Shoot Bears From Airplanes

Wolf pup emerging from a den. Is it really OK to go
into dens and shoot hibernating bears and wolves?
I'm not sure why some Republican lawmakers are stumbling over each other trying to outdo each other for most batshit crazy legislation, but that's where we're going.

First, Congress repealed an Obama-era rule meant to limit the sale of guns to some people with mental disabilities.  

Let's let more unstable people have guns!

People who wanted to do away with the rule said lax or incorrect reporting standards meant that people who had mental issues, but who were still safe with guns, were barred from having firearms.

As a person who is high functioning but has a (mild) mental illness, I can see that concern.

After all, I have ADHD, but because of psychiatric counseling, effort on my part and a fairly low daily dose of Adderall, I function just fine. If I were trained to properly use handguns, I'm sure I'd be safe with them.

But wouldn't it be better just to make a case by case judgment on this?

Now that practically everybody can have guns, what are we all gonna sboot?

In Alaska, the answer apparently is, we want to shoot bears and wolves from airplanes, or barge into dens while the animals are hibernating and shoot them there.

Sounds fun! If you're into unsportsmanlike hunting, that is.

Yep, the U.S. House of Representatives, voting along party lines, approved the repeal of laws that prohibited people from shooting bears and wolves from airplanes and entering dens to shoot hibernating animals.

According to Buzzfeed and many other news outlets, this all started last August when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the Obama administration, sensibly issued rules banning hunting tactics that then-director Dan Ashe said was "a withering attack on bears and wolves that is wholly at odds with America's long tradition of ethical, sportsmanlike, fair-chase hunting."

More from Buzzfeed:

"The banned activities on Alaska's wildlife refuges including hunting tactics common elsewhere in the US but nevertheless troubling to wildlife advocates: baiting brown bears to draw them to hunters and shooting them; shooting bears ensnared in traps, and shooting bears and wolves in their dens with their cubs or pups."

That last bit is something. Go into a bear den and shoot the mother bear and cubs. Because you can, I guess.

People want to be able to shoot bears and wolves, even if they are in dens, because bear and wolves sometimes eat moose and elk.  

That reduces the number of moose and elk that people can, yes, hunt. So people want to hunt bear and wolves in nonsportsmanlike ways so they can, um, hunt other animals too.

It's true that some Alaskans hunt moose and elk because they rely upon them for food. However, my suspicious mind thinks that Congress approved this change to satisfy their rich contributors who go to Alaska to hunt, but don't rely on wild animals for sustenance.

Basically, what's going on here is, "Let's kill more animals so we can kill more animals."

Wildlife advocates say it's not like they're trying to stop hunting on wildlife refuges. They just want to stop extreme forms of hunting that throw off the ecosystem.

It seems especially galling to go into dens and shoot sleeping bears and cubs. I don't know why anybody would get off on this, but you never know what some people think.

Look, I'm not against hunting. I live in Vermont, where there is a big hunting culture and I have no problem whatsoever with it.  As long as the hunters are responsible and not a bunch of yahoos. Most hunters are great.

But, we're in an anything goes atmosphere now. Time to start shooting everything in sight, I guess.

Your Vermont Caffeine Fix Might Get A Little More Expensive. Blame Lake Champlain.

A tax on coffee in Vermont because people pee
out caffeine? Could happen. 
Many of us Vermonters know that our "West Coast" - Lake Champlain- has some issues.

There's a pretty big pollution problem in the lake, mostly involving phosphorus that is harming wildlife and contributing mightily to some really icky algae blooms.

Vermont is under federal orders to clean the lake up, and the state is scrambling to find the money to do the job.

One state lawmaker has one interesting idea: Adding a tax on coffee.

Here's the logic: People drink coffee. Then they pee. Then (hopefully!) they flush the toilet.

The caffinated pee ends up at the wastewater treatment plant, but the plant can't remove the caffeine from the water. So the wastewater treatment plant discharges the caffeinated water back into the river, which flows into Lake Champlain.

It's hard to believe there's enough caffeine involved to cause a problem, especially when phosphorus is the main troublemaker in the lake. But VTDigger reports that one state lawmaker, David Deen a Democrat from Westminster, says his legislative committee is considering a tax on coffee to deal with the lake pollution.

According to VTDigger, Deen says coffee has become a "compound of emerging concern" in scientific literature.

Currently, there are no reported instances where there's so much caffeine in drinking water to give you a buzz. Levels detected are way, way below those you'd get from your Morning Joe or a your Diet Coke if you're so inclined.

Then again, caffeine is not something that naturally occurs in waterways, so you never know what effect it might have on wildlife.

Caffeine probably has some effect on wildlife, but it looks as it it's not a big a deal as say, discarded pharmaceuticals making their way into aquatic habitats.

Not surprisingly, outfits like Green Mountain Coffee, based in Vermont, don't like the proposed tax because it would make it harder to compete with out of state companies like Starbucks and Peet's

The Vermont caffeine tax is not definite, and it's one of many ideas under consideration to pay for a Lake Champlain cleanup. There's no specific bill yet to be introduced that would tax coffee.

Who knows? Maybe they'll extend this and have you pay a fee every time you go to the toilet for a pee.

You'd sure be in trouble if you didn't have cash or credit cards with you, wouldn't you?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Horrifying First Video Of So-Called Swedish Terrorist Attack Trump Referred To

I've got the scoop on the "terrer attack" in Sweden
Trump referred to last night. 
Pretty much everybody, including the entire population of Sweden, was mystified by the terrorist incident in Sweden Donald Trump referred to during his apparent 2020 presidential campaign kickoff in Melbourne, Florida Saturday.

"You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden," Trump marveled to the crowd Saturday.

I guess the fake news mainstream media hid this terrorist attack from the public, just like Trump said the media is hiding all terrorists attacks.

Swedish news media had reports Saturday of a disturbed man setting himself on fire, a fatal workplace accident, and closed roads because of winter storm in northern Sweden, but nothing about a terrorist attack.

Trump did apparently watch a Fox news program Friday about refugees in Sweden committing crimes, so maybe that's what he's talking about?

The president would not confuse that with a real terrorist attack, would he? Of course not, and I've got the proof.

I was able to obtain video of the terrible attack in Sweden Friday. Here it is, but warning, it's not for the sensitive. It's scary - especially the gunfire towards the end:

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Youth Basketball Team Rebels Gloriously Against Dumb Adult Rules

A fifth grade basketball team in New Jersey votes to keep
girls on the team even though the CYO organization said they couldn't.
Hats off today to the St. John's New Jersey 5th grade basketball team, who chose unity and fairness over the silly "rules" of adults. 

There were nine boys and two girls on the St. John's CYO team.

Mucketymucks with the church found out about the girls playing on the team and laid the law down.

The team was not allowed to have girls. Ditch the girls or give up the rest of the season, the team was told, as reports.

The boys on the team would have none of it.  They said no girl team mates no playing.

An opposing team, St. Bartholomew the Apostle, had just showed up for a game against St. John's but the refs announced the a CYO director instructed the refs not to allow the team to play if the girls remained on it.

There was a bit of a discussion over whether it could be an "unofficial" game, but nobody seemed all that keen on the idea. And coaches were reluctant to force a decision on the fifth graders.

Finally, a parent named Matthew Dohn spoke up and asked the St. John's fifth grade team directly: "Is your decision to play the game without the two young ladies on the team, or do you want to stay as a team as you have all year?   Show of hands for play as a team?

All 11 members of the team raised their hands. When parents asked the question a diffeent way: Should the girls stay out of the game? No hands went up.

Parents reminded the team that if they let the girls play, the rest of the season would be forfeited. "If the girls play, this will be the end of your season. You won't play in the playoffs," said assistant coach Keisha Martel.

Martel is the mom of one of the girls in question.

"It doesn't matter," one boy replied. Soon the rest of the team joined in chanting, "Unity!" reported that many spectators cheered along and several parents began to cry.

Here's how one parent reacted, says

"Pride. Just pure pride......These kids are doing the right thing. We don't have to tell them what to do. They just know. It's amazing."

The fifth graders also appear to be more brave than the adults who made the decision to bar the girls. The kids on the team were outspoken on their position to say the least.

An anonymous complaint about the girls playing led to the decision to bar them. That came when St. John's played another school called St. Theresa's, where the family of one girl was suing the school to allow her to play on the boy's team.

The school responded by expelling the girl and her sister, though an appeals court ruled that the girls must be reinstated.

In the case of the St. John's game, the CYO organization said rules are rules and girls must play with girls, and boys must play with boys.

At least the kids understand there is sometime a need for flexibility.

Said parent Rob Martel: "They're kids and all they wanted to do was play.....This is adults that couldn't figure out how to let the kids play two more games. This isn't the WNBA or NBA. They're just trying to get better, and I think they got better today."

Well, maybe not at basketball, since the kids weren't allowed to play. But they certainly showed their growing skills at the game of life.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Side By Side View Of A Drive Through Los Angeles

Glenn Close in the current Broadway run of "Sunset Boulevard"
I was in New York City this week to see some shows and be tourists.

My husband Jeff and I were lucky enough to score very good seats to see Glenn Close in the revival of "Sunset Boulevard."  (We were very lucky to time this right because "Sunset Boulevard" is there for only a limited 16-week run.)

We loved it, of course, and Glenn Close was absolutely terrific. I resisted the temptation to say out loud those famous lines from the play as Close spoke them.

"I am big. It's the pictures that got small."

"Alright, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup."

During Sunset Boulevard scene changes and transitions, the show at the Palace Theater had a translucent screen that showed 1940s-era black and white flim clips of Hollywood and the glamorous actors who inhabited it. ("Sunset Boulevard," for those who don't know, takes place in 1940s Hollywood.)

Quite a world, back then.

Imagine my delight when I got home yesterday, opened up the BoingBoing web site, and found, with perfect timing, a video showing side by side view of the same drive through Los Angeles in the 1940s and today.

It's pretty fascinating to see how much things have changed.

Watch the video, which comes to us courtesy of the New Yorker: