The Haphazard Blog


Falling Behind

by on Jan.01, 2010, under Entertainment, Life, News, Politics, Site News, Sports, Technology

Well, as you can probably tell by the huge gap in posts (a lot in September, less in October and nothing since), I got behind. More to the point, I had other things going on in life.

I tried to keep notes on things to blog about and I was going to back fill the blog with them. It’s kind of pointless though. It would not reflect what I was really thinking at the time. Instead, it would’ve been a mix of what I thought at the time with some hindsight. That seems somewhat disingenuous, and it’s not like there are all that many readers of this blog that are waiting for my incredible insight into random things.

Another thing I will not do is make any resolutions for New Years to blog every day or any nonsense like that. I am starting anew, and it is a new year, but it’s more coincidence. I’ve had the last couple days off from work and I’m not so busy. I wasted my afternoon watching WVU get beat by an inferior (on paper) Florida State in the Kiss Bobby Bowden’s Ass Bowl. Then by about 5 minutes into the second half it was evident WVU was going to be killed by Purdue in basketball. So, I’ll quickly touch on the stuff I had taken notes on over the last couple months. It should be apropos of the blog’s title.

Patriots are up and down this season. That Colts loss was brutal. I can not remember the last time the Patriots got beat as badly as they did by the Saints. Have they ever benched Brady because they were losing? Pure domination over the Jaguars. Can they get the job done when it counts? We’ll see in 2 weeks if they get to play the Colts or Chargers.

Why do announcers and writers call so many hits to the QB that result in a flag the “Brady Rule”? It’s really only hits below the knees when the defender is on the ground. Low hits were banned after the Steelers took out Carson Palmer.

I admit I am somewhat a fairweather fan when it comes to the Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. I don’t follow them all that closely during the regular season. Nothing like the Patriots. I know they won the World series again in 2007, but I still keep wishing they re-signed Orlando Cabrera. They still haven’t found a shortstop.

President Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize. He didn’t do anything to earn it. The Republican reaction. Predictable and overboard. There really is no need to pile onto the obvious.

Microsoft needs a much better way to install an upgrade version of Windows 7. Many enthusiasts reinstall their OS often. Having to install XP or Vista first is ridiculous. They should allow people to submit their old XP/Vista key and the Windows 7 upgrade key and receive a regular Windows 7 key to do a true clean installation.

I got a cold in mid-October. I figured maybe I should get the Flu shots. I hadn’t had one in probably 10 years. I called my doctor, a Physiatrist who should be very familiar with the needs of people with spinal cord injuries, to see if I should be trying to get the H1N1 shot ASAP. Her response: Ask my primary care physician. That does not feel right at all. I think I need a new Physiatrist. They said I should, but there’s no waitlist. I needed to call and see if they were in on my own. That got old/tedious fast. Long story short, I didn’t get either and got the flu 2 weeks ago. I still have a cough. There’s supposedly a second wave expected, so I guess I still will end up getting the shot. The flu sucked. I did not get the flu in over 10 years. I can’t decide if it’s better to keep avoiding the shot or not.

I read this article in Rolling Stone about some stock option sales that netted insane profits during the financial crisis in 2008. It’s quite upsetting. I don’t see any reason they can’t figure out the people involved and charge them with crimes. Is everyone complicit in this? Everything is such a mess. It feels like no one is going to do anything about Wall Street. For the most part, no one on the government side took advantage of the leverage they had during the crisis. Now the remaining Wall Street giants are back to making huge profits. I would too if the government loaned me money at 0% that I then could loan out at 4-5%+.

I didn’t write a follow-up Fall TV post. So here’s a quick rundown. Hank stunk (ABC agreed and cancelled it). The Middle is better than Cougar Town but not Modern Family. White Collar is an interesting crime drama, but Leverage is better. I liked V and never saw any incarnation of it before.

The anniversary of the JFK assassination came and went. At least for me, the computer simulation Dale Myers did helped me realize that I forgot about the windshield on the limo. That eliminates so many angles for a shooter on the ground. Oswald makes the most sense. It doesn’t preclude a grander conspiracy per se, but I think the ones about who the shooter was and where the shooter was just don’t cut it.

I got a new PC. It is pretty fast compared to the old one. Everything is snappier. On the old one, things ran well, but I notice they run better on here. Use less CPU time. I still need to get everything transferred over. I have a lot of PC housekeeping I need to do. Consolidate to one machine. Build a new machine for my Dad. replace the 802.11b cards with 802.11g ones so my network can run at G speeds. I can’t stream all of my HD video over wireless B speeds. Then I need to send back my old/broken PC.

We got a pretty good World Cup draw. Hopefully that will help the U.S. avoid a last place, no wins finish in their group again.

I’m hoping to go to the Formula 1 race in Montreal in June.

Health Care “reform” is looking like a train wreck. The Democrats are so disorganized. They stripped out everything the Republicans didn’t want and they still won’t get any votes. If that’s going to be the case, why even bother to appease them? You are going to end up with either all the blame or taking credit, why pass something you don’t like much? I think in the long term, we’re in serious trouble. Nothing the government is doing makes sense for the long term. The Congress can’t do anything but appease special interest groups/lobbyists. I think the smartest people are getting theirs now before everything goes south. Get a lot of money in the bank now with little regard to long term consequences. A lot of good talk from President Obama, and I know change doesn’t happen overnight, but I’m not even seeing any indication that change may happen. It’s business as usual in Congress.

This attempted Christmas Day plane bomber story is very weird with the stories from the lawyer about how the guy tried to get on the plane in Amsterdam, the second person being arrested and a possible second bomb in the luggage. I could understand them not wanting to disclose in order to aid their investigation. I’ll be interested to see what comes of it.

I got Scribblenauts for the Nintendo DS. It’s a neat game. I’m not even 10% through it and it is challenging. How do you “defeat” a tornado? Destroy steel spikes?

I’m thoroughly enjoying the Colts resting starters meltdown. It has so badly blown up in their faces. They went about it in the worst way possible and every defense of it that Bill Polian throws out there makes no sense. Obsessed with the Patriots much?

If you read all of this, I commend you. I also want to wish everyone out there a Happy New Year!

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2016 Olympics

by on Oct.02, 2009, under Politics

There is an awful lot of glee that Chicago didn’t win the Olympics today. It’s silly that so much of it is simply because President Obama supported it and went to Munich to make the case.  How many of these people were chanting U-S-A! at rallies within the last year? Now they cheer when the United States is knocked out of the running for the Olympics. The first to declare others are unpatriotic and somehow this isn’t? Completely disingenuous, and I wish I could say it was surprising.

Here’s a thought. Instead of making it all about President Obama you support a completely valid reason to not hold the Olympics here. Hosting the Olympics is getting more and more costly. Unless it is done smart and makes use of much of the existing infrastructure, there is going to be massive debt that will be paid for decades after the Olympics are long gone. Chicago, or any city in the United States, really does not need the international spotlight. The primary beneficiary of the Olympics in Chicago would’ve been politicians getting a very large national stage and private corporations profiting from the actual games and the myriad of projects required to prepare the city for the games. The taxpayers, both locally and nationally (I’d expect some type of federal stimulus to help fund this), would’ve borne the cost of it.

This is really the main reason politics, especially at the national level, drives me nuts. There is so much disingenuousness when they speak. This would never happen since the people who would actually need to make it happen are the ones that would be affected, but in an ideal world, “we the people” would vote in the people who would fundamentally change the way congress operates.

  • Term limits (1 for Senators (6 years) and 2 for Representatives  (8 years)) to reduce or eliminate conflicts between legislating and securing money for re-election
  • Reduction in salary to the average salary in the United States as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau, adjusted for inflation annually ($43,362 in 2005). They represent their constituents and should be paid more like their constituents.
  • Eliminating political action committees (PACs). PACs are ways for companies to get around (somewhat) election contribution laws. In addition to being able to contribute to candidates, they can campaign for them as long as they don’t coordinate with the candidate.
  • Further reducing the per-person yearly contributions. The gap is still rather large between a typical small donation and the maximum limit of $2,300 ($4,600 per couple). If the limit is lower, there is less of an incentive to cater to high money donors and more of one to reach individual constituents.

I think actions like this would tip the scales back to the people away from lobbyists and special interest groups. I’m sure they’d find other creative ways (jobs after their terms end?) to try and push their influence, but it would be nice to start somewhere. When you have Senators admit so freely that they let lobbyists write legislation and there is little outrage, I think it’s evident that “we the people” are more than likely going to get the short end of the stick while a minority benefits the most.

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Health Care: Nothing Substantive Will Get Done

by on Sep.10, 2009, under Politics

Health care has been something that has been of interest to me personally for a long time. Pretty much since I had my accident I’ve known a lot more about health care and insurance companies than I likely otherwise would. I’ve had multiple health insurance providers over the years and use more of the benefits than most people.  I have a lot of experiences, both good and bad, with insurance companies and providers. I try and follow this current mess as best I can.

Last night, Obama tried to make his pitch again. Just watching the speech, you can see why nothing gets done. People just dig in and that’s it. In the months before they were just working on a bill. Nothing was final. Instead of having discussions and debates about problems people have in the bill, they run to the media and just start accusing each other of trying to do something. The best example is Betsy McCaughey. She started the “death panels” mess. She isn’t in elected office, so she really has no responsibility to the people, but all the other people who jumped on her claims should be ashamed. On the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (part 1, part 2), she explained why she felt that way, and basically it was a combination of a couple paragraphs in the bill. I don’t agree with her interpretation, but instead of running to the media and declare that is what the bill does, why not have a discussion and change the language so you’re comfortable with it? Instead, it’s more important to put on a show than do something for the people. For most, it’s not about serving their constituents, it’s about getting re-elected and having a job that entitles you to so perks and freebies.

Another thing that drives me nuts is declaring we have the greatest health care system in the world. Saying it over and over does not make it true. It only serves to harden people into thinking any change to the system is going to be bad. Especially if the system exists elsewhere. The United States does have many of the most sought after specialists in the world. No one mentions these top specialists can’t see everyone for many reasons (simple time (X patients/day), lack of payment means, geographic barriers, etc.). There is also a lot of cutting edge research performed using private R&D budgets and government grants. However, many countries (Finland, Israel, Japan, South Korea and Sweden) have significantly increased R&D spending (as a % of GDP) over the years. Other countries are trying to close the gap on innovation. Not to mention the results of this research spreads more quickly.

We have countless systems to deliver health care now. A few of the bigger programs:

  • Private Health Insurance – $775B
  • Medicare (for the elderly primarily) – $431.2B
  • Medicaid (for lower income people/families) – $329.3B
  • Out of Pocket – $268.6B
  • Veterans Affairs (for the Armed Services) – $33.8B
  • CHIP (for children of lower income people/families) – $9B

It’s quite a mix of services provided to people. You’ve probably heard this before, but in 2007, the United States spent $2.2T (16% of GDP) on health care. No one even comes close to this (as a total amount or % of GDP). France was 2nd in % of GDP at 11%. Norway was 2nd in terms of amount spent per person ($4,763 vs. $7,290). Keep in mind that if everyone in the United States was insured, that number would be even higher.

Let’s just assume that every system in the world is inadequate. Canada is often criticized for long waits (there are waits here). They spend $3,895 per person. I’m confident that we could easily address that with the $1T difference in health care spending per year. How about England where they ration care (plenty of rationing here: insurance company denies coverage, AMA limits medical school seats, arbitrary caps on treatment/coverage) and spend $2,992. Do you think $1.3T per year would cover that flaw up?

There is no good reason that we lack a solution to insure everyone AND spend less than the $2.2T spent in 2007 on health care. Instead we will have no real movement and this guise that we can only reduce the insane growth and need to spend (tax) even more to cover everyone.

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