Hogan's Alley

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Long time, no post.  Still alive and thinking, just not writing.

I love this group, Lake Street Dive.  In this, and at least one other YouTube vid, they perform outside with no echo or other effects and sound fabulous.  Great musicians.  Keep on cookin'.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dylan Ratigan and Matt Taibbi, Consiglieri to Occupy DC

(Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo)

Ann Althouse highlights the exchange of emails between MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan and occupiers of Washington.  Here is the email stream.  Also included in this set of emails is one with advice from Matt Taibbi, currently of Rolling Stone and Men's Journal.

Althouse seems to take umbrage in Ratigan's alleged violation of a reporter's requisite "objectivity".  But anyone who has watched Ratigan on MSNBC knows that he is a major purveyor of his opinions in rants of famously interminable length.  There is no pretense of objectivity, just his insistence on stating his own brilliant positions for the edification of the great unwashed, ie. everyone else.

Taibbi, described by Wikipedia as a "polemical journalist", is also clearly not objective.  According to Wiki, he also has a history of physical explosiveness when encountering resistance to his "truth telling".

Regardless of both mens' predisposition to support the Occupy movement, it is a fascinating insight into what are probably the normal back and forth between such advocacy reporters and many of the subjects of their "reporting".  It should come as a shock to no one that many journalists regularly tailor the presentation of their "subjects" to maximize the effectiveness of their "journalistic" oeuvre.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs, Creator of Beautiful Technology

I bought an Apple IIe in the early 80's.  It was a thing of beauty, opening up a whole new world of possibility.  But, my God, how primitive it was by today's standards!  The first time I touched an iPhone and experienced the magic of its interface I had another WOW moment.  By coincidence, today I ordered an iPad 2.  I had been thinking about buying another tablet, but after seeing one in a hotel bar over the weekend, I again fell in love with the thing.  What a peculiar and wondrous ability the man possessed.  He knew intuitively how the look and feel of a thing could stir the heart as well as the mind.

Steve Jobs will be missed.  He was one of a kind.  America is poorer for his going, but how marvelous to have shared his time on the planet.

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Sara Finally Cashes In Her Chips

The jig is finally up for Ms. Palin.  The time had come when she either had to piss or get off the pot.  As I've believed she would for many months, she chose the later.

The Times reports:

Ms. Palin, the former governor of Alaska, ended her inscrutable cat-and-mouse game with the political establishment on Wednesday afternoon by saying that she would not join the field of Republican candidates seeking her party’s nomination, but would still work to oust President Obama.


What Rough Beast Indeed

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

William Butler Yeats, 1919

While we are not in anything like the bloodbath of World War I, there is the strong whiff of chaos in the air.  It made me think of Yeats' great poem.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Truth About Health Insurance Coverage Since Passage of Obamacare

In recent days the Administration and much of the press have trumpeted the rising percentage of young people, below 26 years old, who now have health insurance coverage.  Specifically, the Department of Health and Human Services press release asserts:

The Affordable Care Act allows children to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26.  This policy took effect for insurance plan renewals beginning on September 23, 2010, and was designed to address the fact that young adults are the age group least likely to have health insurance.  This is one of the important early provisions in the Affordable Care Act designed to expand insurance coverage to uninsured Americans.
New results released today by the National Center for Health Statistics show that this policy has had a significant impact on improving insurance coverage among young adults. Data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) show that in the first quarter of 2011, the percentage of adults between the ages of 19 and 25 with health insurance increased to 69.6%, from 66.1% in 2010.[1]  This 3.5 percentage-point increase represents approximately one million additional young adults with insurance.

That is true as far as it goes.  However, the same press release provides additional data from the survey that shows that during the same period, health coverage for people ages 26 - 64 has shrunken dramatically.  Here is the chart they provide:

The trends lines are moving together.  The added health support of young people under 26 is likely to have maxed out since most parents were advised of the changes in the law and took advantage of it in the first year.  The only ongoing variable is likely to be the changing number of this age cohort in the population.

In fact, as reported by Gallup itself, although not mentioned in the HHS press release:

The percentage of uninsured 26- to 64-year-olds, however, continues to increase, rising to a high of 19.9% in the second quarter of this year. Among all Americans, 17.4% reported being uninsured in the second quarter of the year.

Another chart accompanying their report shows this drop in the numbers of people reporting that they have health insurance.

So, what we have is a reality in which the much ballyhooed 40 million Americans without health insurance before Obamacare has now become some number north of 40 million.  The net effect of Obamacare to date is therefore to have, arguably, only slowed the continuing shrinkage in the number of Americans with no health insurance.  Not yet worth celebrating.  And given the legal challenges to the mandatory coverage provisions of the law, the future doesn't bode well for improvement in these numbers.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is Kabul U.S. Embassy Attack I.S.I. Payback for Our Hit on Bin Laden?

The Times reports that the American and Afghan officials believe that the attack on the US Embassy in Kabul was the work of the Haqqani network, based in Pakistan.  Isn't it reasonable to believe that the Pakistan intelligence services (ISI) promoted this attack in retaliation for their embarrassment over our keeping the hit on Bin Laden secret from them?

Friday, September 09, 2011

Big Lebowski Connection To Mel Brooks Story

One of the great scenes in The Big Lebowski is of Walter and the Dude obtaining Donny's ashes and scattering them.  The scene can be viewed at this European site that doesn't facilitate embedding videos.

I have always loved this scene, so I was doubly amazed to hear Mel Brooks tell a very similar story about Howie Morris, an actor on Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows" on early TV, on an HBO special tonight with Dick Cavett.

Here is a video of Mel telling the same story on a much earlier TV show:

I've looked for some reference to this story as the inspiration for the Coen Brothers, but have not found any.  I'd appreciate it if someone knows of a reference where the Coen's acknowledge hearing Mel's version.  God knows it is certainly worth paying homage to Mel by using the story and, as enhanced by the Coen's it works perfectly as a coda for Walter and the Dude's relationship.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Louis Jenkins, Poet Extraordinaire

During his acceptance speech at last weekend's Tony Awards, Best Actor winner for his performance in "Jerusalem", Mark Rylance simply performed, uncredited, a prose poem called "Walking Through a Wall".  What was special about the performance of Walls was the incongruity and the nervous laughter of the audience, patiently hunkered down for the usual series of endless "thank yous".

The poet author of "Walking Through a Wall" is Louis Jenkins of Minnesota.

I confess that I had never read Mr. Jenkins, but am now totally captivated.  To get a sample of his work, read by him, go this website.  The poems are full of meaning and wrapped in what seems like simple conversation.

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