Saturday, July 11, 2009

It's a bird, It's a plane, It's a waste of $170,000?

If you could raise $170,000 what would do with the money?

There are infinite answers to this question and all can be judged. Some people would do great things with $170,000 others would piss the money on meaningless crap.

An article in this weekends WSJ tells the story of a group of people that raised $170,000 to restore the house of one of the creators of the Superman comic. This may fall into the meaningless crap category. Some one lives in the "Krypton" house (actually it is in Cleveland - slightly less exotic but not completely destroyed, yet) and has lived there for 25 years. I guess this is great windfall for him.

I know I could find more important problems to fix than Superman's would be "birth place". I think I could find one in Cleveland.

I like Superman not as much as some people but I appreciate the concept.

The back story to the creation of Superman is interesting in pseudo "Bruce Wayne" sort of way. Jerry Seigel the co-creator imagined ways that his father's life could have been saved from a robbery at his Cleveland clothing store in 1932. A year later "The Man of Steal" was born. I am actually glad I know that.

Maybe Shaq can live in house for his stay in Cleveland.

Am I not giving Superman an adequate amount respect as a part of our cultural zeitgeist? Sphere: Related Content

Friday, July 10, 2009

Health Care Inflation

The opacity of the current Health Care reform debate is painful. Probably more painful than reading this post (I hope). I do not have any illusions that I can understand the nuances associated with rising costs of health care. But there are loads of interesting questions that can be asked about the policy options.

The rate of health care cost is expected to be significantly higher than both the general inflation rate and the projected rate of economic growth over the next decade on an annual basis. The debate is as focused on the slowing the rising cost as it is on providing some health care coverage for the millions of uninsured people. It is is apparent that the removal of the tax exemption for employer health coverage can not even be discussed lest the health care political gods strike down the blasphemer. The discussions of the other possible incentive options that could secure the cost reductions is interesting as an academic exercise.

Employer based incentives seem great. There are many examples of employers and insurers that incentivize healthy choices. The state of Ohio created "Take Charge! Live Well!". "Take Charge! Live Well!" analyzes where the health costs are for the state and provides monetary incentives to employees for participation in health programs and results. Safeway's "Healthy Measures" program screens employees for health risk factors and rewards employees with lower premiums based on improvement in risk factors. Also many employers provide discounted gym memberships and other incentives. My previous health insurance company even paid part of a gym membership, provided a minimum of attendance was demonstrated. For more details click here: Addressing Health Care Costs From All Angles

Here is an interesting piece by the CEO of Safeway Inc.

If we can't talk about ending the health insurance tax exemption perhaps we can end run the issue by imposing a "sales tax" on the health service provided. A visit to the doctor would end with you paying a percentage the cost of the visit to a health care fund. Patients with health care provided by their employers would be absorbing a monetary cost of visiting the doctor. I have not found any research into this area.

Would that encourage people to be healthier or to not visit the doctor? Would this idea generate enough revenue to insure the uninsured people?

Sphere: Related Content

The inexplicable rise of mediocrity II

On WSJ Online today Peggy Noonan cuts deep into the myths of Sarah Palin. Ms. Noonan is deeply concerned by the lack of thoughtfulness of not only Gov. Palin but also of the irrational support that the Gov. has in many parts of the republican party.

Here are a few tastes of Ms. Noonan's pungent column:

On the thoughtfulness of Sarah Palin:

"In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn't say what she read because she didn't read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. ... She wasn't thoughtful enough to know she wasn't thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. "I'm not wired that way," "I'm not a quitter," "I'm standing up for our values." I'm, I'm, I'm."

On Sarah Palin's impact on the party:

"She makes the party look stupid, a party of the easily manipulated."

On the believe that Sarah Palin can learn to be a viable candidate:

"Now she can prepare herself for higher office by studying up, reading in, boning up on the issues." Mrs. Palin's supporters have been ordering her to spend the next two years reflecting and pondering. But she is a ponder-free zone. She can memorize the names of the presidents of Pakistan, but she is not going to be able to know how to think about Pakistan. Why do her supporters not see this? Maybe they think "not thoughtful" is a working-class trope!"

Ms. Noonan begs that Gov. Palin supporters, including the republican intellectuals, regain conscientiousness and understand that , "it's not a time to be frivolous" with our future.

The resignation of Sarah Palin hopefully is the end of the story of the rise and fall of the outstanding mediocrity that is the soon to be former governor of Alaska. I hope this is true even though I will miss the fune of Governor Palin's, "rhetorical jabberwocky."

Goodbye Gov. Palin.

Link to my previous post on Sarah Palin.

Photo is from Field & Stream.

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No Seymour Butts in Southern California?

A funny story in the Journal about the 30 year old Moon Over Amtrak event in Laguna Niguel, California. The mayor is cracking (pun intended) down on this event. I don't know how a tradition such as this get started. I am certain that alcohol is involved. I don't think I would mind seeing butt for a short while on my train trip.

Now the Laguna Niguel city hall is stifling this free expression from peoples butts.

See the story here: Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Polar Bears not chillin in the 97 degree heat

Since taking my son to the zoo for the first time in 2008 I have become a fan of zoos. But my desire to see animals and the hope to entertain my son does not mean that Polar Bears need to be sitting the 97 degree heat of Albuquerque, NM.

Is there an economic reason for having Polar Bears in zoos in climates where thet don't belong? Does the funding for conservation efforts aimed at preserving the Polar Bear as a species require that they are held in zoos? Does the conservation results of zoos make the seeming discomfort worthwhile? Sphere: Related Content

Michelle Bachmann

? Sphere: Related Content

Thomas Kinkade: "Painter of ...."

Print I should have boughtI went into a Thomas Kinkade gallery yesterday. It is really a store that sells his horrid paintings and the many items he puts his work on. There are Kinkade mugs. Kinkade Nightlights, Kinkade Blankets and my favorite Kinkade Golfgear (not kidding).Kinkade has trademarked the phrase the "Painter of Light". I would like to call him the "Painter of Crap" but I really can't do it because I know he can paint.
He is fortunate that he found a niche that sells really well. I mean really really well. According to a cite in Wikipedia, "Kinkade is reported to have earned $53 million for his artistic work in the period 1997 to May 2005." Since then he has started a partnerships with Disney, NASCAR and movie studios.

What reallPainting of Crap.y upsets me is I actually wanted to buy a print of a painting in his gallery in Albuquerque, NM (see top picture). I liked the print but refused to buy it because I have such a negative reaction to the crap that he mass markets (see bottom picture).
This does not seem rational. I should have bought the print. Would I act this way in other areas. Would I not go to see the J.J. Abrams Star Trek because Paramount also made Transformers. No, I should have put up the $55 for the print.

You can look at some of Kinkade's work at
A funny parody of Kinkade painting can be viewed here Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Why do some UPS trucks have two people making deliveries?

I have noticed over the past couple of months that there is a second person on the UPS truck in my Brooklyn neighborhood. The same is true on other UPS routes in Brooklyn. I have been contemplating the reasons for the additional labor.
The most obvious reason could be to reduce the time it takes to complete all deliveries. The less obvious reason I have come up with is to cut down on the excessive parking tickets that delivery trucks such as UPS receives each day. I have seen UPS trucks with three or four tickets. At forty five dollars (the least expensive ticket they could get) each the fine costs could be $180 a day in NYC. I am fairly certain that the extra UPS delivery worker does not cost $180 a day.

Perhaps there is a different reason. What do you think? Sphere: Related Content

Why does the zoo need to show Buffalo humping?

The Queens Zoo has a nice American Bison exhibit but they have this graphic picture of the Buffalo humping. I think this is hilarious. Unnecessary but funny. Sphere: Related Content

The inexplicable rise of mediocrity

Ross Douthat's argues in his column that Gov.Palin made a mistake in accepting the VP nod. She was aware of the growing problems that she already dealing with in Alaska. Weirdly Douthat tries to create a parallel between the success of Barack Obama and Gov. Palin. They have both been lucky but the rise a Pres .Obama and Gov.Palin is not analogous. Douthat misses that Pres. Obama has had an exceptional rise while the Gov. is an example of the inexplicable rise of mediocrity.

See Douthat's column here: Sphere: Related Content

Why does Erik Estrada keep lecturing me while I am on vacation?

All over New Mexico there are traffic safety billboard that have "Ponch" telling me to be safe. Why did New Mexico get Estrada? I can only come up with the popularity that Estrada has with the immigrant population of New Mexico, mostly Mexicans, due to his telenovela appearances as Johnny, a Tijuana trucker. But why wear the CHiPs uniform? Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Why do hotels install shower stalls so low?

I am in a hotel in Albuquerque, NM. It is not great place but adequate even though the pool is closed. The showerhead is positioned directly at my sternum. Why do they do this? There must be some reason. But I can't figure it out. I know that most people are considerably shorter than my near six foot four inches but how does a higher showerhead affect them.
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