From Pine View Farm

April, 2010 archive

Missed the Tell 0

A degree from Regent University was a tell.

Smart players never miss a tell.


Did Dr. Moreau Retire to Scottsdale? 0

Why else would Arizona be afraid of a H. G. Welles science fiction story?


We Need Single Payer 0

Clif Garboden, writing in the Boston Globe, discusses his insurance carrier’s denying him treatment for a chronic condition which sometimes follows cancer treatment. Fortunately, this flare-up was more inconvenient than serious, but the condition is potentially life-threatening A nugget:

Harvard-Pilgrim recently took time out from stonewalling state regulators over proposed double-digit premium increases to deny me coverage for therapy to treat my chronic lymphedema, an expected after-effect of stage-four neck-cancer treatment during which 39 lymph nodes were removed from my neck and shoulder. Harvard-Pilgrim turned me down simply because I’d been treated for previous attacks. That was several years ago, but no matter, the clause in the policy says “per condition,’’ and that’s that.

Doesn’t Harvard-Pilgrim understand what “chronic condition’’ means? Yes, I believe it understands perfectly. “Chronic’’ means it happens over and over again, so if an insurer wants to cut costs, what better place to begin than by eliminating payments for recurring problems?

I have the right to appeal this rejection (the process takes 180 days), but frankly, I have better things to do with my remaining time on earth than play against a stacked deck with a bunch of bandits.


You Can’t Go Home Again 0

There is no escape from now:

The actress who played Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show” was robbed in the town that inspired the show’s idyllic Mayberry setting, after moving to the area to avoid big city crime.


Seen on the Street (Updated) 0

Someone’s unhappy:

Disturbing? Yes. Illegal? Probably not.

That’s what police, residents and free-speech experts say about a truck seen driving around the city displaying handmade signs disparaging women. The placards, stuck to the back of the dark purple pickup, include messages such as “All women are Satan” and “A perfect woman is a dead woman.”

The display is protected as free speech, according to prosecutors and state and local police.

Follow the link for a picture and a rather good discussion of the difference between obnoxious speech and threatening speech.

What I suspect to be most persons’ immediate question–What’s bugging him anyway?–is not answered.

In other news, the owner of license plate 14CV88, who was in the news last week, explains his choice of the plate. I updated my original post to include his explanation, . . .


. . . as well as a link to Raw Story’s deconstruction of his explanation; it is, er, rather shaky on several points.


Greater Wingnuttery XLVIII 0

Dick Polman rounds up some strays.


Return of Beyond the Palin Meets by Comparison 0

Via Mudflats.


Twits on Twitter 0

Not just in the news. Are the news:

For anyone who is dizzied by all the Twitter jargon, here’s the gist: ABC’s Twitter feed issued a false report of Elena Kagan’s nomination (to the Supreme Court–ed.), attributing it to ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper. Tapper, always the trenchant fact-checker, pointed out that he said no such thing. But by this point, the falsehood had spread rapidly among Twitterers hungry for news but lax about double-checking.

The website Mediaite reported that the mistake was the result of an ABC staffer misunderstanding a “drill” that the news team was conducting, in preparation for coverage of real breaking news. The drill story was reported over an internal loudspeaker, prefaced by, “DRILL DRILL DRILL FOR DRILL PURPOSES THIS IS NOT TRUE,” a spokesperson told Mediaite. ABC’s designated Twitterer missed that first part, and the mistake was off and running on the Internet. (The original tweet has since been deleted.)


Brendan Writes a Garden Column 0

All about what he’s learned about controlling stink bugs in his garden, which isn’t much because there’s not much that can be done, but he can get you headed in the right direction.

I would suggest not conducting any experiments to determine whether the little stinkers are aptly named. They are and they do.


I Write Mail 0

It will not surprise my two or three regular readers that I am on the ACLU emailing list.

Today, I got an appeal to notify my state officials of my opposition to instituting an Arizona-like “I Know One When I See One” immigration policy, with the option of customizing the message (no doubt most of you have seen such things). Often, when I get such appeals from some of the sites in which I participate, I do not customize the message; sometimes I add a paragraph or two. Occasionally, I rewrite the whole darn thing. Once and a while, I ignore them as frivolous, stupid, or silly.

This time, I rewrote the whole darn thing as follows:

Read more »


When the Earth Moves Again 1

A little earthquake just up the river from here; I’d be surprised if anyone on the surface noticed it.

I was in a 4.something-I-think-4 once in San Francisco. I had traveled there by train for a conference. (One of the bennies in traveling on a business pass was being entitled to a private room in a sleeping car.)

It was my first night on the ground after three nights en route (leave Philly in the evening, arrive in Chicago in the morning, kill a day, leave in the late afternoon, arrive Oakland late the second morning–it is a big country).

I woke up dreaming I was back in the sleeping car rocking in the berth from crossing rough switches. It lasted about as long as it would take to cross two tracks at slow speed leaving a station.

I realized what had happened, figured it was over, and went back to sleep. The next morning, the desk clerk told me that a number of persons had come down at three o’clock and checked out.

I have always wondered, where did they go at three o’clock in the morning? Another hotel in downtown San Francisco?


Confluence of Interests? 0

Um, yeah.

I hear the protesters at tea-party rallies crying out, “We want our country back!” and I’d like to ask them, “Back from whom?”

Back from the 66.9 million of your fellow Americans – 53 percent of the electorate – who voted for Barack Obama? Those who gave substantial majorities to the Democrats in the House and Senate?


If the tea-party types really want to protect the Constitution, I suggest they join the American Civil Liberties Union. It’s been opposing abuses of government power and defending our constitutional rights and liberties in courts, communities, and legislative bodies for 90 years.

Read the whole thing.

Of course, the Teabaggers are more likely to favor banning the ACLU than joining it. The ACLU believes civil liberties are for everyone.

The Teabaggers think civil liberties are for them only.


Plea: Not Guilty by Reason of Insensibility 0

Sleeping on the job may go from a firing offense to a jail term:

A would-be thief who apparently fell asleep while burglarizing an East Palo Alto home last month pleaded not guilty to the crime Tuesday, a prosecutor said.


Walled Gardens and Smashed Doors 0

Steve Jobs on why Apple bans Flash from a number of its products (emphasis added–full story at the link):

Mr Jobs said Flash was made for an era of “PCs and mice” and performed poorly when translated to run on touchscreen smartphones and handheld devices.

He also criticised the technology for being only under the control of Adobe.


No doubt that is the issue. Flash is outside the walled garden.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Later that same evening:

The video is throwing an error message.

It is throwing the same error message on Raw Story, where I found it.

Conclusion: Not my problem, so I can’t fix it.

One hopes it will clear up later.


And Now for Something Completely Different 3


Driving While Brown, Once More (Updated) 1

Rachel Maddow looks at the persons behind Arizona’s “I Know One When I See One” law. Many of them have long histories in the racial and ethnic bigotry and hatred biz.

(Early in the video, the Governor confesses that she does not know what an illegal immigrant looks like. I guess someone is going to sprinkle pixie dust on the Arizona constabulary so they can magically know one when they see one.)

Maddow opens the video by summarizing how Republicans, while caterwauling about immigration for years, have also prevented Congress from taking up the issue, even to the point of turning on George W. Bush when he tried to address it.

Refusing to address a problem festers fosters further demagoguery.

The discussion of the persons behind the bill starts about three minutes in (partial transcript here).

Brendan is boycotting companies based in Arizona. Follow the link for a list of big outfits headquartered there (Warning: He’s upset. Language).

Shaun Mullen (where I found the link to the video) isn’t sure whether a boycott will do any good:

The UFW (United Farm Workers’ California lettuce–ed.) boycott worked, while I have little doubt that a boycott of anything having to do with Arizona will be ineffectual even if big players like Mexico, the state’s largest trading partner, get on board. The neo-Nazis, supremacists and nativists have gotten their way, and there will be no turning back.

But that is not the point, so I will not be flying into Phoenix to see an old friend this summer and making damned sure that I don’t buy anything made in Arizona at the stupormarket.

It comes as no surprise that the movers and shakers behind the law are as vile as they come. Nor that the state government has the chutzpah to ask Washington to help fund the 15,000 officers tasked with hunting down people simply because they have brown skins.

But he’s in, because symbolism matters.

So am I.

(Ahhhh, they want Washington to supply the pixie dust. Frankly, I think that producing pixie dust would be a horrible overreach of federal power under the terms of good witch/bad witch clause of the United States Constitution.)


Anonymous Liberal, who is a lawyer, analyzes the pixie dust.


Driving While Brown, Reprise 0

Dick Polman considers statements by Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush questioning Arizona’s “See Your Papers, Mach Snell” law:

The tea-party people who scream that health care reform is a threat to their personal freedom have been conspicuously silent about the new Arizona law that poses a threat to personal freedom. Gee, I wonder why. Perhaps it’s because the virtually all-white tea-party people can’t seem to muster outrage about governmental overreach that potentially imperils the freedom of brown people. Apparently not all government “tyranny” is created equal.


Nothing To Do, Nowhere To Go 0

Under 450k.

The number of U.S. workers filing new applications for unemployment insurance fell slightly less than expected last week, government data showed on Thursday, implying only a gradual labor market improvement.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 448,000 in the week ended April 24, the Labor Department said.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected claims to fall to 445,000 from the previously reported 456,000, which was modestly revised up to 459,000 in Thursday’s report.


Aside: Who are these analysts and why can’t they get it right? If I got it wrong as often as they do, I’d turn in my analysts’ union card.

All seriousness aside, these anonymous unnamed analyists were off by 0.6% That’s hardly worth mentioning, except that it takes up an additional column inch.


The Goldman Rule 0

As Bill Shein points out, Goldman Sachs was neither more ruthless nor less moral than anyone else on Wall Street.

It’s satisfying to know that we would never be party to such tawdry money-making schemes, right? Even if what they did was legal. That’s why it feels so good to let loose with our moral outrage, especially at a time when so many things seem out of our control.

But is Goldman Sachs or Wall Street really responsible for the long-term pickle that regular folks are in? Are they the bad guys, even in the particular transaction that the Securities and Exchange Commission has alleged was fraud?

Or, more likely, was the company just doing what our entire economic system demands they do, which is make money while, as much as possible, disguising the true impact of that money-making on people and planet?

They weren’t the only sharks trying to play with marked cards, but they were better at marking the cards.

The point of regulation is not to end the game, but to ensure that the cards aren’t marked.



Samuel L. Clemens:

Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.