Thursday, December 31, 2009

Obligatory End of '09 Post

if you want a little soundtrack for the post, go ahead and get the embed playing below, there's nothing to see there, just to listen.

Anyway, it's time to wrap up this fairly productive year--'tho I just noticed it was nowhere near as productive as I thought when compared to years past. Oh well. I've had fun, I hope you have. I have some plans for next year, and who knows? I just might live up to them :) If I do, I'll let you know what they are (never works out when I announce in advance, that just seems to be the kiss of death). Naturally, any suggestions are welcome.

In particular, I want to thank tusconmom, Micah, TLomL, Steve and the other people kind enough to comment--even those who left their comments for facebook/email/IM. Major thanks need to go to Chris Oates who's done more to promote this thing than I've ever done.

I hope you all had a good year, with a better one to come. God bless.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sometimes the Smurf Turf Isn't So Ugly (just sometimes)

Have to feel sorry for the poor folk over at KTVB today who had to interrupt their coverage of the Fiesta Bowl with items such as horrible road conditions, traffic fatalities and the like--but to add insult to injury, on top of that they had to acknowledge that there are other college football programs in the state besides BSU? Oh, your heart just breaks for them.

Yeah, no, it totally doesn't. Especially when the other football team they had to acknowledge was the winners of the 2009 Roady's Humanitarian Bowl: Theeeeee Idaho Vandals!

I've said everything I really have to say about this season was just terrific. Best football I've watched since '98. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just Needs a Vangelis Soundtrack...

my new favorite non-Yankee athlete is a rugby player named Euan Murray who's causing a bit of a stir in Scotland...

According to The Daily Record:

SCOTS rugby international Euan Murray has spoken for the first time about why his faith led him to quit playing on Sundays.

The 29-year-old has told how he even snubs coffee or dinner invitations on the Sabbath as he does not want to "encourage other people to work".

Euan said: "It's basically all or nothing, following Jesus. I don't believe in pick 'n' mix Christianity. I believe the bible is the word of God, so who am I to ignore something from it?

"I might as well tear out that page then keep tearing out pages as and when it suits me. If I started out like that there would soon be nothing left."

(Be sure to read the rest)

"Don't believe in pick'n'mix Christianity..." gotta love it :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Road Not Taken

So my parents gave us a book today called 501 Must-See Movies, a coffee-table book with nice color photo stills from the various movies and a few paragraphs explaining each film's inclusion on this list. Some of the films they included surprised me, some not included did, too--but on the whole, the list makes sense.

I've seen 136 of them, so I've apparently been wasting a lot of my movie-viewing life. I toyed briefly with the idea of turning this list into a project for 2010--viewing and blogging my way through the entire list (alphabetically or by category) in a year like say, Julie Powell's project.

And then I did the math. 9.6 of these a week--which would involve a lot of time and an upgrade to my Netflix account. Well, maybe a 2 year project...still not that appetizing a number. Especially when you take into account the fact that roughly 70 of these flicks aren't on my "have seen" list because I have no desire to see them based on subject/director/stars/something else.

Feel free to breathe a collective sigh of relief that you don't have to read my musings on 8 1/2, Halloween, Hua yang nian hua, 28 Days Later and 497 others over the course of the next few months.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Darlene Love on Letterman '09

As I've mentioned before, since back in his NBC days, it's just not the holiday season for me without this performance on Letterman's show (which, sadly, I can't catch anymore due to work). Thankfully, we have youtube:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Happy!

I'd hoped to embed a video of Shirley's PC "Silent Night" (from NBC's Community), but alas, I cannot find it, so I'll have to find other ways to annoy my evangelical friends who doubt my salvation because of my attitude towards tomorrow (or whatever).

I do hope that everyone reading this has a good celebration and time with family, whatever justification you use for it.

Oh, speaking of which, you should all read this piece by an atheist, David Harsanyi, "Heathen's Greetings for Christmas"--not the most flattering piece, but well worth the time.

Another link I need to throw out is Stan "The Man" Lee's reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas". A true classic.

Have a good one, everybody!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And I Thought TV Was Fake Before I Watched This...

(h/t: Lee Goldberg)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

I'm going to try really hard not to over-hype this book, so I have to be brief here. Read this novel.

I haven't blogged about books much lately for some reason--I have about a dozen drafts about various books started, tho. But I'm going to see this one through to the end (yet another reason to keep it short).

This is one of my Top 5 of the year. No question about it. A gripping mixture of "real world" and "fantasy"--without being an "urban fantasy." This is Harry Potter + C. S. Lewis tossed in a blender operated by Michael Chabon or Jonathan Lethem. I think knowing too much about the plot beforehand would hurt the experience, so in brief, it's about a high schooler named Quentin who's accepted into a small private college version of Hogwarts in New York and then follows Quentin and his friends/classmates through school and into adulthood.

The world created here is fully formed, and fully capable of being the setting for a series of novels. The characters are well-drawn, brilliant and tragic--most of whom could carry a novel by themselves. In real life, I don't think I'd want to call any of them friends, but am sure I'd love knowing them. The plot isn't perfect, and there are many, many places in which I wished things had gone differently, but I can't say that Grossman erred in going where he did with his creation (I just would have preferred it--I feel like Fred Savage's character at the end of The Princess Bride complaining about the ending).

A Virtual Xmas Card from All of Us

my vacationing wife clearly has too much time on her hands...

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Monday, December 21, 2009

Everything Wrong with The Phantom Menace

probably 95% of you have seen this 70 min. review of The Phantom Menace (or part of it anyway) floating around the 'Net the last week or so. Still, I feel compelled to post stuff, really. As Mo Ryan described it, it's a work of "cogent, impassioned criticism, snarky humor and creative weirdness." Who could ask for more?

Naturally, after "amen"ing and laughing my way through the first 20 minutes of this last week, what are the clients watching when I arrive at work Friday? Yup. It was all I could do to stop myself from stopping the DVD and insisting everyone huddle around my laptop to watch this.

Part 1 is here, the rest is here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Meditation Worthy Thoughts on the Incarnation of Christ

Patrick Ramsey just posted a link to a great lecture by Carl Trueman "The Glory of Christ: B.B. Warfield on Jesus of Nazareth." This brief sample is worth chewing on by itself before going on to read all of Trueman's lecture.

It is, of course, a truism that the language of Chalcedon, of substance and personhood, is absent from the New Testament, and, of course, no advocate of the Chalcedonian definition would ever have claimed its explicit presence in the text. Warfield’s own view of the Chalcedonian definition is that it functions as a presupposition which makes the teaching of the Bible comprehensible as a single, unified whole. To quote him on this point:
Only on the assumption of this [the Chalcedonian] conception of Our Lord's person as underlying and determining their presentation, can unity be given to their representations; while, on this supposition, all their representations fall into their places as elements in one consistent whole. [6]

This is an important point which has a general application well beyond its specific concerns. For a start, it flags up Christ's humanity and divinity as the only means of making coherent sense of the gospel accounts of his life. It is thus not in the first instance an exercise in metaphysical speculation but rather an attempt to think out the necessary presuppositions about his person which make sense of the historical account of his actions and teachings given in the gospels. This is a very important point, particularly at a time when theological diversity is something of a buzzword among biblical scholars. The current trend is, I am sure, intimately connected to the increasing subdisciplinary specialization of higher learning, fuelled in large part by the information revolution; but Warfield is surely correct to point to the presuppositional nature of our theological approach to the Bible. If we go to the Bible without a commitment to the unity of revelation and the coherence of the biblical witness at the level of epistemology, then we will inevitably find ourselves drawing certain conclusions from that, such as the God of the Old Testament is not that of the New or the way of salvation for Paul is not the same as for James. It is perhaps no surprise that the Chalcedonian definition is being called into question by theologians at exactly the same point in time as the fundamental theological unity of the Bible is also being subjected to vigorous assault.

For Warfield, the idea that Christ is one person in two substances is one of the necessary counterparts of his commitment to the unity of scripture's teaching: in other words, it must be true because it allows the church to make sense of the Bible’s teaching about Christ. The formula itself is not inspired in the way that the Bible is inspired; it is not therefore sacrosanct; one can indeed go to heaven without ever having heard of the definition; but it is nonetheless a necessary presupposition, implicit or otherwise, if the message of the Bible concerning Christ is to be properly and thoroughly understood.
emphasis mine, and done so for obvious reasons.

Ramsey (who's posted some reflection-worthy words of his own on the Incarnation lately) also provided a link to Warfield's fantastic "The Emotional Life of our Lord," which it's been entirely too long since I've read. Criminal, really. If you haven't read it in the last month or so, I encourage you to get at it :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

That Explains That

According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, 26 percent of unemployed adults blame George W. Bush for the high unemployment rate. The other 74 percent blame the fact that they majored in English Literature.
- Jimmy Fallon

Trailers, Trailers, Trailers

Quite the harvest of new trailers hit teh IntraWeb this week. Entries from all over the spectrum. There's:

and then this one, quite possibly the cutest trailer in history:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

If only all lessons in ethics were as catchy

from this week's Lie To Me:

“Impatience does not diminish but augments the evil.”

Victoria Jackson quoted that Latin proverb at the beginning of her latest blog post, "What's the Rush?".

Victoria (Ms. Jackson if you're nasty) points out the fairly obvious trait of this Congress, this presidential administration: they seem to be in an awful hurry to do things. Ignoring their grandmother's advice, "Haste makes Waste" (assuming their grandmothers are like every other grandmother I know).

I cannot fully agree with everything that Ms. Jackson says, I think her underlying point is sound. One instance she cites:

What’s the Rush?

Okay, we all know that our country has the best medical system in the world, and that the majority of Americans are very happy with their health care. But, what if it was true that we needed to reform this system a little, this system that is already the best in the world? Yes, I said it twice.

…wouldn’t the intelligent thing be to slowly and carefully dissect exactly what the problems are, and then have experts in that field give presentations to back up their carefully thought out solutions? For example, the problem that doctors are being sued so much that they are forced to spend incredible amounts of money on lawsuit protection, thus raising the costs to their patients? Talk. Think. Discuss. Think?

She's really on to something -- especially as I remember reading one of Ron Paul's Facebook Statuses (Statusi?) Tuesday, "This is really outrageous - House leadership just announced that we will be voting on a $75 billion "Jobs" bill tomorrow - and we just got the legislation today."

Deadlines seem to be a big deal on the Health Care "Reform" discussion--remember when something had to be done this summer? And then when that didn't happen, it has to before this year is out? Is every hospital, clinic, doctor's office going to close for good come Jan. 1, 2010? I tell my 10 year old son this all the time--it's more important to get the job done right than it is to get it done. When he remembers that, our dining table and kitchen counters get clean. When he's focused on getting done, crumbs, spilled liquids and trash get left on the supposedly clean surfaces.

Just what's being left on the table after the rush to discuss Man-Made Climate Change laws/treaties; health care bills, etc.? This is the first time in my life that a rush to judgment is being portrayed in a positive light, and I just don't see why.

Sometimes Congress Makes it Too Hard to Complain

I've wondered how much weight I could lose if I hid my remote control and forced myself to get up and manually change channels, adjust volume, etc.--particularly the volume: stand up, walk to the TV, turn the volume on commercials to a comfortable level, return to the couch, wait 3 minutes, stand up, walk to the TV, turn the volume up to a level you can understand what people are saying, return to the couch. Repeat as needed.

Wondered about it. Won't do it. But, thumb strength is up (you don't want to thumb wrestle me).

Sure, there are other ways to deal with the louder-than-everything-else commercial volume, my dad's approach, for example, is to adjust for the commercial volume and then strain to hear 80% (at best) of the dialogue on whatever show you're watching. Reason #1 I don't watch anything I care about in his house.

But now, the government is stepping in to help--a frightening concept, indeed. Frankly, I think Congress has as much business messing around with this as they do College Football (read: None.At.All.), but's hard not to be happy to read on USAToday's site:

The House passed has passed a bill that would bar TV commercials from being louder than the programs in which they appear.

The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM) passed Tuesday on a voice vote, presumably expressed at a comfortable level.

It now goes to the Senate, which is considering an identical bill...
(the whole article is here)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Concert

So the Offspring had their Academy's Christmas Concert last night. And, with the exception of a program Frodo was in for the Day Care he spent 1 day/week in for a year, this was the first such time for their parents to witness something like this. Ohh, the fun we've been missing out on (that's only 50% sarcastic). There was a general lack of organization, but as it was the first such thing their Academy had ever done, it made sense--hopefully they learned a lot.

I learned a few things, too:

  • My camera's zoom is nowhere near sufficient.
  • There's simply nothing like listening to 60(+/-) largely untrained 4th graders singing the Hallelujah Chorus.
  • No matter how strict the uniform policy, there's just no getting around individual personality. It's going to shine through in appearance and/or behavior.
  • Arnold is as short as we feared (first time he's ever been in a good sized group of same aged kids)
  • Even if your kids aren't the world's best singers, most enthusiastic performers, or all that coordinated -- they are still a great source of pride, and their classes are at least 3x as entertaining to watch as classes they aren't in. (I'd have guessed that before, but I know it now)

Here are the obligatory pics: (click on the thumbnail to see a larger pic, which are equipped with arrows to indicate ours)
Arnold's class sang "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" (hence the antlers) and "Jingle Bells"
The Princess' class did "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" and "O Hannukah" (for safety concerns due to excessive amounts of cables all over the stage, they decided at the last minute not to do the hora...ratz)
Samwise's class sang something called "Snowflakes" and a nifty little tune called "Christmas Shopping Blues" (featuring about half the kids wearing sunglasses--many of which actually fit)
Frodo's class sang a French tune that I vaguelly recognized "Il est ne, le divin enfant" and a sonc called "Christmas Line Dance" (which featured, well...a line dance done on the risers. The last stanza brought in the Macarena. I'm thinking about filing a grievance with the State Department of Education over that one)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Feliĉan naskotagon L. L. Zamenhof

Do hodiaŭ estas la naskotago de la viro kiuj(n) inventis Esperanton. En lia honoro, Mi irus legitan iuj Harry Harrison ia, ŝajne -- lia Rustimuna ŝtalo Rato libroj estas la solaj loko Mi sci* kie ... uzis grave.

Kiu estas ia honto, vere, Mi havis amuzon lern ĝi jam en Mezlernejo -- nur dezir Mi memorita ĝin.

Not Done With Your Shopping?

Polymathis has a handy-dandy shopping guide to Cafe Press for those of you still looking for a gift for that special Calvinist in your life (tho' you should take a look at the offerings from Sola Fide, too)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another Beloved Memory Gone...

This isn't a major thing, I grant you, but since when do I focus on major things here?

This weekend, I opened a new pack of Big Red and was shocked by what I saw, rather, what I didn't see.


There was no foil protecting the little pieces of cinnamony goodness from contact with the air, each other, the silly cardboard packaging. Instead, there was this flimsy white paper, barely stiffer than tissue paper. Sacrilege!

All my life this little bit of foil has been a constant. It made Wrigley's best product stand out from the rest. It looked snazzy. It created that really strange sensation when you chewed it using teeth with fillings.

I'll pause a moment for you to cringe.

And now it's gone. Why? I've looked all over, can't find an explanation. I'm sure it has something to do with costs, or the environment, or medication helping too many paranoiacs dropping the need for sources of foil for their hats.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #52

Every grace that brings a Christian to heaven must be a tried grace. He must try his patience, his contentment, his humility. How shall all these graces be tried but in a variety of estates and conditions?

And secondly, How should we have experience of the goodness of God but in variety of estates? When we find the stable, certain, constant love of God in variety of conditions, that howsoever our conditions ebb and flow, be up and down, like the spring weather, sometimes fair and sometimes foul, yet not withstanding the love of God is constant always, and we have never so sure experience of it as in the variety of conditions that befall us; then we know that in God there is 'no shadow of changing,' howsoever the changes of our life be. Is it not a point worth our learning, to know the truth of our grace, and to know the constancy of God's love, with whom we are in a gracious covenant?

And then again, we learn much wisdom how to manage our life hereby, even in the intercourse of our changes, to be now rich, now poor, now high, now low in estates. He that is carried on in one condition, he hath no wisdom to judge another's estate, or to carry himself to a Christian in another condition, because he was never abased himself. He look very big at him. He knows not how to tender another, that hath not been in another's condition. And therefore to furnish us, that we may carry ourselves as Christians, meekly lovingly, and tenderly to others, God will have us go to heaven in variety, not in one uniform condition in regard of outward things.
- Richard Sibbes

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Just Who Approves the Ads at CBS Nowadays?

Sure, I have/will defend the "Frosty the Inappropriate Snowman" ad. But this? I can't think of anything to say, honestly.

Ken Levine titled his embed of this as, "A jaw dropping CBS ad. Not a joke. They really aired this"...pretty well sums it up.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Friday, December 11, 2009

Top 5 Holiday Movies

Something got me thinking the other day about my favorite Christmas/Holiday movies and I figured just for fun, I'd list my Top 5 and ask you, my faithful readers, to speak up and name your own/debate mine. Hit a little roadblock, but still, worth a shot...

1. A Christmas Story, it's just the best, hands down, by far, the best. Funny, heartwarming, there's no way you can't relate to Ralphie/his brother/his parents/friends -- no matter how far we are from the time it's set in.

2. White Christmas, this is my mom's fault, she insists on watching this every year, it's just not Christmastime without this little gem. And hey, at the end of the day, Danny Kaye's funny.

3. Die Hard, "Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho." 'Nuff said.

oh, yeah, and Al's a better movie fat guy than anyone who's donned the Claus uniform

1. Elf, one of three Ferrell movies I can stand/enjoy. Honestly only watched this to kill time one Christmas Eve with TLomL. But Ferrell, Caan, Newhart sold me and had me rolling on the floor. Now that I know who Zooey Deschanel is, I should probably rewatch it just.

5. Uhhhh, this is pathetic, I can't come up with a fifth. The Scrooge flicks are okay at best, It's a Wonderful Life isn't that wonderful...can't think of any others, honestly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Capitalism Works

Over at the Denver Post, David Harsanyi relates an important Lesson in Capitalism from an USAToday investigation.

In the past three years, the government has provided the nation’s schools with millions of pounds of beef and chicken that wouldn’t meet the quality or safety standards of many fast-food restaurants, from Jack in the Box and other burger places to chicken chains such as KFC, a USA TODAY investigation found.
Go read the rest

(just curious, am I the only one who remembers when USAToday was a joke?)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Thinking of Starting a New Series of Posts

"What I Almost Choked to Death on While Watching The Big Bang Theory

  • "The Vengeance Formulation" (11/23/09): Reese's Pieces
  • "The Athens Recurrence" (12/7/09): Coffee
Or, I guess I could just stop eating and drinking while watching the show...kind of like you have to with Bones nowadays...did anyone else catch "The Gamer in the Grease" last week? When they carefully pull the corpse out of all that cooking grease and the flesh literally falls off--followed by the entrails? If I watched that a couple more times, I'd probably lose 10 pounds this week.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I've Shed Most of my Computer Nerdhood, but...

Here I was, about to go catch my evening nap, when I remembered that Thunderbird 3 was officially released today and I haven't downloaded it yet. Color me strange, but my email client is one of the pieces of software I care most about. I dropped good ol' Eudora (big mistake) when I became addicted to Outlook at work, but that torrid affair burned out quickly, and I spent years trying to find something worth my affection--by that time Eurdora had evolved into something I really didn't care for, sadly.

Anyhow, I'm babbling -- I hopped on the Thunderbird bandwagon years ago, and, while it's not perfect, I really like the little guy. Incidentally, Lifehacker's article about the release has a mini-review for those interested. The features and add-ons for this new version make me think I'm going to have far too much fun over the next few days just setting this up.

Anyone else care? Or are you all web-based emailers now?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Talk About Missing the Point

Good Night Nurse. Really? Are you kidding me?

So last week, I and several fans of the show How I Met Your Mother (and other people, too) hooted and hollered, ROTFLOLed, tweeted, retweeted, shared, embedded, digged and had all other sorts of social media responses to CBS' "Frosty the Inappropriate Snowman" advertisement. I thought about posting it, but not really the style of this place...I think.

Anyway, I just read a story over on about the commercial is "is offensive and should be pulled" according to many critics. The story claims:

Colleen Raezler, a research assistant for the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center, said the spot is "highly inappropriate," and improperly uses a Christmas special to promote an adult-oriented comedy.

"The ad introduces children to the idea of strippers and pornography," Raezler told "The people in charge obviously thought this was funny, but the question they should ask themselves is if this is appropriate, not if it's funny."
Wow, the ad does that? Children are clearly not the target demographic for this advertisement. Did this person watch the whole thing?
Raezler said the advertisement is another example of popular culture "pushing the envelope" on everything.

"It's sexing up Frosty," she said. "It really drives home the idea that nothing is sacred anymore."
Again, watch.the.whole.thing.
...says Bob Peters, president of Morality in Media, adding that officials at the Federal Trade Commission should be concerned about the promotion.

"CBS is doing much the same thing that alcohol and tobacco companies have done in the past -- namely, using imagery in advertising that would naturally attract children in order to market an adult product," Peters said in a statement to "Legal matters aside, it should go without saying that CBS TV ought to be ashamed of itself -- using an animated Christmas season setting, complete with young children, to chat about strippers, whores, pornography, sadomasochism, sexual promiscuity, and more."

Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, a watchdog group based in Los Angeles, said the advertisement was reprehensible.

"It's either ignorance or arrogance, but I can't imagine the folks at the once-Tiffany network should think this is OK," he told "Someone had to write it and someone had to approve it. It speaks to the decisions that are being made at CBS these days."

Winter also called for the advertisement to be pulled, characterizing it as the outcome of the network attempting to do "everything they can to be offensive rather than creative."
The whole point of the ad is that it's crass, tasteless, offensive, etc to do this to a holiday classic. Which is why "Some Holiday Classics are Better Left Untouched." Where did I get that line? The end of the ad in question. Instead, you should watch the classics the way they're meant to be seen, in their original form on CBS Friday.

Really people, your shoes are on wayyyy too tight. Adjust your laces, watch the whole thing, and think a moment to see if the frenzy you're trying to lather up is either on target or worth it. You missed it this time.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #52

Our happiness consists in due subordination and conformity to Christ, and therefore let us labor to carry ourselves as He did to His Father, to His friends, to His enemies. In the days of His flesh He prayed whole nights to His Father. How holy and heavenly-minded was He, that took occasion from vines, stones and sheep to be heavenly-minded, and when He rose from the dead His talk was only of things concerning the kingdom of God, in His converse to His friends. He would not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed; He did not cast Peter in the teeth with his denial, He was of a winning and gaining disposition to all; for His conduct to His enemies, He did not call for fire from heaven to destroy them but shed many tears for them that shed His blood. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matt. 23:37), and upon the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). So that if we will be minded like unto Christ, consider how He carried Himself to His Father, to His friends, to His enemies, yea to the devil himself. When He comes to us in wife, children; friends, etc. we must do as Christ did, say to Satan, "Get thee hence," and when we deal with those that have the spirit of the devil in them, we must not render reproach, but answer them, "It is written."

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Carly Fiorina on Health Care Reform

GOP Senate Candidate Carly Fiorina delivered the weekly GOP talking point snoozefestradio address this week -- without mention of parties, election campaigns, or any individual politician, that alone should warrant a lot of attention. Maybe even a Congressional Medal of Honor or something.

Anyway, this particular breast cancer survivor looks at the effect that the recent recommendations from that task force on changing when women should get mammograms would have under proposed Heath Care Reform bills. And the picture she paints ain't pretty.

Multiply that out over the effect such committees could have over all sorts of medical tests/procedures, and you begin to get an idea of what a devastating impact this reform could have on lives (ignoring quality of care, economics, taxes, etc.).

Here's what she said

Hello. This is Carly Fiorina. And today I’d like to speak to you as one of the more than two and a half million women in America who have been diagnosed with breast cancer — and beaten it.

Like everyone else who’s diagnosed with cancer, I never thought it would happen to me. I was fit, healthy, and active. I even got regular check-ups. But earlier this year, just two weeks after a clear mammogram, I discovered a lump through a self-exam.

Soon after that came the diagnosis, the surgery, the long and difficult treatment regimen, and the painful experience of wondering whether I would make it, whether I’d pull through.

I’m fortunate to live near one of the greatest cancer centers in the world. I’m fortunate to have the incredible love and support of family and friends. And my diagnosis gave me time to think about my future — because one of the things that happens when you have to face your fears, including the fear of dying, is that you can face your future with renewed hope and enthusiasm.

My doctors tell me I have won my battle with cancer. And, I realize that this makes me one of the lucky ones. Last year alone, more than 40,000 Americans died from breast cancer. Aside from lung cancer, breast cancer is the most fatal form of cancer for American women. Nearly 200,000 new cases were reported last year alone.

That’s why a recent recommendation on mammograms by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government-run panel of health care professionals that makes recommendations on prevention, struck such a nerve. The task force did not include an oncologist or a radiologist, in other words cancer experts did not develop this recommendation. They said that most women under 50 don’t need regular mammograms and that women over 50 should only get them every other year. And yet we all know that the chances of surviving cancer are greater the earlier it’s detected. If I’d followed this new recommendation and waited another two years, I’m not sure I’d be alive today.

What’s more this task force was explicitly asked to focus on costs, not just prevention. As it turned out, costs were a significant factor in this recommendation. Will a bureaucrat determine that my life isn’t worth saving?

All this takes on even greater urgency in the midst of the ongoing health care debate in Washington. We wonder if we are heading down a path where the federal government will at first suggest and then mandate new standards for prevention and treatment. Do we really want government bureaucrats rather than doctors dictating how we prevent and treat something like breast cancer?

The response we’ve gotten to these questions has been less than encouraging. In the face of a national outcry over the recent task force recommendations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services said the Preventive Services Task Force doesn’t set federal policy. The real question, though, is whether bodies like this would set policy under the $2.5 trillion, 2,074-page plan that’s now making its way through Congress?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question isn’t encouraging either. The health care bill now being debated in the Senate explicitly empowers this very task force to influence future coverage and preventive care. Section 4105, for example, authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to deny payment for prevention services the task force recommends against. Another section requires every health plan in America to cover task force recommended preventive services. In fact, there are more than a dozen examples in the bill where this task force is empowered to influence care.

There is a reason American women with breast cancer have a higher survival rate than women in countries with government-run health care. Unlike those countries, our government doesn’t dictate what prevention and treatments women can get.

While some defend the idea of a government task force, my experience with cancer tells me it’s wrong. Cutting down on mammograms might save the government some money that it will then spend on something else. But it won’t save lives. And isn’t that what health care reform was supposed to be all about?

This is just one in many examples of serious problems with this healthcare reform legislation. Rather than remaking the entire national healthcare system at the cost of higher taxes and exploding deficits, we should build on what works, such as expanding access to integrated care and to community clinics that will give those most in need appropriate care at a reasonable price.

Congress should reform medical malpractice to match what we have in California where frivolous lawsuits are a thing of the past. We should permit consumers to purchase health insurance from any company in the country, expanding consumer choice and driving down cost and unnecessary mandates.

People want to know that their care will stay where it belongs: in the hands of doctors and patients. Unfortunately, the path Congress is on in this debate is not giving us the confidence that it will.

Thank you.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A Nice Niche, but Probably Not a Career Path of Choice

I started catching up on season 3 of The Guild this week, and was pleasantly surprised to see everyone's favorite Starfleet alumn, Wil Wheaton.

I keep running into Wheaton over the last few months, and think I've spotted a trend. Wheaton, who spent years being the target of the spite of geeks everywhere because he was cast as Wesley Crusher (and honestly, most of the blame for the Crusher stuff belongs to the writers/producers, if you ask me). Now, Wheaton's basically embraced that spite, and turned it into affection via his blog, books, appearances, etc. And how he's taken it a step further, and he's turned it into a niche career, I've run into him as:

  • hacker Colin Mason, foil of beloved hacker Alec Hardison on Leverage
  • MMORPG player, foil of the much beloved Codex on The Guild
  • former child actor/gamer/douchebag Wil Wheaton, foil of beloved uber-nerd Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory

He's gone beyond being the unjust target of spite, to being the geek we're all supposed to hate. Nice way to turn lemons into imdb credits.

I just remembered him playing a real prick of a comic collector on Numb3rs a couple of years ago, too, now that I think of this isn't a totally new thing, just something he's doing more often, and with a certain focus.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Don't Shoot this Messenger

Friends, Romans, Countrymen…

If you're insulted by the songs they loop on the radio all day. If you're
tired of your parents repeating the phrase "music meant something in my day" with baseless contempt. Here's a chance to do something about it…
So said Joe Pug at the beginning of a pretty strange music promo campaign. All you had to do was give him a number of CD's and he'd send you that many sampler CDs to give to your friends (I gave away 6). Then I went and bought the rest of his EP Nation of Heat and played it endlessly.

Then a few months ago, Pug gives away more music -- 5 tracks from the Nation of Heat sessions. In addition, he will tweet/post to facebook all sorts of free downloads from concerts, radio shows, etc. Following Pug's career is a veritable cornucopia of free, high quality, thoughtful, folk-rock.

But now he's doing a couple of different things as he releases his first full length album: 1. he's playing with a full and "plugged" band and 2. he's apparently going to charge for the whole thing. I'm not complaining or anything, it's just an adjustment. The widget below has a couple of samples from the upcoming album, check 'em out--and then go grab some of the free music above--you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Some Things to Ponder

Another one of those days where as much as I might sit and stare at the blank white space here, nothing fills it.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

NaNoWriMo Wrap Up

First thing I need to say is, for the second year in a row, Frodo did it!

He did more than yeoman's work, he...okay, I actually don't have words to describe what he did. Because of school work, and just being wiped out when he got home from school, getting behind (and discouraged from that) and whatnot, he found himself behind the 8-ball last week. We're talking a giant 8-ball covered in poison-tipped spikes and packed with explosives. And what does he do? He buckles down. I don't know how much of it was a burning desire to write, how much of it was competitive spirit, or just his near-compulsive need not to leave something unfinished, but he knocks out 3 straight days of 2K+ words -- 3K and change the last day (even staying up late, I hope his teacher's don't hate me for that). A lot of what he produced in those marathon sessions were more creative than I'd thought him capable of, too.

Overall, our tribe didn't do as well this year as we did last. Much of which can be attributed to our change in schooling methods. Last year we could spend as much time as we needed to on our writing. This year...not so much. That's the number one reason everyone had a harder time. It still would've been possible as far as time goes for everyone to finish, but it was a lot harder.

Like I said at the beginning of the month, though, their content was of a much higher quality than it was last year. Samwise just couldn't stay focused on his work, and flamed out at the end of a week. But I'm very proud of what he tried to do.

And the Princess? We're talking light years between where she was last year and where she was this year. With some better preparation next October, she could produce something really good. If she's up for it -- she was pretty discouraged by the end.

What about me? Last year the question was, can I do this? This year it was, can I do it again? The two mind-sets are very different. Also, the story I wrote last year was something I'd thought about for about two years (hadn't worked out more than 2 chapters, though). I came up with this year's idea on Oct. 28th after toying with two others for a month or so. Biggest difference in the two final products is that this year's book has an ending (missing a bridge from the middle of the work to the end -- like the Yankees for most of this year, my 7th and 8th innings are a big question mark). Last year, I had a target in mind, but didn't make it there -- and a few days later when I went back to finish, I'd completely forgotten where I was headed. It feels much more like I accomplished something when I could say "The End."

What I produced wasn't something I want to show anybody, but there's a lot of good raw material there to be refined and perfected. I know in my heart that no publisher is going to want to touch the final product, that said, I'll be a better writer if I see it through to the end. I'm itching to get to it, but am taking advice of smarter, and more experienced people and taking a few days off to clear my mind. But starting at the end of this week/beginning of next it's research for historical accuracy, revising, editing, rewriting and polishing. I'll keep you updated on things as that progresses.

For now, I've blathered on long enough. I have a lot of semi-neglected housework, very neglected books, and a dusty exercise bike to get to.