Image Credit: Getty

Next time, ask the Reagan question before you vote

On January 1, 2019, as President Trump approaches his third state of the union address, people in America should pop the Reagan question: Are you better off than you were four years ago?

Those in the United States should ask, for example:

“Is my health insurance costing me more out of pocket than under Obama? Am I getting better, more affordable benefits?”

“Can I still get health insurance?”

“Have work restrictions been placed on my Medicare benefits? Has my state limited Medicare benefits?”

“Has my property tax bill gone up or down?”

“Has the rusty bridge carrying my daughter’s school bus been fixed?”

“I live in a city. Has my child developed asthma in the past year?”

“What’s the interest rate on a new car now?”

“Do I have to pay more for my prescription medications?”
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Ben Carson

Fear and loathing in Ben Carson’s brain

I am Ben Carson’s guilty conscience.

Ben CarsonWith the way things have progressed recently, I have been feeling ever so worse than usual, and it was already pretty rough being me. People don’t know the things that eat at me. If they did, they would wonder how I could sleep at night. All they know is the image that I give them when I hold my head up high every day. All they know is what they believe of me. God bless them, so many of them seem to think the world of me. If only they knew. And then there’s the mockery. That really tears at me because it’s so much closer to who I truly am. I feel like a fraud, a fake, a phony. I feel like I have great talents, and so much to offer to the world, but then so many things I’ve done have gone wrong. I’ve had great responsibility and failed it time and again. I feel like I’ve been advanced way beyond my competence and my expertise. When that has happened before, people died. How many more must die? Continue reading

CATEGORY: World

After Donald, of squandered talent, wasted time, and a lost future

Trump will reign over dust and desolation…

On 1 September 1859, telegraph operators across Europe and North America watched in horror as their equipment began to spark and behave erratically. Some disconnected their equipment from their power supplies and discovered they could still transmit.

Cables arced. Sparks flew. Operators fled as their offices caught fire.

What became known as the Carrington Event was the result of a solar eruption as a magnetic field containing a plasma mass equivalent to Mount Everest was flung out from the sun towards Earth. Continue reading

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Dogs and fracking and beer is food – Denver deserves better than Mayor Michael Hancock

I asked Michael Hancock a straight question and got a dishonest answer. Then there’s his kneepads and chapstick service for the frackersbeer-is-food

I recently sent an inquiry to the office of Denver mayor Mike Hancock asking about his position about the city’s recent crackdown on dogs being allowed in tasting rooms. We mile-highers love taking the pups to our favorite microbreweries, but earlier this year the authorities started showing up and telling management that this was illegal.

Because – check this – beer is food. Continue reading

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Dance class

His name is Joe and we were both in the same waiting room at Kaiser Permanente in South San Francisco. He caught my eye because he was so nicely-dressed, looking much classier than the anxious people one typically sees in dreary HMO waiting rooms. Joe makes a habit of dressing nicely all the time. He likes to look good because he’s a dance instructor in San Francisco. According to his card, he can teach you the Tango, the Cha-Cha, and the Boogie. I can give you his number if you’re interested…

(South San Francisco, California 2016. See more of my work here.)

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Did Russia poison Hillary? An inductive argument

clinton-collapse-696x385Dear Hillary,

Get rid of all your stuff. I know I sound like Inconvenient Jesus right now. Just do it. All the pantsuits, all the jewelry, all the hairspray, the mouthwash, everything, especially the sentimental stuff. If you can’t pass through the eye of the needle, the road ends here.

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Never forget…what, exactly?

Yesterday, Big Think posted an interesting collection of Gallup Poll results, along with some commentary: Obama Actually Made America Great Again. Here’s the Data. To hear the rabidly irrational Obama opposition on today, of all days, I can only say that these are funny numbers to describe how Obama has ruined America in eight years.

What’s truly deplorable is that, of all the ways Bush (with a boost from Dems) ruined America Continue reading

CATEGORY: World

#HopeTuesday: Moving the goalposts faster than the ball – our expectations of humanity’s progress vs reality

We’ve never had it so good. “We,” as in all of humanity, and “good” as in just about every measure of life, liberty and happiness.

by djerrid

Here are a few of the many, many examples. Infant mortality, educational attainment, lifespan, reduction in violence, communication both locally and globally, justice, nutrition, wealth. You name it, we’re better than ever. You are blessed to live in the best time for human beings.

So…why do we feel like the world is falling apart? Why are we so afraid and discontented: with each other, for our future, for our well-being? Of immigrants, of suicide bombers, of the zika virus, of Russia and China flexing their muscles, of the refugee crisis, of the rise of nationalism in Europe and elsewhere, of Trump, Hillary and Congress’s tendency to put party and personal ambition well above the country’s interest, of income and other forms of inequality? Continue reading

CATEGORY: ScienceTechnology

Good science. Bad blogging.

CriticalThinking300Bad science journalism is almost as bad as bad science, perhaps worse in some ways, insofar as it may popularize error where there had been none before. Carping about bad science blogging, on the other hand, should probably be beneath me, at least most of the time, because hey, at least there’s folks trying, right? Isn’t this just another case of XKCD’s “someone is wrong on the Internet?

Well, here’s two examples. I’ll let the critical reader decided for themselves whether or not they serve to engender better critical reading more generally speaking. Continue reading

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Peter Thiel and Ambrosia: A modern-day Dracula reboot for self-absorbed rich people

Transfusing youth, 21st century style…

(At the sound of wolves howling) – “Children of the night: what music they make!” – Dracula (in Tod Browning’s Dracula, 1931)

Dracula, Lugosi style (image courtesy Wikimedia)

Several recent news items from reliable sources have explored the research of scientists into the benefits of blood transfusions from young persons to old ones. If you are like me and find this at its best macabre, at its worst Mengelean, then the following is, as a writer and TV host used to say, “submitted for your approval….”

A new company called Ambrosia is willing to offer customers trial participants a series of blood transfusions from 16-25 year old donors. Recipients must be older than 35 to qualify for the deal trial. The purpose of these transfusions is to combat aging, particularly by improving brain function and muscle strength.

If you followed either of the links for the clinical trials, you’ve noticed that there are a ethical issues galore related to doing this kind of research and these kind of clinical trials, no matter how noble the aims might be.  One of the issues causing real concern in the scientific community is that those who wish to participate in the trials are being charged $8,000. Yep. $8,000.  Continue reading

#blacklivesmatter versus #alllivesmatter

White man ISO white people to explain something to me

I have yet to take a strong stand on this whole #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter and #enoughwiththehashtagsmatter issue, and I’m fairly certain it’s a privilege thing that I, as a cisgendered white hetero man in farm country, have this luxury. I can’t help that. Continue reading

CATEGORY: UnitedStates

Another Fourth, another episode of blissful national blindness

No red, white, and blue adorn my flagpole. No patriotic bunting arches over my front door. No fireworks await their flaming demise. I no longer enjoy the nation’s formal parting from Great Britain (which was on July 2, anyway).

2f45d-free_wallpaper_patriotic_eagle_american_flag_background-1-1024x768I suppose, at one time, July Fourth carried great meaning to all Americans. After all, because of the acts of the Continental Congress and subsequent versions of it, I can (and do) criticize my government without fear or favor. I can own a weapon. My home and person cannot be searched or seized without cause. I am not obligated to incriminate myself. I can practice the religion of my choice — or decide not to — without government coercion. I can peaceably assemble with others to protest almost any damn thing I want to. I can vote to select who will govern me. And Congress cannot prevent me from owning a press in which I tell others what I see and what I know and what I feel.

I love my country because of the ideals inherent in the Constitution and especially in the Bill of Rights.

But lately, I have come to dislike this overwrought holiday. Continue reading

Cerebellar ataxia update: bitch costs HOW MUCH?!

I have some advice for you: if you’re going to get sick, don’t feel the need to be innovative about it.

Nothing good comes of winning at Stump the Doctor. No, come down with something run of the mill, something ho-hum, something boringly common. Or be rich. One or the other.

Back in May I wrote about my evolving issues with spinocerebellar ataxia, a rare brain malady that affects your speech and movement. Short version: it sucks. No treatment, no cure, no hope for one. If you recall, the docs wanted me to take a DNA test to confirm the specific type I have (they suspect it’s SCA-6, if it matters), but my co-pay on the test was going to be $7,000. So we’re just going to have to go on suspecting, I guess. Continue reading

I am broken

Alcoholism sucks…

I am broken

and I have been for many years.

I’m not some toy

you can take back to Hasbro

and say “This fucking thing is fucking fucked up.”

They would laugh at you

and I would too.

I am not a toy.

I am a man.

And I hurt,

and I love,

(I love more than you know),

and I rage.

And I love you all, you are my life,

you are my Jesus,

but I am broken.

And I don’t know how to fix me.

So please

bear with me.

The doctors are coming in

with long, sharp stainless-steel tools

and they will probe me

and figure out what’s wrong.

There might be blood.

Sorry.

(Brisbane, California 2016)

CATEGORY: PersonalNarrative

Tempeh sausages with pepper spray on the side

By Tamara Enz

A few weeks ago in a random historic-site parking lot in far-flung western Colorado I met a 60-something woman from Atlanta.

CATEGORY: PersonalNarrative“You’re traveling alone? Well good for you. I always wanted to do that but I just don’t have the courage. Some day I will. You’ve never had any problems?”

This is a common question when people see me alone. A few variables in wording, some more direct language about scary people and places to avoid, but the sentiment is the same.

I’ve worked alone in many remote places over the years. I have occasionally stepped out of sight when I felt unsure about what was coming my way. I’m more often worried about destroying an axle on my pickup, not finding my way out of a random maze of canyons, or falling off a cliff than about other people.

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Moment of #Mansplanation

Actually…

I just had a chance to read this op/ed from last year’s NYT: What makes a woman? The subject is still timely, especially thanks to hijinks like those coming out of North Carolina’s statehouse. And I’ve riffed on it before, if with more vitriol. I was a meaner person back then. Now I can just rest on the laurels of my cis-gendered white male privilege, look at this modern debate and all those hoity-toity post-modern nonsensilists and be snide. It’s an important debate, exactly because it’s in the courts and involves human safety, but dammit people, bring your A-game.  Continue reading

Sam-Smith-Memoir

Cerebellar ataxia and me: trying to live while the brain is dying

Spinocerebellar ataxia sucks the joy out of another day…

As I have mentioned before, I have a degenerative brain condition. It’s called spinocerebellar ataxia, and is essentially an atrophying of the portion of the brain that coordinates and regulates muscular activity. If you read the details at NIH you’ll probably understand pretty quickly just how nasty it really is. It has taken away a lot of what I love in life and is, for now, uncurable. For the most part, there is also no treatment for the symptoms.

My doctors at the University of Colorado Health Center are some of the best in the business, and we have had frank conversations about what this disease means for me. Continue reading

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What was Maria Sharapova thinking?

s-l225Tennis star’s positive doping test comes as a real shock.

I guess I kinda sorta feel bad for Maria Sharapova. She has been a pleasure to watch on the court for a number of years now—eleven, I think—ever since first showing up and taking Wimbledon at age 17. Since then, she’s had injuries, as tall athletes tend to, that have sidelined her from time to time—and in the past couple of years she’s been completely stymied by Serena Williams. Still, she’s played consistently high level tennis for most of her career, and won her share, almost, of grand slams.

So today’s acknowledgement that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open, and is being “suspended” by tennis authorities, did come as a shock. While a gritty competitor, she has tried to maintain a positive public persona, which has largely worked, since she’s been the world’s highest paid female athlete for several years now. Now, though, sponsors are now dropping her like a hot potato. So you have to wonder who dropped the ball here.

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Daniel Bryan retires from the WWE

#YesMovement #ThankYouDanielBryan

It’s always hard to watch these damned things, when someone who loves something so completely and passionately has to walk away. But years of concussions took their toll, and finally WWE superstar Daniel Bryan has been forced to hang up his boots. He was a fantastic talent and he will be missed.

Sadly, given all that we are learning these days about CTE, I can’t help but fear for his future. Continue reading