Category Archives: Politics

Unions, Bureaucrats, and Asshats! OH MY!

Ok, so Steve Jobs, the guy who invented the friggin’ iPod (have you heard of it?), took a stand at the School Reform Conference and said that teacher’s unions are the big problem. Nothing crazy there, really, but truly, the morons are coming out of the woodwork to say that Jobs isn’t connected with reality on this.

As evidence, the first asshat of the day, Leander Kahney, of Wired News complains about the fact that Jobs, who sends his kids to private schools, doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and posits that Jobs must want us to send education to the “non-union Chinese factories that build his iPods” because, well, there was that sweat-shop scandal a while back. And then, immediately next in his article, he has this gem:

The issues are many and complex, and yes, there is a problem with firing incompetent or indifferent teachers, but it is not the number one reason schools are failing. It’s not even in the top 10.

In California, the most pressing problems are schools that are the too big, too bureaucratic and chronically under funded. Teachers are criminally low paid and under trained. Education — and school funding — has become solely about test scores.

Look at Number 2 in that list. Well, gee, Mr. Kahney, do you think, perhaps, that since the bureaucrats are also part of that same organization called the NEA, also known as a Teacher’s Union, that you might be an asshat? I certainly think so.

As an aside, I’ve been working with some high school drama classes lately, teaching them about how theater is different than film, and showing all the various things they have to take into account when telling a story via motion picture. I was stunned to find out that my drama teacher, who I’m working with, has been told that she can’t fail kids, and must consider them “the customer”. She was told this by the principal, who was informed of this broad change by the superintendant. But they don’t mean “the customer, who is shopping for the best value” which would have been fine. They meant “the customer, who is always right” which, when you’re trying to teach, is an impossible situation to deal with. Of all the ways they could emulate a corporation, they chose the pedantic, unrealistic and completely dysfunctional one. Great.

Then the Terrorists Win

I find it amazingly disturbing that we are giving up our fundamental right to question (free registration required), which is even more fundamental than our right to freedom of speech, in an any form of artistic expression. I understand that having someone denegrate your icons is hard to deal with, however letting someone condone violence for it only makes it easier to denegrate your icons again.

I don’t personally have anything against the muslim faith or any islamic people, in general or specifically. Every person I’ve met who claims that faith has been wholly great, but lets be quite clear, I have not met Osama. I believe that Osama should be brought to trial and if convicted should face justice. What that would be is beyond me, and depending on who you listen to, it’s everything from being raised as a Saint (by people who believe he did what was right, realize) to those who think his entire extended family should be wiped out as punishment for his crime.

Creative punishment is not something I want to get into, but I’m sure that if pressed there isn’t a one of us that couldn’t come up with some unique and inspired bit of twisted torture to exact our own revenge. I just don’t know that I want to know what’s lurking in everyone else’s head. My own are bad enough sometimes, and that’s just when I’m writing fiction.

My bigger concern is the path we are on, as a species, as a planet. We have once again come to the cross-roads where the health of the people is tested against the health of the institutions created by and for the people. When the institutions are unhealthy, fanatics and extremists start to weild power because their rhetoric and passionate insanity seem reasonable to the scared and desperate of the world.

In the west we have the posturing and evangelizing power of the mega-church, a very American product if ever there was one. “Super-size my faith!” is all the rage in Houston, as you can see any time you drive down the 16-lane wide Highway 59. After witnessing the people who go to mega-churches fight, swear, honk and complain while trying to get through the amazing traffic when church lets out, you find that ‘love thy neighbor’ is apparently not applicable when thy neighbor is in your way.

In the middle-east we have the other end of the spectrum with the voices of carnage and destruction not even having a home much less a place of worship, yet still spouting out their beliefs and driving their followers to darker and less-enlightened places. You have people in desperate situations, on all sides, who are scared, who are worried for their friends and family, and who feel that all is lost if they don’t do something, and these convincing fanatics give the desperate masses something to do.

Of course, so did Hitler.

Having pointed that out, do you see the path we’re on?

Ah to be young and gay on the stage at Carnegie Hall

Let’s not forget, especially since this is Pride Month here in the lusty U.S. of A., that so many of the things that we adore about the gays are tied inextricably to Judy Garland. She gave us fashion, she gave us music, she gave us hope. And her final act on this earth, her funeral, occurred in the summer of 1969. It was hot, it was a horribly sad day as many had lost their idol and were watching the last performance she’d ever give (C.S.I. wasn’t around then. I know it seems like they were, but no.) When the NYPD raided the Stonewall Inn, the drag queens and street boys were gathered inside to watch the funeral, to weep with Liza, and to click their heels three times and wish that she’d come back from Over the Rainbow. Instead of not-resisting, they stood up, stood tall, and fought back. Stonewall is the beginning of the modern GLBT movement, and one great lady was the catalyst. So it seems only right that a big queen from 2006, Miss Rufus Wainwright, would pay tribute in the only appropriate way for any gay man – by singing the entire concert to everyone he can get to listen!

Wainwright’s reverence for Garland aside, the concert was as much as about Wainwright and his own aspirations. Of course, there was the symbolic importance of a gay performer saluting a pivotal gay icon. Yet this wasn’t an evening of reinvention, but rather heartfelt homage, right down to Wainwright forgetting some of the words (as Garland did) on “You Go to My Head” and resurrecting some of her original stage banter.

Wainwright performs a soaring tribute to Garland – The Boston Globe

I shall one day be that gay, too.

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Part II – Driven to Unhealth

If you missed the novel I wrote before, you might want to read it just to understand what sort of a rant I’m on. I would point out that I’m leaving the comments open for you all to bash away at my foolishness, just remember that you get what you deserve when I filet you for not paying attention.

In addition, I’ll add this one quote of myself that sums up the first part of this diatribe:

Massachusetts has created a law that is set to backfire. Since they went bonkers and killed an industry and shackled it’s citizens right to the government teet. A professor at PRINCETON who teaches economics but apparently doesn’t understand how his field applies to reality is cheering this on. I’m waiting for pigs to fly, the Four Horsemen to appear at my door with a Domino’s Pizza, and for Bush to declare every Friday is “Fryday” and that pot is legal. Not one of those things is more ludicrous than this law.

And I would point out that no matter what you think, you know I’m nuts. I readily agree. But anyway, here’s the solution, in all it’s gory glory.

  1. Patents on research are abolished. I know this sounds crazy, but the fact that the best minds in medical research are pressured to find a new drug for the patent rather than being free to focus on research of every kind to find new solutions with proven drugs is nuts. The fact that nutrition isn’t studied by these minds is the greatest issue, but until they don’t have a reason to follow the money, they won’t do anything else. Their corporate bosses won’t let them.
  2. Medical Malpractice is abolished from the court system. Here there are a few reasons for this change.
    • The malpractice laws have made doctors into lotto tickets. Every time someone brings a malpractice suit against a doctor, every other patient and potential patient pays the price. Higher premiums for the doctors are passed onto the patients, and unless a doctor ends up having their license revoked, nothing medicine-related really happens. In cases where a medical professional loses their license there should be court proceedings, but not until then. Remove the ability to get money from a doctors just because their treatment wasn’t perfect and we’re all better off.
    • Malpractice is a useless function of the law. If a doctor betrayed her position and killed or maimed a patient, first would be the revocation of her license, via the peer panel outlined next, followed by criminal and civil proceedings. If the patient died, that is called “murder” and if they were just maimed, it’s called “assault” and possibly “attempted murder”. Those cover most everything that a doctor could do to intentionally harm a patient.
    • Peer Review Panels would be the grand jury before a doctor could be taken to court. I don’t mean just doctors reviewing doctors as that’s a recipe for a mess as well, but having lawyers and programmers and linguists and others of high education review the procedures, the events, and the reasoning that the doctor used would be the first step toward recommending criminal prosecution of a doctor for their actions with a patient. Only after that would a patient be allowed to sue, and then, as they don’t have malpractice or the insurance behind it, the lawyers won’t be able to ‘go for the gold’ because there really won’t be any.
  3. Money is set aside, and awards are given for proven, duplicatable research that improves life. I’m not generally fond of phrases like “improves life” for an idea, and I’m not a doctor or researcher, but I would bet that a panel of them put together to review a peers research, including original and supporting evidence, any duplicated research data, etc., could reasonably decide if the resulting treatment or drug is a good thing for humanity and therefore Award the original researchers. I’m thinking with money, which we get from…
  4. The Practice and Research of Medicine becomes as Social Construct. Just like we pay for streets, schools, parks, subways, and every other social-whether-we-realize-it-or-not project, we should pay for medicine. Medicine should be funded by all of us, because it helps us all in the end. Does this mean higher taxes? No, just means that the money we current foist to private industry in the form of insurance payments we’d instead pool into a public trust system.
  5. Medical training and education is free to those who qualify for the schooling. Now that is Northern Exposure and it makes sense Ð You need a doctor, pay to make one. This person wants to be a doctor and has the requisite foundation classes all in order, then no problem, it’s done and paid for. And why do we do this? Because if it doesn’t cost $150,000 to get a medical degree, these new doctors aren’t under the pressure to make more than $150,000 to just survive their first few years.
  6. Now, for those of you think I tried to pull some sleight-of-hand by breaking the article apartment having this section be separated by a few weeks from the other in the hopes that no one would notice that I’m suggesting a fully-socialized system in this section why complaining that Massachusetts is going to force it’s entire citizenry onto the government’s teet. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth, because that’s exactly the point.

    Or do you not get it?

    You see, when you socialize a section of social need but not the entirety of that social need, you create disparity for the citizens. If only the basics of care are socialized, but the specifics like high-price cancer drugs are not, the system is designed to punish the less well off, which, depending on the treatment can actually start quite high in the social strata.

    By socializing the entire system, from research to treatment, education to retirement, we can easily give rise to a system with substantial rewards still available to researchers, but no more huge profits for pharmaceutical corporations to wring from the populace. We can give huge grants and support to companies doing research on tools, such as fMRI machines, and let them use the technology developed in other ways outside of medicine to make money, and we can buy the machines at cost-plus-points towards the next grant to keep manufacturing costs down. We can build hospitals because everyone is paying into the system a substantial amount of their own money. We can reduce costs overall by eliminating the legal waste of the current malpractice system. We could socialize and still remain stable and capable.

    It won’t happen. But we could.

Votes of the Beasts

I find a certain poetic balance in the fact that a group of bigots are calling for the U.S. Senate to vote on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban gay marriage on Sixth Day of the Sixth Month of the Sixth Year of the New Millennia – in other words, “Doing the Bidding of the Beast” it seems.

I followed that link in this Slate article by William Saletan which is a good read regardless of your stance on gay marriage, provided, of course, that you’re not a unreasonable bigot. For those too lazy to follow the link, he discusses “Covenant Marriage” which is apparently much harder to dissolve than the normal piece of paper. The ad campaign should be “NEW & IMPROVED!! Ball & Chain: Now with more Chain! for those fundamentalists who really want to prove their devotion to another.” Never mind that it just takes a bit more time and/or ammunition to end the marriage anyway. (And by “ammunition” I mean either legal or the kind you buy at Wal-Mart with a gift card. Whatever you want; consequences sold separately.)

In their foundational statement on marriage, Catholic, Baptist, and evangelical leaders claim to be defending it against cohabitation, divorce, and “diminishing interest in and readiness for marrying.” They call for “mentor couples” and “influence within society” to promote marriage. Can you imagine a more powerful influence than finding out that the gay couple down the block has a stronger marriage than you do? Can you imagine a more powerful way for that couple to earn society’s respect? Here’s a chance to get more marriage, less cohabitation, and less divorce. Is that what conservatives want? Or would they rather keep out the gays?

Numbers are clearer windows to the soul than eyes. If you sign the petition to stop gay marriage but won’t solidify your own commitment (even in this only-nominally effective way) then you are proclaiming your bigotry, which isn’t very big of you at all.

Porn On Wry

Michael Lucas has been blogging for a while, and even though English is not his first language and he’s a porn star, he’s not a stereotype. Other than the size of his, *ahem*, business machine. His take on the lounging president (“sitting” seems too active for him) is priceless, and while totally Not Safe For Work and Not What My Mom Thinks I thought it was great. And personally, the brains behind the drive behind this particular porn-star are more impressive than his cock. (Now go figure out what I meant earlier.)

Driven to Unhealthy Expenses

In life we all have to pick our battles, and this just might be a battle of mine. You can go read, and I recommend you do, however I will be pulling quotes here. Get ready for this, it’s another 6-feet of Hamm On Wry.

Massachusetts has decided that they are going to treat human bodies like automobiles. Just as every driver must have car insurance, to protect themselves and others, now every body must have health insurance. Um… ok, why?

I get why drivers need to be insured. I’ve been in too many accidents and had too much damage done to my body that required some medical attention. I’ve also hit a few people myself, but I’m sure that the universe was just using me to teach them. Except for that one time when I hit this guy and found out that my insurance had lapsed when I called in to my agent. Yeah, that was fun. It was very minor damage and I paid it immediately out of pocket, but still, that was a nerve-wracking, balls-in-a-blender moment. Yes, insurance sucks, the companies are mostly hateful, but when you need it, damn it’s needed.

But that’s for driving, which is privilege. If you want to drive, you have to learn to, pass a test, get a license, and have insurance. Breaking the driving laws can result in the loss of driving privileges because driving is not a right. Let me repeat that for the deaf of the audience:

DRIVING IS NOT A RIGHT!

Privilege:
noun: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people
example: education is a right, not a privilege | he has been accustomed all his life to wealth and privilege.

It makes sense that a privilege involving a mechanical device weighing anywhere from ‘adolescent pachyderm’ to something north of a ‘tectonic plate’ would require some sort of monetary ‘just in case’ support. Insurance companies bet that you’re a safe driver who won’t get into an accident. While accidents happen, the vast majority of insured motorists aren’t involved, so for car insurance, the Insurance company is like Vegas – the house always wins.

Car insurance companies have some risk whenever they take on an insured, but their business model accounts for that and is still quote profitable, mostly because of the difference between those who have accidents with huge payouts, which is minute, compared to the number who just pay their premiums but don’t ever need to use the insurance, which is a vast majority of their customers. Any risk is implied but seldom is it realized.

However…

The medical needs of the human race put the healthcare insurance companies in a completely different scenario. We all have medical needs, and therefore, medical bills. With nearly 100% of the revenue source also being an expense, profitability is already in danger. With medical services costs rising so dramatically year after year, it’s impossible. So what was ‘insurance’ is now ‘subsidy’ because no matter how much you pay, the costs of services and the fact that someone will need them, means that the money is spent immediately if not sooner. Investing can’t happen, nor is there a comfortable cash flow to keep the company afloat.

So why not require everyone to have coverage? It would seem logical to extend coverage to everyone as that might increase the cash flow into the insurance companies as the number of clients might actually be larger than the number of patients. But again, that can’t really happen, because the gap is still going to be narrow since most of us would like to keep our health, and the costs of major trauma not exponentially more than other services, they are astronomically more, so even if the gap between customers versus patients widened to the level of insured versus morons-with-dents the costs of trauma could easily eliminate any positive cash flow.

Recently Michael Kinsley wrote about health care reform and while his basic idea is sound, I find that the overall argument he makes is only sensible if you consider medical help separate from medical research. I would think it was obvious that medicine is all the same business, but apparently not. Kinsley wants to ration out medical care and allow those with the funds to opt out of the rationing system by paying for their entire medical care themselves. Again, by just looking at the immediate care provider side of medicine, this can look great, but when the entire picture is covered, you realize this is a pointless exercise. The new law in Massachusetts doesn’t explicitly state that rationing-with-an-elite-class-opt-out is exactly what this law is doing. It’s not socialized medicine, as that’s just miserably slow and useless. Massachusetts has decided to go for communist healthcare in the style of Moscow circa 1983. Kinsley is bright enough to point out that healthcare insurance is, well, here’s what he says:

Krugman and Wells note repeatedly that 20 percent of the population is responsible for 80 percent of health-care costs. But that doesn’t explain why health insurance should be different from other kinds. The small fraction of people involved in auto accidents in any year is responsible for almost all the cost of auto insurance. You insure against the risk of being in that group.

What’s different about health insurance is the opposite: Much of it isn’t insurance at all but a subsidy. The value of the subsidy is the difference between what the individual pays and what the insurance would cost in the free market. If people were buying health care or insurance with their own money, they might or might not spend too much—whatever “too much” is—but no one else would need to care if they did.

A subsidy has to take from someone and give to someone else. Everybody can’t subsidize everybody.

And he’s right, so far. However, while he understands the services part of the equation, he has not included research at all. Halving the system for a theoretical discussion is fun mental masturbation, however it’s not something that can be applied to the real world. Since medicine is plagued by the very real uncertainty of how life works, all doctors are doing research every day, even when they are just reading charts, so the other parts of research could not be unimportant enough to simply dismiss.

Kinsley sums up the article thusly:

Should people be allowed to opt out of rationing if they can afford it? That is, if the system (private or single-payer) won’t pay for the $100,000 pill, should you be able to pay for it yourself? Fear that this would not be allowed helped to kill the Clinton health-care reform 13 years ago. But explicitly granting some people life and health while denying these things to others is hard, even though this disparity has existed throughout history and is probably unavoidable. In fact, a serious defect of single-payer is that it makes all sorts of unbearable trade-offs explicit government policy, rather than obscuring them in complexities.

There are the makings of a deal here. Better-off or better-insured people could be told, individually or as a group: Give up your health-care subsidy, and you may opt out of any rationing-type restrictions that the system imposes. And if a few smaller reforms like that don’t work, maybe, it will be time for single-payer.

Yeah, uh, no. The problem isn’t deciding who gets the $100,000 pill and who doesn’t, it’s that the pill costs $100,000 in the first place. Pharmaceutical research is the source of this insanity, and as Kinsley didn’t even include it in his thinking, his answer is lacking as well.

There are some things about human beings and medicine that you should understand, as that’s also a part of the costs and their rocketship ride out of this world.

  • Every person is different, and doctors and medical staff have to adjust from the established baselines based on statistical analysis to the specifics of each patient. As evidence, I will point out that the rumor that everyone is 98.6º was disproven by my 8th grade science teacher who had us test everyone in the room. No one was sick, but body temps varied as much as three degrees from the established baseline of 98.6º. I would like to point out that most people are laying in bed hoping to start sweating at any moment when they are 101º, but for some, that’s their normal. Doctors have to deal with that when treating those people.
  • The same chemical can have a vastly different effect on different people. GHB is a rather popular drug in the nightclub and party scene, which is where I work. I’m bringing up GHB because it’s popular for how it makes you feel, but it’s exceedingly dangerous. What is a dose to get one person high can easily kill another and have no effect on a third – and it won’t matter their race, height, weight or anything else. You won’t know till you die try, so load it up and see what happens. GHB isn’t the only substance like that, almost every substance has a range of effects. It’s really easy to see that medicine is not a concrete science.
  • Medical research can be patented, but only on newly discovered or manufactured drugs, which is why you constantly see new schmarketing for things with made-up names. Once a drug is approved by the FDA the only company to make it legally is the holder of the patent, for a certain period of time. Drugs protected by patents are priced by the corporate greed rather than the market as they have a monopoly on that drug.
  • Newly patented drugs and the research into them costs plenty so companies routinely apply for and receive government money. Once a drug is approved by the FDA, the patent belongs to the pharmaceutical company, and while the government funded the research, the government gets nothing from the profits. In many cases the government is also the largest and most deeply gouged customer for these drugs. So if you buy a patented drug, chances are you bought it twice, too, and possibly three times.
  • Pharmaceuticals make their money from drug patents and the production and sales of those drugs. The research teams at these companies have no reason to do research into drugs or combinations of drugs that are out of patent, because no matter what you discover, you can’t patent the past. If a drug isn’t patentable, it’s not profitable. And if it’s not profitable, where is the incentive to do research?
  • People go to the doctor for a check-up to see if their gut-feeling that most everything is in good order is legit. This is the part of the equation that would be solved readily with the changes that Kinsley proposes, and that’s fine, but it’s not the major expenses. And all the real costs are on the patient anyway – a day of vacation time, and a dose of frustration with any issues dealing with their insurance.
  • People go to the emergency room when something has eaten half their leg and they need immediate care. Are you going to tell a girl who had her leg bitten by a shark that she can’t get help because the medical procedure she needs is going to cost too much? Kinsley thinks we might be forced to do just that. I don’t. Massachusetts seems to think they can not only tell the girl that she can’t have the procedure, they will write a ticket for her not having insurance!

So we have patent monopolies controlling the research side, which is also why we get pills that cost more than a house. We have companies that are built upon the brain-power of people who thrive on science, but the executives receive millions of dollars for controlling the research, the patents, the production, the distribution and the costs of new medicines. Every cent of money that goes from the government into research is given, not loaned, so in effect, We The People are getting raped on it’s production.

The list of problems with medicine go on and on, each more angering and stupid than the last, but I’d like to go back to that same 8th grade science teacher who had another point to make, one of those profound moments that has stuck with me forever, not that I’ve really acted on it. He asked us to ponder a situation.

You’re going to be driving soon, and some of you will get cars of your own. Now imagine if that car you were going to be given a car. Each of you. It’d be a random drawing, so you might get a Mercedes, you might get a Mercury, you might get a Model-T, you don’t know, and no one else does either. But you’re going to get a car! Pretty cool, huh?

Now imagine that this car you get, no matter what shape it’s in, this car is the only car you’re ever going to have. You can’t get another, you may not be able to find parts for it if you wreck it, you can’t replace it, you can’t trade it, you can’t sell it. You can’t even paint it. It’s yours, but it’s only yours. And it’s your only car. And if you wreck it, or abuse it, or it just is a lemon and dies, that’s it. Nothing more. Done. You don’t get another car. Now what do you think about it?

Perhaps you should realize that you’ve already gotten your ‘car’ and there’s nothing you can do but try to keep it in good order. You only get one body, you only get one life. You can’t replace an arm magically, you can’t always find a spare liver. You might lose your sight without notice. You don’t know, and you have no choice in it, but it’s yours.

I think that is the only piece of wisdom that eloquently turns the human body into a fantastic day.

Perhaps the lawmakers of Massachusetts didn’t really get it. Massachusetts wants to extend the “created equal” part of the Declaration of Independence to include their citizens’ bodies, and when you want to take your body out for a life, just like taking your car out for a spin, you have to have insurance. I can’t even begin to describe the feelings I have towards the entire state of Massachusetts, because their courts get what it means to be alive now, but their lawmakers are asshats.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, tho, since apparently even a Princeton Economic Professor thinks this is a good idea. Here’s the quote from the Washington Post article:

The idea was applauded by Uwe E. Reinhardt, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, who said that he has long believed that the American system of allowing uninsured patients to receive care at the government’s expense was nothing more than “freedom to mooch.”

“Massachusetts is the first state in America to reach full adulthood,” said Reinhardt, noting that the new measure is a move toward personal responsibility. “The rest of America is still in adolescence.”

Princeton should fire this twat. People aren’t mooching off the medical system when they visit the hospital for an emergency, and the law doesn’t change anyone’s access to actual healthcare. The article goes on to state, “Enforcement of the requirement will not be done by hospitals, officials said: They will treat uninsured patients as before.” so nothing has really changed in the field of medicine, yet they’ve managed to pass a law that will cost huge sums of money, they’ve created a new complexity to their state tax return, another way to start an audit, and a relatively high monthly expense that might not cover what they need for healthcare, or could reduce their level of care because of how the system is designed.

Kinsley’s arguement fails because when a rationed system overloads with patients, slowing down the service, the costs to provide medicine won’t go down, they’ll still go up, and can go up faster the slower the actual service. How long have you sat in an emergency room waiting to be seen? When someone who really needs attention is forced to wait, their ending bill is going to be more, and that’s just one pretty obvious example.

How many employers are going to voluntarily offer health insurance when, since it’s both “cheaper” and “easier” to get, they can force their employees onto the state plan. Let’s be quite clear, the state is requiring the citizens to have insurance, but they aren’t requiring the businesses (which don’t vote and don’t have rights) to supply healthcare to all their employees. I don’t understand the reasoning, but it’s a law written to ‘help’ the citizens, supposedly.

The caps put in place by the law will be much less than the amounts that the public sector businesses will be asked to pay – so what will they do? Pay? Are you high? There isn’t something in the law that says that businesses must have insurance, and since the state is going to cover anyone without, many companies in Mass. will end that benefit. It’ll be much easier and cost effective for them to drop the benefit and pay them the state’s rate more each month.

Then House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, a Democrat and perhaps the biggest blowhard involved, said, “We did something to solve the problem,” he said. Yep, that ‘something’ was to write a law that will strap the entire state citizenry on the state’s healthcare plans because

  1. the pricing structure is part of the law, so updates will require a legislative session and lots of trust. yeah.
  2. Let the rich pay out of pocket for their healthcare if they want. However, the plans’ pricing caps will invariably be less than what businesses will be quoted on plans for their employees, and businesses aren’t going to pay more than the state. Soon every employee in the state will be abandoned to the state-capped plans. Even if the caps are the median costs now, in a year’s time it won’t be, and in 4 years the cap won’t have moved, but medical expenses will have jumped over the moon.
  3. The Massachusetts law doesn’t alter anything about the hospitals’ policies, which means they didn’t change anything about the costs of doing business there.
  4. Doctors can still be sued for malpractice, and the damage award limits have not been reduced, so horrendously stupid billion dollar awards can still be awarded by juries. Then malpractice insurance goes up. Oh, and those same companies that provide health insurance also provide malpractice insurance, so they can and do raise the rates for a doctor’s malpractice insurance. And guess who really pays that?
  5. The law doesn’t seem to cover how to qualify a person other than by income, so everyone can get the coverage, right? Sure, we think. But the state doesn’t even have a rural plan in place, they lack the resources to support those places.
  6. More importantly, which of the insurance companies is going to actually do business in Massachusetts anymore? Not one. Since the state created these plans, how can other insurance companies compete? And I’m wondering how the state plans really work, but only because if they passed a law saying that everyone has insurance, but it ends up being a sleight-of-hand tax situation that doesn’t actually help thep people, we might have a big issue.
  7. Just realize that the government is now the pricing manager for the entire state of Mass via their medical bullshit stupidity. The state is going to tell doctors what they will be paid for each procedure.

Massachusetts has created a law that is set to backfire. Since they went bonkers and killed an industry and shackled it’s citizens right to the government teet. A professor at PRINCETON who teaches economics but apparently doesn’t understand how his field applies to reality is cheering this on. I’m waiting for pigs to fly, the Four Horsemen to appear at my door with a Domino’s Pizza, and for Bush to declare every Friday is “Fryday” and that pot is legal. Not one of those things is more ludicrous than this law.

Well, here’s something – not putting solutions! I have the list, and it’s full of wonderful ideas. You have any you want to share in advance of mine? Use the comments!

… to be continued!

Damn the Torpedoes! And the French!

Love this! The French are drafting a law to break up the supposed monopoly that Apple has with the iTunes and iPod Commerce-verse that’s grown up around these products. There are so many things wrong with this law that it will be nothing more than 2 seconds in effect before it’s challenged in the EU Court system, which, thankfully, has a habit of doing exactly the opposite of the French desire.

First things, we’ll do a bit of definition checking with the handy dictionary.com:

monopoly:
Exclusive control by one group of the means of producing or selling a commodity or service: “Monopoly frequently… arises from government support or from collusive agreements among individuals” (Milton Friedman).
Law. A right granted by a government giving exclusive control over a specified commercial activity to a single party.
A commodity or service so controlled.
Exclusive possession or control:
arrogantly claims to have a monopoly on the truth.
Something that is exclusively possessed or controlled:
showed that scientific achievement is not a male monopoly.

And now that we’ve covered that, let’s look at what Apple really has – the iPod, a very well designed device used for both storing and playing gobs of music and it fits in your pocket. Handy that. And iTunes, a program that both catalogs your current digital music library by allowing you to import CDs you already own, and a service to sell you more music, television, etc., to fill up the remaining space on your iPod. The files that you download from iTunes are of a specific type and have DRM, Digital Rights Management, software embedded in the files. Big Brother is hiding out with Bob Marley, mon!

So where’s the monopoly again? Microsoft, the convicted monopolist, has Windows Medea the Slayer which is truly miserable software yet several different online music retailers use this as the basis for their iTunes competitor. As does Microsoft itself, of course. And other lost souls use the RealMedia monstrosity to attempt to accomplish the same goals – an online music store. Real and Microsoft are both vendors and competitors to the companies using these whackjob programs as foundations for their businesses. It’s not a wonder that they aren’t doing well, the basics of their businesses aren’t sound on top of having crap software. So iTunes can’t be a monopoly because there is competition, even if it’s weak and sad and pathetic. Like Bill Gates chin.

And the iPod isn’t a monopoly either. Wildly successful? You betcha! The only game in town? No, but this is mostly like Internet Explorer for Windows isn’t the only game in town, but it’s the game most people play. Only unlike IE/Win, the iPod doesn’t have it’s own gravitic anomaly that is responsible for more sucking than a cargoship of Dysons could ever hope to muster. But still, ‘wildly successful product’ and ‘monopolistic device’ are not the same.

So what are the French really up to? Aside from wanting to be seen to make any decision that doesn’t involve corruption in Iraq, riots in their cities, or a rash of births of baby boys destined to be under 5’2″ tall and wanting to rule the world, they are trying to understand technology by reading the funny pages. And they are wasting their time, as this will probably have the exact wrong effect they imagine.

Here’s how I see the scenario playing out.

  1. France passes this Silly Law. Great. Woo. Yay. We. Are. Voters! But the law is passed, which is like lighting the fuse on a fireworks display. The one you knocked over by accident. The one that is now horizontal and facing the fine art and architecture of your city. Flame on, Froggy!
  2. Apple will appeal to the EU.Why? Because they have to. You will know that something is amiss, however, when Microsoft, RealMedia, and the RIAA or it’s EU analog join Apple in the appeal.
  3. The EU shall make rumblings about ‘zat damn buncha sheitze-knobbins’ or however the German’s will say it. Press conferences will be held, much will be ballyhooed, and the law will be technically in effect, but none of the software biggies will make software to remove the DRM’s from the files sold in France. That would be software that could remove all the DRM! Aha, first real problem!
  4. Apple threatens to shutter the iTunes:France store! Riots with the cities cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Cloris Leechman is hired to, yet again, lead the peasants in a revolt against the government. She punctures her breast with a knitting needle once again.
  5. The French Get a Clue! But alas, our heros are too late! People all over the world are looking at the members of the organizations like the RIAA and seeing the illegal businesses they really are, for the first time.
  6. Apple fires a salvo across the bow of the USS RIAA! Saying something like “We never wanted DRM in the audio anyway” (which is true) and perhaps,“Our customers have always wanted to own their music, we’ve been forced to add this crap to the tracks because of the RIAA and the MPAA. We’d rather not have to deal with it.” And the RIAA shall be caught with it’s pants firmly around it’s ankles.
  7. Poo Collides with Spinning-thingies! Now the real monopoly is exposed. The RIAA and the various European, Asian, African and South American analogs are exposed as The SongFathers they are, leading to serious investigations, new artist contracting, many hurt feelings and yet another instance of someone actually purchasing a Cockapoo voluntarily.
  8. STRIPPPED! DRM goes all Christina Aguilera on us!
  9. iPod sales go up! Why? Well the last of the reasons to not own a version of this device is removed, which is not being able to play the pirated crap you stole anyway. Which you can already do, actually, the iPod has been able to do this since the very first one. However, the myth that it can’t is the current problem, and that myth goes away here.
  10. iTunes sales go up, too! Huh? Wha… how?!? Oh, wait, the software is easy to use and I can now watch those music videos and tv shows iTunes sells on devices like, um, my PlaystationPortable or my DVD player, if I burn the DVD. OOOH, I can play the files on my TiVo, I think! Can I? Regardless, the store is a simple, fun, easy-to-use and well designed, and once you use it you’ll agree. Once the restricted rights crap is gone, so goes the myth that you can’t play the files anywhere, and iTunes sales go up.
  11. The French burn a soufflé. Tired after a long day of destroying Vivendi, the last of the truly World-wide French companies, the populace thinks about rioting, but instead torches a soufflé as a warning to others of their national just-not-happy-with-anything-ness. We are, understandably, doubled over in mirth.

Regardless of what happens with this legislation, the concept of being able to own what you pay for is core to humanity, and in turn core to democracy and our planet-wide society. It’s always a shock for people to find out they don’t own any of that fancy software they use, it’s merely licensed for their use. That license can be withdrawn, refund not included, too. We humans like to own things, and music has been for the last 100-some-odd years one of the defining ‘things’ for most people. We all know those people with amazing collections of vinyl albums, and you probably know people with 8-tracks, cassettes, or even 45’s or the old tubes from the Victrolas.

Regardless, those things, be they metal tube, vinyl platter, magnetic spindles or a pile of shiny plastic coasters of music, we own, and when it comes to the computerized pile of 1’s and 0’s, the digital versions of those tubes, platters, spindles or coasters are the files sold, not rented, but sold in iTunes. The sooner we rid of the DRM madness the better, but, the French cannot lead us in this battle. Charlamagne is long dead, and the charlatans of Paris lack the insight, foresight, knowledge, aptitude and balls to actually do this the right way, although they have fired the first, unwitting, volley.

Conviction lost, for good?

Just a quick thought on the whole mess by Carla Martin, but you might want to read Tamper-Proof – Carla Martin’s witness tampering wasn’t rare, just sloppy. By David Feige at Slate.com first.

Done reading? Good deal. I know that there is as much strategy in the court system as in any match of chess or battle of actual armies, and anyone with half a brain or more knows this. Hell, considering Law & Order, SVU, Criminal Intent and even Conviction (which I’m liking quite a bit, mind you) we should all have a pretty decent handle on what goes on in our courts. I will admit wishful thinking is involved when pointing to fictional television shows as an example of ‘reality and truth’, but then you’ll have to admit that ‘reality and truth’ hasn’t been seen in any form for so long as to be listed with the Dodo as extinct – at least as far as this case is concerned.

So after all is said and done, what has Carla Martin really done? Perhaps more than you know. And, more importantly, perhaps more good than harm.

Her ‘mistakes’ seem to me just bizarre. She did things that no prosecutor has ever done and not been caught. Not ever. She left obvious trails that forced the hand of the prosecution into the admission. She deliberately disobeyed a judges order, created havoc and confusion for a huge team of prosecutors and has ended her own career. All with two meetings and four emails, or thereabouts. No matter whatever else she might be, she’s damn efficient.

In committing these acts she derailed a farcical trial that, for well over four years, has done nothing but reduce the United States’ ethical standing by eroding the foundation of our legal system to but wisps of air, while simultaneously replacing said foundation with the insanity normally reserved for dictatorships. The trial of Moussaoui was quickly damning every American citizen as it reduced our rights as citizens, flipped the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense, removed the guarantees of the Constitution and slowly eroded any and all hope that justice would be served.

You must realize that this trial was a facade erected to hide the fact that we couldn’t get even with the 9/11 hijackers. This trial was cobbled together from anger and fear and the manic need to show that the Justice Department was “doing something” by a (mad)man (who lost his senatorial re-election campaign to a corpse). Moussaoui is a nobody, and there isn’t any reasonable way to prosecute him as “the 20th hijacker” when all the evidence points away from him. He’s not the guy, folks, he’s just not. But the Justice Department and the entire Executive Branch of our government has said he is, he’ll pay, and a righteous smiting shall commence upon the reading of the verdict – Guilty! Yeah, that’s a group that could back down easily. Right. To be fair (I can hear my mom quipping, “why start now?”) the press is also to blame for this, but the PR surrounding this case wouldn’t let it just disappear.

Even if you don’t accept the aforementioned concept as fact, the facts of the day are, the trial keeps going forward, the mess keeps piling up, and, nothing is going right – for the government. The more evidence that comes to light, the less likely Moussaoui is the guy. The longer the case drags on, the more times the Justice Department will have to spout the party line that this is a case that is needed and that we will win. The louder the maniac defendant screams while in court, the more everyone is, quite rightly, embarrassed to have ever thought this moron capable of tying his own shoelaces, much less assisting with the hijacking. It all just needs to go away. But how?

There were few choices left. Do “we” (the grand, all of the USA ‘we’):

  • drop the case? No. We can’t. Were the prosecution to do so, they’d be admitting that the Justice Department doesn’t have a clue and hasn’t done a thing to make us more safe from terrorists. Not an option, not when the Justice Department is core to the leading 3rd of our government.
  • finagle a mistrial? Nope. What good would it do to have to start this mess all over? It’d be worse, if only because it’d waste at least another 4-plus years.
  • kill the defense? HA! Wishful, but it’d have the same effect as if he’d been acquitted because ‘he got away’ despite our government. (Keep this in mind, please.)

What’s a government prosecutor to do?

Sometimes you do what is right and what is necessary. Sometimes you break the law to do so. Sometimes doing what is right and necessary requires you to look stupid and foolish. Sometimes you have to suck it up, because there is no other way.

The Impossible Solution.

Find a way to make the trial go away without having to drop the charges. For all the Star-Trek fans out there, this is the test that Captain Kirk was faced with, the one he cheated. When faced with two options that both suck eggs, create a third option by changing the rules.

Well, when you throw out the constraints of what can and can’t be done, you get one solution, and Carla Martin, perhaps unwittingly (although, really, a high-power attorney in government with years of experience and scads of support doesn’t make the mistakes of a rookie) implemented it. Make such a HUGE blunder that absolutely no one can find a way around the judge just throwing the whole thing out and being done with it. The charges don’t have to be refiled, the case need never rear it’s ugly head again, and, more importantly, the Justice Department gets to point to a flunky and say “we’d have gotten him if it weren’t for her!” (and then pout, cross it’s arms, stamp it’s feet, and kick the dirt like any petulant child, perhaps).

By making it a procedural faux pas it taints the entire case in many and various ways, which is necessary to destroying the case. Had it been a mere evidentiary blunder, i.e. something stupid like “we mislabeled a box” or “we lost his shoes” it’d be lost evidence and more chance that he’d be acquitted and the Justice Department looks to be a ship of fools. The best that could arise from that sort of mistake would be a mistrial, which puts everything back at square one. No one really wants to be at square one. Square one just means starting this merry-go-loony all over again.

The entire case, from evidence to witnesses to statements to even the lawyers involved (at least one of them) had to be tainted, so this case could go away. With that level of taint the charges can’t realistically be refiled, the case won’t rear it’s ugly head again, and, more importantly, the Justice Department gets to point to a flunky and say “we’d have gotten him if it weren’t for her!” (And then pout, cross it’s arms, stamp it’s feet, and kick the dirt like any petulant child, perhaps, but I would never say something that snarky.)

Remember what I asked you to remember? The bit about him dying not being viable because he’d have gotten away despite all we could do? Now’s where it makes sense. You see, once the case is tainted by a person who can, and will, be charged with the blunder, Moussaoui gets away not despite our system, but because of our system. Our system of justice works, and the procedures and rules in place protect the innocent, as all are assumed to be, even to the point of letting a guilty party go free. Something about “tis better that ten guilty men go free than one innocent be imprisoned” or some such. Whatever the sentiment, the result is tangible proof that our legal system works as we’ve always said it does.

Carla Martin didn’t make a mistake, she fixed the unfixable. She’ll still pay for it.

You’re unique… just like everyone else!

Ok, so politics being what it is, let’s forget for a moment that every single politician has to work the same tired lines, the same tired conferences, speeches, dinners, fund-raisers, blue-haired broads and every other possible cliché of the season, and what do you have?

Good question!

You see, when elections happen, they aren’t discreet. Parties are called “Political Machines” for a reason. The smaller elected offices have the time, and more importantly, the need, to actually meet their constituents face-to-face. Those elected help those above them by throwing support uphill, and that’s Capitol Hill. (An aside: I grew up in Helena, MT and went to Capital High School and always wondered about the apparently bi-ness of ‘capital-as-money’ and ‘capital-as-center-of-political-power’ versus the extremely stodgy ‘capitol: it’s good to be the king!’ which is only, apparently for seats of political power. When asking teachers, they just wondered if it was a pun that we had “Capital Hill Mall”, but I digress.)

Anyway, so the small fish meet with people, convince them that the larger fish are doing good, support the larger fish, and those larger fish support still larger fish and those fish still larger fish all the way until you have Moby Dick Cheney, the biggest of the supporting fish, supporting the President Ahab Bush. And it works, for those bigger fish.

But what about those smaller fish? What of the smallest? Well, now it gets interesting.

You see, the smallest don’t have the same issues as their slightly larger cousins. The truly small-town, local elected official is a neighbor in the smallest of the small. People know her, or him, and opinions aren’t really based on speeches or platforms, they can be formed on bizarre things like yard care habits or overuse of Hawaiian and/or plaid prints. Regardless, they know their neighbors, and if they like them, they tend to vote for them. Things are good.

The races that have slightly larger fish have it really rough, tho. Consider them the middle-class fish, or, because I hate typing out names like that, MCF. The MCF have an unwritten mandate to support their chosen party’s machine. They are asked to be at and meet with and speak to and debate for or against and with by whom and where this why that for what ever – yeesh! And they are given just a basic set of tools to use to win their races. Affording a complete marketing team, to handle the branding and production, while those with degrees in Poli-Sci work on how to counter the enemies messages is beyond most of these campaigns. Of course, if asked, a political-hopeful chooses having a Poli-Sci over a Marketing Pro. I’d think that someone would point out that consistently being on the defensive with someone else makes you look weak but apparently that’s not the case.

So we come to it. Small race. Small budgets. Small budgets, every dime has to go to something important, it cannot be wasted.

But let’s take a step back and define waste. If you do logos that use the same imagery as everyone else, if you print letterhead using the same font and colors as everyone else, if you produce cloned materials for your race and you end up looking like everyone else, who are you? Are you, you? Or are you everyone else?

Good design isn’t a waste. Especially if you’re lucky enough to have a name that isn’t simple or homophonic to an everyday word (although in this case, that isn’t good luck, but in most others it is). You need to create something different, you need to stand out. Not in a “she’s the lady in red when everybody else is wearing tan” Fran Drescher’s The Nanny way, but in a strong, capable, bright, charming, witty, and leading way. And that’s called BRANDING!!

I am dealing, albeit once removed, with push-back from people who think that having a sign that has just words and no style and looks like every other yard sign for every other race that affects this area will be just fine, and it’s really bizarre. It’s not like they are saying the concept I presented was bad, they are just saying the money is better spent elsewhere. If that’s the case, then please tell me why every business, including the businesses run by these slightly-dimmer-than-average-bulbs who are acting this way, have at least some branding?

There is a good reason that the corner store has a name, that the law office downtown in the hi-rise has letterhead and business cards that match, and that everyone from the Girl Scouts to G.E. have marketing people – because they are needed, not waste. Good marketing can make all the difference in the world. Especially in politics.

For politicians, every sound-bite counts. Every mention means something. Every chance to be seen as an individual instead of lesser member of a nationwide group is needed. In MCF races, getting press time is next to impossible. A seat in the House of the Legislature of Montana isn’t news for anyone outside that district unless it’s some ‘human interest‘ piece, like when a 17-year-old runs for the seat. Otherwise, it’s just another person trying to get elected. Most people who have to vote for that seat, who are being represented by that person, don’t know anything about that person. Not name, not sex, not age-range, nothing. Which is why these politicians can’t count on any vote to show and actually cast a vote, and correctly. Yet you want to look like everyone else? Huh?

Why not hire someone to create a simple yet working brand. It’s slightly different, but not whacky. It’s got a clean look that brings in some key elements, it works with your fairly popular first name as the gimmick to get people to remember you, and it’s not hokey or dated. It’s also easy to combine with a web presence that is easy for people to remember because it’s clever. It gives you a starting point that no one else has. You’re going to be heard now because your campaign is outside the herd. (HA!) If you aren’t as slick as Bill Clinton (and you aren’t, get over it) you have to find a way into your own space to show who you are, to connect with people, to have a voice, and to get elected.

Or you can be like everyone else, and then struggle, fight, stress out, over-work yourself and when you finally do get recognized by the press it will be either you had some tragedy or other, the old Human Interest story, or because you screwed up in some way. Most likely it’ll be the screw-up that gets you into the press the first time. And it won’t be a big one, but you still can’t afford it, because you’d be “the person who did this” instead of having a handle on how you are seen. Oh, that handle on how you’re seen is called BRANDING.

Good branding is simple – make yourself look smart without trying to make others look dumb – in fact, make them look smart, too. For elections, that’s easy. Everyone else is jumping off the bridge, so if you decide to just walk across, you look pretty damn smart, but, let’s face it, you were only doing what you knew was right, regardless of the lemmings of the political machine.

Politics is one place where you can be “An Ordinary Joe” and stand out for it because everyone else uses the same messages, wears the same tie, and has indistinct signs pitting their last name against someone else’s last name. They are extraordinarily dull, so ‘ordinary, yet standing out’ is a Great Thing™.

What’s that smell? Oh!!

Well, it’s that time of year again, and that means that yards shall soon sprout weeds of a different color, people will start arguing over who is better for what, and, of course, ‘bologna’ will once again be the meat of the day – even during Lent. Why? Because it’s time to campaign!

Yes, gentle readers, the woodwork shall soon be busted with all those whacky politicians springing forth. Expect way too much red, white and blue, and an elephant and a donkey shall rule the roost. (Aside: Why would parties choose animals so easily mocked? Just wondering. Fat and Never forgets vs. Jackass. Johnny Knoxville must have been involved.)

Anyway, it also means that several of them will be getting support from yours truly who will attempt to give them some help in the old communication game. So yeah, it’s the way of the world, I guess. More later!

This is where we go wrong and whackjobby.

Look, here’s how comedy works – you take something that is known and you twist it in some clever way to make a new connection. The humor comes from doing it with timing and making people believe you are headed one direction and then *BAM* you end up in another place. There are many different ways for this to work, but that’s basically what happens. It’s how all comedy works, and it’s not a bad thing.

But now we have the dorks at some random fag/lezzie/hobag/trannieG.L.B.T. organizations that claim to speak for me getting their panties in a wad over jokes. Granted the jokes are about fags, but believe me, we’re funny people. If you only knew the half of what we do, you might giggle, you might guffaw, you might pee. Whatever would happen, at least you’d have a moment in your day that was amusing and not hateful.

Here’s a good litmus test for whether or not something is meant to be hateful or joking. When you tell it, what’s your aim? When Jay Leno tells a joke, it’s to make people laugh. Same for David Lettermen and, I’m told, Conan O’Brien. I always thought his hair was the joke, but I digress. If not to laugh, then to at least just hear themselves speak. If it’s told with the intent to define someone as ‘less-than’ another, that’s when you have a problem. And then it doesn’t matter what the fucking topic was, it matters who the fucking moron is who is speaking.

Remember, the terrorists have no humor, this is why their religion is out of control and they are wreaking the havoc we see on the nightly news. Humor keeps us human. It keeps perspective in times of crisis, it helps us cope with danger, trauma, fate. It’s the one spark of creativity that exists truly in the moment, never to be captured again, because, while it comes from another, it only happens in you. Do you laugh? I do. Not enough, but I do. I find humorless people, who seek only to make everyone safe from every little thing that could ever possibly go wrong from random soup poisoning to cars breaking to bad air to bad jokes… exhausting. Yes, there are plenty of things wrong with the world, not the least of which is unfounded fear and hatred that leads to stupid things like Defense of Marriage Acts. However, jokes about gay men from people who know and love us won’t hurt. From people who respect us won’t hurt. Hell, jokes from us won’t hurt, either. The only thing that will hurt us is when we lose our humor and randomly attack everyone – foe or friend. Then we’ll be in trouble. Because when we do that, we lose our voice. And for so long, we had no voice, and AIDS ravaged our community. And no one heard our screams for so very long. We can only fix what needs fixing if we keep our wits about us. And let our wits out once in a while.

So, frankly I’m more worried about the uptight twits at the organizations than the jokes flying around the media – especially when you consider how many in Hollywood and the media are the reason we have made the progress in HIV/AIDS research, breast cancer, and so many other problems that plague us as gays, lesbians, humans. People like Jay Leno, and David Letterman, and yes, even Conan O’Brien. And his hair.

Busy with Oprah

I can’t believe how busy I’ve been, and how amazingly fun being scarily busy can be. When you spend more than 40 hours a week working at a job you better love it, and while it’s not all sunshine and roses, it’s quite nice that most of the gig isn’t painful. I’ve got some filming gigs coming up, too, that make all that I’m doing worthwhile, as they allow me to be a visionary in the fullest sense of the word, and not worry too much about another person’s issues. I, however, am starting to have my own issues as I can’t say everything that I’m doing and that drives me batty. I just with that there was less of “The Sopranos” in the business of gay Houston. It’s rather annoying, to say the least.

I have, however, decided that I will be doing some more comedy this year, and I hope to change from just doing some basic stand-up to doing a few contests and maybe, if luck and my funnybone stick, getting a gig or two from it. I want to be a comedian, I want a talk-show and frankly, I know that I can outdo most of the people on air now – just not Oprah, Dave or Jay. Yet. (In the case of Oprah, probably not ever, but only because I wouldn’t bother to care if someone made up parts of their drug-addled past as, let’s all say it with me, HE WAS ON DRUGS! He might not have a clear recollection of the past. Imagine it. Drugs causing impairment and reducing your memory’s ability to function. IM. FUCKIN’. MAGINE!)

But we do love Oprah. Really. And yes, we know that Babs painted her mic white.

An Amazing Night for the Fund Raisers

This is going to be short because it’s five in the damn morning and I’m just now getting in and getting this all in place. The Cheerleader and I went to the Houston Black Tie Dinner last night and had a blast. This was by far the best night of the year, and I’m so happy that I got to share it with one of my best friends. Even better, we got to meet Kathy Griffin who was phenomenal!!!

Janna and Kevin
Kathy and Janna

Click Here to view just a bit of the show. The video was captured on the camera, and from where we were sitting, it was just easier to film the big screens they had in front of us. Kathy was truly awesome!!! WE LOVE HER!!!

A Child is Born

My friend Laurie has finally given birth to her and Andrew’s second child, Neal Thomas. He was over 9 pounds at birth, and apparently is a descendant of Murphy – the guy with the law. Why would I say that? Well.

Laurie had decided that she was done with work and that Friday would be her last day. And who can blame her, she was at term and was dealing with and additional 40% body mass to support her body and the baby. And so Friday was her last day. I talked to her in the morning, just to say hi, and got that from her. Then I spoke with Stacey and spoke the Words of Murphy – “She’ll get home and sit down and go into labor and have her baby so that she won’t really get a day off.”

And lo, the baby arrived.

Congrats Laurie!!!