Monthly Archives: July 2009

Give a Dollar a Day Until We Have Health Insurance Reform

I just signed up to give a dollar a day to Organizing for America until real health insurance reform is signed into law — and send a message to the opponents of change that their delay tactics will only strengthen our movement.

Can you join me?

By the way, if you listen to any of Barack Obama’s town hall meetings on health care, you will see how well he explains it.  Here is the Bristol, Virginia town hall meeting as shown on C-SPAN.

The health of our country and the health of our economy depends on this.

Just remember that in all other industrialized countries with health care iinsurance guaranteed, a laid off worker can start an enterpreneurial business to overcome the current economic situation without worrying about how she or he is going to pay for health care.  In our country, many of these people feel forced to seek employment in large corporations just to be able to indure their health.

I know that in my career, I bypassed some opportunities to start a company or work for a start-up because of concerns over health care insurance.

Big spenders tend to marry big savers, researchers find

That was the headline on this story from Yahoo! News.

Big Spenders Likely To Marry Big Savers is the headline used by Huffington post to refer to this story.

My remark on Huffington Post was:

Well, neither the headline on HuffPo nor the one on Yahoo! live up to what the story really said.

What the study found was that people who don’t like the fact that they are big spenders tend to marry people who don’t like the fact that they are tightwads.

It does not say anything about big spenders who are happy being big spenders nor tightwads who are happy being tightwads.

Both my wife and I fall into the category of tightwads who are happy with the way we are. There have been very few disagreements over money in our 40 years of married life.

What I should have added is that Sharon and I have often remarked how happy we are that we found partners with similar views to our own on money matters.

The Stupidity of the Gates Arrest

I was starting to feel like the real odd man out when I kept insisting that we do not know enough facts to judge who is right and who is wrong in this Louis Gates affair.

I kept asking why people assumed that the policeman’s story was closer to the truth than Gates’ story. I only asked this because almost everyone was assuming that Gates was the one making things up. If everyone had assumed the opposite, I would have questioned that too. Nobody seems to be satisfied with admitting that we just don’t know yet.

For the purpose of my own sanity, I am going to keep a record of links to other stories that indicate that there might be another point of view.

  • Racial Profiling: “That’s Just a Fact.” This article describes some of what the ACLU has been doing and saying on this issue of late. There are a number of links in this article
  • An Update on Racial Profiling, Diane Rehm Show, Guest host: Steve Roberts. This show was one of the links in the above ACLU article although it took a modicum of searching to find the actual show.
  • Colin Powell weighs in on racial profiling on the Larry King Live show..
  • Two versions of the ruckus in Cambridge by Dianne Williamson.  With a little satire, she points out why neither side’s story is totally believable. The more the teller of the story lards it on about what a perfect person he was in this incident and the fault is completely with the other guy, the less believable the story is to me. If either side had admitted even the slightest culpability in causing the incident, then that side of the story would have been more believable.  I am not saying more true, but only more believable.  The more extremely one sided the story, the less believable.  Again, only less believable, not necessarily less true.
  • Tim Wise on CNN. Tim Wise posted this link on my Facebook wall. I once attended a lecture that Tim Wise gave in Worcester at The College of The Holy Cross.  I have since read one of his books.  He has a lot to teach us about fighting racism in this country.
    I subsequently found the first part of the above panel discussion at this link
  • Bite Your Tongue by Maureen Dowd.  Recommended to me by Marden Seavey.  It is highly unusual for me to recommend anything by Maureen Dowd, but this time I think she has written an excellent piece, some of it based on her own original interviews.
  • Officer, prof confrontation is a guy thing by Dianne Williamson.  This column is partial redemption for the Worcester T & G.  It’s one of the best analyses yet.
  • Viewpoint: The Stupidity of the Gates Arrest By Lawrence O’Donnell, Jr
  • Accomplished, but not insulated: Some successful blacks find Gates’s case all too familiar
  • Gates Says What A Lot of Us Are Thinking: You Prove It! by John Ridley

I first started publicly commenting when I saw an outrageous Editorial cartoon by David Hitch in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

My original comment on T & G website was:

As usual, the T & G and especially David Hitch don’t have a clue. Hitch and the editors need to take lessons on how to read a newspaper before they take lessons on how to write one.

You, and many of your readers, have jumped to conclusions that are not based on any facts that have been published so far.

At the moment, we have two conflicting stories of what happened. Since none of us were there, we really can’t have anyway of knowing who is telling the truth.

One can assume that Gates was being arrogant and refused to show the policeman his ID.

One could also assume that Gates did show his ID as he stated. One can only imagine the remark that the police officer made to Gates after seeing his ID. What could the officer have said that would trigger a tirade if indeed a tirade was triggered?

Did the officer really feel threatened by this frail old man?

You can see other comments about this story on the T & G website.  Follow the link above to the cartoon.

For the sake of completeness, here is the link to the written report by the Cambridge police officers. RichardH supplied this link.

Here is a link to a recording of the original 9-1-1 call and other police audio.

Massachusetts Canoe Trip

Canoe Fits on Car

The canoe fits this car just a little bit better than when we tried a canoe on our 1970 Datsun 240Z. Of course we have learned a thing or two about boats since then.

We have Jenna, our granddaughter for a few days.  I have been having trouble getting Sharon to agree to a canoe trip. When I got Jenna to insist, Sharon couldn’t back out anymore.

Here is how the trip went.

30 minutes to get the boat on the car, gather all the stuff, find Jenna’s life jacket, etc.

10 minutes to drive to the lake.

10 minutes to get the boat in the water.

5 minutes for Jenna to have had enough of her first boat ride.  No tears though.

15 minutes to get the boat back on the car.

15 minutes to get home after the drive through at McDonald’s.

30 minutes to get the boat back up on its straps hanging from the garage ceiling.  Not any physical exertion, just
takes a little time to ratchet it up.

So how is this related to politics? Not at all.

Obama Wins Big in Worcester T & G Poll

The Worcester T & G runs a highly scientific online poll every day.

For those weak on sarcasm, calling their poll scientific was typed with fingers dripping in sarcasm.

Last I looked about 5 minutes before the poll was switched to a new question there were 1671 votes cast.  57% said that Obama was doing “just fine” in his first six months in office.

Follow this link to the comments about this on the Huffington Post.


Proof That Cheney Is Dead Wrong

I have just started reading Thomas E. Ricks’ latest book, The Gamble, General David Petraeus and The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008.

He starts off with the incident in Haditha, Iraq in the fall of 2005.  By the time I got to page 8, I came to realize how wrong the Cheney philosophy is about how to fight and win a war of this sort.

Here is something from page 6.

The American tradition also tends to neglect the lesson, learned repeatedly in dozens of twentieth-century wars, that the way to defeat an insurgency campaign is not to attack the enemy but instead to protect and win over the people. “The more you focus on the enemy, the harder it is to actually get anything done with the population,” noted Australian counterinsurgency theorist David Kilcullen who would play a prominent role in fixing the way the American military fought in Iraq. The best insurgent is not a dead one, who might leave behind a relative seeking vengeance, but one who is ignored by the population and perhaps is contemplating changing sides, bringing with him invaluable information.

I wonder if some of this knowledge is slipping away from us in Iraq, and more so in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Most of the people in those countries seem to think so very little of the Taliban, that you would think it would be difficult for us to alienate them from our side.  Nevertheless, we seem to be successful at doing just that even with Obama in the White House.

If the people of this country understood what Ricks is saying, they would boo Cheney off the public stage as soon as he opened his mouth.

Chaos: Making a New Science

This is a book by James Gleick.

The topic of Chaos was all the rage among a few of my engineering colleagues back in the 1980s.  I thought it was vaguely interesting, but I didn’t spend any time finding out if it had any practical application for me.  When one of my simulation customers expressed interest, I dismissed it pretty handily.

Now this 20 year old book by a science writer explains the topic in a way that is not too hard for me to grasp given my background.

It does provide a different way of looking at things in mathematics, physics,  economics, biology, medicine, psychiatry, social science, and more.

The traditional education in science and engineering biases most of us from looking at the world this way.  Having this aspect cut off from our train of thought precludes our understanding of a lot of important phenomena.

After I finish this book, I am dying to find out what has happened in this field in the 20 years since this book was written.