Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Recent signs of the apocalypse

No, I don't include the Red Sox bullpen. That comes under the heading of  "this is different HOW?"

At the top of my list is the Lamborghini Urus. This is, for the love of all that's holy, an SUV. An SUV?  A Lamborghini SUV?

Lacking most of the cable world at home, I don't get Top Gear except when I get the DVDs. Since this sign of the end of the universe has not yet been released, just leaked, I suspect the lads at Top Gear have not yet sunk their claws into this machine. I can just imagine.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Be vewy vewy afwaid

In this house, my spouse operates on a higher wonk factor than I. And she, like a couple of characters from my remote past, is inclined to begin her conversations with an ellipsis. Thus I was momentarily confused when she began to mention Kerry Healey whilst we watched News Hour speculation about Romney's possible running mates.

After I had her rewind a little, I grasped the point, which is a good one. Lt. Governor Healey was a cipher in the Romney administration. When she ran to succeed him, without her former chief's support or even interest, the game plan became obvious.

Romney wanted to be a one-man show. This, my spouse thought, is imprinted on the man's DNA and is not likely to change just because POTUS is the prize this time out.  She thought Romney will only be happy with a VP who is as much a cipher as Healey. As a result, one can wash out numbers of potential VP candidates being bruited about by the Punditocracy. The VP candidate will be literally and figuratively in the shadows. Win or lose, that person can expect consignment to the Limbo where the shades of most American VP candidates and VPs dwell.

For the most part, American Vice Presidents have been nonentities. It was not until one of the nonentities, Truman, had greatness shoved in his face that this began to change. Even so, see if you can remember losing VP candidates since Truman without Googling any of them.

No ambitious Republican, considering that history and the example of Kerry Healey, can do anything but consider Romney's nod a political kiss of death.

Labels: , ,

Monday, April 16, 2012


 The visions of the naifs who opened the Internet to the world must, at times, be classified as hallucinations. Against the good done during the Arab Spring, for example, against the increasing--at times excessive--transparency of nearly every facet of public life, we must set news comment pages of every stripe and kidney. Where the founders envisioned a high-minded level of civil discourse, we get a forum which requires a degree in Stupid just to take part.

Take a recent piece of discourse about the security of the Titanic wrecksite. The facts are disturbing: indiscriminate looting, foolish actions by tourists who surely represent the 1%, and garbage. Certainly explorer Robert Ballard's idea that the remains should be coated with anti-fouling paint and preserved seems a little off the wall, but it doesn't justify the sheer imbecility of the comment thread. We had the Teabag types  who jumped to the conclusion that Ballard was proposing that the US government paint the wreck. There were a large number of commenters who felt compelled to share their lack of interest by posting variations on "who cares?" The best of that genre was the genius who said that the dead of the Andrea Doria were more important than the dead of the Titanic. I leave the reader to ponder the nature of that hairsplitting.

My personal favourite is the denier who said that since only the US gummint and a few universities have submersibles capable of reaching the Titanic, then either the whole thing was a plot (objective very unclear) or the damage was done by the aforementioned.

It took me about 30 seconds to construct a Google search that revealed sales pitches (pre-kerfluffle) for submersible tours to the Titanic: not government, not academic, just plain old tourist hustling. It is the disconnect between Mr. Denier and the facts that leads me to present him the Gold Medal for the Internet comment Stupid competition.

Alas for the hopes of the Interwebz founders! However, the non-stop parade of public idiocy on comment threads  is much more hilarious than the original vision, which sounds something like cyber C-Span.

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reality checks

Whilst waiting to see whether John Roberts will prove to be the worst Chief Justice since Roger B. Taney, let's amuse ourselves with actual and speculative  health care reality checks.

A relative of the Generation X variety recently explored the limits of her health care coverage. She had just moved, and the settling down process hadn't yet included finding a primary care physician. She was struck suddenly by piercing, RLQ abdominal pain. Appendicitis came to mind at once, and having no alternative, she went to the nearest ER. The source of the pain proved to be something besides appendicitis, and it took two visits to find out what it was and whether it was life-threatening. These diversions not only blew a perfectly good weekend, they cost upwards of $1500...with insurance.

Children, take note. With or without the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare industry more and more frowns on the use of the ER for primary care. Follow the advice of my nurse in-law: don't go to the ER unless you're bleeding profusely. (People with obvious fractures or obvious cardiovascular distress get a pass on this rule.) Also heed my rule: never go to the ER for follow-up care. Use the hospital's outpatient clinic instead. In fact, demand it.

Next, let us take Rick Santorum at his word, and assume that the chief reason he dropped out of the presidential race was the health of his daughter Bella.  This is the man who said that people should pay for their own health care; that friends, relatives, neighbours, fellow church-goers, and the like would be sufficient resources for long-term or palliative care, and government didn't need to get involved. Nice theory, if you have the cushy resources of a former Senator and Congressman. In reality, people who have children this ill, requiring 24/7 care, who are unlikely ever to grow up, soon discover how few friends they really have. To be blunt, it's easy
to be theoretical when your child is unlikely to reach age 5. If your child needs 24/7 care and may live to adulthood, that's a different matter. The longer Santorum's daughter lives, the more of a lesson she may be in today's health care costs.  She might actually bring the man out of the 14th century.

We're in the process of pricing retirement health insurance. For those of us in the 99%, this also means concurrently checking out food pantries etc., as health care, with Medicare, is likely to eat up a significant percentage of our retirement income. Both of us are utterly opposed to the all-American rush to strain the system to enable us to live as long as possible, and are unlikely to take even ordinary, pocket-draining measures, much less extraordinary measures, when what should be the last illness comes.

There may be more on this as the farce continues.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Oh God

Let's all fall down and utter thankful praises: The children of the Stall Brook Elementary School in Bellingham, MA can sing the correct chorus of Lee Greenwood's "god bless the USA" in school.

Big whoop. Dicking around with the chorus  of the song is a sideshow. The real question is why this song is in the school repertoire in the first place. It is the lowest piece of pseudo-patriotic mucus ever perpetrated on the ever- gullible American public. Greenwood sings saccarine lyrics through his nose. Therefore it must be country; therefore it must be good. Gaak! Retch! Bletch!

For those unfamiliar with Massachusetts, I must point out that Bellingham ain't exactly Beacon Hill. This may explain why this piece of drivel is in their schools in the first place.

Possibly the solution here is to remove every word except "god." Then the tune would  at least  have a charming eroticism that would offend even more people: "god...god...god...god...."


Monday, April 02, 2012

The Black Hole of Geezera

All righty then, for MBTA fare purposes, I'm now an official geezer. This hasn't helped me get a priority seat; it just cuts the fares.

So yes, despite budget cuts, the T is  marching ahead with the Senior Pass programme. It is running on a strictly Darwinian principle. At the moment, there is but one place to get the pass: an office at Back Bay Station.  A very, very small office, which must also deal with applicants for disability passes and for The Ride services. My generation is supposed to be turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day. One had to think either that Monday was Boston's turn to crank out 10,000, or that the MBTA isn't ready for prime time. Grump.

When I arrived, about 11:15 on a Monday morning, there were about 20 people ahead of me. That's 20 people in an 8 X 11 foot waiting room. There were, very soon thereafter, another 20 people clamouring to get in. After a few minutes, it occurred to some genius on the other side of the counter that those who had checked in, and th.en had had their photo taken, could wait outside in the concourse and be called back by a staff member. Until that moment, if someone had passed out or died, they would have remained standing. This innovation of course required the staff member to walk an additional ten feet and open a door to call the name of the lucky recipient. Some of them felt this imposition more than others.

All concerned no doubt will agree that the renovations of the main office at Downtown Crossing can't be completed soon enough,