Thursday, December 31, 2009

Limppaw Resting Uncomfortably

Media icon Tush Limppaw collapsed after an overdose of insight at an Hawaiian resort, his medical team said.

Rushed to the Faith Healer wing of Ancient Gods Hospital, the porcine blowhard was treated by emergency shamans for what they called 'an unprecendented attack of conscience.'

'All of a sudden it came over him what an asshole he had always been,' a nurse related. 'The inconsistencies, the lies, the fearmongering, the egotism, the addiction, the verbal rape and violence: it was like it all backed up on him at once.'

Experts caution that most do not survive such a searing self-appraisal.

'It was the gods that helped,' said the chief shaman. 'For some reason, they wanted this man alive. Not to give testimony to his enlightenment, of course, for he would never do that. But to show the rest of us that divine favor, however granted, requires our cooperation. It can always be rejected by the small minded.'

The hospital reports that its expert team of shamans has now withdrawn from the case on the grounds of hopelessness.

Limppaw is said by hospital sources to be still shuddering at his encounter with reality. But he is working his way back to normality by 'eating way too much food' and 'insulting everyone on the staff who is female or of color, while fawning on the white guys.'

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Sorry Truth

* Environment
* The Guardian
* George Monbiot's blog

US left behind in technological race to fight climate change

A speech by the US energy secretary, Steven Chu, shows how America's unquestioning belief in the free market has held back technological innovation

I have just been watching the tragic sight of a fallen giant flailing around on its back like a beetle, desperately trying to turn itself over.

The occasion was a speech by the US secretary of energy, Steven Chu. He is, of course, a Nobel physicist, brilliant, modest, likeable, a delightful contrast to the thugs employed by the previous administration. But his speech was, in the true sense of the word, pathetic: it moved me to pity.

Yesterday afternoon in Copenhagen – where the UN climate talks are entering their second week – Professor Chu unveiled what would have been a series of inspiring innovations, had he made this speech 15 years ago. Barely suppressing his excitement, he told us the US has discovered there is great potential for making fridges more efficient, and that the same principle could even be extended to lighting, heating and whole buildings. The Department of Energy is so thrilled by this discovery that it has launched a programme to retrofit homes in the US, on which it will spend $400m a year.

To put this in perspective, four years ago the German government announced it would spend the equivalent of $1.6bn a year on the same job: as a result every house in Germany should be airtight and well insulated by 2025. The US has about 110m households; Germany has roughly 37m, and German homes were more energy-efficient in the first place. This $400m is a drop in the ocean.

Professor Chu went on to explain two amazing new discoveries: a camera which can see how much heat is leaking from your home and a meter which allows you to audit your own energy use. Perhaps thermal imaging cameras and energy monitors seem new and exciting in the US, but on this side of the Atlantic, though their full potential is still a long way from being realised, they've been familiar for more than a decade.

He thrilled us with another US innovation, a technology called pumped storage: water can be pumped up a hill when electricity is cheap and released when it's expensive. The UK started building its first pumped storage plant, Dinorwig, in 1974. Then he told us about a radical system for heating buildings by extracting heat from water: this must have been the one that the Royal Festival Hall used in 1951.

I'm sure these technologies have in fact been deployed for years in parts of the US. My point is that Chu appeared to believe that they represent the cutting edge of both technology and public policy.

The energy secretary explained that the US is now making "a very big investment" in developing and testing new components for wind turbines. The "very big investment" is $70m, which is what the US spends on subsidies and forgoes in tax breaks for fossil fuels every two days.

As if to hammer home the point that the Department of Energy seems to be stuck in a time-warp, and as if to highlight the sad decline of technological innovation in the US, Chu finished his talk with a disquisition on the beauty of the earth as seen by the Apollo astronauts.

What has happened to the great pioneering nation, the economic superpower which once drove innovation everywhere? How did it end up so far behind much smaller economies in boring old Europe? How come, when the rest of the developed world has moved on, it suddenly looks like a relic of the Soviet Union, with filthy, inefficient industries, vast opencast coal mines and cars and appliances which belong in the 1950s?

It can't all be blamed on George Bush: this technological backwardness pre-dates him. The real problem is the terror of all modern US governments of being seen to interfere in the free market. It's ironic that the lack of effective regulation in the US has not ensured – as the free market fundamentalists prophesied – that the US came out in front, but that it has been left far behind. Just ask the car manufacturers. The truth, too uncomfortable to be discussed by US officials, is that government regulations are among the main drivers of technological innovation.
Posted by George Monbiot Monday 14 December 2009 10.38 GMT

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Irreconcilable Editorialists

Only in very serious minds can these conceptions of the US government co-exist:

1. The US government is so hopelessly inefficient and incompetent, that any attempt to deliver government-provided health insurance (or the option thereof) to the uninsured (and some/all of the already-insured) is an unprecedented fool’s pipe dream of a fantasy of a boondoggle with no chance for any positive outcome. Also, socialism.

And at a price tag of $1.2 trillion dollars over ten years, there is no way we can afford to chase such fantastical chimera.


2. The US government is so remarkably efficient and competent that it can transform (wholesale) Iraqi and Afghan societies (at the same time) and remake those societies into US-friendly, Western-conceived models of good governance, free market economics and liberal democracy all through multi-decade armed occupations. These goals are easily attainable for a government so adept at devising and delivering effective political, economic, social service and governance measures, and resounding victory is almost certain, as long as we don’t lose our nerve and do something foolish like withdraw.

And at a price tag of $3-4 trillion dollars over the past 8 years, the continuation of these policies at that burn rate for the next 25-50 years would be a bargain.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Turn About Is Fair Play

An Immoderate Proposal
by digby

I have a moral objection to paying for any kind of erectile dysfunction medicine in the new health reform bill and I think men who want to use it should just pay for it out of pocket. After all, [as a woman] I won't ever need such a pill. And anyway, it's no biggie. Just because most of them can get it under their insurance today doesn't mean they shouldn't have it stripped from their coverage in the future because of my moral objections. (I don't think there's even been a Supreme Court ruling making wood a constitutional right. I might be wrong about that.)

Many of the men who are prescribed this medication are on Medicare, so I think it should be stripped out of that coverage as well. And unlike the payments for abortion, which actually lower overall medical costs (pregnancy obviously costs much, much more) banning tax dollars from covering any kind of Viagra would result in a substantial savings.
The price of Pfizer’s Viagra has doubled since it was launched, according to a list of wholesale acquisition costs paid by pharmacies, obtained by BNET. In May 1999, a 100-count bottle of the blue diamonds cost $700. Today, that same bottle costs $1,457.61, a 108 percent increase.
The blog of online pharmacy AccessRx notes that Pfizer has also been extracting more frequent price rises in addition to higher price rises:
… we’re not sure if you’ve been tracking price increases recently, but Pfizer began to raise the cost of Viagra twice a year instead of once a year in 2007. Including the last six price increases since Jan. 1, 2007, the price of Viagra has gone up 45.5%.
The WAC list indicates that while Pfizer was initially content to take price increases of 3 percent per year, in 2003 it doubled that increase. In January 2009, Pfizer bumped it up to 11 percent. Then in August it took another 5 percent.

It’s an astonishing example of pricing power, given that Viagra is in direct competition with Eli Lilly’s Cialis and Bayer’s Levitra. The heat from Cialis is particularly severe: Cialis sales in the U.S. were up 16 percent to $149.4 million in Q2; Pfizer’s Viagra was up only 4 percent at $207 million.

I don't want my tax dollars touching even one milimeter of that overly engorged expense.

I realize that many people disagree with my moral objections to men getting erections which God clearly doesn't want them to get, but my principles on this are more important to me than theirs are to them. So too bad. If you want a boner, pay for it yourself.

digby 11/11/2009 02:00:00 PM [lightly edited by a. littlebird ptolemey]

Friday, October 2, 2009

Empty Book

"Sarah Palin’s new autobiography---that doesn’t come out until November---is already number one on Amazon. And if you go to the Web site, it says, 'People who bought this book also other books in their entire lives.'"
---Jimmy Fallon

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sarah's Soul Revealed

Obama Popularity Now Same As Pre-Election

Even with the hit President Obama has taken in the polls from spending political capital on health care, he is within 2 points of where his popularity was when he won a landslide victory. Not much of a loss of popularity, really, though you would not know it from the conventional corporate media.

See the DailyKos discussion.