URLs du Jour


  • Much uncritical fanfare over the White House announcement yesterday about $2 trillion-with-a-T in health care cost savings over the next 10 years. But, even at Slate, that number falls apart under rudimentary skepticism. My favorite line, after one of the cost-cutting proposals is quoted:

    What does this mean? "I have no idea," [Princeton health economist Uwe] Reinhardt told us.

  • If you're the kind of rabid right-winger who would be interested in a book garnering this sort of review:

    The book also shows the ugly side of politics and what it does to people once they have become imbedded in Washington DC for too long. The book portrays Speaker Pelosi as vapid, prideful, arrogant, and as an elitist.

    … your Amazon link is right here. (Via Transterrestrial Musings.)

  • Your Gospel du Jour is Matthew 6:5-6:

    "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

    "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

    Which is why, although I say a lot of negative things about President Obama, and will again, I think he made the right move on the "National Day of Prayer".

  • My pet peeve du jour is exemplified by Joel Achenbach, who is writing about the Hubble repair mission. It's complicated:

    You should have seen the guy from ATK [Alliant Techsystems] use all these customized tools to demonstrate how astronauts are going to break into a spectrograph that was never meant to be repaired. It looked like a challenging job even in the media center. So imagine that in space, at 17,000 miles per hour.

    That final detail is apparently meant to underline the whole inherent complexity of the mission. But, a break must be given unto me: everything will be going at 17,000 mph up there; there will (hopefully) be no relative speed, so it doesn't matter.

    Did you know I'm typing this at (approximately) 66,600 miles per hour? That's the orbital speed of earth around the sun. Ooooh, impressive!

    In his defense, I'm sure Joel knows better. But I see this sort of thing a lot. (Other examples here and here.)

  • Despite all the criticism I post about the University Near Here, I have to admit that it has its pluses.


    (However, where I work is mostly butt-ugly industrial park concrete, metal, wood, and asphalt, and I don't think even Mike Ross could make it look pretty.)

  • Want to have a chuckle at the folly of the New York Yankees and their new stadium? If you were a fan who (for some reason) wanted to watch the Yankees play the Mariners, here are a couple of options:

    Option 1: Two tickets to Tuesday night, June 30, Mariners at Yanks, cost for just the tickets, $5,000.

    Option 2: Two round-trip airline tickets to Seattle, Friday, Aug. 14, return Sunday the 16th, rental car for three days, two-night double occupancy stay in four-star hotel, two top tickets to both the Saturday and Sunday Yanks-Mariners games, two best-restaurant-in-town dinners for two. Total cost, $2,800. Plus-frequent flyer miles.

    Plus also: Seattle's nicer.

Last Modified 2012-10-08 5:50 AM EDT

Lakeview Terrace

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Random thought: Samuel L. Jackson is Hollywood's go-to guy for menacing. Samuel L. Jackson can't not look menacing. Samuel L. Jackson would look menacing if he were playing the title role in The Clarence Thomas Story in a tutu.

But that's real appropriate here. Mr. Jackson plays Abel Turner, a widowed LAPD cop taking care of his two kids with martinet discipline. When into the house next door moves the "mixed" couple Chris (white) and Lisa (somewhat less white); Abel takes an immediate dislike to the relationship and (especially) Chris. Initial uneasiness on both sides escalates throughout the movie, culminating in, pretty much, outright war. Years of cop experience allows Abel to find and exploit the tiny cracks in the couple's relationship, and he does so as if he's on a mission.

Abel isn't (really) a bad guy; his unexamined loathing of Chris and Lisa's mixed marriage even has a reason behind it, although it's a bit facile. OK, it's hugely facile. But not out of the realm of possibility. (And, at least from my POV, Chris really is kind of a jerk.)

Last Modified 2014-11-30 3:13 PM EDT


[Amazon Link]

This new-in-paperback Robert B. Parker western hit the threshhold last week, and on the top of the To-Be-Read pile it went. I noticed that the publishers put a "Great Read Guaranteed" sticker on this; you can send it back to them for a refund, if you're feeling churlish. I'm keeping mine.

It's a sequel to Appaloosa. (I previously blogged about both the book and the movie.) The heroes, Everett Hitch and Virgil Cole, split up at the end of that book, after Hitch decided he needed to go outside the law to rescue Cole's relationship with the perennially-unfaithful Allie French.

So Hitch moves on to the law-free town of Resolution, and is hired as a peacekeeper by local saloon magnate Amos Wolfson. It's not a bad gig, although he occasionally feels the need to contend with Wolfson over the decent treatment of his sex workers, which he calls, refreshingly, whores.

Things get complicated by Wolfson's irrational need to run the entire town, which requires elimination of his competition. And Virgil shows up, having been abandoned by his beloved Allie. What transpires is a lot of shooting, and Parker's usual meditations on male/male friendship and the ethical codes of people who make their living via violence mostly on the il- side of legal.

All in all, a good read, and I don't usually read westerns. In between violent episodes, Hitch and Cole discuss the political philosophies of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and try to fit them to their situation. I didn't notice them discussing Thomas Hobbes, probably even more appropriate for his observation of anarchistic life as being "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short"; certainly there's quite a bit of that here. I found myself wondering if there might be a political science professor, somewhere, who might assign this book as secondary reading.

Last Modified 2012-10-08 5:41 AM EDT