Thursday, November 18, 2004

George Bush, Undercover Liberal

Wow, how long did that take me? Four days from swearing off politics to putting W in a post title. C'est la guerre, I suppose.

Anyway, the left blogosphere is twittering and muttering about the trial balloon tax proposal that proposes taking away health insurance deductability for employers. The theory seems to be that employers will drop health insurance for their employees like a hot potato as soon as the feds aren't underwriting it.

I say, why is this a bad thing?

It will cause short-term pain for a lot of people for whom I sympathise, and for whom I would hope that a short-term solution could be found. It will also massively increase support and momentum for the single-payer solution that many progressives (including me) consider to be the only rational way to provide health care. In the end, the effectiveness of an insurance scheme is directly proportional to the size of the pool. The only way to seriously provide insurance is to make the pool as big as possible. Realistically, the limit of that pool is pretty much the US population, but I'm sure that the odds work out better that way on payment than they do on the 80 (+ family) pool that I'm in right now.

However, my recent hospitalization (under an HMO) for five days, with visits from three specialists, a number of procedures, and the daily attention of my PCP (whom I had never met before) seems to have cost me $10. For that, I have no complaints about the current system, since I am insured. I am equally certain that most employed, insured people feel that way.

It seems that nothing except the massive abandonment of health insurance as a perk of business will encourage the single-payer plan. For his efforts in that direction, I have to salute W.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Weekend Outings

After spending a long day on Saturday cleaning the garage and waiting for the Sears guy to come and repair our microwave (he came, but didn't repair it) we took a day out on Sunday.

In the morning we went to start the Christmas season by seeing "The Polar Express", which is playing (among other places) at the IMAX at the Carnegie Science Center. The boys loved it, and Valerie and I enjoyed it too, much more than the New York Times reviewer seemed to. The IMAXing worked well too, given a number of swooping chasing scenes that occurred in the film. Definitely a thumbs up from our small band of reviewers.

After that, we had a picnic lunch down in the cafeteria and let the boys play for an hour in the exhibits. Some of the best entertainment money we spend in Pittsburgh is our Carnegie Museum membership. It gives us access to four museums, and we don't feel guilty about leaving when the boys' attention span collapses since the marginal cost of any visit is nothing. And they are good museams, for us and even for Vincent, who is 2 1/2.

After the museum we headed out to Greensburg to look at a couch. We had hoped that the boys would fall asleep in the car during the hourlong drive out there, but they didn't. Luckily, anticipating a furniture shopping trip, we had brought enough electronic entertainment during the hour or so that it took us to decide to buy it. Then they both fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Nothing frantically exciting, but a good day out at a glorious time of year.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

F1 Wrapup

Not much to say, really. It was clear from the beginning of the season that Michael Schumacher was going to win the drivers' championship, and he did. Ferrar was going to win the Constructors' championship, and they did.

The season was astonishingly dominated by Ferrari and its drivers. They, and Bridgestone, have clearly figured out how to win under the current regulations, and no one else could stop them. Since it isn't really clear what will change for next year, I am expecting (although not looking forward to) another season of Ferrari domination next year.

In other news, Villeneuve will drive for Sauber (Ferrari Jr., so to speak) next year. Many see this as a foot in the door to get him into his father's old seat at Ferrari. While this might be an interesting combination, the record of Sauber drivers moving up to Ferrari is pretty much nonexistant. So I'd encourage a massive exhalation in Quebec.

As for CART . Hmmm... Is CART still racing? Somehow they lost my interest this year. This was probably a result of sticking their telecasts on SpikeTV (TV for guys?) and not carrying races live. The result was too ghastly to watch, so I stopped. I understand that Bourdais was the champion. As I have seen observed elsewhere, however, it really isn't clear that having a French champion is going to do a lot for their popularity in the US.

And NASCAR? Well, the new bizarre points system has produced a close race for the championship at the end of the season. Still, you have to strongly believe that a full-course yellow is a necessary part of racing before you can buy into it being a key part of the championship. As long as NASCAR continues to add vanilla 1.5 mile ovals to its season, I will continue to only watch those races that are interesting -- long tracks (Daytona, Talladega), Short tracks (Bristol, Martinsville), Road courses (Sears Point, Watkins Glen), oddball courses (Darlington, Dover) and the original 1.5 mile tri-oval, Charlotte. For the rest, I'll just check the results online and let the race fade off TiVo.

I'm Alive

OK, so since I'm not ancient, perhpas I'm alive isn't too surprising. But a little over two months between postings is a little excessive.

Put it down to employment, health issues, and a general malaise.

So, employment is good, but time-consuming. Given that I feel awkward about blogging from the office, I would have to blog from home. But two young children, two middle-aged dogs, and a house to take care of, somehow the hometime doesn't seem to allow much activity. (Right now, it's 11:15 on a Saturday night, and everyone else (incudling the doge) has gone to bed. Can' do that during the week).

Health. Hmm, after five days of hospitalization, the conclusion is that I have issues that can be pretty much entirely treated by drugs. That's a good thing... But still, I've burned something like a year's worth of sick leave and vacation dealing with these issues, with more to come. That's not such a good thing, but a necessary side effect (I suppose) of employment (which is still definitely a good thing).

General malaise? Well, the November election caused that. Let me be clar about this. George W. Bush inspired me to get off my arse and get naturalized. After living under him as four years as Governor (I moved to Austin in 1996) I couldn't understand how anyone could vote for him for president. So I became an American (entirely legally, I had had a Green card since 1977) explicitly to vote for his opponent in this election. It worked -- PA went for Kerry.

I still don't understand, however, what the possible appeal of this man can be. I lived in Texas, and I knew a number of people like him. Most of them were ruuning marginal businesses, verging on the edge of bankruptcy, and not entirely understanding why. How did this man manage to convince people to let him dirve a major country to the edge of bankruptcy and not understand why?

Too many understands in the last paragraph, but I'll let it go. Otherwise, Pittsburgh is still a financial mess, but a great city to live near.

Blogging-wise, I think I'll step away from politics from now on and stick to racing and family issues. I can't say way, but somehow the blogs I read in my new time-constrained state have a lot more personal content, even if I don't know the authors, and a lot less political content.

Oh, and on a final note, I really hope that the "Seed of Chucky" isn't called Olivia, because that would scare me. Really scare me. Perhaps a couple of people who read this (and I assume that such people would have an RSS aggregator) would understand why. I remember the postcards at the wedding...