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Cory Doctorow

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Blue Dogs Delay, Water Down House Health Care Bill

Looks like there's still some sort of event planned for 7/30/09 in D.C regarding single-payer health care. Here's the details: http://www.democrats.com/node/19877

I know the debate isn't done until it's done, but it sure feels like the debate is sitting in some stagnent water with the stillwater pond evaporating more each day.

My coverage is likely to change sometime in August . . the 3rd change of insurance out of my hands this year. Oh, I feel ever so lucky ?
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, July 27, 2009

Beer diplomacy

Perhaps the alcoholic in me should examine my level of enthusiasm over an upcoming meeting at the White House.  I just think it's fantastic that three guys are meeting over a glass/pint/bottle/mug of brew at the White House.

Now, even someone like me knows full well nothing much more will get resolved over this meeting than apologies all around (some more heartfelt than others) and, perhaps, whether two men from Red Sox territory can talk a die-hard White Sox fan into who-knows-what.  I've been around enough men and enough beer to know that all bets may be off if enough beer is served.

Well, again, I'm well aware that, if all three of them are lucky, they'll only get a few sips in to wet their whistle so as to continue the conversation.  Even if the Sergeant is a tough-nut conservative, who wouldn't enjoy a conversation with the President of the United States AND a Harvard Professor?  Even yours truly could well have sat down with President George W Bush and, say, Professor Harvey Mansfield (though I would have switched us over to chamomile tea -- just so the conversation has a chance of remaining intelligent).

I have been pondering what else we might be able to resolve if we could get folks from two sides of a political argument to sit together and sip one down.  If it meant both sides getting into the same room and having a meaningful conversation, I'd even settle for early afternoon with glasses of chardonnay or milk & cookies late at night.

Hard to argue with a mouthful of dairy and sugar.

Friday, July 24, 2009


The long gap between posts is mostly the fault of BBC America and a good haircut. If you haven't caught any of the Torchwood:Children of Earth, there's likely time to do so or maybe find it on demand if your cable provider does that sort of thing. It's killing me to wait until tomorrow to catch up!

Tomorrow also marks a last day for a certain West Coast Governor (sadly, we'll have to wait until next year here for Mayor Awesome to be Governor. O.K., he's not perfect, but at least CA will finally have a full marriage equality advocate in Sacramento).

Yesterday was a transitional day for one of my favorite bloggers. She joined Brad Friedman who was subbing for Malloy. I still can't think of her by her everyday name, but it was so cool to hear her voice and realize there was little difference between her written and speak-out-loud selves.

As for me, I've just typed this post up on an iPhone. Crackberry, schmackberry!

(well except for the sourcing .. and this postscript. Some things are slow to transition)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Open Letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

I'm a novice at this sort of communication, sir, so please bear with me if the form and tone are not in line with what you would expect from one of your constituents.

You have recently begun running ads on television asking us to "stand for California" and balance our state's budget without raising taxes.  Your Dream Team has apparently raised enough money to film the ad and found ways to get them aired throughout the state.  Why not spend a little bit of money up front if it stands a chance of saving a lot of money and balancing a budget?

When it comes to budgets, most every adult in California understands the basics of maintaining a budget.  You start with figuring out how much money you have coming in to your household, then subtract from that income each of one's monthly expenses.  The goal would be to spend less than one earns so one has a little bit of savings left each month for unexpected expenses or, if one is really good at maintaining a budget, have money saved for retirement (outside of Social Security and 401(k) plans) and/or money to put one's children through college.

Sadly, many Californians are spending more on their expenses.  More and more of us are trying desperately to hang on to whatever savings we have and we're buying fewer and fewer items to do so.

I picked up a copy of today's LA Times -- $2 for the Sunday Times and the chance at finding grocery coupons for items I buy thus saving $10 or $15 at the grocery store on my next visit -- and on the front page was an article that hinted at all sorts of programs that provide services to our state's elderly and disabled population were in jeopardy of being cut.

Even this move, I understand.  If you drop the state's In Home Support Services program you stand to save a good chunk of change.  In Los Angeles County, the last estimate I heard was 70,000 people work for In Home Support Services.  I work nearly 190 hours a month (with no overtime, vacation or sick pay) for a net paycheck of $1500 per month (and, yes, taxes are taken out of my check as they are the paychecks of my fellow workers).  I'll let you do the math to figure out just how much per hour it costs to employee me to care for my partner at home.

Most of my fellow IHSS workers pick up less than my 190 hours.  Using a conservative estimate of 140 hours a month, the state could save around $100 million a month in Los Angeles County alone, roughly.  What wonderful news!

Every year, statewide, billions are saved.  Why, you may have practically solved the budget crisis all on your own!

Oh, but now what to do with those folks in California who now do not have In Home Support Services?  Surely every last one of these people has some relative with which they can live and those relatives can surely switch from full to part time work, or just quit working altogether, to stay home and take care of these people.  I'm sure somehow these relative's health care will be covered and their 401(k) plans will continue to grow to assure them of a safe and secure retirement.

Here's where the math gets a bit more fuzzy.  

In my many encounters with my union, SEIU 434-B, I find that the vast majority of my fellow IHSS workers are Latina and speak just enough English to get by.  Does this mean that their clients are also of Mexican and/or Central and/or South American descent and all of these women are selflessly caring for elderly or disabled adults in their own families?

I talked with one woman to find out what her experience as an IHSS worker was. She split her time between three clients because no one client offered enough hours to cover the worker's expenses.  She drove a very much used station wagon to go between her three clients and was just barely meeting her financial obligations.  It seemed very unlikely that her clients were also relatives of hers.

Truth is, Governor, a good number of these elderly and/or disabled constituents (and they vote, too.  They have lots of time on their hands to make calls to other Californians to encourage them to stand with you or whatever their consciousness drives them to do as far as politics) do not have relatives who can spare the time to care for them.  Some do not even have surviving relations.

As these people need several hours a day of assistance, usually with housework, dressing, bathing, running errands, going to the doctors, paying bills, etc., these people without independently wealthy relatives who can drop everything for years at a time and selflessly give of their time are on their own.  They stand little chance of remaining in their own homes and apartments and will likely need to find a place at an assisted living center or nursing home.

So, how much can one expect to pay on average for a month's stay at one of these group places?  Perhaps having all of these elderly and disabled folks all in the same place will lower the per person cost of caring for them.  Much as would apply, I'd expect, for our state's prison population.  I'm sure the prisons are ridiculously cheap to keep open and fill.  Perhaps the LA Times article from today's paper has the per prisoner per day cost of $120 well overestimated.

By the way, perhaps us displaced IHSS workers could take over for properly trained and educated corrections officers at the prisons.  My 8 hour shift there would earn me $64 a day, or just under $1300 a month.  I'm sure that's quite a bit less than what a corrections officer makes in a state prison.  More savings!  It feels like I'm shopping at a going out of business sale !!

Now, about those elderly and disabled who have no one who will care for them.  I'm sure any openings now available at assisted living and nursing homes will be readily filled.  Perhaps more of them need to be built, creating more construction jobs.  Oh, boy, I can now see why every June and July our Legislature usually pull all-nighters in Sacramento. This sort of shuffling of budgets and staffing gets quite addictive.

Now, how much will these elderly and disabled, who I'm sure are making more money than I am now as an IHSS worker or why else would they be in their own homes and have someone like me helping them out, need to shell out on average to one of these facilities?

Oh.  Past 100 days at a nursing home and those cash-heavy elderly and disabled may be out of luck for continued care.  What about going with assisted living for those who just need that few hours of help a day?

Hmm.  $5,000 per month for living in what is basically a hotel/boarding school style home with no home cooking and that whole "who's going to die today" vibe most get just walking in through the front door of a place like this VERSUS $1500 a month for more hours of care (40 a week per person compared to ?? hours at one of these facilities).

Is $5000 still more than $1500 in the language of our state's upcoming budget?

Now, I'm one of those few IHSS workers who has a Bachelor's degree.  Mine happens to be in Business Management.  It was about 20 years ago since I graduated, but from what I can recall it is probably not the wisest business move to stop spending $1150 per month (on average) per worker so that you spend $5000 a month housing half of those people affected by the loss of IHSS workers.

While my rather silly idea of replacing Corrections officers with IHSS workers will undoubtedly save a lot of money, unless the prisoners need assistance with feeding, bathing and dispensing medication, there's bound to be . . . uh . . a rough transitional period at first.

Governor, I am well familiar with the tricks / techniques of negotiation and am pretty sure all of this blustering is just to scare the Legislature into finding creative solutions to our budget crisis.

May I propose something we could do to help prevent future budget impasses?  It's not a new idea; however, instead of trying to get two out of every three legislators to agree on something as monumental as a budget, we try getting just 51% of legislators to agree on a budget plan.  When you think about it in terms of a typical family, the family budget is usually the responsibility of just one of the adults in the family.  Some of my worst arguments with my partner is about our family budget, and there are only the two of us with a say in it.  Could you imagine if every family had to get two out of three adults in the same house to agree on a budget?


By the way, if you feel the need to threaten total elimination of programs which provide some assistance to those who cannot assist themselves, please consider most these people each have a vote.  They also have nothing but time to make calls to their friends, neighbors and as many others as they can to remind them what having someone with your political philosophy may mean to them personally in the future.  More and more people are living longer and more of the disabled are now living independently with just a few hours of assistance per day.

This is not a constituency whose numbers will dwindle in numbers any time soon.  Please listen to their voices and read their words in the coming days and do what you feel in your heart is the right thing.



Friday, July 17, 2009

Gay Kiss Arrests In Utah Defended By Mormon Church

Kiss-in on Sunday? Lucky for me, I'm in church on Sundays. I'm sure I can find a few fellow Christians to join me in demonstrating that love will win out over fear. BTW, I'm a member of this Christian church:


God be with all of us this Sunday!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, July 13, 2009

Steroids in Sports: Bring 'em On!

Nobody commenting so far has talked about the REAL reason athletes feel the pressure to use steroids or whatever will give their game that little something extra . ..

M O N E Y ! ! !

The better players get paid more! Their agents get paid .. uh . . more! The owners, etc., can charge more for tickets, souveneirs and concessions and . . say it with me now . . M A K E M O R E M O N E Y ! ! !

Stop with the sanctimony already! If you don't like it, stop watching it, stop buying tickets and boycott the products these athletes advertise. My bet is anyone who's a big enough fan of sports can spot a user from the rest.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Keep your finger on this one

This was all over MSNBC tonight, so take it with a grain of salt.  However, have a look at this Newsweek article from late last week.  The quotes I was able to read through before I had to stop from either boiling over with anger and going green with queasiness (red and green all at once - only a truly unique story could do that) are enough to sell me on the need to sort everything out over the interrogation program.

Maybe it's much ado about not much at all.  Maybe there are just a few arrests, trials and convictions of the lowest of the low-level flunkies who actually carried out the horrifying torture of detainees to get a bunch of unusable nonsense.

Ever the glass-half full blogger, perhaps there's a serious top-down investigation with those in the highest positions of power being taken to task for their behavior.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Countdown begins!

After nearly a decade of use, our old Mac Powerbook G4 is soon destined for recycling. I just finished the purchase of a new iMac with a much bigger monitor, wireless mouse and keyboard and got a free printer along with it. I even broke down, joining the 21st century, and got an iPhone. Granted, it's the older version, but how much power do I need to surf the 'net and draft posts here while I ride the light rail? I may even take clearer pictures (not better -- it's an iPhone, not a magic wand).

I'm hoping the new iMac will give me an easier-to-use website wallpaper program so I can restyle this site. I've even got a 8GB memory stick I'll be using to move the files from my old to my new computer. I have a new user for the old Powerbook all lined up as well.

Everything arrives in a week or so and, to make this even sweeter, my partner has kindly been saving money every month for over a year so we won't miss the money so much when we pay the credit card company in full.

I even ordered some coffee so I can stay powered up next weekend for the installation. Is that what's meant in computer-world by Java? I may already be in over my head . . .

'Bruno' Pulls In $30.4M

I saw the movie earlier today. As a gay man, I found much of it funny, some of it jaw-dropping/shocking, some of it I couldn't watch and was fascinated by the reactions of Americans in general to the antics of Borat . .uh, Bruno.

There was about 6 minutes in the move I could have done without -- the stuff with Bruno/Borat doing things on his own with no one off of which to bounce.

BTW, GLAAD didn't like the movie, so I guess I've "gone rogue" as a gay guy: http://www.glaad.org/Page.aspx?pid=773
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, July 10, 2009

A little Friday night fun!

HuffPo has a cool survey to take which has nothing to do with politics and a whole lot to do with cool looking dudes in movies in swimwear. Here's my favorite:

Daniel Craig in 'Casino Royale' (2006)

Aah . . what a nice way to ease in to a weekend! Enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Gay Men Kicked Out Of Restaurant For Kissing, Cop Tells Them Kissing Is Illegal

We have so much more to do, everyone. I like the "kiss in" idea. A little sensitivity training for the police wouldn't hurt either.

But I'm only one guy. A "kiss in" with just me loses all the fun in just a few minutes and there's no way I can even start a sensitivity class after the cops toss me out of town.

Good thing the politicans are chiming in and supporting the gays! http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_12799312?source=most_viewed
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Today's Lesson

I was dreading this day, but not exactly for the same reasons why most music fans were dreading today.

My usual route to work runs right through the Staples Center neighborhood, so with all of the barricading and pilgrimage-ing going on this morning, I knew the little light rail train would be stuffed like Kielbasa with people and would likely be stopped and started at some cop's whim.

So, I tried a different way into Hollywood today.  I even left a little bit early knowing the mass of people that, like me, were also trying to avoid the melee.  I wound up driving all of the way into Union Station in downtown LA, then taking the Red Line into Hollywood.  The closest I came to the chaos was passing through the 7th street station where crowds were trying to catch the Blue Line south about seven blocks to the Staples Center.

I barely made it to work on time.  So much for planning.

The crowds outside of Graumann's Chinese, which were dwindling day by day, were back to being as swelled as they were the first weekday after Michael Jackson's death.  TV news vans were parked along Hollywood Blvd hoping to catch the right fan in the right frame of mind to say just the right thing at the right time.

I was just hoping for a quick walk to a fast lunch.

My time on the Blvd. did not end when it usually does -- circumstances kept me there a little more than an hour longer.  And while I made the best of my extra time there, I suspect someone else far above my pay grade was arranging the circumstances today.

While it is fairly rare, there are occasions when folks will board a light rail train, crack open a guitar and strum a few tunes for, essentially, a captive audience.  Hats or bags are passed with the hopes that some on that particular rail car have been paying attention and might spare a buck or two.  Now, until a five piece heavy metal band carts their gear onto a rail car and plays a rockin' set, I could not be bothered with listening to these players and was ever so thankful to have a functioning iPod on me. 

The musician on the Red Line headed back to Union Station this evening had one such musician on it.  The man was somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 years old and walked (or shuffled - it's hard to tell on the train) with a noticeable hunch.  He flipped his ballcap over and onto the floor of the car, flipped his guitar around and proceeded to sing, play and deliver patter in between each of the songs he performed.  When he finished his two songs, he walked to the other end of the car and proceeded to do exactly the same thing in exactly the same way.

At best, in the 20 minute ride, the man probably made around $5.  At the end of the line, he swung his guitar around his back, grabbed his cart and pushed it out with seemingly effortless grace, as if he were just grateful for the chance to play, sing and make a few dollars.

This, everyone, is really what it means to be a musician.  From everyone to Michael Jackson, who could have danced, played and sang to billions all at once, to this old man fighting his frailties to perform for 15 people in a Red Line car at 7 pm on a Tuesday night, anyone who wants to be considered a musician must be willing to put themselves out there on whatever passes for a stage and pour themselves out for all to see.

Rest now, Mr. Jackson.  We'll do what we can to continue 'til we see you again.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Soul saving and spleen-venting at home

At a busy intersection nearby home, there were some folks carrying big yellow and black signs on the four corners.  Here's one of the signholders who cannot wait to get across the street to join the rest of the signholders:

I'm O.K. with the "saving commuters' souls" vibe.  It's even a fun distraction from the usual drone of car and truck motors. I just wish I could've gotten a look at the church who was sponsoring the signs.  Even when I could see all of the signs there was no mention of a website, a church name or even a phone number!

Advertising is good.  Good advertising is even better!

Meanwhile, at home, we are blessed to have only received one I.O.U last week - for my partner's State Supplemental Income check.  Granted, it only makes up a small amount of our monthly income, but getting an I.O.U. was a little nerve-wrecking and having that check's value go down 30% in two months was a bit depressing.

In a bit of desperation, he called the L.A. Times earlier today and vented at them.  I had to gently remind him that, while I'm sure the L.A. Times could always use a lead to a potentially good story, they are not yet in charge of Legislation and Budgets in California.  So, after a quick on-line search, I found our district's Assemblyperson (it's like a House of Representatives member is for the U.S) and our district's state Senator.

Boy, are they going to get an earful tomorrow!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Palin Facebook Message Slams Media

My, my, my, my, my, my, my!!!

Just when you thing Gov. Palin's last jaw dropper is drained dry of potential hilarity, she replentishes the pitcher!

I'll leave the funny to brighter minds and keep the popcorn bowl filled. Can't wait to read what's next !
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, July 3, 2009

The most offensive idea for a TV show yet?

I only had to read a couple of paragraph's in to this story for my stomach to churn.

First, marriage is so sacred there's no way that two consenting adult men or two consenting adult women could marry each other . . not in this country, right?

Now, at least in Turkey, a person's eternal soul is up for "redemption" for fantastic prizes & cash (or something like that).  At least some of that country's religious leaders are against this.

I cannot imagine who would be in favor of making such a sleazy display of such a private choice.  What an odd world in which we live!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

and now, a couple more diversions

With many thanks to Huffington Post to turning me on to the Air New Zealand ad and thanks to Yahoo for the story about Joe Mauer of baseball's Minnesota Twins and to twinkietown.com for the great photos of an amazing (and good looking) athlete!  Enjoy your weekend!!

Chuck Grassley: If You Want Good Health Insurance, Work For The Government (VIDEO)

I just got through posting a "congrats" to Sen. Franken for finally winning the election. It looks like Sen. Grassley's attitude needs to become our first project.

BTW, I work for the government. What a shame that my paycheck monies come, in part, from Los Angeles County and the rest from the State of California. My healthcare involves finding the one clinic somewhere in downtown L.A. that will provide service to In-Home Support Services workers.

Ooh, here's an idea, Sen. Grassley! How about you and I just trade insurance coverages? I could relieve that burden of having the Senate's health plan and you can explore the opportunity my coverage provides.

Because us liberals are givers, by golly !!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Al Franken Interviewed On "Today Show" About Coming To The Senate (VIDEO)

Congratulations, Senator Franken!

Now the real work begins . . .
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hazy, crazy and lazy

Oh, the land of politics from Southern California looks hazy -- kind of like the skies around here. Some of it has cut through.

First thing:  Representative Michelle Bachmann and State Representative Sally Kern -- with all that you've been saying lately, you have convinced me (as if I needed much more convincing)

I will become more politically active and work to get out the vote!!  Now, you may not be so thrilled with what kind of renewed focus I've found, but sometimes you have to get your message out and just let it do its work.

BTW, Representative Bachmann, a quick refresher on how the Census works and why it is most helpful if your constituents complete the Census, well, completely.  You help me, I help you.

One more thing:  Were it not for Mike Malloy mentioning this on his show yesterday (I listen on the Podcast, so I'm usually a day behind. Not a subscriber yet? Only 25 cents a show and it's brilliant therapy for frustrated liberals - sample as little or as much of the Podcast as you like.

Seems the Israeli Navy has diverted a ferry headed for the Gaza strip to deliver much needed supplies.  I found the story on the BBC's website.  Some questions beg to be asked:

If the ferry had just that, supplies, what's the need to divert it?  What is it the Israeli Navy is ultimately hoping to accomplish by doing what they did?

And, the ultimate subversive question:  Isn't it about time someone finds some way for Israelis, Palestinians and others to live within that part of the world without the tensions and violence?  I know I'm asking a dangerously naive question; however, just blindly accepting the situation there and doing nothing, not even asking questions, is ultimately even more dangerous for all involved.

Sadly, it's hard to ignore the on-going news I walk past nearly every day.  I have one last photoI took yesterday of the tribute to Michael Jackson at his Star on the Walk of Fame.  

Today,  Madame Tussauds Wax Museum's opening on the Boulevard next month was promoted with a presentation of, I'd guess, its first sculpture.  You may not see it from the photo (the sculpture is in the background), but the sculpture is of suspense film director Alfred Hitchcock.

There is some odd sense of irony/coincidence of the unveiling of this particular sculpture nearby the tribute to a recently deceased popular entertainer.  I wished I was more wide awake to spell it out clearly, but all the photography is getting me sleepy . .. 

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