Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Yet" by Jon and Tim Foreman

I just picked up the new Switchfoot album "Hello Hurricane", and am listening through my third time already. This is a slightly different sound yet again for them. Quite a bit more raw sounding...less produced sound. This also returns to more of the heart-being-poured-out lyrical style that was on "Nothing Is Sound" and Jon Foreman's recent EPs "Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer". This is their first work away from Columbia/SonyBMG, as they have moved to their own production on "lower case people" records with distribution on Atlantic.

"Yet" by Jon and Tim Foreman

All attempts have failed
All my heads are tails
She's got teary eyes
I've got reasons why
I'm losing ground and gaining speed
I've lost myself or most of me
I'm headed for the final precipice

But you haven't lost me yet
No, you haven't lost me yet
I'll sing until my heart caves in
No, you haven't lost me

These days pass me by
I dream with open eyes
Nightmares haunt my days
Visions blur my nights
I'm so confused
What's true or false
What's fact or fiction after all
I feel like I'm an apparition's pet

But you haven't lost me yet
No, you haven't lost me yet
I'll run until my heart caves in
No, you haven't lost me yet

If it doesn't break
If it doesn't break
If it doesn't break
If it doesn't break your heart it isn't love
If it doesn't break your heart it's not enough
It's when you're breaking down with your insides coming out
It's when you find out what your heart is made of

And you haven't lost me yet
No, you haven't lost me yet
I'll sing until my heart caves in
No, you haven't lost me yet
'Cause you haven't lost me yet

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Generally the first 'Thanksgiving' is thought of being in 1621 by the Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation after their first successful harvest.  Squanto, a Patuxet Native America, taught them how to grow corn and catch eel.  He also served as an interpreter for them...having learned English while he was a slave in Europe.

And in 1622 the Patuxet Native Americans entered the Virginia Colony and Berkeley Plantation appearing to be bringing food and other goods to trade.  John Smith recounts that they were unarmed, but suddenly grabbed any tool or weapon they could and killed about a third of the Colony's population.  Only Jamestown was spared because of having warning from the other towns on the James River.

The interesting part of this is that the Pilgrims were very different from the Puritans in beliefs, as the Pilgrims didn't really share in their harvest because they were separatists.  Instead they celebrated a thanksgiving if they had a good harvest...and had a season of fasting if they didn't.  The Puritan Christians didn't have their first thanksgiving until 1630, and it was not consistent at that juncture either.

The first 'official' proclamation of Thanksgiving observance was June 29, 1671 in Charlestown, Massachusetts.  Obviously June is quite a distance of time from November when we celebrate was the end of harvest around  the Virginia Colony and Plymouth.

After the United States was its own nation, a Thanksgiving was first proclaimed by President George Washington on October 3, 1789 for a service of thanksgiving to be on November 26th.  There were other Thanksgivings proclaimed in our nation by both the national and local governments of the time.

It wasn't until President Abraham Lincoln that a national Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed.  He was prompted by an influential writer, Sarah Josepha Hale (who authored "Mary Had a Little Lamb"), who had written a series of editorials campaigning the creation of a national holiday and letters to Lincoln about the holiday as well.  He declared that Thanksgiving be celebrated on the final Thursday of November.

But even with this declaration the date of celebration wandered anywhere around that time...though often on the final day of November...the 30th.  Many cities and states had their own traditions as to when exactly it was celebrated all the way until 1941.  President Franklin Roosevelt observed during the Great Depression that any date was difficult to keep, and with so many people's traditions falling very late in November.

Statistics at the  time showed that people also didn't do any Christmas shopping until after Thanksgiving.  in 1933 Businesses petitioned President Roosevelt to move the holiday up a week from the final Thursday of the month to the 2nd to the last Thursday.

This was met with a large amount of anger from a great number of citizens who claimed that Roosevelt was only bending because of his ties to those businesses, and also from others that didn't like the idea of their Lincoln established tradition being changed.  There was great outrage from many cities and governors in many of them proclaimed that November 30 was Thanksgiving, while still others disagreed with that proclamation as well.  But the controversy became so great that on December 26, 1941 the Congress pass legislation unifying the date on which Americans celebrated their Thanksgiving as a nation:   the fourth Thursday of November.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Senate health care reform plan

The vote is going to happen in just a few minutes from now, but I think Sen. Franken makes a number of good points about the Senate plan.

If you have been sick, AT ALL, insurance companies can refuse you coverage or charge you crazy prices to cover you. Those without health insurance DO NOT get preventive care. Instead they hit up an emergency room when they can't hold out any longer. This is the least efficient and most expensive way to deliver care. It cost every insured family more than $1100 more per year to pay for those that do not have insurance.

In 2000-2007 (8-year period):

  • Americans saw their premiums double

  • More than 6-million Americans lost their insurance (from 39-million to nearly 46-million)

  • Insurance company profits rose 428%

Opposition to the changes in this bill are about profits.

Changes from the way things are done today:

  • Preventive services will be covered 100% by ALL insurance plans. This will detect chronic diseases early, head off cancers early, and put prevention as a priority

  • Health insurance company will have to offer rebates if more than 20% of premiums go toward profits, marketing or administration.

  • Health insurance companies will have to offer clear reports of where premium dollars go. If health care premiums increase, insurance companies will have to justify the increase.

  • Makes small-businesses able to compete in health coverage pricing that large-businesses currently get.

Minnesota's people are covered primarily by non-profit insurance (90%), and $0.91 for every dollar goes to health care. Their for-profit analogues often have less than $0.60 per dollar actually going to health care.  Again...this plan will have companies offer rebates when less than $0.80 per dollar to to health care.

I had to add this also...because it underscores something that the GOP keeps claiming is false. And that is that this plan is indeed paid for. Despite all the parts of the plan that they were NOT given credit for that will save money, they still have it paid for. So, it is hard to believe that there will be hundreds of billions of dollars in extra costs per year, as the Republicans keep claiming.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Beck's Crazy Conspiracy Theories

Glenn Beck is making all sort of crazy claims about what the new health care bills will do, and also what the government controls. Apparently the government controls the temperature in your house. Did you know that? Crazy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


ChromeOS is in the works. I'm pretty excited about this rethinking of what a 'computer' needs to be.


More about ChromeOS:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Anthony Weiner Calls Out GOP Opponents Using Medicare

This is a little old, but something I hadn't seen until now.

NEWS: New Weiner Study Shows 150 Members of House and Senate Get the “Public Option” Now
Weiner Calls on GOP Opponents of the Public Option to Give Up Their Medicare

WASHINGTON, DC—A new study by Representative Anthony Weiner (D – Queens & Brooklyn), member of the Health Subcommittee and Co-Chair of the Caucus on the Middle Class, revealed that 150 members of the House and Senate currently receive government-funded; government-administered single-payer health care - Medicare.

On the list of recipients are 54 Republicans who have steadfastly opposed other Americans getting the public option, like the one they have chosen.

Weiner said, “Even in a town known for hypocrisy, this list of 54 Members of Congress deserve some sort of prize. They apparently think the public option is ok for them, but not anyone else.”

The list of congressional recipients of Medicare who also oppose the public option is below:

Rep. Ralph M. Hall
Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett
Rep. Sam Johnson
Rep. C.W. Bill Young
Rep. Howard Coble
Sen. Jim Bunning
Sen. Richard G. Lugar
Rep. Don Young
Sen. Charles E. Grassley
Sen. Robert F. Bennett
Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch
Sen. Richard C. Shelby
Rep. Jerry Lewis
Sen. James M. Inhofe
Rep. Ron Paul
Rep. Henry E. Brown
Sen. Pat Roberts
Sen. George V. Voinovich
Sen. John McCain
Rep. Judy Biggert
Sen. Thad Cochran
Rep. Harold Rogers
Rep. Dan Burton
Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon
Rep. Frank R. Wolf
Rep. Michael N. Castle
Rep. Joe Pitts
Rep. Tom Petri
Sen. Lamar Alexander
Rep. Doc Hastings
Rep. Cliff Stearns
Rep. Sue Myrick
Rep. John Carter
Sen. Mitch McConnell
Sen. Jon Kyl
Rep. Phil Gingrey
Rep. Nathan Deal
Rep. John Linder
Rep. Kay Granger
Rep. John L. Mica
Rep. Walter B. Jones
Sen. Jim Risch
Rep. Ed Whitfield
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner
Rep. Virginia Foxx
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite
Sen. Saxby Chambliss
Sen. Michael B. Enzi
Rep. Elton Gallegly
Rep. Donald Manzullo
Rep. Peter T. King
Rep. Ander Crenshaw

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Object

This is a video of the Republicans in the House trying to disrupt all manner of business concerning health-care legislation by interrupting with objections and parliamentary inquiries, even when there is nothing yet being discussed and nothing to be inquired of. It is pretty ridiculous. All of you with Republican Representatives...this is what your tax dollars are paying for. Zero intelligent discussion...just interruptions.

It isn't just the Congressman from Georgia that was a problem.

The evils of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act

This is one of the blunders during the Clinton Administration that President Clinton didn't have any problem going along with. Don't focus on the Clinton thing is the bill itself that is destructive, regardless of their being barely any resistance from Republicans or Democrats on the bill (the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act of 1999).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why Is Friendship On the Decline?

This is a repost from this blog:


Friendship is not yet an endangered species, but it is on the wane. Studies in the US and France both found that people are spending less time with friends, neighbors, and relatives.

The amount of hours worked, not surprisingly, seems to have to do something with this pattern, since a reduction in the workweek in France led to an uptick in social time.

But the researchers seem to miss another pattern: it isn’t just hours but priorities. At least in the US, for many people a job is not just a job, it’s a much more important part of their identity than it used to be, and perhaps than it is in other cultures.

One phenomenon that is very common in New York, and I assume in other large cities, is that people are very casual about canceling social engagements at the last minute for work-related reasons. I used to be good about sticking with my plans, but I felt like a chump (I cut way back on my entertaining when a number of people cancelled on a dinner party the same day. This was in the 1980s, and things have only gotten worse since then). Peoples’ actions said that seeing me wasn’t a high priority, so why should I treat them better than I was being treated?

That sort of casualness degrades social ties in ways that might not be easily captured but I have found are corrosive. And you can still have a competitive economy without having that degree of subservience to work. In Australia, “mateship” is valued very highly and people place much more emphasis on their social life. But Australia has tougher labor laws than the US; it’s harder to fire people. Might there be a connection between job security and emphasis on social interaction? Most Americans I know are afraid to say no to work demands.

The French example would seem to say dispute that since France has strong unions and are stereotyped as have strong boundaries between their work and personal lives. Have enough of them caught the Anglo-Saxon disease to shift the culture a bit?

From VoxEU:

People have fewer friends and visit them less often than in the past. A popular explanation suggests that we’re working longer and have less time for friends, but recent research finds little tradeoff between working hours and social hours. The relevant tradeoffs, this column suggests, are between types of social interaction.

Do you know who your friends are? Have you seen them lately? Data from both the United States and France show that some important forms of social interaction are on the decline (Putnam 1996; Blanpain and Pan Ké Shon 1998). While membership in social groups has remained relatively stable over time, there has been a decline in visiting friends, neighbours, and relatives. This decline in visiting is not simply due to friends switching to email communication and socializing at work. Evidence of a true decline in friendship is provided by McPherson, Smith-Lovin and Brashears (2006), who document a decline in the reported number of close friends over the past 20 years. Understanding the determinants of the decline in visiting has attracted interest in both the academic literature and in the popular press. It raises concerns on both sides of the Atlantic because social interaction is thought to have positive effects on the mental and physical health of individuals and the efficiency of economic institutions.

Are work and friends complements or substitutes?

An intuitively plausible reason offered for the recent decline in social interaction is growth in hours of work per capita. In particular, the increase in female labour force participation has increased hours of work per capita, which could result in less social interaction. However, it has also been argued that individuals who work longer hours are more inclined to both civic engagement and visiting with friends and neighbours. This could occur if there were an important unobserved third factor such as ambition that affects both working hours and social contacts. For example, an individual who is ambitious may choose to work long hours and to participate in civic organisations and meet with friends and neighbours more than a less ambitious individual. In this case, hours of work and social interaction would be positively related.

The theory of household production, developed by Gary Becker (1965), provides the basis for an empirical model of social interaction. Becker’s theory emphasises the role of time in consumption and that time is a limited resource. We (Saffer and Lamiraud, 2008) employ Becker’s theory to derive a demand for social interaction. This demand function, like any other demand function, shows that the quantity of social interaction demanded depends on its own price, the price of other goods, income and taste. The price of social interaction is positively related to the individual’s valuation of their non-working time.

This price is usually approximated by the individual’s wage. However, in our study, we assume that the price of non-working time is a function of the supply and demand for this type of time. As hours of work increase, the supply of non-working time decreases. This raises the price of non-working time. Education is also an empirical proxy for the price of time. Education is assumed, to varying degrees, to increase productivity. An increase in the productivity of time reduces the time cost of social interaction.

An empirical examination

Empirically isolating the effect of hours of work on social interaction requires an exogenous change in hours of work. Our research focuses on France’s enactment of a new employment law that mandated an exogenous decline in hours of work. The 1998 legislation reduced the legal number of hours worked per week from 39 to 35. The employment law consisted of three parts: the first part covered firms with more than 20 employees, the second part covered firms with 20 or fewer employees, and the third part covered civil servants. Firms of more than 20 employees were required to conform to the law by January 2000, while small firms and civil servants were covered by January 2002. The changes in hours of work resulting from this law are exogenous to individual characteristics.

The empirical results clearly show that the employment law reduced average hours of work by 1.5 to two hours per week. These results are consistent with findings of Estevao and Sa (2006). However, the results show no evidence that these extra hours went to increased social interaction. That is, hours of work are not found to be an important determinant of social interaction. This remains true for sub-samples defined by gender, marital status, and children.

What shapes social interaction?

Human capital, however, is found to be an important determinant of social interaction. The effect of human capital, as measured by education and age, is positive for membership activities but negative for visiting relatives and friends. This is not an intuitive result and requires some explanation. One possibility is that this effect results from the productivity-enhancing aspect of education. Membership activities, like employment, are goal-oriented. Education increases productivity both at work and in membership activities. However, education has little effect on the productivity of time spent visiting. Thus, an increase in education results in greater productivity in membership activities and greater utility for the individual. To put this more intuitively, education makes membership activities more interesting and visiting less interesting. This shifts social interaction to membership activities and away from visiting.

Other factors were also found to be important determinants of social interaction. Higher income increases memberships and decreases visiting, which seems consistent with the education effect. Marriage tends to reduce all social interactions, which suggests that a spouse is a substitute for other social interactions. Children have a positive effect of membership in school and church groups, which is probably the result of complementarity between these activities and child care. Males tend to have less of all social interactions, which is a familiar result.

Finally, a comparison between France and the United States shows that the response to human capital and other variables are much the same in both nations. Since the time data show that visiting has declined while education has increased, it is possible that the true cause of the decline in visiting is rising education. Trends in social interactions, it seems, are not driven by a simple trade-off between work and play but by education and choices in consuming different types of socializing.

Smith, Yves (2008, Feb 20). "Why Is Friendship On the Decline?" naked capitalism

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

FoxNews and their Lying Liars

They were 'reporting' on the GOP health care bill rally at the Capitol. They estimated 20,000 - 45,000 people were there (Washington Post says 10,000 people). Then they used footage from the 9/12 Tea Party rally in September. Liars.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Could you pass a driving test?

Yes, I can. Got 100% on this one, because I'm a cautious driver, and kind of nut for traffic laws. Take the test and share your score.

Could you pass a driving test?

Created by Auto

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Indecision 2009: Vote or keep going about your day

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2009 - Reindecision 2008 And Beyond
Daily Show
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Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

U.S. Congressman from Missouri screws up the Pledge

After giving a little speech about the phrase "one nation, under God" being added to the Pledge of Allegiance, and stating that this affirmation drives liberals crazy (e.g. creating a division), U.S. Congressman Todd Akin messes up the Pledge by forgetting the part, "indivisible". Coincidence? I'm sure it is. But that sure is pretty ironic.

But the Congressman also has a number of his facts incorrect. The phrase in the Pledge, "one nation under God" was NOT first delivered publicly on the steps of the U.S. Capitol by President Eisenhower. It was first coined publicly by a Chicago area Chaplin, Louis A. Bowman, in a meeting of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution as the Pledge in 1948...six years before it was adopted nationally in 1954. And only "under God" was actually added to the previous revision.

In fact, the version with "under God" added is the FIFTH revision of the Pledge of Allegiance. The original version from 1892 by the Baptist minister Francis Bellamy, publishing it in a magazine called The Youth's Companion in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of America, is this:

"I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."

After four revisions, which you can read about below, the fifth version is, of course, this:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Wikipedia. "Pledge of Allegiance"
Baer, Dr. John W. (1992). "The Pledge of Allegiance: A Short History" "The Pledge of Allegiance"