Archive for April 2012

Totes SFW Explicit Film

April 30, 2012

I’m still basically on my work/life-compelled blog hiatus, but I could not so abandon you all as to fail to bring to your attention serious-charismatic-megafauna-gettin’-busy video.

Hence, Ladles and Jellyspoons, may I present some awesome rhino porn:

Do read the story framing the clip.  There is the suggestion of some significant insights into animal behavior that may — emphasize the tentative there — have real bearing on other conservation/species restoration efforts.

PS:  Here’s a bonus video of rhino courtship:

Folk Song Army

April 29, 2012

A few days late, but I was moved by this event. Murderous Pam Geller hero Anders Behring Breivik has gone on record as hating a children’s song that celebrates multi-cultural tolerance and mutual good will, taking the suggestion that getting along with each other as clear evidence of the  Communist plot to upend society or some such.

Once this view became known, Norwegians responded thusly:

I know, as those of you familiar with the work this post title references, that it takes a lot more than singing to overcome the many evils that attend the ideal of a civil society.  But it never hurts — and often  helps — to perform acts to remind ourselves and the enemies of civil society that we are here, and we are not alone.  The Norwegians kicked ass here, in my humble opinion.

(Oh — and yes, I’ve noticed (as no one else has, or should) that I’ve been even more conspicuous by my absence here the last few weeks.  My day job still owns me more or less totally, and some family and fortunately minor health stuff have consumed all the free mental space left over.  But I’m not dead yet, and hope to rejoin the conversation in fits and starts as we engage the merry month of May.  Cheers all!)

Over There. Over Here.

April 17, 2012

The Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for 2012 goes to Massoud Hossaini for this photograph.

The Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for 2012 goes to the Denver Post’s Craig F. Walker for this series.

I’ll save for another post what these images say — again — of the permanent war brigade in our polity, and especially for those members of 51st Chickenhawk Division whose fighting position is behind a laptop in some LA coffee shop.

That is all.

Luck Favors The Prepared Mind

April 14, 2012

I grew up in Berkeley, California.  I’ve watched the Golden Gate Bay Bridge* in every season, in every weather.  I have never seen anything like this. (Copyrighted photo at the link.  Well worth a click, even if, horribile dictu,**it leads to the Daily Mail.)

Perhaps an open thread might gratify?

*I actually do know the difference.  I could see the Bay Bridge, but not the Golden Gate, from the house in which I grew up in Claremont Canyon.  But +3 (bourbon *2 plus Cotes du Rhone), one’s fingers can do the talking with no help from the brain. Apologies all….

**Absolve me, Magistra Small.  The sins I’ve committed through crap Latiny are none of your doing, oh greatest of my high school teachers.)

Bonus pic:

Image: Yoshitsuya Ichieisai, The Lightning Bolt, c. 1865.

While the Cat’s Away…

April 10, 2012

She who is always wrong™ may want to check on what her September April call-ups are doing.  Here’s Adam Ozimek in McArdle’s space pointing out four things just about all economists agree upon, and among them he lists the virtues of the stimulus:

Economists may differ on whether the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was worth the cost overall, but they are in solid agreement that as of the end of 2010 it lowered the unemployment rate. Very few disagreed with or were uncertain about this. In contrast, a significant number questioned whether the recovery act was worth the cost. Importantly, in the space for comments, Stanford’s Pete Klenow emphasized what Scott Sumner and others would say is the central issue: “how much was it offset by less aggressive (than otherwise) unconventional monetary policy?” But even stimulus skeptics should keep their criticisms in perspective: economists strongly reject the idea that stimulus is to blame for our economic woes.

In addition, economists strongly agree that the bank bailouts also lowered the unemployment rate. Of course as Austen Goolsbee commented: “the fact it was necessary doesn’t mean we should be happy about it.”

McArdle, canny as she is, has been careful not to go too far into the weeds on this one.

She doesn’t seem to have said that stimulus as a concept could only fail — as some notables (cough-cough, Mitt) on her side of the aisle have done and continue to do.  But she has consistently said that only a Platonic ideal of a stimulus had a hope, and that any real world attempt is a waste of time.  (Bonus question for those who follow that link.  Spot and name the dire distortion of the history that lies behind her carefully tweezered quote from Paul Krugman.)

BTW: here’s what Krugman actually had to say about the stimulus in 2010:

The good news from the new GDP report is that the fiscal stimulus seems to be working just about the way a sensible Keynesian approach says it should. The bad news from the new GDP report is that the fiscal stimulus seems to be working just about the way a sensible Keynesian approach says it should.

Josh Bivens at EPI has a good overview of the evidence that the stimulus is working. As he says,

“A serious look at the evidence argues that this debate should be closed: ARRA has played a starring role in pushing the        economy into positive growth.”

And here’s Krugman this spring:

On the policy side, major new stimulus may not be in the cards — but there is a real divide in the US between modest stimulus proposals that have some chance of getting implemented and major austerity moves that also have some chance of being implemented. The difference between those two policy variants could be the difference between unemployment below 7 percent two years from now and unemployment back above 9 percent. So this argument has real short-term policy relevance.

So much for McArdle’s bravura, data-less claim that

…we have had two major cases that massively favored Keynesian economics [the New Deal and the Obama stimulus] but Keynesian politics failed both times.

And as for her conclusion that

…at some level, there’s no point in spending a lot of time designing policies which can’t be enacted in any conceivable democratic polity.

…well, if by “any conceivable democratic polity” you mean one in which one of two major political parties had decided to transform itself into an authoritarian cult, then yes — the GOP, using the procedural rules of the US Senate, certainly limited what was possible.  It requires a heroic act of willed blindness to the elephant in the room, though, to see that outcome as an inescable, sadly necessary cost of democracy.

But just on the merits of this one guest post, I’d say that McArdle runs a serious risk if her audience gets used to even occasional economically literate commentary.  Perhaps even that Amen Chorus might notice a lack of couture bedecking the empress.

Image:  Henri Rousseau, The Equatorial Jungle, 1909

Hurts Too Much To Laugh; I’m Too Old To Cry

April 6, 2012

This is how one sad story begins:

May the justices please meet my sister-in-law. On Feb. 8, she was a healthy 32-year-old, who was seven and a half months pregnant with her first baby. On Feb. 9, she was a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down by a car accident that damaged her spine. Miraculously, the baby, born by emergency C-section, is healthy.

This is what follows that terrible moment:

My brother’s small employer — he is the manager of a metal-fabrication shop — does not offer health insurance, which was too expensive for them to buy on their own. Fortunately, my sister-in-law had enrolled in the Access for Infants and Mothers program, California’s insurance plan for middle-income pregnant women. AIM coverage extends 60 days postpartum and paid for her stay in intensive care and early rehabilitation. But when the 60 days is up next week, the family will fall through the welfare medicine rabbit hole.

And here is what those people will have to deal with for the rest of their lives:

When the AIM coverage expires, my sister-in-law will be covered by Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid, because she is disabled and has limited income. But because my brother works, they are subject to cost-sharing: they pay the first $1,100 of her health costs each month. Paying $1,100 leaves them with a monthly income of just 133 percent of the federal poverty level. If my brother makes more money, their share of the cost increases.

They must also meet the Medi-Cal asset test: beyond their house and one vehicle, they can hold $3,150 in total assets, a limit last adjusted in 1989. They cannot save for retirement (retirement plans are not exempt from the asset test in California, as they are in some states). They cannot save for college (California is not among the states that have exempted 529 college savings plans from their asset tests). They cannot establish an emergency fund. Family members like me cannot give them financial help, at least not officially. If either of them receives an inheritance, it will go to Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal services that my sister-in-law uses after age 55 will be added to a tab that she will rack up over the rest of her life. When she and my brother die, the state will put a lien on their estate; their child may inherit nothing. Even my brother’s hobby runs afoul of the asset test: he enjoys working on old cars, which he can no longer keep.

This is what this story reminds us:  for too many of our fellow citizens, our health care system, when it delivers care at all, turns families permanently poor.

This is what “Repeal” means.  Welcome to the Republican vision for health care.*

Oh — and, yes, of course, this is what the case before the Supreme Court is alll about.  Which is why the willed and faux-naive ignorance of  Scalia, Alito and others earns the name of evil.

Go read the whole piece.  Get angry, then angrier.  If you live with GOP representatives, send this column to them.  If you have friends or family or acquaintances who might be able to make the same leap John managed, pass it on to them too.  Pressure is a daily accumulation of little taps and nudges, and there is no time the present.

*I won’t insult you by adding the reflexive “and Replace,” as there is no replacement on offer; vouchers are not a health care system, and would, as now proposed, do that quantity of good that asymptotically approaches zero for this family.

Image: Gustave Doré, A Couple and Two Children Sleeping Under the London Bridge 1871.


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