March 30, 2014

15 Hours Until Monday
— JohnE.

Open. more...

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March 29, 2014

Provisional ONT
— rdbrewer

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March 30, 2014

Sunday Morning Book Thread 03-30-2014: The Return of Pulp [OregonMuse]
— Open Blogger


sci fi pulp 01.jpg
"Hey, Isn't This Thing Supposed To have An Engine?"

Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to AoSHQ's prestigious Sunday Morning Book Thread.


Every Moron Likes Free Books

...especially if they're pulp sci-fi books from the 50s. So I discovered this site here that specializes in what they call "off- trail" sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. The have a free section where it looks like they've adopted the Baen strategy of offering some of an author's work for free in the hopes that you will like it well enough to actually purchase other books.

A lot of the freebies are reprinted "pulp" authors from the 50s. And some of the titles are a real hoot:

The Man Who Saved The Universe [The Adventures Of Johnny Mayhem #1] by C.H Thames. (Look, any book with a main character named 'Johnny Mayhem' has got to be worth reading)

The Dream Girl [The Hilarious Adventures of Toffee #1] by Charles F. Myers. (OK, the title isn't much, but look at the cover art -- dude's obviously living the moron lifestyle)

Interplanetary Huntress by Arthur K. Barnes. The blurb for this one is great:

Science Fiction's first heroine! Out of print for more than 50 years! The action-packed exploits of Gerry Carlyle, Interplanetary Huntress, on assignment from the London Interplanetary Zoo to capture the rarest alien lifeforms in the solar system – and "bring 'em back alive." The only fly in the ointment of this intrepid woman is pilot Tommy Strike, who's just as determined to prove no woman is his superior. Their battles with the most fearsome of otherworldly critters are nothing compared to their battle with each other!

So check 'em out.


Gone With the Wind Prequel Coming

And the main character will be Mammy:

The Mitchell estate has authorized writer Donald McCaig to write a novel, titled “Ruth’s Journey” (Ruth is Mammy’s real name in this telling), that details how the character is brought to America as a slave and how she views the events of Mitchell’s original novel. McCaig’s novel “Rhett Butler’s People,” which was released in 2007 and explores the childhood and family history of “Wind” romantic hero Rhett, was one of two books previously authorized by the Mitchell estate, with author Alexandra Ripley’s “Scarlett” also approved.

Huh. I hadn't heard about these other prequels. I'm thinking they can't be good, but what do I know?

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March 29, 2014

I Was Going To Write A Post, But I Got Distracted... - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
— Open Blogger

There are two types of people: Those who only sometimes procrastinate those who are so inclined to it that it creates havoc in their lives. Lately, I tend to be the latter of the two. So, while I should have been practicing using MS Visio all day, half my day was spent here with you fine folks.

My procrastination has been so bad today that I actually researched "procrastination" in order to procrastinate a bit longer. Then, I tweeted about my procrastination in order to drag it out even further. Then, others joined in, and it was clear that I am far from the only one.

Well, the fine folks at The Next Web blog have posted a very timely article on the science of procrastination, and it makes all the sense in the world.

It's a fight or flight response.

The amygdala is the section of the brain associated with our automatic emotional reaction to a situation. In moments of being overwhelmed, such as having many tasks to do or a difficult one to do, there is a fight (resistance) or flight (ignore) reaction.

Both are procrastination – the brain is protecting us against possible negative feelings. The norepinephrine chemical takes over, causing increased levels of fear and anxiety. Adrenalin gets pumped in.

We are addicted to dopamine, which is produced by pleasurable experiences. So long as a task has a higher historical likelihood (or perceived future likelihood) of producing dopamine, our brain is addicted to reproducing these activities… and avoiding the others.

Do you want to play Candy Crush or do tax returns? Yeah.


It occurs to me that, if we identify the cause, we can also mind-play our way through it. Perhaps we can tell ourselves repeatedly that the faster we get it over with the faster we'll feel relief that it is over. Or... perhaps we can stop hitting ourselves in the head with the hammer in the first place because procrastination seems to arise from fear... fear of failure, of rejection, of not being good enough and, frankly, isn't the world tough enough without us kicking the crap out of ourselves on a daily basis?

Tell them about it, Stuart.

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Maryland Gives Up On Its Failed $125 Million Dollar Health Care Exchange; Will Implement Connecticut's System
— Ace

I assume Connecticut will want money for that, but who knows. I guess Democrats have a political incentive to share here.

Maryland officials are set to replace the state’s online health-insurance exchange with technology from Connecticut’s insurance marketplace, according to two people familiar with the decision, an acknowledgment that a system that has cost at least $125.5 million is broken beyond repair.

The board of the Maryland exchange plans to vote on the change Tuesday, the day after the end of the first enrollment period for the state’s residents under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

...

Maryland is not alone in having deep-seated problems with its health marketplace. Technical issues also have plagued Oregon, Minnesota and Hawaii. But Maryland will be the first to walk away from its site, a particular embarrassment for Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), who was placed in charged of implementing health-care reform in Maryland by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

It was not immediately clear how much more money Maryland may have to invest to get a fully functioning system, according to the two individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the changes.

Stuff Democrats buy never "costs" anything. The War in Iraq "cost" a great deal of money.

But in the media's telling, Democratic expenditures are usually "investments."

phreshone worked out the math:

MD spent $125 million in an effort to enroll 150,000 people. Essentially $1000/person projected transaction cost (actual is running $2500, and cost will expand as the system will be replaced with a copy of CT's before the next enrollment period.

Maryland invested $1000 per sign-up.

What are you, against investing in our own people?


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The First Sounds You'll Hear.... - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
— Open Blogger

Yesterday, Ace linked to a touching story about a lady who had been deaf since birth and blind since her twenties. Through the miracle of a Cochlear Implant device she is now able to hear. It's an allergy provoking video to say the least. However, something in the article seemed to escape notice in the comments here so I thought we might take a second look.

This lady, Joanne Milne, asked one of her closest friends to compile a playlist of music for her.

Can you imagine the significance of that task?

In the end, he decided to create a list using one song from each year of her life, starting with this:



You've been asked by your friend to provide a list of the most important music she'll ever hear. Do you build the list based upon important works, or joyful hymns, or vibrant pop.... it would be an incredibly daunting task. Myself, I think I would offer this for her fist piece of music, and branch out from there:



If given such a monumental task privilege, what would you add to her very first playlist? Why?

Open thread.

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Gardening Thread
— Open Blogger

It seems that Y-not had a situation come up and had to rush out of town, so I’m flying solo this week. Last week someone requested pests. Well, they requested we talk about pests, the other way doesn’t make much sense. I once had someone come up to me in a mall and ask if I wanted to make a donation “for childhood cancer”. I told her with a straight face that I didn’t support childhood cancer and walked off. By the look she gave me she didn’t get it. Oh well, the following year I shaved my head for St. Baldricks because those folks are fighting childhood cancer, and THAT’S a cause I support.

Bugs

bugs.jpg

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Saturday Morning Open Thread
— andy

All you Fox News-addicted, staunch Republican types sure could use a morning open thread, amirite?



AoSHQ Weekly Podcast rss.png itunes_modern.png | [Stream] | [Download] | [Ask The Blog]

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"Goat Simulator:" Game Hailed By Its Maker as "World's Dumbest Game" Will Put You Behind the Controls of a Top-of-the-Line, High-Tech Goat
— Ace

You've long had the fantasy of piloting a goat, right?

Sure. Who hasn't.

Well April Fools Day is your lucky day then.

"Goat Simulator is the latest in goat simulation technology, bringing next-gen goat simulation to you," Coffee Stain Studios writes. "You no longer have to fantasize about being a goat, your dreams have finally come true!"

They also call it a "stupid, small, broken game," and brag that the game has "millions" of bugs and glitches in it, but they're leaving them in anyway, to enhance the Goat Simulation, or whatever. (They say they'll fix the game-breaking glitches but the rest will stay in.)

What might you do as a goat? Well, you do the same thing as you do in every other game: You move around, destroy objects and vehicles, and kill people. (Though the creator says the inert bodies you leave behind are merely "sleeping.") The goat headbutts things until they explode, the explosion sometimes launching him into flight, and you set people on fire by headbutting barbecues into them.

Then you go to the town's zero-g simulator because, well, of course it has one.

You can also carry around heavy objects by licking them with your tongue. Because your tongue sticks to them, and then you can carry things around and kill people with them.

The way goats do.

Below, the official launch video for what people are calling (in a Sharknado-like way) "the greatest video game ever made."

And here's some gameplay with the Goat Simulator, with simultaneous interview of the creator. At 4:23, the creator shows off the "Tall Goat" mode, which is worth watching.

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March 28, 2014

Overnight Open Thread -- 3/28/2014: Hey Bartender Edition
— Open Blogger

Hi again, 'Rons n' 'Ettes. DDR, here. Seems CDRM is busy running around telling people to do stuff tonight, so I'm filling in on his behalf in order to ensure that your Friday night ONT needs are met to a relatively plausible degree. As you know, I have this thing where I can't just throw together a bunch of stuff and call it an ONT. I don't know what it is, but I have a compulsion to try and tie a bunch of crap into a neat little package and pretend I knew where the hell I was going when I started.

Tonight's ONT will be centered around what I do when I'm not lurking or commenting here at the HQ, taking and editing photos, practicing the guitar, or drinking -- which is bartending. I've covered this territory before here, but inasmuch as my occupation is a key feature in the Ace of Spades Lifestyle, I figured I could go back to the well and no one would notice. It's not like anyone reads this part of the ONT, anyway.

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Wow
— Ace

I make a policy to not care about Gwyneth Paltrow. I believe that most of us are on this same page together.

I know there are a lot of people on the internet who care a great deal about Gwyneth Paltrow. They hate her. There are, I am reliably informed, blogs primarily given over to analyzing in precisely which ways, and to what degree, Gwyneth Paltrow is a detestable pile of loathsomeness who should be denounced when she isn't being mocked.

I did not bother to blog about her divorce from Coldplay's Chris Martin, despite the fact that the Daily Mail's sidebar wants me to know it is the Most Important Thing Ever, and despite the pictures of her Secret Smooch with Donovan Leitch (who is, by the way, who exactly? I have never heard of this guy except for his vague connection to Gwyneth Paltrow), each laid out in sequence like frames 263 to 267 of the Zapruder Film.

So, I don't care about her, and I don't understand why people hate her so much.

But, as they say: Confessing ignorance is the first step on the path towards enlightenment.

"It's much harder for me," she begins, talking about how hard it is to be a mom and an actress.

She should have stopped there. But she didn't.

She went on to explain that yes, she's saying she has it harder than women working in regular jobs.

"I think it's different when you have an office job, because it's routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening," said the polarizing Paltrow. "When you're shooting a movie, they're like, 'We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,' and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it's not like being on set."

Well it's true that during shoots, a celebrity does work long hours. Of course, most people with "regular jobs" are required to periodically work long hours.

And they're also often required to travel, away from their kids and their home.

And the people with regular jobs had to, get this, come into work every day.

Actors do work very hard (or at least for long hours) while shooting. But shooting a whole movie is a 25-35 day proposition.

And then they're... not working at all, for months at a time. And if you're an in-demand actress like Paltrow, you get to then not work for months at a time while living off that several million dollar check you got for your 30 day shoot.

That's sort of a... benefit, no?

And of course while on a shoot, they're not working every minute. They spend a lot of time in the trailer.


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The Press is Very Suspicious of the Koch's Motives, But Not Interested At All in Yeeland Lee's
— Ace

Good piece by Jonah Goldberg noting the press' studious lack of interest in the motives of Democratic malefactors.

[S]o far no reporter has raised the possibility that Yee supported tighter restrictions on guns in order to keep gun prices high and his own services in demand....

Now I sincerely doubt that Yee was that clever. The more likely explanation is that he believes in gun control and he’s a greedy hypocrite (and maybe not too bright either). The fact that gun-control policies are to his advantage is just a happy coincidence.

What’s interesting — and vexing — to me is that this sort of analysis is all the rage when it comes to conservatives and Republicans, and utterly incomprehensible to most journalists when it comes to liberals and Democrats.

...

Meanwhile, many media outlets are all too willing to take their cues from Democratic talking points. For instance, the Washington Post recently ran a shockingly shabby story insinuating that the Kochs have a lot to gain from the Keystone pipeline....

I have no problem with journalistic skepticism or the search for ulterior motives. I just object to the idea that only Republicans might have them.

Al Gore reportedly left government with a net worth of less than $2 million; he’s now worth more than $200 million, in part by profiting from climate policies he lobbies for. Gore surely believes in those policies, but why does he get the benefit of the doubt?

...

The irony is that it’d be in the media’s business interest to report on the seedy underbelly of liberal politics, too. But they don’t, because they actually do put their liberal principles before profits.

And the Yee story certainly is "good copy," as Goldberg says.

Crazy, vicious corrupt old brokedown machine politician crook.

What?

Nevermind. Just some random words that popped into my head.

But speaking of Harry Reid, Matthew Continetti has a good piece about the Reid Family Fortune.


The fact that Harry Reid’s political and influence operation includes his five children has been established for some time. A few weeks ago, when I first heard Reid accuse private citizens of being un-American, I dredged up a Los Angeles Times article from 2003 with the headline, “In Nevada, the Name to Know Is Reid.” Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper’s meticulously researched and reported article begins with the story of the “Clark County Conservation of Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002,” a land bill of the sort that puts people to sleep. “What Reid did not explain” when he introduced the bill in the Senate, Neubauer and Cooper wrote, “was that the bill promised a cavalcade of benefits to real estate developers, corporations, and local institutions that were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees to his sons’ and son-in-law’s firms.” I wonder why he left that part out.

Firms tied to the Reid family, the Los Angeles Times reported, earned more than $2 million from 1998 to 2002 “from special interests that were represented by the kids and helped by the senator in Washington.” How much more have they earned in the 11 years since this article was published? Land, energy, water, gaming, and mining—the Reids manage a diversified portfolio. They are not financial investors but political ones. Reid’s four sons are lawyers, as is his son-in-law. They make their money furthering the interests of paying clients, clients operating businesses in the state represented by Reid.

...

Reid and his family appear to work within the confines of the law, which should not be surprising, because Reid writes that law, and illegal activity hurts the bottom line. Others are not so careful. Last year one of Reid’s longtime donors, Nevada lobbyist Harvey Whittemore, was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of violating campaign finance laws. Whittemore used associates as “straw donors” to run around donation limits, giving more than $130,000 in dirty money to Reid’s campaign. His sentence is delayed pending appeal.

It's worth reading in full.

Posted by: Ace at 02:51 PM | Comments (153)
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The Fake Obamacare Endorsement Game
— Ace

Commenters are having fun with this email:

I am a staunch Republican, a self-proclaimed Fox News addict, and I didn't vote for the President. And I'm here to tell you that Obamacare works. I'm living proof.

I'm a chemotherapy patient, and was previously paying $428 a month for my health coverage. I was not thrilled when it was cancelled.

Then I submitted an application at HealthCare.gov. I looked at my options. And I signed up for a plan for $62 a month.

It's the best health care I have ever had.

So right now, here's what I want to tell anyone who still needs health insurance, or knows someone who does:

Sign up. Follow the instructions on the website. Apply, and look at your options. You still have time, and take it from me: This is something you want to do.

I wrote a letter to President Obama this past February to tell him about my experience with the Health Insurance Marketplace. I hoped he'd read it, and he did.

I may not be a supporter of the President. But now, I get mad when I see Obamacare dragged through the mud on television.

And even though I regularly tune in to conservative pundits, I'd like to tell them they're getting it wrong. Obamacare works.

So one more time: If you still need health insurance, you have just three days to get it. Do what I did. Go to HealthCare.gov, submit an application, and pick a plan that works for you.

It just might change your life.

I have no idea if this guy is for real, or if he's a "staunch Republican" as he claims. Commenters say his FaceBook page does contain previous anti-Obama and anti-Obamacare messages. So he may be exactly what he claims to be.

After all, Obamacare makes a lot of losers, but it will also make a (precious) few winners; at least some of those will be Republicans (even if the system is engineered to help as few Republicans as possible).

But what's a little bit funny -- and which provides fodder for a F*** It All Friday Game -- is the superficiality of his "staunch Republican" credentials.

Think about what conservative imagines a conservative to be, as opposed to what a progressive imagines a conservative to be.

Think how a conservative would describe himself, as opposed to how a progressive would describe that conservative.

A conservative would say something like:

"I'm a genuine conservative who believes in unleashing the power of the individual to make his own choices and own fate as his conscience and talent might dictate, and I'm aghast at Obama's continuing erosion of the individual in order to aggrandize the state..."

What would a progressive say, if he were trying to "think like a Republican"?

Well, he wouldn't talk about conservatism being empowering for the individual -- no, it's progressivism that's empowering for the individual. Government empowers the individual. So he wouldn't say limiting government empowers the individual, that as the state shrinks, the individual grows, and as the state grows, the citizen diminishes.

That's anathema to him. He couldn't bring himself to say that even when pretending to be a conservative.

So what would he say?

Well, he'd build his Krazy Konservative Kredentials on the most superficial, most vacuous grounds possible, insulting conservatives even as he claimed to be one.

He'd go to the progressive stereotype of a conservative and pick out one of the ten bigoted slurs that his mind associates with conservatives. You know, "God-Humpers," gun-f*ckers, that kind of thing.

But that's too obvious, isn't it? He wouldn't claim, "Hey, I believe in all that fantasy nonsense about Jesus and Easter Bunnies or whatever, so believe me when I say ObamaCare is just wonderful."

No, what he'd say is "I'm a Fox News addict." He would make his Krazy Konservative Kredentials on the basis of a trivial consumer choice.

What the hell kind of politically-animated person bases his philosophy on what TV channel he watches?

Now, the guy could be on the level. But I don't know -- if being a "Fox News addict" is what he considers to be foundational to being a strong conservative and "staunch Republican" (and note again that even this silly little self-reported credential is phrased in a manner suggesting that people who watch Fox have a problem), I can't think he's an especially committed conservative.

Committed conservatives actually go out of their way to say they're not Republicans.

If you asked me to write down ten things that make me a conservative, Fox News would not be on the list. F***, it wouldn't be on any list, even if I could list out fifty reasons.

This guy may indeed be a registered Republican, but he doesn't seem to have engaged the conservative (classic liberal) philosophy with any degree of depth. He seems ready, willing, and eager to dispense with the general principle of free markets and free people just because of a single anecdotal "winner" in a command-and-control system.

(Granted, one anecdote counts for a lot when that anecdote refers to yourself, but still: Most thoughtful people manage to set the self aside when thinking about first principles.)

Anyway, that's just a preamble for this game suggested by FenelonSpoke:

Let's have fun and make up fake names and testimonials to Obamacare.

So if you were playing the Moby and plumping Obamacare, what would you say?

Here's FenelonSpike's opening bid:


I'm Mark Christian, PhD and I live in Gainesville, FL.

I wouldn't miss going to church every Sunday and I sing in the praise band . I am a strong proponent of the second amendment, don't support abortion and didn't vote for President Obama either time. I wouldn;t miss NASCAR or FOX news. But I want you to know that I checked out the Affordable Care Act and it is both affordable and caring. Sign up Now!!!

MWR bids:


I'm Beth Abrams of Salt Lake City, UT, and I have an MBA from Brigham Young University. You could say I'm a Republican, if by "Republican" you mean "founder of the local Rush Limbaugh Dittohead Fanclub," or maybe, "the lady who DVRs every episode of The O'Reilly Factor," or even, "the one with an airbrushed Bald Eagle on the side of her Ford F-150 and a 'Reagan/Bush '84' bumper sticker." If that's what you mean by "Republican," then yeah, I guess I'm kind of a Republican.

And I'm here to tell you that Obamacare WORKS.

Matticus bids:

Hi, I'm Bill Prescott. On my way to Hobby Lobby, I stopped by a Chic-Fil-A to get a #1 with extra pickles. I usually eat while I read the latest from The Blaze, but decided to give the ACA website a shot. I'll be durned if the thing wasn't the most easy-to-navigate website I've encountered in quite some time. And the prices? Well, let me just tell you that I was very pleased. ACA rocks!

Lincolntf bids game:

Just got back from the gun range, ready to start homeschooling all nine kids. My sister-wives were busy beating the Devil out of a haunted set of curtains, so I picked up the mail. I couldn't believe my eyes! Our insurance rates have gone from $4,000 a month, without the Gout Plan, to just 14 bucks, with full Gout Coverage!

"Tex Texas" doubles:

As a severely conservative Republican, I really hate Obama. Not because he's a shitty president, but because he's black.


So anyway, a couple months ago I was leaving the monthly Klan rally and saw a gay wedding going on across the street. Naturally, I went over and curb stomped those queermos one after the other until all of a sudden, I broke my foot.


Three months later, my foot is all healed up and I didn't pay jack shit. Thanks, Obamacare!

Hollowpoint redoubles:

I'm Cliff Redmond, and am a lifelong Republican Christian Conservative. I did not vote for Obama because he was secretly born another country. I forget which, the one with all the colored people. Quebec I think.

An injury I sustained while taking part in a lynching after a big meth binge has left me with a pre-existing condition that prevents me from getting traditional medical care. At times the pain in my back is so severe I can't even make love to my sister. At least not in the "normal" way like God intended.

While trying to distract me from beating my sister-wife for nagging me about the moonshine still, my nephew-son showed my all the Obamacare options available to me. I shot the computer for being the work of the Devil, but a local navigator was able to take my information over the phone and get me enrolled.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I can now afford things I never thought possible. It's enabled me to buy Copenhagen instead of that cheap Grizzly stuff, and even a shirt with sleeves on it.

Thanks, Obama!

Posted by: Hollowpoint

Posted by: Ace at 11:02 AM | Comments (450)
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Embarrassing: Jeffrey Toobin Falls to New Levels of Incompetent Hackery
— Ace

The Hobby Lobby case is kind of a first amendment/religion clause case.

Kind of.

Because there is a law that provides actual statutory language to the vague provision in the Constitution -- the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by Bill Clinton, which had been passed unanimously in the House, and which sailed through the Senate with the lopsided vote of 97-3.

Hobby Lobby's actual claims are made under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, not the First Amendment. The First Amendment lurks in the background of the case -- the First Amendment is the reason for the RFRA, after all -- but the actual claims are made under the RFRA.

Does Jeffrey Toobin know about this law? Does he know it exists? Does he know that Hobby Lobby has made its claims based on the authority of the RFRA, not the First Amendment generally?

He appears to not know any of this, or, at the very least, he feels compelled to withhold this information from his readers. He writes with characteristic arrogance about the case, but fails to mention -- even once -- the law under which Hobby Lobby makes its claim.

Althouse calls this "deceptive."

I'm not convinced he's smart enough to qualify as deceptive. When a dog poops on your couch, that's not dishonest. That's just not knowing any better.

How can you write about the Hobby Lobby case without mentioning the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? It's blatantly, atrociously deceptive. Toobin proclaims that "The issue in the case is straightforward." Yeah, I guess it is when you don't bother to mention the statute the claim is based on. Toobin mentions the other statute, the Affordable Care Act itself, and he asserts that it "requires employers who provide health insurance to their employees to include coverage for contraception." Well, actually, no, it doesn't! Congress did not take the political heat of dealing with contraception (which includes some methods some people think are abortifacients). Congress avoided that static as it pushed through a law by the narrowest possible margin. It left it to HHS to make the regulations that are under consideration.

If you really want to be straightforward and you actually care about what the legislature has done, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act towers over the HHS regs. Congress took the political credit for RFRA. Our elected representatives preened over their enthusiasm for religious exemptions back then. Congress avoided political responsibility — as it barely passed the ACA — for the birth control provisions and Congress avoiding for cutting the ACA free from the RFRA regime of judicially recognized exemptions.

While Toobin's "analysis" is as vapid and superficial as anything Maureen Dowd ever wrote, he does manage to offer up a keen legal insight into Tuesday's oral arguments-- his opinion that the "three female justices" "rocked" it.

You know, my former take was that I was somewhat anti-elitist.

But here's my new take:

Elitism hasn't even been given a fair shot yet.

Because these people who currently occupy elite positions...? Are not elite.

Who knows what would happen if these thick-witted, ignorant chair-holder-downers were pushed aside in favor of someone who knew what the hell they were talking about.

There's actually an update to this story, which Althouse published yesterday. Today, Toobin's piece contains this new bit, which does mention the RFRA:

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who was defending the law, invested heavily in the argument that for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby simply do not have rights to religious expression under the First Amendment. “It seems to me that it would be such a vast expansion of what Congress must—could have thought it was doing, in 1993, when it enacted R.F.R.A.—to say that for-profit corporations can make claims for religious exemptions to any laws of general application that they want to challenge,” he said, referring to a law on religious expression that Hobby Lobby had cited. But the Justices (even Kagan) didn’t seem to be buying that claim entirely, so he moved on to defending the rights of the women employees to health care.

The New Yorker now explains:


Due to an editing error, some words were omitted from one of Paul Verrilli’s quotes. They have been restored.

I presume these erroneously-omitted words concerned the RFRA.

Well okay.

For an analysis that does include the RFRA, and does not include any firm opinions on which female justices may or may not have "rocked" it in the oral arguments, see Volokh for an expert on the Religion clause.

The analysis is very thorough. Why, if I were Jeffrey Toobin, I might even say the writer "rocked" the legal analysis. Here's one small part of it:

2. Does the government have a compelling interest in protecting the statutory rights of Hobby Lobby’s employees?

Turning to strict scrutiny, the government’s main argument is that it has a compelling interest in protecting the “statutory rights” of third parties—namely, the right of Hobby Lobby’s employees to get cost-free contraception through Hobby Lobby’s insurance plan. Evaluating the strength of the government’s interests is often one of the most difficult inquiries in constitutional law. But in this case, the government has almost insuperable difficulties in making the case.

a. First and foremost, the government’s compelling interest argument suffers from a rather glaring problem: Congress did not impose the contraceptive mandate, but left it to HHS to decide what “preventive services” must be covered. If Congress really viewed contraceptive coverage as a compelling interest it would not have left it to the vagaries of the administrative process, which are subject to political change from administration to administration.

The interest is further undermined by HHS’s statutory authority to grant religious exemptions to whomever it chooses—which HHS itself understands to include authority to grant such exemptions to for-profit businesses. See 77 Fed. Reg. 16504 (March 21, 2012) (“The Departments seek comment on which religious organizations should be eligible for the accommodation and whether, as some religious stakeholders have suggested, for-profit religious employers with such objections should be considered as well.”). Genuinely compelling interests—that is, those that cannot tolerate religious exemptions—do not come with open-ended regulatory authority to create exceptions.

The government interest in employer-subsidized Plan B is so "compelling" that the government forgot to mention it in the law that supposedly requires it.

An executive agency created the "statutory" right to a subsidy. Somehow.


Posted by: Ace at 12:50 PM | Comments (128)
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Raising the Dead: Pittsburgh Hospital To Begin Gunshot and Stabbing Victims Into Suspended Animation, to Buy Time to Operate on Them
— Ace

One of the most ridiculous parts of The Princess Bride was, to me, Miracle Max's claim that there was a distinction between "All dead" and "Mostly dead."

That actually bothered me more than any of the other fantasy elements. Because it felt like cheating. Either Westley was dead or he was not dead.

There was no in-between category for a writer to exploit for cheap emotional manipulation.

Except there is.

I have previously linked this 2013 Spiegel article on a doctor who specializes in what he calls "Resuscitation Medicine." It's worth reading in full if you haven't read it yet.

It's mind-bendy the way he keeps talking about death as this... vague category, this spectrum-type thing, where you are 60% dead but 40% alive.

Because a patient, if properly treated -- if his body temperature is artificially lowered way down -- can persist in a twilight state of near-death for a couple of hours.

And in those two hours, doctors can repair the physical trauma that caused the death in the first place.

Death, Doctor Parnia asserts, is a "fully reversible" condition -- if the proper protocols are followed.

Parnia discusses, mainly, cooling the brain of patients who have died (or: "died") due to cardiac arrest, in order to buy time to get their hearts beating again.

Parnia: In the past decade we have seen tremendous progress. With today's medicine, we can bring people back to life up to one, maybe two hours, sometimes even longer, after their heart stopped beating and they have thus died by circulatory failure. In the future, we will likely get better at reversing death. We may have injectable drugs that slow the process of cell death in the brain and other organs. It is possible that in 20 years, we may be able to restore people to life 12 hours or maybe even 24 hours after they have died. You could call that resurrection, if you will. But I still call it resuscitation science.


...

SPIEGEL: Basic first aid teaches us that the brain is very fragile. Three to five minutes after the heart stops, the brain incurs permanent damage due to lack of oxygen.

Parnia: This is a widely-held misconception, even among doctors. It's mostly based on research done in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. In those days, doctors concluded that brain cell death was inevitable in such a short time. Now we know that if treatment is correct, it really can take hours for brain cells to die. And only if all the treatments that we know today are not implemented, the damage can become apparent after as little as five minutes without blood flow. Part of the problem is that we all live in the past -- patients, doctors, nurses and legislatures. We have preconceived ideas about death. For thousands of years, death was a clear, precise moment: The heart stopped beating, and that was it. Nothing could be done from then on. You either were alive or not. But since the arrival of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) more than 50 years ago, we know that this view is no longer correct. Death is not a fixed moment anymore. From a cellular perspective, it is a process that proceeds at various speeds in the different tissues of the body after the heart stops.

...

SPIEGEL: What are some of the newer interventions that you'd recommend?

Parnia: We cool the body down, from 37 degrees to somewhere between 32 and 34 degrees. I usually go to 32 degrees. Patients stay at this temperature for 24 hours or so. Cooling has a lot of positive effects...

SPIEGEL: Doesn't the idea of "bringing people back" imply that they weren't really dead in the first place?

Parnia: I think the state they are in corresponds to the cultural concept we all have of death. We encounter it in movies and books all the time. That is my basic message: The death we commonly perceive today in 2013 is a death that can be reversed.

SPIEGEL: But not real brain death.

Parnia: No. When brain cells have decayed after a number of hours, no intervention, neither now nor in a 1000 years, will bring them back. That death is final. But up to that point, there is a gray zone. Today, we simply do not know when someone transitions from potentially reversible to irreversible. Tests used today to diagnose brain death are tests of brain stem function -- not of actual cell death.

An interesting point that he made -- or that I saw some other researcher making -- is that it's easier to operate, surgically, on the dead anyway.

Which is kind of a mindblowing thought: That your doctor, in some ways, would rather that you were dead for the operation he's performing on you, because it will make it easier for him to perform it, before attempting to revive you.

And now at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, doctors are attempting resuscitation medicine on gunshot and stabbing victims -- putting the those about to die into suspended animation (though they don't like that sci-fi sounding term) to buy time while they repair their wounds.

This isn't exactly what Parnia was talking about -- Parnia was talking about cooling down people already "dead," then operating on them, then reviving them.

The Pittsburgh plan is very similar, but not quite that. They're going to try suspended-animation techniques on people who are alive, but will be dead in very short period of time -- far too short a period of time to repair the lethal wounds they've suffered.

By putting people expected to bleed out and die within minutes into suspended animation (or, as they prefer to call it, "Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation") in a vague state in between life and death, they hope that they'll have a couple of hours, rather than a handful of minutes, to operate on the patient.

NEITHER dead or alive, knife-wound or gunshot victims will be cooled down and placed in suspended animation later this month, as a groundbreaking emergency technique is tested out for the first time.

...

The technique involves replacing all of a patient's blood with a cold saline solution, which rapidly cools the body and stops almost all cellular activity. "If a patient comes to us two hours after dying you can't bring them back to life. But if they're dying and you suspend them, you have a chance to bring them back after their structural problems have been fixed," says surgeon Peter Rhee at the University of Arizona in Tucson, who helped develop the technique.

Doctors already cool down the blood, slowly, for heart and brain operations on living patients. But they have time to cool the blood slowly in those situations, as the surgeries are scheduled, and preparations have been made in advance.

With victims of sudden trauma, they don't have that benefit of advanced planning. So they're going to try a quick-cooling techniques on trauma victims.

The article discusses experiments done since 2002, involving cooling pigs down to the point where they appeared medically dead, but then reviving them. Actually, the pigs often just revived on their own.

Doctors have long known this trick, as many people who "die" by falling into frigid ice wind up being revived later, almost always with psychic powers of some sort, or having "Brought something back... something bad." (If I may rely upon Stephen King for my medical analysis.)


"After we did those experiments, the definition of 'dead' changed," says Rhee. "Every day at work I declare people dead. They have no signs of life, no heartbeat, no brain activity. I sign a piece of paper knowing in my heart that they are not actually dead. I could, right then and there, suspend them. But I have to put them in a body bag. It's frustrating to know there's a solution."

...

"We've always assumed that you can't bring back the dead. But it's a matter of when you pickle the cells," says Rhee.

The test calls for ten patients who fit the protocol (violent trauma wound which will lead to death in minutes) being subjected to this procedure.

Ten patients who fit the protocol will not have this procedure done on them -- they'll just receive regular ol' medical help, and will probably just die -- as a control group.

It's freaky, I think.

Posted by: Ace at 09:50 AM | Comments (424)
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*** DON'T POST YET *** AoSHQ Podcast: Guest, Charles C. W. Cooke
— andy

National Review columnist Charles C. W. Cooke joins Ace, Gabe, Drew and John to discuss the Obamacare contraception mandate and subsidy cases, the latest delay in the President's signature achievement, Harry Reid's nuttiness, and Powerline's takedown of the WaPo's Koch brothers story.

Mentioned: Mad Dogs & Englishmen

Intro/Outro: Depeche Mode - Policy of Truth / The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter

Questions & comments here: Ask the Blog

Listen: [MP3 Download] | Subscribe: rss.png[RSS] | itunes_modern.png[iTunes]

Follow on Twitter:
AoSHQ Podcast (@AoSHQPodcast)
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Andy (@TheH2 and @AndyM1911)

Open thread in the comments.

Posted by: andy at 12:10 PM | Comments (112)
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Which Colleges and Which Majors Will Make You the Richest, and Which Will Make You the Poorest?
— Ace

First, the ones that will increase your net earnings (over the course of 20 years) by the highest margin. You won't be surprised to learn that computer science degrees (from different elite colleges) make up nine of the ten college/major combinations; the only non-computer science one in the top ten is an economics degree from a minor little school called Standford.

And then there's the colleges that will actually make you poorer -- when you deduct the cost of college (and cost of not working for four years) from the marginal increase in your net earnings, it sums to below zero -- and the specific majors which will make you poorer on the deal, too.

There's not a big surprise here, either. The majors which tend to be bad investments are Art, Humanities, English, and Education.

On that last one, teachers might say that this is a reason that they should be paid more; I'd suggest an alternate conclusion. My conclusion is that the Education degree should not be a major, but instead just an intensive minor. People with an education degree cannot work in any other area with that degree except education, which traps them in a fairly low-paid field. They cannot easily -- even if they wished to -- jump ship to another career.

And I really have trouble believing that teachers should spend most of their time studying, in a meta, bullshitty sort of way, the Theory of Education, as opposed to studying a specific subject matter (math, history, whatever else).

I am very skeptical that the Theory of Education itself can be gainfully studied as a four-year major. I have to think that after the first four or five courses, there's a lot of repetition, and a lot of higher abstract theorizing that very few in-the-field teachers have need of.

But I don't think the entrenched Education establishment would like that proposal, because it would mean an end to their phony-baloney jobs in college Education departments.

One way in which these numbers are misleading, or at least incomplete, is that they disguise an important fact: Students going to Caltech for comp science are going to make a lot more money than a student going to Murray State College for Arts whether they went to college or not. The Caltech comp science guy is, look, coming into the classroom a lot smarter than the Murray State Arts grad. Even if they both dropped out of school on the first day of classes, the guy who was at Caltech would make more money that the Murray State student.

But that's just an argument for another point: There are a lot of fairly useless degrees out there, degrees that will actually have a negative impact on someone's economic fortunes, and that means that there are a lot of people going to college who just shouldn't be going to college.

They should just start working after high school, at least if they want to maximize their earnings, which, whether they know it at 18 or not, they will, at least by age 28, if not earlier.

It's around age 28 where all the bullshit-bullshit and excuses of the college years start falling away and people start realizing, damnit, I need to start making some money.

Posted by: Ace at 08:49 AM | Comments (334)
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Milestone: After Months of Faking and Hiding Numbers, Obama Administration Celebrates Its Proudest Moment in Fake Obamacare Numbers
— Ace

This is the pinnacle.

Celebrating Another Phony Obamacare Milestone

By David Hogberg

This week, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that enrollment in the ObamaCare exchanges had reached 6 million.


...

There are still plenty of things we don’t know about enrollment, which makes today’s announcement highly suspect. The most important question is: how many people have not paid their first premium? The New York Times reports that number may be as high as 20 percent. If so, then true enrollment would be closer to 4.8 million. This matters if for no other reason than it allows the Administration to claim success. If the true number is 6 million, then Administration lackeys will say, “Hey, look how close we got to 7 million.” However, if it’s under 5 million, they won’t have much to cheer about. Indeed, it’s fodder for critics. Although it’s pretty clear that the Administration has this information, don’t count on them releasing it, especially if it isn’t good. Rather, will have to wait until insurers start releasing their numbers.

Another important matter we don’t know is how many persons who were previously uninsured have signed up on the exchanges. Estimates vary from 10 percent to 35 percent. If we assume that there are 6 million enrollees (based on the previous paragraph, that’s a very generous assumption), then the number of uninsured who now have coverage via the exchanges ranges from 600,000 to 2.1 million.

Actually, depending on how many of those who had their insurance cancelled choose to now remain uninsured, Hogberg figures Obamacare could actually be a "wash" -- net zero -- as far providing coverage to the population. If those who had insurance, and who are now going without, equal that number the uninsured now insured (or "insured"), then Obamacare would have had a net zero impact on the population of the insured.

Except, of course, for creating a constituency of dependents for Obama.

Just a lesson for all of you:

With hard work, with grit and guts: you too can fake great things. All it takes is a bit of brio, a pliant media, and an HHS Secretary who doesn't know any of the numbers except the ones she's come to advertise.


Posted by: Ace at 07:36 AM | Comments (362)
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Aw: Woman Fitted With Cochlear Implants Hears for the First Time In Her Life
— Ace

She was born with Usher syndrome, which made her deaf since birth and then struck her blind in her mid-20s.

Usher syndrome is...

a rare genetic disorder associated with a mutation in any one of 10 genes resulting in a combination of hearing loss and visual impairment and is a leading cause of deafblindness.

It is incurable at present. The condition is characterized by hearing loss and gradual loss of vision.

The below video, definitely worth a watch, shows her reaction to hearing sounds (and human speech) for the first time in her life.

The cochlear implant catches sounds itself, then sends those impulses directly to the auditory nerve, bypassing the broken circuit of her actual ear. The implant transmits basic sounds, not the rich range natural hearing offers, but at this point, I guess, she's not complaining.

Actually she does say "everything sounds so high-pitched," which her nurse assures her will change once her brain figures out what sounds are being transmitted by which part of the auditory nerve.

But that's a curious thing -- how the heck does a woman deaf since birth know what "high-pitched" is?

Faker.

Just kidding.

She called the experience "overwhelming," which is borne out by the video.

"The switch-on was the most emotional and overwhelming experience of my life and I’m still in shock now. I have to learn to recognise what these sounds are as I build a sound library in my brain.

"Hearing things for the first time is so emotional from the ping of a light switch to running water. I can’t stop crying and I can already foresee how it’s going to be life changing." The operation also means Joanne has been able to hear her own -- and others’ -- voices for the first time. She said: "I’m so happy. Over the last 48 hours hearing someone laughing behind me, the birds twittering and just being with friends... they didn’t have to tap my arm to get my attention which a massive leap."

I guess also she's still blind. But one miracle at a time.

Thanks to @mflynny (NDH).

more...

Posted by: Ace at 03:43 PM | Comments (169)
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Fatal Self-Defense Shootings On The Rise In Detroit
— Open Blogger

It looks like the people of Detroit are defending themselves and their homes since they can't depend on the city's police force.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a press conference last week that in his 37-year career, he’s never seen as many homeowners defending themselves by shooting intruders. Craig told The News in January he felt the crime rate could be lowered if more “good Americans” were armed, because he said criminals would think twice about attacking.

“It does appear more and more Detroiters are becoming empowered,” Craig said. “More and more Detroiters are getting sick of the violence. I know of no other place where I’ve seen this number of justifiable homicides. It’s interesting that these incidents go across gender lines.”


Empowered. I like that word choice.

Remember, if the government is rolled back for whatever reason(in this case the bankruptcy of a city), the citizenry can always pick up the slack. We aren't helpless.

Posted by: Open Blogger at 06:40 AM | Comments (330)
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