Decision Time

Well, after a great deal of thinking (mostly about sex and food), I've decided to move back to my old Blogger blog. I hate doing that for a whole variety of reasons, but there just isn't a platform that does what I want to do that doesn't cost money, or, like Livejournal, costs money and still doesn't do what I want. I guess you know you have truly descended from the working class to the welfare class when $4 a month is t0o steep of a price to pay for a blogging platform. I'm not deleting this, but it won't likely (see how I'm covering my ass there?) be posting anything to this site from now on. I've already changed our domain to point to the Blogger page and did a little site clean-up. The dust does tend to build up when you've been gone for a year. I'll probably change my mind at least five more times, but for now, this is where we will be hanging out.

So Now What?

So I haven't posted in forever, mostly because I've done nothing but go to doctor's appointments while bouncing in and out of the hospital. The problem with all that is it makes very boring blog post material. Other than a quick trip up to Michigan for a family reunion, we have done nothing but deal with my medical shit, and no one wants to read endless blog post spewing medical jargon like Anxonal Peripheral Polyneuropothy (one of several diagnoses I've been hit with since my last post). 

So now I'm trying to figure out what to do with this blog. I used to post about all the interesting places we went to, but we won't ever be able to do that again. Or I'd post long political rants, but everything there is to say has been said, and nothing is getting one damn bit better. In fact, the whole damn thing is going to hell faster than even I thought possible. Endless posts where I take victory laps for things being even worse than I predicted seems a little egomaniacal.

I'm hoping that I can get some mobility back so I can get back out into the yard, maybe try to do a little gardening. That will at least give me pretty flower pictures to post.

More Medical Mayhem

There was one... uh... interesting part of my last hospital visit that I didn't talk about in my previous diatribe: the dialysis fiasco. See, I was supposed to be what they refer to as an "urgent start", so while I was in the hospital, my kidney doc arranged to have my PD done in my room. Some guy who we had never seen before came in with all the equipment and supplies, introduced himself and asked if we minded if he used me to train the new guy. We told him that was fine as long as we could listen in because we needed to know about this thing as well. He explained that the equipment we would have at home would be different, but they all work more-or-less the same way and any differences would be mostly cosmetic.

So we got a quick rundown of terminology, how the system worked, what problems can come up, how to fix some of the more common alarms, etc. Then they left. Things went OK that first night; we had a couple alarms, but we knew what to do. Which turned out to be most fortunate, because as we learned from our night nurse, once the two gentlemen left, there was no one in the entire hospital who had any knowledge of PD, and it wouldn't have mattered even if they did: the equipment belonged to an outside company and hospital personnel were strictly forbidden to even touch it.

I thought that was an odd way for a major hospital to do things, but what do I know? We muddled through the next few nights without major incident. The occasional alarms were annoying, but we were able to deal with them. And then my last night in the hospital everything went all to hell.

First, the guy who came in was not any of the ones who had come in before. He was obviously in a big hurry, which means he had problems getting the machine set up. No surprise there; all equipment has a built-in detector that increases the likelihood of a malfunction in direct proportion to how much of a hurry you are in. He finally gets the thing working, then goes running out the door before the first step had completed. The other guys always hung around for most of the first full cycle just to make sure everything was good. I thought maybe he had someone in another room to get hooked up or something.

Anyway, we started getting alarms almost immediately, and not the ones that we knew what to do anything about. We double-checked everything we could think of to check, but no joy. Alarm after alarm after alarm after alarm. The nurse called the guy to have him come check it out.

The son-of-a-bitch had left the building! By the time our nurse made contact with him, he was already an hour from the hospital on his way home and refused to come back. He said the only thing he could suggest was to mute the alarm and wait until someone came in the morning to unhook everything and see if they could get things working.

No. Fucking. Way!!!

I was supposed to be discharged the next morning. The total time on the machine was close to eight hours, which would have meant another day and night in the hospital. I was done! I wanted to get home!

We kept poking at the thing and nearly 10 hours and 30+ alarms later, we finally got through the entire process. I felt bad for anyone in the rooms near mine. The damn alarms were loud as hell and they were going off every couple minutes at one point. I was so pissed I had decided that if I ever saw that ass-clown again, I would tear his head off and shit down his throat. Fortunately, someone else showed up the next morning to unhook me.

Now that I've had some sleep and knowing what I know about the medical-industrial complex, I'm willing to give the SoB a bit of a break. I still don't appreciate the whole attitude that my health and well-being are unimportant, that I'm just a "consumer" of healthcare "services" and deserve no more consideration or respect that someone "consuming" a box of Goobers.

However, if SoB's company operates the way most others around here do, he isn't considered an employee, but an independent contractor. Which means that he is probably paid some flat amount for each dialysis patient he hooks up while having to use his own vehicle and gas to drive all over Pasco County. The flat amount probably sounds like a lot of money until he subtracts out vehicle depreciation, maintenance, gas, paying the full amount of his Social Security (double what is withheld from your paycheck), health insurance, additional car insurance (it's now considered a vehicle for hire), and a long list of incidentals. All of which means he's likely making less that he would flipping burgers for minimum wage, and explains to some extent the bitchy attitude.

But what I'm most interested in is how all this works from the hospital side of things. Here I am, an inpatient of Advent Healthcare of Zephyrhills, squirming around on my plastic bed because of the giant sore on my ass (which two months later still has not healed...) hooked up to a machine that no one in the building has any knowledge of, and will be fired on the spot if they so much as touch any part of it. Now what happens if I code? Not impossible. After all, the primary reason I was in the hospital was sharp stabbing chest pains. Would everyone just stand around the bed and watch me die while the night nurse argues with SoB about getting his ass back to the hospital? Would they try to revive me while working around the machine and the hundreds of feet of plastic tubing sprouting from it and connected to me like some giant plastic squid, knowing that touching any of it meant instant job loss? What if the machine were to malfunction and catch fire? Just let it burn? Or would the night nurse risk her career to unplug it and hose it down with a fire extinguisher?

(Yes, I'm being sarcastic, but only sort of. I'd really like to see whatever written agreement that exists between the hospital and the dialysis company. I can tell you that every hospital employee that came into my room while I was on dialysis treated the equipment like it was infected with ebola. I'll bet there are stories....)

Is there anyone reading this that doesn't think this is a stupid way to run a hospital? It's so stupid, in fact, that it has to be deliberate. The only reason this could exist in a rational universe is that someone, somewhere is fattening up their off-shore bank account. Maybe News Channel 8's crack investigative team can take a break from chasing cockroaches around mom&pop restaurants and go hunting the giant cockroaches infesting our health care system.

And I'm sure all those paid advertisements from the major hospitals that run every 5 minutes day and night on their network will not have any influence on future news stories, cuz you are all so full of integrity and stuff. Full of something anyway....

  • Current Music
    Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band

More Medical Malpractice

So it's been close to forever since I've posted anything. That's mostly because I can't seem to stay out of hospitals and doctor offices. It appears that my kidneys decided that 54 years of steady work was more than enough and retired from service. It was decided (not by me) that I would go on something called peritoneal dialysis. (That article talks mostly about the old manual method of doing PD. I have a machine that does all the work while I sit in front of the TV or sleep in bed.) Getting the catheter implanted, dealing with all the related kidney failure crap, training, home visits, equipment and supply deliveries, etc. have pretty much taken over our life.

Of course the worst has been dealing with asshat hospital bureaucrats, clueless doctors, and general dumbfucks who seemed determined to waste our time and piss me off.

Now, I need to make a disclaimer right up front; nothing that follows is in any way directed at the front-line people out there that get paid shit to deal with long hours, broken equipment, craptastic software systems, and shitty bosses. Nurses, techs, clerks are the unsung heroes of the Republic, navigating through a minefield of rules, regulations, silos and managers who, if they think of patients/clients at all, place them far down the list of priorities.

We'll start where I started: AdventHealth in Zephyrhills. Utter chaos is probably the best description I can come up with. Of the eighteen doctors coming in and out of my room all hours of the day and night, none of them seem to have the first clue why I'm there, who is running what tests and why, what the results of any of those test are, whether or not I'm allowed to eat and/or drink anything at that particular moment (and if not, why?), and most importantly, why, when every single one of my eighteen doctors says I can go home, am I still laying here in this gods-awful bed with IV's stuck in my arms!

Every time I end up in that place, It takes me a week to recover. The main problem is that it is impossible to get any sleep. Hourly vitals checks, daily blood draw at 4am, the malfunctioning bed alarm on the poor old woman across the hall that goes off every 5 minutes, doctors right outside my door loudly discussing patient details on their cell phone at 2am (I guess Florida was exempted from HIPAA...), and that health care classic, waking up a sleeping patient to ask them if they would like a sleeping pill. And then they wonder why my blood pressure is through the roof.

Another problem is what these idiots do to my blood sugar. Random doses of long- and short-acting insulin administered at random times that have no relation to the equally-random meal times, assuming I even get a meal; in a week-long stay I probably averaged around 1.5 meals a day. By the time I get home, my sugar is so jacked up it takes me weeks to get things back under control.

But the one thing that intrigues me more than anything is watching everyone struggling with the crappy software. Something as simple as asking for my latest lab results turns into a 20-minute click-fest as the person navigates down one blind alley after another, trying to find my latest creatine level. And I have to have those numbers written down somewhere because random medical staff won't be able to see them no matter how much clicking they do. I could never get close enough to a screen to see anything in detail, but what I could see looked pretty bad. Current information buried under a metric shit-ton of old data from days earlier, or even from previous hospital visits, notes from Doctor X not being accessible by Doctor Y and just a crappy use of screen real estate in general. (But then again, look at what Uncle Zuck's crew has done to Facebook). It has to be a nightmare for everyone. I'm guessing that the entire IT operation has been farmed out to some consulting group in Pakistan given that in all the time that I've spent in that hospital with my parents and my own health crap, I've never once seen a geek out on the floor. When I worked hospital IT, the last place you ever found any of us was sitting at our desks. The majority of our time was spent out on the floor with our users seeing what they needed, what problems they were having, etc. I wonder if anyone has ever looked at how many "negative patient outcomes" and "near misses" are due to crappy software?

So I get sprung. Now I have to schedule follow-ups with all eighteen doctors who walked by my room while I was an inpatient. Problem is I have some funky Medicaid thing for insurance now that we have zero income. Which not a single specialist in Pasco County accepts. Worse, I can't just go in and pay cash; that's not allowed either, even when the doctor in question is someone like my hematologist who I've been paying cash to see every three months for the last seven years. Now he can no longer see me as a patient. Or maybe he can. Nope he can't. Oh, but if I sign this form and pay an extra $50, he can. Maybe. For now.

Not that it matters as none of the eighteen doctors will make any sort of diagnosis or prescribe medication because I'm on dialysis and the dialysis center has to do everything. Now, I love my DaVita Dialysis Center peeps. If I could I would nominate every last one of them for sainthood. They are the only people we've dealt with who can manage to communicate actual information to us in plain English and get actual work done. But they are not my primary or my hematologist or my nephrologist. They cannot be expected to know all about my leukemia or diabetes, but no matter what questions or problems I have, the answer is, "Ask your dialysis center. There is nothing I can do for you." Uh, I paid 150 bucks for this load of bullshit? Thank the gods for WebMD.

And because that couldn't possibly be enough to drive us nuts, we are also doing battle with Social Security and Medicare. The last thing that happened is probably the most iconic. We finally get sick of being ignored on the phone and show up at the Social Security office in Dade City. The status on my disability was pretty much what we knew it was going to be; in process. Check back in a year or two. Even though we keep being told that it's "automatic" and "instantaneous" for dialysis patients, I know better than that. The SSA takes at least two years to approve a disability claim no matter what. But we were getting a lot of conflicting information about when/if I can get on Medicare. As we suspected, all these hospital social workers that have been claiming to do all these wonderful things on our behalf haven't done a damn thing and the process hadn't even been started. So we asked what step one was. Make an appointment for a phone interview. So we tell the clerk to do that. Sorry, I can't. There are no appointments available as far out as the calendar lets me go. Sooooooo, now what? Our only option is to call every day and see if someone cancels. We just sat there, staring at her. She finally went to someone else's cube and found out there is a second, secret calendar (more shit-tastic software) that did have a couple openings. So on top of the four weeks we already wasted, now we wait for three more weeks just to take the first step in a process that is only supposed to take 30 days. As I told a fellow Moose Lodge member we bumped into later in the day; we have a trillion dollars a year to blow up countries most Americans couldn't find on a map, but we're too poor to fund an adequate number of employees in the SSA or VA or any agency other than the military.

So here we sit waiting and wondering as we watch our savings account slowly approach zero. When you see me on the news for choking someone with my bare hands, now you'll know why.

  • Current Music
    Billy Joel

Can't. Stop. Laughing!

So one of the things I love most about Takimag is that I never know what to expect. The other day, I was running through my usual morning routine and bumped into one of the most hysterical articles I've ever read:

These days, [San Francisco] is in deep shit—much of it human....

According to a group called Open the Books—whose partial mission statement seems to include counting turds on city sidewalks—the following are statistical facts regarding the Shitty Streets of San Francisco....

• 6,676 unexpected human turds have been reported this year already....

• There were 13 reports of human waste in front of City Hall; 17 at the U.S. Marshals office; and 67 at the Tenderloin police station on Eddy Street. These public defecators do not lack for moxie....

Open the Books also maintains an interactive Turd Map that plots the tens of thousands of reported open-air human poopings with little brown pin points....

If you’re wondering why city officials simply don’t tuck the homeless away where they can’t be seen, it’s likely because San Francisco’s incredibly cloistered and soft elites adhere to an ideology that forces them to make a public display of “tolerance,” which is why it’s considered bad cricket to complain about seeing homeless people jabbing needles into their own necks and using tree trunks as toilet paper....

Last year, the city formed a “Poop Patrol” to tackle the crisis. Comprised of five workers who each earn $184,000 yearly in salary and benefits, they enjoy the dubious honor of being the city’s first-response squad whenever anyone reports seeing human feces on the streets....

Developers have also produced a phone app called SnapCrap that allows users to point, click, and officially report all instances of sidewalk shittery....

Holy Shit! Did an article for the Onion get posted on the wrong web site? A SnapCrap app? Poop Patrol? At nearly $1 million a year? "Unexpected human turds"? As opposed to expected human turds?

And the best part by far is that the idiot liberals who live there are actually proud of the fact that they live in a city buried in human shit because it makes them woke. I'd think one of the wealthiest (if not the wealthiest) cities in the wealthiest nation in human history could do better. I guess not.

Sorry guys; I'd rather be a racist/sexist/fascist/misogynist deplorable with clean streets.

  • Current Music
    Depeche Mode

Mulling Mueller

Due to family medical issues, I'm a little behind the curve with this, but hey, if you want breaking news, you probably ain't reading this anyway.

My first thought when the essence of the Mueller Report came out was Trump gets his second term no matter what. It now doesn't matter who the Democrats run, Trump wins in a landslide. At this point, I doubt it would even matter if the economy fell off a cliff; the Democratic Party is dead.

My next thought was, "There goes several American institutions down the toilet." I can't believe anyone will believe anything the mainstream media says for at least a couple decades. I lost all faith in the MSM a long time ago, but even I would have never believed CNN, the New York Times, etc. would have flat out lied, repeatedly, for years, about something as completely stupid as Russiagate. Not selective reporting of facts, not slanting the story, not using weasel words to say one thing while giving the impression of saying something else. That's what I've expected from the MSM since delivering copies of the Flint Urinal... er... Journal when I was twelve. But just flat out lying? And not just once or twice, or one journalist going off the rails, but rather 24/7, cover-to-cover lies? Not in my darkest moments would I have ever believed such a thing would be possible.

Then we have the FBI/CIA/NSA/State Department's efforts to hand the presidential election to Hillary. Granted, the grandiose veneer has been chipping off these agencies for decades, but their attempt to stage a soft coup here in the US, as opposed to the more-typical overseas activities, will wreck any credibility these agencies had both here at home and abroad for a very long time, if not permanently.

And finally, we have the DNC. How hard is it for these assclowns to figure out that Hillary lost because the majority of Americans simply do not like her as a person? Sure, both of the major political parties have gone tone-deaf to the voters and live in a self-referential bubble. But just how colossally stupid do you have to be to a) come up with such a cockamamie story to begin with, b) keep harping on it non-stop for more than two years, then c) when it all falls apart, double down and keep yapping about it. I think Mr. Sanders may soon regret lashing himself to the boat anchor the DNC has become.

The big question is, "Why?" The press, I actually understand. The media has made a killing off of Trump. I read yesterday over at Naked Capitalism (or maybe Automatic Earth) that CNN has increased the fee for a 30-second ad from less than $3,000 to more than $13,000 since Trump took his infamous escalator ride. That is a lot of Benjamins, and bottom line, the press is and always has been about the Benjamins above all else. In the case of the various government agencies, maybe they felt that their budgets would be under pressure if the US and Russia normalized relations, but there are plenty of valid reasons to be cautious, even suspicious, of Russia without inventing something as dumb, and easily disproven, as Russiagate. And the DNC? Maybe the people running the show really are just that stupid? Granted, I've seen plenty of institutions get stuck in a narrative and have difficulty breaking out of it, but at some point the antibodies kick in and the ship rights itself. (Excuse me while I madly mix my metaphors.) Were people working for the party that terrified of the Hillary cabal that they would rather see their party implode than speak up? That is some serious dysfunction you got going there.

Anyway, enough of my blah, blah, blah. Here is a selection of what others have to say:

Matt Taibbi: It's Official: Russiagate Is this Generations WMD

The [New York Times] was signaling it understood there would now be questions about whether or not news outlets like themselves made a galactic error by betting heavily on a new, politicized approach, trying to be true to “history’s judgment” on top of the hard-enough job of just being true. Worse, in a brutal irony everyone should have seen coming, the press has now handed Trump the mother of campaign issues heading into 2020.


Imagine how tone-deaf you’d have to be to not realize it makes you look bad, when news does not match audience expectations you raised. To be unaware of this is mind-boggling, the journalistic equivalent of walking outside without pants.

The Automatic Earth: Can We Lock Up Rachel Maddow Now?

Message to Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Kemala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard and the rest of the crew: you can stop asking for campaign donations, because you no longer stand a chance in the 2020 elections. Your own party, and the media who support you, made sure of that. Or rather, the only chance you would have is if you guys start another smear campaign against your president, and I wouldn’t recommend that.

Jim Kunstler: Buyer's Remorse

The Narrative is dead! Long live The Narrative!

That’s what played on CNN, NBC, and The New York Times yesterday as they struggled to digest the parting meal Robert Mueller served to the RussiaGate lynch mob: a nothingburger with a side of crow-flavored fries. Mr. Mueller was careful, though, to leave a nice red poison cherry on top with his statement that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Mr. Mueller, who ought to know better, could not be more in error on that too-fine-a-point. The official finding that no crime was committed is, ipso facto, an exoneration, and to impute otherwise is a serious breach of his role in this legal melodrama. Prosecutors are expressly forbidden to traffic in defamation, aspersion, and innuendo in the absence of formal charges. So, it will be interesting to hear what Mr. Mueller has to say when Jerrold Nadler reels him into the House Judiciary Committee, as inevitably he will, to do to some ‘splainin.’

The Russia Times: "One of the greatest hoaxes in US history": Russiagate Narrative's Peddlers to be Held Accountable?

The American establishment and mass media not only wasted millions of taxpayers’ dollars “fomenting and stoking tensions” between world nuclear superpowers, but also undermining any remaining trust in them, political analyst Charles Ortel told RT. Americans will have to be looking elsewhere for alternative news sources to avoid being duped any further by the chorus of disinformation from the mainstream media, he added.

Taki Magazine: Russiagate - A Bright Shining Lie

After two years of hearing from haters in politics and the media that President Donald Trump was “Putin’s poodle,” an agent of the Kremlin, guilty of treason, an illegitimate president who would leave the White House in handcuffs and end his days in prison, we learn the truth.

It was all a bright, shining lie.

...and pass the beer nuts.

  • Current Music

Bob Seger!!

Bob Seger was in Tampa as part of his farewell tour. He may be pushing 80, but he still knows how to put on a show. One of Debbie's brothers was there with his wife and son, and one of my cousins came with us as well. We were laughing that it was a good thing Debbie's nephew came along so we wouldn't be the youngest people in the crowd. We had a great time and it was good to see some family we don't get to see very often. One thing with a crowd made up of old people is that everyone was pretty mellow. Not a lot of pushing and shoving, nobody puking, no fights, etc. The layout of the Amalie Arena makes it easy to get around in and find your seats. We were a little surprised by the lax security: we never had to show anyone that we had tickets. I put my ticket in my pocket when we got out of the car and never took it out until we got home. I used to work for the company that provides security; we checked tickets at the screening area, again when you went into the door, then again when you got to your section. It kinda pissed me off a little; I paid $125 for a ticket that never saw the light of day. But bottom line; awesome show. As always.

Tax season is in full swing and boy is it swingin'. I've already done more returns that I did last year and just with the returns I know are coming my way, I will be doing at least that many more. The phone is ringing off the hook and there is a steady line of people walking up on our porch. We always laugh about how nobody ever comes back to our out-of-the-way corner of the park, but we sure are getting company this year.

In medical news, I've gone from having no insurance to having two different insurances. I need to go through the foot-thick file of bills that have been sitting in the file cabinet since January and try to get some of these people off our backs. My pitch to them will be simple: No job, no money, whatever Florida Medicaid is willing to give you is all that you are ever going to get, so take it and be happy. Anyone want to take bets that will work? Heh.

In our continuing series documenting TEOTWAWKI:

The whole Russiagate thing started with Russian hackers supposedly breaking into the DNC's e-mail server, revealing that the entire Democratic Party apparatus conspired to ensure Hillary Clinton was the Democrat's 2016 presidential candidate. At the time I and many others said that it was complete BS; the e-mails had been copied onto a flash drive by someone working at the DNC who was probably sickened by their chosen party. Well, we were right:

We veteran intelligence professionals (VIPS) have done enough detailed forensic work to prove the speciousness of the prevailing story that the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking. Given the paucity of evidence to support that story, we believe Mueller may choose to finesse this key issue and leave everyone hanging. That would help sustain the widespread belief that Trump owes his victory to President Vladimir Putin, and strengthen the hand of those who pay little heed to the unpredictable consequences of an increase in tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.

The article goes on at length showing how that conclusion was arrived at. It is written by geeks, but in non-geek plain English. Long but worth the time if you care at all about that little thing called "truth".

David Holmgren is a permaculture guy from Australia. He recently published an apology from the Baby Boomers to the Millennials and whatever we end up calling GenZ. The entire thing is loaded with good stuff, but this bit caught my eye:

While our parents’ generation experienced the risks of youth through adversity and war we used our privilege to tackle challenges of our own choosing. Although some of us had to struggle to free ourselves from the cloying cocoon of middle class upbringing, we were the generation that flew like the birds and hitchhiked around the country and the world. How strange that on becoming parents (many of us in middle age) we believed the propaganda that the world was too dangerous for our children to do the same around the local neighbourhood. Instead we coddled them, got into the chauffeuring business, and in doing so encouraged their disconnection from both nature and community. As we see our grandchildren’s generation raised in a way that makes them an even more handicapped generation, we must be truly sorry for the path we took and the disease we created.

Gen Handicapped. I like it; has a certain ring to it.

One of the indications of a nation in decline is loss of faith in its institutions. For example, every nation in the world has always accepted that any plane deemed airworthy by the FAA did not need to go through whatever equivalent system that country has in place. Now, thanks to the 737 MAX debacle, that will surely change:

With the 737 Max 8 grounded worldwide, the MCAS system is now under scrutiny. A Boeing spokesman said on Sunday that the system met all of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) certification requirements, but a group of anonymous Boeing and FAA engineers told the Seattle Times that the FAA delegated much of the safety analysis to the company itself, which cut corners to deliver the plane on time.

Typical corporate short-term thinking; rather than risk being "late to market" and lose sales, rush the process, kill customers, and lose even more sales than you ever would have had you just taken the time to do it right. It's the Flaming Pinto all over again, only this time, both a major corporation and a federal regulatory agency will be gettin' an ass whoopin'.

Last but certainly not least, we have a Matt Taibbi two-fer. I knew he had something big brewing when he went into radio silence for nearly three weeks. It was worth the wait. By now, everyone has heard that the Pentagon failed its first-ever audit. The problem is that they really didn't fail so much as make such a hash of their books, teams of accountants were unable to even offer an opinion:

At the tail end of last year, the Department of Defense finally completed an audit. At a cost of $400 million, some 1,200 auditors charged into the jungle of military finance, but returned in defeat. They were unable to pass the Pentagon or flunk it. They could only offer no opinion, explaining the military’s empire of hundreds of acronymic accounting silos was too illogical to penetrate.

When I was a kid, Senator Everett Dirksen allegedly said, "A million here, a million there; pretty soon, you're talking real money" in reference to federal spending. This was later inflated to "A billion here, a billion there...". What Taibbi dug up goes far beyond that:

...the Defense Department a few years ago found about $125 billion in administrative waste, a wart that by itself was just under twice the size of that $74 billion Enron bankruptcy. Inspectors found “at least” $6 billion to $8 billion in waste in the Iraq campaign, and said $15 billion of waste found in the Afghan theater was probably “only a portion” of the total lost.

My favorite bit of the entire article:

Meanwhile, the Air Force, which has a $156 billion annual budget, still doesn’t always use serial numbers. It has no idea how much of almost anything it has at any given time. Nuclear weapons are the exception, and it started electronically tagging those only after two extraordinary mistakes, in 2006 and 2007. In the first, the Air Force accidentally loaded six nuclear weapons in a B-52 and flew them across the country, unbeknownst to the crew. In the other, the services sent nuclear nose cones by mistake to Taiwan, which had asked for helicopter batteries.

When I read that, the first thing that popped into my head was an episode of M*A*S*H with some high-ranking dude explaining that, no the unit could not have some badly needed piece of medical equipment, but they could have a popcorn machine. Just use form blah-blah-blah-stroke-J, cross out "Machine Gun" and write in "Popcorn Machine". I guess whoever wrote that bit was closer to the mark than they knew, only it was form blah-blah-blah-stoke-H, and you cross out "Helicopter Batteries" and write in "Nuclear Missile".

And we trust these people with essentially unlimited firepower. And a trillion dollars a year.

Speaking of a trillion dollars, some people are trying to say Sanders is full of it when he talks about the big banks getting a trillion dollars in bail-outs after nearly wreaking the entire world economy. And it's true that the number is probably no where near a trillion dollars. Taibbi shows that more likely, it's somewhere between $7.7 trillion and $29 trillion. As he points out in the article, the bail-out went far beyond just TARP. There was TAF, TALF, TSLF, TOP, PDCF, Maiden Lanes, interest on Fed Reserve balances, and much more.

Meanwhile, we got the shaft. And the bill.

I think that I posted this before, but I figure that if you made it this far, you could use some suicide prevention. I thought of this video because Debbie is training for her new job, which comes with the possibility of getting a phone call from someone famous. The trainer was talking about treating them like anyone else and not squee-ing in their ear. Sort of the opposite of this:

I think what makes me laugh about that clip more than anything is that in a poll of the 7.7 billion people on planet earth, more would likely recognize Mayim Bialik than Mark Hamill.

And I will close with Dr. Jerry Pournelle's admonition: Remember that despair is a sin.

  • Current Music
    Beach Boys

More Messing About

I'm still poking around in the settings for this thing to see if I can make it look how I want it to look. First, an apology: I hate blogs that have big ugly ads right at the top of the screen. I thought I had gotten rid of that by paying money, but alas, paying money only means thatI don't see the ads (or maybe Adblock+ is killing them). Anyone else visiting the site will still see them unless they also have paid money (or possibly if they are running Adblock+). Not sure I understand the reasoning. I believe there is a way to get the ad off the very top of the screen, but I haven't got that to work yet. Or maybe I have. I'm not real sure. The whole setup seems odd.

[Aside: I don't mind the pay-vs.-ads model. I understand that whoever is hosting this thing needs to make money, and I would rather work with someone who is upfront about it rather than do the Google/Facebook trick and secretly collect data on everyone and sell it to the highest bidder. But it should be either/or. If I'm paying, ads should not be inserted into my blog.]

I also don't like how the headers work. I've always had a primary header (Ric & Debbie's Place) followed by a quote. There is a place for a second header line, but it is limited to 20 or 30 characters, and it doesn't allow any formatting. For now, I stuck the quote on the top of the sidebar, but the whole thing is so small, it may as well not even exist. Worse, on mobile devices, the sidebar gets cut off the side and shoved to the bottom of the page.

I'm getting used to the old LiveJournal online editor, but the new one is too limiting unless you are just posting tweet-like entries. If you need to do any sort of serious formatting or [gasp!!!] edit the actual HTML, you are forced to use the old editor. [Update: I just spent an hour I don't have hand editing the HTML for this post because some asshat at LiveJournal has decided that instead of using the standard HTML paragraphing, they will insert dozens of div's and span's in some lame attempt to improve on the standard p-/p paragraph marks. Grrrrr.] I hope the new one is just something added on to make it easier to do quick and dirty posts from a mobile device and not a replacement for the full-on editor.

So yea, the bloom is off the rose and I am once again looking for a blog host that a) doesn't care what I say in my own damn blog posts, b) doesn't require me to run a full-blown mirror server on my machine just to make blog posts, and c) gives me a reasonable level of control over the format of the thing. In other words, I'm looking for Google's Blogger system without the evil.

Speaking of evil, has anyone else noticed how cable news has turned into Orwell's Two Minutes Hate, with the image of Emmanuel Goldstein replaced with Donald Trump's face and Big Brother's replaced with Nancy Pelosi's? The primary difference is that even in Orwell's dystopian nightmares, the Two Minutes Hate only lasted two minutes each day rather than the 24/7 seen on CNN and Friends. I don't know if that many people realize just how deep in the shit we are at this point.

I figure now that the 2020 Presidential Campaign Season (tm) is in full swing, I will try my hand at some predictions. If they fail to come about, I'm sure no one will remember anyway. However, if they come true, please know you read it here first.

Here we go:

If the Democrats run a Standard Democratic Candidate from central casting (Kamala Harris, Joe Biden), Trump will do a Bush-the-Younger and win in a near-landslide after squeaking into his first term with a minority of the popular vote. However, if the actual voters in the Democratic Party can pry the apparatchiks' cold dead fingers off the wheel and put up Bernie Sanders or someone very much like him, Trump will be booted out the back door. What could queer things is if the economy does a 2009/1929 swan dive. In that case, the DNC could literally run a yellow dog, and Trump will still be out.

In any case, whether Trump exits stage left in 2020 or 2024, he will be replaced with a Democrat. That Democrat will be granted exactly four years to fix everything. They will of course, fail. Completely. Utterly. In every detail (see Jimmy Carter). Also, if the economy hasn't already imploded under Trump, it almost certainly will at this point.

In my opinion, whoever/whatever rides in next (2024 or 2028) singing in an exaggerated operatic voice, "Here I come to save the day!!", we will be in for interesting times in the sense of the ancient Chinese Curse If we are very lucky, we get a Vladimir Putin. I don't think we're going to be lucky. I certainly hope I'm wrong, but we've dug ourselves way too deep in a hole. We seemed determined to burn every last shred of good will we have with every nation on the planet. As Elrond said, "Our list of allies grows thin." In fact, I can't think of a single country that can be considered a true ally of the US at this point. A few parasites like Great Britain or frenemies like House of Saud. But allies? Phbtttt. Furthermore, we have completely destroyed our political and social institutions at home. No one has any moral authority. It's all about who can scream the loudest into a bullhorn. That never ends well. The incessant looting of the working and middle class by the elites is just the rotten cherry on the shit sunday.

And no, I don't have a solution. I don't have a plan. I don't even have a vague notion of a hint of a thought about a hypothesis concerning anything that could be done. Other than the old school duck-and-cover

  • Current Music
    Barenaked Ladies

Lettuce Prey

We pause to express our gratitude to you, oh Flying Spaghetti Monster, for sharing your bountiful Noodly Goodness with us.

[sluuuuuuuuuuurp slurp slurp sluuuuuuuuurp slurp slurp smack smack]



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    10,000 Maniacs