Friday, September 30, 2005

the deal is done

i now work here. for more than twice what i made here.

my feet are still ugly. i still have stitches in all four wounds, and those won't come out for another week. they're really annoying because they scrape against things and then i can feel them, sort of like a hair stick in a zipper. i'm still pretty sore, but that's from the actual surgery; the pain that caused me to seek the surgery is gone. and yes, i can certainly tell the difference.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

wheeling around

i can now move (sort of) between my kitchen, bedroom, and office, in a wheelchair thoughtfully provided for me by my doctor's office. i spend most of my time in front of the computer (obviously).

thoughts since thursday:

you know you're on a nasty antibiotic when your farts and you burps smell just like the pills in the bottle. (keflex is disgusting.)

giving your wife the power of sponge bath is bad when you're ticklish. you're naked, on your back in the tub, and you can't fight back without risking getting your dressings wet.

life would be good if we didn't need to walk on our heels. toes are good though.

the bandages get rolled up and ugly-looking. see, see, see. also note the remnants of "L" and "R" on my legs, where they marked me prior to surgery. i guess they'd have used "L" and "X" if i was only having the left one done, for example.

i have two tall computers sitting on the floor -- server things. they hold pillows nicely. three pillows are the perfect height for my feet.

hurricane rita has come and gone and we didn't get a single fucking drop of rain up here. it's 110 degrees outside.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

surgery done

my mother came in last night and we went to a nice japanese restaurant. i limped around, hopefully for the last time.

got up at 0530 this morning, was at the surgery center at 0615, in the or by 0715. only mishap was that i noticed too late that the nurse wasn't using gloves to insert my iv.

anyway, so they put me out and i woke up in recovery. now my feet are sore but not painfully.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

health insurance in america

in the united states, if you're employed, chances are your health insurance (if you have any) comes to you through your employer. in most states (like texas) there is no comprehensive public health system; if you are uninsured in texas and are struck with a catastrophic illness (cancer, say), you just die.

but situations like mine make me wonder what the wisdom in this system is.

i have a job, and my employer will be providing medical insurance. but there's a downside: i'm trapped there, at least until i can find another job that offers insurance.

something like three quarters of all new jobs created in america are created by small businesses. many small businesses are two small to be able to provide affordable health care coverage for their employees, usually because groups are too small, resulting in premiums that are too high. larger companies have an economy of scale and a large enough number of employees that they can simply fund their employees' medical costs directly, in what are known as "self-funded" plans. this isn't possible in a company with just four employees.

the trap is this: if you want to start a small business to sell the better mousetrap you've built, yet you need medical insurance, you can't, because when you quit your job you'll lose your coverage.

this is the position i'm in.

i can make more money -- lots more -- working for the website i moonlight for, and doing my table tent business, except that i wouldn't make enough money to fund insurance for myself and three kids. i can not move up in the world because i'm tied down by american's "capitalist" healthcare system, with profit-driven costs rising more rapidly than anybody can keep pace.

if small businesses are the engine of economic growth in america, why is it that providing universal health coverage, so that people can start those businesses without worrying about the founder or his employees and their families getting sick, is a bad thing?

answer: it's a bad thing because in america, we believe that every person should be left to fend for themselves, and that well-tested answers to societal problems aren't worth implementing here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

disaster management

cecily pointed to an excellent comment on this is not over. go read it. now. i'll wait.

now that you understand a little bit about bush as a human, let's take a look at him as an administrator.

but first, the most important question: is bush responsible for this mess?

yes.

and not just "of course, he's the fucking president." not just "of course, he's supposed to be the fucking leader here." not even "we put him in charge for this kind of shit."

he is responsible because he either chose, or delegated the choosing, of the individuals responsible for planning. he is responsible because he either set, or delegated who set, the priorities that led to this disaster. he is responsible because, as harry truman observed, the buck stops with him.

contrast bill clinton after waco, for example: clinton took direct responsibility for what happened, in public, on national television. he said, "i am responsible." he said he was given the opportunity to direct the waco fiasco, and he delegated that authority to the attorney general, who acted on that authority. whether or not you think she did the right thing or not, and whether you think clinton was a good president or not, there is no doubt that he personally took the responsibility for what happened in waco.

shit that should have been done but wasn't:

1) food. the united states military buys ready-to-eat meals that can be stored for years at a time. they are balanced nutrition that can be taken into combat to feed troops.

there is no reason why we can not create a series of warehouses staged around the country that hold five million meals ready to load and move. (five million meals, twice a day, will feed 50,000 people for almost two months. it will feed 100,000 people for almost a month.) as the meals come within a year of expiration, they can be rotated out of the warehouses and into active use in the military. when a disaster happens, we can load them up and move them out because they are already stockpiled and ready to ship.

2) food delivery. moving food to disaster areas isn't all that difficult if you think it through properly. we have been doing airborne food drops since world war i. this isn't rocket science anymore.

3) evacuation. tens of thousands of people were trapped in new orleans because they didn't have the money to leave. what many people don't realize is that our military has a tremendous capacity to move people and material around. there are something on the order of 20 c-5a galaxy cargo planes stationed (sitting on the ground, ready to fly on command) at air force bases in san antonio. each one of these planes, when fully loaded, can hold 1,500 people. each of them is also capable of in-flight refuling.

let's think about what this means in terms of new orleans: a single flight of all 20 of these planes could have moved 30,000 people out of new orleans. because they can refuel in-flight, all that is needed in terms of infrastructure to use them in disaster areas is enough flat land to land, turn around, and take off again. they come with built-in ramps that lower to the ground so you can drive tanks onto them; people can also walk or be wheeled up these ramps.

two flights of these planes could have well more than emptied the superdome. instead of sending people to the superdome as a haven, they should have been sent to the airport, where they could have been loaded onto planes and sent to san antonio, only a couple hour flight. once in san antonio they could be sorted and put on flights called from the commercial reserve. (remember that the government helps pay for commercial airliners in the pool; in exchange the government gets to commandeer them for national emergencies and military deployments.)

there is no reason those people should have been left in new orleans.

even if you couldn't get them all out before the storm, flights could have resumed immediately afterwards, reducing the time people stayed in the city.

instead, they traveled by bus -- a much more expensive means of travel on a per-person basis in terms of both time and money. and of course you can't refuel a bus in the air over the city.

4) pets. while it's true that saving pets is less important than saving people, it's also true that being unable to take a pet will drive some people to stay behind rather than evacuate. this means that to get the maximum number of people out of a dangerous situation, we must also consider the reasons they stay behind, such as their four-legged family members, and we must find a way to accomodate pets, even if it means turning them over temporarily to the aspca for emergency housing and care while the humans are moved elsewhere.

5) record-keeping. it is not hard to keep a hand-written record of who went where, even if it's on legal pads. "flight 238 destination san antonio" and a list of names. then in san antonio "flight 238 origin new orleans" and a list of names, along with where they were headed next. "american red cross. kellis afb. dallas texas." then in dallas, simple shit like "origin san antonio. destination fort worth. destination reunion arena. destination adam's mark hotel rescue" all of this would need to be catalogued later, but it isn't necessary to have electricity and computers to keep accurate records; we did it for centuries, and we can do it again.

if you wanted to be even crazier about keeping records you could ... oh my god ... assign people numbers. with hospital bracelets, say. that are kept with the food for the purpose. wow. so if they bring a pet with them, you crate the dog, put a hospital tag on the crate, put a hospital tag on the human, and record on your legal pad "pet 233223 owner 499923" so that later, human 499923 can be reuinted with pet 233223 when the immediate evacuation emergency has lessened.

and do not stamp these bracelets with numbers at the evacuation site. that takes time and resources that can be better spent elsewhere. instead, manufacture the bracelets with the numbers already on them. choose a sufficient number of digits -- say, nine -- so that you could have several simultaneous disasters and not repeat numbers. there are, remember, 260 million people in the united states. with nine digits you can assign numbers to every one of them three times and still have numbers left over.

these are just the solution to really obvious problems. that i thought of. sitting on my ass at work.

i guess i'm more qualified to do disaster management than "brownie," cuz "brownie" didn't think of this shit.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

the activation

here's what you don't know about the national guard call-up for the hurricane:

it's a voluntary call-up.

that means that our guardsmen don't have to go. yes, tens of thousands are responding, and more are coming, but this is important:

because it is a voluntary call-up, our guardsmen who respond may go back to jobs that no longer exist because their employers fired them for leaving.

but, you say, employers aren't allowed to fire them for responding to guard duty.

wrong.

that rule only applies to ordered calls, not voluntary calls. so if you get your ass shipped to iraq to be shot at by fundamentalist whackos, you're protected.

if, instead, you respond to a national disaster because this is why you joined the guard in the first place, you have no protection.

today's rag

kate asked me how i think the sitting justices feel about roberts being nominated to the chief spot.

no clue. i don't think it matters to them much one way or another. there's precident both for elevating a sitting justice, and for choosing someone else to go straight to the top.

on further reflection, i decided that thomas and scalia were unlikely picks. a thomas nomination would be ugly, considering how ugly his confirmation was originally. and charges of racism would fly at anyone who dared speak against his nomination, of course. and scalia is just an arrogant prick; witness how he handles the press at public events. or rather, how he has the u.s. marshall service manhandle them.

so the 17th chief justice of the united states will be john roberts. time well tell if he'll be a good one.

Sunday, September 4, 2005

i tried

and i failed. but that's what happens when i work. i work, i come home, i sleep.

job: excellent. i even won a server and i no longer have to pay for hosting where i work.

concerts: dave was last night. without a doubt the best dave concert i've ever been to, and i've been to every dallas date for a number of years now. this year was unusual tho: i at least recognized every single number. they played an astounding seven tunes from their latest album, stand up. they didn't play my fav tune, tho, which will soon be appearing here, as soon as i can transcribe everything.

i believe firmly in the "best available" idea. for this show, that meant i landed fan club seats in the front section, boyd's side, 8th row. it costs a lot sometimes -- $250 a seat for stones tickets through scalpers. and every time sue complains about the expense.

and then when we get to the show she's glad we went.

kids: ian is in school, the special ed class for 3 year olds. he's getting better about being willing to go there every morning. mom walks him to school, and it's a nice routine. there are three other four kids in his class, and except for the kids with a phyiscal issue with his hands i don't know what the other kids have going on with them.

hurricane: a complete and utter disaster, both in terms of the human cost, and in terms of the pre-disaster planning. but this is what happens when you vote for republicans. things i've observed:

- the federal government had ample warning that this store would come ashore a second time. almost a week passed between first and second landfalls, and the hurricane came ashore a second time. yet it still took three days to put together something even approaching a disaster response.

- new orleans is 60% black, and 60% poor. the people who are least likely to get out of the path of an oncoming storm are poor. take a look at pictures of the superdome. you don't see many white people there. why is this? because, in our society, poor people aren't valued as humans too.

there are (were) thousands of busses in southern louisiana, and something on the order of 40,000 slammed the superdome. why could not a caravan of those busses -- even commandeered school busses -- be used to ferry those people away from the storm, rather than leave them stranded in a place built below sea level?

it was well known that the leeves in new orleans were built to withstand a category 3 hurricane. in 2004 the bush administration cut funding for the us army corps of engineers, including repair and improvement of the leeves in new orleans, to fund the mess in iraq.

we have supposedly activated something on the order of 50,000 national guards from around the country to help with the relief effort? why could they not have been called prior to the storm coming ashore, so that they would be in position and ready to move in as soon as the storm passed? i honestly can not imagine any guardsman who would complain about such a call-up, even if they had returned from iraq the previous day. this is the kind of thing many of our citizen soldiers signed up to do. instead, they waited until several days after the disaster to do the call-up, which meant another several-day delay as our guardsmen were notified, reported, and were moved in.

this disaster was entirely predictible and preventable. i'm saddened at the piss-poor impementation by our government, but not surprised.

the chief justice has died. while this isn't exactly a surprise (he was 80 and had aggressive cancer), it is both sad and frightening.

chances are pretty good that our chief justice will be antonin scalia, a strict-constructionist who believes that the constitution is a static document, and that the rights the framers' envisioned are the only ones we should have. which is to say, our panapoly of rights as citizens can't move with the times; it must, instead, stay stuck in the late 18th century.

we now have an 8-member court; a 4-4 decision means that the lower court holding is affirmed. remember that o'conner is still a member of the court, because her retirement is only effective when her successor is confirmed.

still, shrub getting a second justice is a frightening prospect. he chooses judges that continue to live in the 18th and 19th centuries, who look at women as property, who favor the rights of moneyed interests and corporations over the rights of living people, and who are inclined to permit the injection of christianity into public life.

until a new chief justice is selected, the court will be presided over by the most senior associate justice, john paul stevens.

that's all for today.

Friday, September 2, 2005

fatigue

it's like 1am and i'm sleepy. but i'm still alive and will write a scathing screed tonight.

at least i'll try.