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[links] Link salad is not too particular, not too precise

America’s 15 best pizzas — Apizza Scholes here in Portland makes the list.

Could Sexual Frustration Lead To A Shorter Life?

Atheists sink to new depths of depravity! — It’s amazing how immoral the irreligious are without the external threat of eternal punishment to keep us in line. After all, no human being could possibly be a moral actor without an invisible friend threatening their very lives and souls. (Via Scrivener’s Error.)

The real cultists are not Maoists, they’re CEOsIt is not only in religious or political circumstances where people are made to follow a leader unthinkingly. Ah, yes. The sociopath in the corner office. (Via Scrivener’s Error.)

The chalice that helped make possible the Iran nuclear dealIn gesture of goodwill that helped lead to talks, the U.S. presented a gift to Iran: a silver chalice in the shape of a griffin that is thought to be an antiquity looted from an Iranian cave. (Via David Goldman.)

Off Siberia’s Arctic coast, the seafloor belches methaneAnd it’s belching more than we had thought it was. Another climate change artifact.

Rooting for FailureFor the entirety of the Obama era, Republicans have consistently been cheerleaders for failure. They rooted for the economic recovery to sputter, for gas prices to spike, the job market to crater, the rescue of the American automobile industry to fall apart. I get it. This organized schadenfreude goes back to the dawn of Obama’s presidency, when Rush Limbaugh, later joined by Senator Mitch McConnell, said their No. 1 goal was for the president to fail. A CNN poll in 2010 found 61 percent of Republicans hoping Obama would fail (versus only 27 percent among all Americans). Now that’s patriotism, conservative values distilled in the best interests of the country consistent with the GOP’s unswerving commitment to the American people. Are you proud of your Republican party?

?otD: Are you just a cheeseburger in paradise?


12/1/2013
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 8.0 hours (badly fitful)
Body movement: n/a (sick)
Weight: 242.4
Number of FEMA troops on my block forging presidential birth certificates: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[personal] Our CarMax experience

I was being very grumpy about CarMax on Twitter this past Thursday. A lot of people wondered what was going on. As we were finally able to resolve the issue yesterday, I’ll lay it out now.

Lisa Costello and I are back in Maryland helping settle her parents’ affairs. Her 83-year-old father had a stroke about three weeks ago, and her 80-year-old mother has advanced dementia, with him as her primary caregiver. The two of them have relocated to Missouri to live with extended family. (That’s what we were doing here on our last trip a week ago, helping them get sorted out and moved.)

Lisa’s dad executed a durable power-of-attorney here in Maryland with her as his personal representative. This legally allows Lisa to work with the real estate agent, the attorneys, sell the car, and so forth. I’ve actually been handling the majority of the real estate and attorney matters on her behalf, but she is the client of record in her father’s name. Obviously, those are the most critical issues remaining to us.

Disposing of his car was another one that needed to happen in the two business days we were here this past week. It’s a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria LX with low mileage, in excellent condition. I had the vehicle detailed Thursday morning, then at Lisa’s direction, took it to the CarMax location in Brandywine, MD. I explained right up front that this was a power-of-attorney transaction, giving them the basic background outlined above. The CarMax folks assured us that they handled those routinely and there would be no difficulty. They then went through the appraisal process and provided us with what I believed to be a rather generous offer to purchase the car. (The amount offered was above the high end of the Kelly Blue Book value range for the vehicle as best as I could calculate.) All of this took longer than we might have hoped, but that’s what happens when you’re buying or selling an automobile.

We had gotten far enough into the transaction that Lisa had signed the title over, and the CarMax representative had countersigned, when we reached a deeply annoying snag.

CarMax required us to surrender the original copy of the power-of-attorney.

This had never been mentioned to us up front. The power-of-attorney document itself states quite clearly that copies of the document have the same validity as the original. I believe this is normal in Maryland law. In other words, the requirement for the original was a CarMax business rule, not a legal requirement. When we pointed out that we were not about to surrender the original copy of that document, the dealer reluctantly agreed to accept a certified copy.

CarMax’s own notary refused to certify the copy. She felt it was a conflict-of-interest, and that we would have to leave the dealership and go find a notary at a bank, or elsewhere, to make a certified copy. (I’m not sure that’s a term of art in Maryland law, but it’s what the dealership wanted.)

We visited a bank, an insurance agent, and a AAA office in the area. In all three cases, they declined to certify copies. The basic issue seemed to be whether a copy of a document which had previously been notarized could be notarized again to certify the copy. My suggestion of the notary writing a brief cover letter stating that the attached was a true and accurate copy, and notarize that, was not acceptable.

The only acceptable way to get a certified copy would be to return to the issuing attorney’s office and have a new original created. Which was now impossible as Lisa’s father had moved out of state.

We wound up taking the car back from CarMax, having spent about five hours of the day — one of our only two in Maryland to handle this business — with no success. Irritating enough. Vastly more irritating was that the title had been signed over to CarMax, so it was marred, and we couldn’t simply walk into another auto dealer with less stringent business requirements for the power-of-attorney and sell the car. And we didn’t have time to go seek a replacement title, given our return to Oregon on Sunday.

At that point, I figured we were in for a third trip from Oregon to Maryland to deal with this, or would have to pay the attorney to handle the details of the transaction. Either option would be annoyingly expensive, running at least into the low $1,000s. CarMax had wasted our day, and set us up for a very expensive failure.

So I did what I do when that sort of thing happens, which was bitch about it on the Internet, referencing @carmax.

Their social media team responded quickly, asking me to please call an 800 number. I did so, still in a state of pretty extreme irritation. (I am, however, always polite even those situations. Especially in those situations. Just perhaps a bit stronger voiced and worded than usual.) The woman who took our call was both surprised and sympathetic, and asked if she could call me back after talking to her legal department, and to a senior manager elsewhere in Maryland’s CarMax network.

Eventually, I spoke to another manager here in Maryland, who directed me to take the vehicle to their Laurel store and meet with the business manager there.

Lisa and I drove to Laurel yesterday morning to be there when the CarMax store opened for the day. The gentleman we dealt with there explained that the issue was that CarMax required the original executed copy of the power-of-attorney because as a nationwide dealer network, they often transferred inventory to other states, and not all states would accept a copy of a power-of-attorney as valid. As most vehicles sold under a power-of-attorney are sold via a limited power-of-attorney, essentially a single-use document specific to that transaction, surrendering the original isn’t usually a big issue for the seller.

As I pointed out to him, that was entirely CarMax’s affair, and I was not about to tell them how to run their business. However, they had a sales communication problem in not explaining that requirement up front to us before committing us to an hours-long transaction and having us sign over the damned title, thus rendering it difficult to sell anywhere else. We would have just left the Brandywine CarMax location and gone to another dealer rather then engage in the whole process. (In the end, there is a form in Maryland for mis-signed titles, called I believe an “Affidavit of Correction”, but we didn’t have time for that, either.)

The manager at the Laurel store made copies of the power-of-attorney and certified them, stating clearly he was making an exception to the usual CarMax business rules as make-good for our troubles of the day before. He had another CarMax employee handle our transaction paperwork so that his certification of the power-of-attorney didn’t represent a conflict of interest. In about an hour, we were in and out of the Laurel store with the car sold, and the check in our hands, payable to Lisa’s father. (We promptly FedEx’ed the check to him in Missouri.)

In the end, CarMax made it right for us. For this, I thank them, especially the staff at the Laurel, Maryland store.

The core issue was a business rule on CarMax’s part which placed an extra burden beyond what Maryland law required, plus a training problem at the Brandywine store in that when they stated they would accept the power-of-attorney as evidence’s of Lisa’s standing to sell the car, they did not explain this business rule right up front.

There’s also a sidebar issue specific to me personally about having to handle customer service problems through Internet escalation. I went down this road somewhat famously with PayPal last January, and have also tangled with UnitedHealthcare in public, and am on the verge of possibly doing so with United Airlines. As it happens, my social media footprint is sized such that I can make myself sufficiently radioactive to generate a focused response. Would I get the swift responses I do in these situations if I wasn’t me? Or does everyone who complains via Twitter or Facebook get this response?

Mostly, I want things done right in the first place, with no need to complain. I have no quarrel with the CarMax business requirement for the original power-of-attorney. I do have a quarrel with their failure to properly explain their internal requirements openly right up front. And if we weren’t in our last days ever in this state, I could have gone home and worked through the process patiently. Instead I escalated. And yes, I had plans B, C and D if the escalation did not work, because that’s how I roll.

So that was the CarMax misadventure. Another way to burn a few spoons and fritter one of the ever fewer remaining days of my foreshortened life.

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[cancer] The planning goes on

This week I have two attorney appointments, a financial planning appointment, and my therapy appointment. I am pleased to say we are nearly at the end of the legal and financial processes to set up my estate plan, and also keep me properly compliant with the disability requirements I now must observe.

Man, this is a lot of work. But I can see the end from here. Pretty soon I’ll be reduced to cleaning my desk for entertainment.

I plan to write a long essay (or series of essays) about the process I’ve gone through, but I must wait for everything to settle, and to understand my confidentiality requirements, before I can do so.

My thanks to everyone who’s offered advice, professional references and good wishes along the way. There’s surely more to come. Just hopefully less of it.

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[links] Link salad realizes that science requires our physical union

[info]the_child makes art from my words — Media are: 1910 Remington typewriter, tissue paper, cooking oil, flame, and dirt. Wow.

11 nouns that only have a plural form — (Via the hilarious Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Do women and men prefer different colors? — Taupe.

Water cribs in Chicago — Weird. (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

Microfluidic Platform Gives Clear Look at a Crucial Step in Cancer Metastasis — (Thanks to Bruce Taylor.)

Phil and Penny Knight to OHSU: $500 million is yours for cancer research if you can match it — This is my treating hospital.

Forget premiums: A peer-to-peer network will cover you — Hmmm. (Via Ellen Eades.)

A Capella Science – Bohemian Gravity! — Oh, wow. This is both hilarious and very cool. On several levels.

The life and death of Buran, the USSR shuttle built on faulty assumptionsAfter concluding the US Shuttle was a weapons platform, the USSR wanted its own. This is a weird, almost melancholy article.

Seeking Vital Signs in a Lifetime Warranty — Huh.

Radical Self-Respect — Another one of those posts from Feminist Mormon Housewives that makes me sigh. Why should it have to be radical to recognize that you yourself are a human being with needs and desires? The cognitive dissonance that faith brings to some people would be intolerable to me.

The Evangelical Orphan Boom — Given the way American Evangelicals deliberately miseducate their children, and stunt their intellectual growth, I have trouble seeing any of this as a good thing, even before the Christianist abuses documented in this article are taken into account.

Creationism and Religious Freedom — An interesting essay, but I will continue to insist by way of response that religious freedom does not require willful ignorance. Rather, that is a social and political choice made by conservative American Christians, which causes lasting harm to their children, and to everyone else’s when one sect imposes its values on public education. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Cantaloupe vs. al-Qaeda: What’s More Dangerous?We have more to fear from contaminated cantaloupe than from al-Qaeda, yet the United States spends $75 billion per year spread across 15 intelligence agencies in a scattershot attempt to prevent terrorism, illegally spying on its own citizens in the process. By comparison, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is struggling to secure $1.1 billion in the 2014 federal budget for its food inspection program, while tougher food processing and inspection regulations passed in 2011 are held up by agribusiness lobbying in Congress. (Via David Goldman.)

Honoring Navy Yard Victims, Obama Asks: ‘Do We Care Enough’ to Change? — Clearly not. As a society, we have decided emphatically that the deaths of 30,000 other people every year is a small price to pay for the personal illusion of safety clung to by gun owners. Anyone who joins the NRA or votes Republican is stating this in no uncertain terms with their dollars and their support.

Bruce Schneier: NSA Spying Is Making Us Less SafeThe security researcher Bruce Schneier, who is now helping the Guardian newspaper review Snowden documents, suggests that more revelations are on the way.

?otD: Iron Sky much?


9/23/2013
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 6.25 hours (solid)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Weight: 243.4
Number of FEMA troops on my block violating religious freedom by treating LGBTQ people like human beings: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[cancer] Field notes from Cancerland, miscellaneous bitses and pieceses of help edition

Trazodone
I’ve been taking Trazodone as a sleep aid since last week. Friday night it worked like a champ. Every other night it’s as if I’d taken a sugar pill. On the plus side, I’m no longer waking up groggy. This apparently means my body is acclimating to the medication. On the minus side, what the heck is happening? I was advise to slowly titrate the dose upward if it wasn’t effective at the initial, minimal dosage. But then there was Friday night’s 10+ hours of sleep, compared to last night’s 5.5 hours. There are some external stressors which have caused both my adrenaline and my anxiety to be up in the evenings these past two nights, but I don’t want to take a Lorazepam on top of a Trazodone. That seems like asking for trouble.

I really detest my pharmaceutically-driven lifestyle.

Regorafenib
Speaking of the pharmaceutically-driven lifestyle, as of this morning I am back on the Regorafenib. This after a week off for side effect recovery. That’s the normal pattern for this medication, three weeks on, one week off. Apparently if you take it continuously, the side effects are so horrible people just give up. Dad, Lisa Costello and I are going in for bloodwork and to see the oncologist today, so we can benchmark the first month of this medication. I’ll also be scheduling the follow-up CT scan, about four weeks from today.

I found the recovery period helpful in terms of minimizing the pain in my feet and hands. Likewise, my GI made a substantial recovery. My sore and swollen tongue has settled down a lot. Now that’s all going to start up again. If the last week of this first three-week series just past represents my peak symptoms, I’ll be able to tolerate this medication. If it gets much worse in this forthcoming three-week tranche, we’ll have to consider pretty carefully what I’m doing. And of course, the CT to be scheduled will tell us whether the drug is having any effect at all. If not, then I’m paying a pretty steep price for nothing.

Writing
Still not writing. Another day of deadline-driven life/business/planning activity yesterday, along with a deep sense of being overwhelmed. As I said a while ago, this is how the end begins. When every day I just can’t. I wrote for a decade without ever being blocked for more than a day or two. But cancer and its discontents really do a number on me.

A friend recently suggested that I formally retire from writing. My response was that this is what I’m in the process of doing, I just haven’t called it that. But the idea of quitting on purpose appalls me. That’s even worse than waiting for the cancer and the chemo and the stress to strip me bare.

I hate this, too.

Stocks
I’ve found some old stock from a former employer that has been through at least two rounds of M&A activity since the certificate was issued. Does anyone reading this, especially in the Portland area, have sufficient knowledge of stocks and how share ownership descends over time to give me either informal or formal advice? At a minimum, I’d appreciate a better understanding of what questions I need to ask, and of whom I need to ask them.

The Simpsons on DVD
Does anybody in my circle have the series run of The Simpsons on DVD? It’s wicked expensive to buy them all, and I’d like to start viewing this summer. The library has them, but that requires both waiting for the DVDs to be available, and fairly rapid timing in my part in watching them.

Game of Thrones on BluRay
Likewise, I’m interested in Game of Thrones on BluRay. Again, wicked expensive. Again, the library has them, but I’m trying to get around both availability and return issues.

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[cancer] One example of the weird things sick people have to deal with

Our system is so strange, and so unkind to the seriously ill. Insurance and benefit processes are optimized to mitigate fraud, not to help people in need. That means real people in real, desperate need have to jump through sometimes bizarre hoops to achieve compliance. This at a time in their lives when they are least equipped to deal with bullshit. As I’ve said before, I wonder if it would be cheaper to remove all the complex infrastructure of compliance enforcement and fraud management and just accept a percentage of free-riding scammers in any given benefit program. Basically, shift the overhead to kinder place. Not that we’ll ever do that, because of the apparently horrible thought that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying an unearned benefit at our expense. As a society, we value punishing the non-compliant far, far above the value we place on actually helping people in worst need of their lives.

Sobeit. That’s the system we live under. During the 43 years I enjoyed the privilege of good health, I didn’t question it either. I don’t really expect healthy people to question it now. Once you need the system, it’s a bit late to start protesting. Frankly, none of us seriously ill people have the time and energy to do so. We’re too exhausted trapped in our conditions, and too busy dealing with the Byzantine healthcare and benefits systems. Meanwhile, very few of you healthy people are even aware of the need to do so.

So here’s the latest wheeze: Disability benefits.

Like most people with a white collar job, I have coverage for both short term disability (STD — Yes, I know. Quit giggling in the back.) and long term disability (LTD). STD is a benefit my employer provides, LTD is an elective benefit that I pay for with a little dip into every paycheck.

As it happens, determining what qualifies as a disability under either coverage umbrella is a pretty strange process. STD isn’t quite as weird as LTD, but it has its quirks. The rules are complex and contradictory, and require cross-referencing different systems and rulesets written to differing standards. In LTD, for example, the question of whether I qualify under the rules of the Social Security Administration (SSA) affects whether or not I will qualify under my private, employer-sponsored, self-paid plan. Likewise, the precise information my physician provides to my health insurance carrier can make a significant difference.

I’m not seeking LTD yet. I don’t need it right now. But I am trying to understand the process so that if and when my cancer goes terminal, or if I reach a point where I will likely be in continuous treatment for the rest of my life — either or both of these things are probable in the next year or so — I’d like to know what to do. STD applies to my forthcoming surgery leave, albeit with some weird conditions.

Something cropped up yesterday in the LTD discussion that struck me as especially strange. (My Dad has been researching a lot of this for me. As a retired senior Federal bureaucrat who’s managed some very large budgets under Federal accounting rules, as well as living under the strict requirements of high level security clearances for almost four decades, he’s quite good at sorting out paperwork and rules.) As it happens, I hold a small LTD plan as a rollover benefit from a job I left over a decade ago. I pay a modest quarterly premium, and the plan will provide me with a modest supplementary income should I ever claim LTD status. Their criteria are, of course, different from that of the SSA or my employer-sponsored plan.

Yesterday, the payroll department at my Day Jobbe informed me that according to the rules of my employer-sponsored LTD plan, any income from other LTD sources, including SSA or my privately-paid LTD plan, will be deducted from my employer-sponsored LTD benefit.

What? The? Hell?

I pointed out that this was both illogical and punitive, and asked what the reasoning was. The response I received was sympathetic but unhelpful. Basically, they don’t know, and they also find it weird. To be clear, my employer has been fantastically supportive through these past five years, both in terms of corporate policy and in terms of my individual managers and co-workers. I am very lucky to work where I do. They are not creating this problem in any direct sense. I told payroll I would be consulting an attorney, and they asked me to please share whatever opinion I received with them.

Here’s what I see as the problem in this case. If I’m wise and foresighted enough to have a separate LTD benefit paid for privately, what does that have to do with the insurance plan that would pay out my LTD claim? Presumably their premium rates and actuarial calculations are geared toward paying full benefit. My secondary, private plan is essentially income supplementation, as the employer-sponsored LTD pays out at 66-2/3% of my income level. So because I was smart enough to buy “gap” insurance against the possible income loss, now I am to be punished by having the amount of that “gap” benefit deducted to cap me at 66-2/3%? What possible justification is there for this? How is this even legal?

Note that health insurance carriers do something similar, but it’s logical enough. They’re trying to avoid double paying claims. That makes sense to me. But health insurance plans don’t work on a defined benefit basis. They’re at-need, and they’re paying for that need. With two carriers covering the same patient, they can negotiate amongst themselves as to which carrier will pay what percentage of which needs.

LTD benefits are defined — in my case, 66-2/3% of base salary. Income from other sources is irrelevant to that benefit definition. This would be like your 401(k) provider deducting any other income from your retirement account payout. The LTD benefit is defined, and paid for according to a specific schedule.

I have not yet been able to speak to an attorney. I suspect the answer I’m going to ultimately receive is that this is somehow written into Federal law. This is still an illogical and punitive step on the part of my LTD provider which makes no sense to me. If nothing else, I may as well quit paying the premiums for my private LTD plan, as it is literally useless to me in light of these rules from my employer-sponsored LTD plan.

So, one more example of the kind of weird things sick people have to deal with. While sick and unable to cope with the bizarre details. I’m lucky I have my Dad in the loop, because I can’t imagine how I’d be fielding this all by myself along with everything else.

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[personal|cancer] Yesterday’s PayPal kerfuffle

Last night, I felt like a business school case study. Or possibly a character in the kind of folk song sung around digital campfires. In short, PayPal did something unfortunate to cripple part of the Acts of Whimsy fundraiser for my genetic testing and general health expenses. I mentioned this on Twitter. A classic social media backlash ensued, which eventually flowed up to the president of PayPal. All ended well about two hours later, with PayPal restoring my account, apologizing publicly, and making a donation to the fundraiser as a gesture of goodwill. See news story for the official details, including comments from PayPal Senior Communications Director Anuj Nayar.

PayPal made a mistake, and then they made it right. Credit where credit is due. My profound thanks to Mary Robinette Kowal, Tee Tate, and the legion of Twitter and Facebook denizens who spoke up, placing the public pressure on PayPal that caused them to escalate the problem to swift resolution. Likewise my thanks to both the company and to Anuj Nayar, as well as the PayPal social media manager who contacted me directly.

In long…

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[links] Link salad basks in the glory of cytotoxic drugs

Waterloo Productions will be following my chemo experience in realtime on Facebook this weekend — Come along for the ride, if you’re curious.

Hydrated and deliciousLanguage Log with a long riff on “cringe words”. We all have them, and it’s kind of baffling unless you share the particular cringe. For me, the nicknames “Compie” and “Lappie” for computers are cringe words.

Write Your Own ‘Shatoetry’ and ‘Shatisms’ with William Shatner’s New iOS App — Presented without further comment, because basically none is possible. Well, except for the observation that “Shatoetry” is probably a cringe word. (Via Lisa Costello.)

Sandwich Monday: The Latke Double Down — Wow. Slightly reminds me of the über sondvich at Eastburn. (Via @ShellyRaeClift.)

Cheese through the centuries — Because cheese!

Model WarfareBLDGBLOG on the history of art as a tool of warfare.

Indiana Jones Mystery Package — Abner Ravenwood’s diary surfaces. Surrealist performance art on the hoof at the University of Chicago. I love this. (Via both [info]danjite and [info]scarlettina.)

NASA’s GRAIL Creates Most Accurate Moon Gravity Map — Cool stuff. (Via [info]corwynofamber.)

Titan’s Big River (and Thoughts of Jules Verne)

Quantum networks may be more realistic than we thoughtDelicate qubits survive long distances in quantum communication without a memory.

Recreational marijuana should not be top federal priority: ObamaPresident Barack Obama says federal authorities should not target recreational marijuana use in two Western states where it has been made legal given limited government resources and growing public acceptance of the controlled substance. Yeah, duh. This issue doesn’t affect me personally in the slightest — I don’t use even though I live in a state with a medical condition that would allow me a marijuana card — but as a matter of rational social policy there’s only one direction it can go. “Rational”, however, does not often describe our social policies, viz this nation’s views on welfare, healthcare and gun control.

Minimum Wage Machine (Work in Progress) — Yeah, well. For those of you who oppose raising the minimum wage, imagine living on that. (Thanks to [info]danjite.)

US backs United Nations measure in favor of universal health coverage — Ah, irony, we hardly knew ye.

Calif. judge says victims’ bodies can prevent rapeA Southern California judge is being publicly admonished for saying a rape victim “didn’t put up a fight” during her assault and that if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body “will not permit that to happen.” Is this guy a GOP Senate candidate? As amply demonstrated at length during the most recent election cycle, that’s such a Republican view of women’s health; and as such, profoundly and insultingly wrong.

The perils and potential of N.A.L.T. (Not All Like That)Slacktivist Fred Clark on Dan Savage’s take on Christians and Christianists, and what do about the fact that conservative bigotry has become the public face of Christianity in America.

76 Things Banned In Leviticus — All of which are equally abominable in God’s eyes. You know, like wearing mixed fabrics. Or homosexuality. Or trimming your beard. See the whole list to know what you should be protesting on the streets every week and agitating for ballot measures to ban. Assuming you need further proof that Christianists are ridiculous theological and intellectual frauds. (Via Steve Buchheit.)

Clearly has no problem with straw men, long as their haystacks aren’t touching…There was a time I regarded Justice Scalia as a guy who was intellectually honest although I disagreed with him, a reasonable mind I could differ with. Was. It’s a long time gone. Yep. The way Scalia abrogated forty decades of his own legal reasoning in order to vote against the ACA pretty confirmed what had been obvious for years — that he’s a partisan hack who places political interests above law, precedent, the Constitution or the national interest. Which is precisely what conservatives want in a Supreme Court justice. (C.f. Clarence Thomas, who unlike Scalia has the added advantage of being a dim bulb unlikely to ever be troubled by an attack of conscience of the sort that led to Chief Justice Roberts’ aberrant vote on the ACA case. Dumb and loyal are the perfect qualifications for a GOP nominee to any Federal bench.) This piece does a terrific job of unpacking Scalia’s knowing intellectual dishonesty and personal mendacity in service of his political and cultural goals. (Via Steve Buchheit.)

Lieberman Will Not Be Missed — Actually, go ahead and let the door hit you on the ass on the way out, Joe. It’s the least you deserve.

It’s okay to be extreme in the Senate, but only if you’re a RepublicanThe most liberal member of the Senate, Bernie Sanders, was more conservative than 38 members of the House. Furthermore, nine Republican senators were more conservative than Sanders was liberal. Well, duh. Conservative extremism is patriotic, liberal extremism is socialism. Ask any Tea Partier.

?otD: What’s your cringe word(s)?


12/14/2012
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 10.25 hours (solid)
Body movement: 0.5 hours stationary bike ride
Weight: 219.0
Number of FEMA troops on my block enforcing international law and Kenyan Muslim socialism: 0
Currently reading: The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks

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[personal|tech] Customer service gets weird, then gets fixed

I had what at first seemed a mildly annoying problem with Apple Computer. I’d recently received an email reminding me that I had not purchased extended AppleCare for my MacBook Air. Though I’m a big believer in not spending money on “extended warranties” for most products, I make an exception for my Apple hardware. Over the years, I’ve definitely come out ahead on this transaction. If nothing else, I type over a million words a year, which is damned hard on a keyboard. Plus the little things that can go wrong with any piece of high tech that get slung around as much as my laptop does. Surprised that I had not purchased AppleCare at the time I had originally bought the MacBook Air (November of 2011), I dropped the $249 for the contract.

When I went to register my AppleCare to my computer’s serial number, I found I already had it. Oddly, my MacBook Air showed up twice in my Apple account. Once with AppleCare, once without.

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[links] Link salad is thankful

Happy Thanksgiving! — M.K. Hobson with some awesome Thanksgiving history.

‘Life of Pi’ took Ang Lee on an epic journey of his ownRoger Ebert on this film.

Chand Baori — I’ve never even heard of a step well. This is very strange and beautiful.

Steampunk art is now terrorism, according to the TSA — Feel safer now? (Via Lisa Costello.)

NASA’s not sharing a ‘historic’ find on Mars… yetData from a sample of Martian dirt could be earth-shattering, but the space agency is taking time to check its work. The Bad Astronomer with more. (Or less.)

In Space, Flames Behave in Ways Nobody Thought Possible — Cool flames? Really? (Snurched from Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

Tech Start-Ups Find a Home on the Prairie — What I find funny about this piece is that company I work for originated as a Midwestern tech startup over two decades ago. (Thanks to my Dad.)

Researcher wants nanotech patent moratoriumClaims advances in the field are “being stifled at birth.” What this really means is that other countries will make substantial advances with huge economic and technological implications while here in the US the whole field dicks around in court.

Monsanto insurance: USDA tells farmers to pay for avoiding troubles with agro-giantthe best maneuver for any Monsanto foe to take right now is to simply buy insurance, suggesting that the top guns will be given the go-ahead to continue with their contested habit of near endless litigation, a practice that has a tendency to leave the little guys bankrupt and out of business — only to be bought up by the billion-dollar Monsanto corporation after their bills can’t be paid. In other words, give up, ordinary citizens, you can’t fight the abuses of corporate America. Btw, if you’re a conservative, this is what your beloved industry self-regulation looks like. Profit optimization at the expense of everyone and everything. Sort of like my relationship to the Google Books Settlement, actually. (Via [info]danjite.)

The Very First Americans — Newt Gingrich honors the original migrants over the Bering Strait land bridge 15,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. No, wait, never mind. He’s talking about white people 400 years ago. Apparently no one before then was American. All those ones that came before? Illegals. Ask any conservative.

The Real ‘Evangelical Disaster’The great evangelical disaster is that evangelicalism has become synonymous with Republicanism rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yup. Atwater and Ailes needed a reliable voting bloc back in the late 1970s, and you guys eagerly signed up. That’s why almost two entire generations of young and middle-aged Americans can casually dismiss Christianity as a source of hatred and vitriol, because your leaders sold your souls for a mess of pottage. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Police officer quits after comments about Barack ObamaWhen questioned by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office integrity unit, he said he also didn’t care if a nuclear explosion killed everyone in the Northeastern U.S because they supported Obama. Remember, this dingbat Republican creep had a badge and a gun and powers of arrest. Stay classy, conservative America. It’s what you do best.

Members of the 112th Congress Depart, Taking Their Quirks Along — Senator Hutchison had a purse boy? Really? (Via my Dad.)

The New RepublicansThere has been a lot of talk since the election about the possible emergence of a new faction within the Republican party, or at least among the conservative intelligentsia. These new Republicans, we’re told, are willing to be more open-minded on cultural issues, more understanding of immigrants, and more skeptical that trickle-down economics is enough; they’ll favor direct measures to help working families. So what should we call these new Republicans? I have a suggestion: why not call them “Democrats”?

The GOP’s Voter Suppression Strategy — That’s what you do when you can’t win on ideas. Assuming that you lack integrity, intellectual honesty or any commitment to the democratic process. Gee, which party are we talking about, again?

?otD: Having a deep fried turducken today?


11/22/2012
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (30 minutes on stationary bike)
Hours slept: 8.5 hours (solid)
Weight: 219.0
Number of FEMA troops on my block enforcing Agenda 21 and sending good Christian girls to Obama’s abortion camps: 0
Currently reading: Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold

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