Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Indiana - The Crossroads of Bigotry

I grew up in Indiana and most of my family still lives there. As you might imagine, I'm pretty appalled at my home state this week (more than usual).
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is set to sign into law a measure that allows businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of "religious freedom."  Link
This is, of course, the trendy "let's allow people to discriminate against gays because they're icky" law being pushed across the country by conservative legislatures. Conservatives know they can't stop the tide of same sex marriage, which came to Indiana last year, so they want to make sure Teh Gays can't sit at the same lunch counter as them. And they justify it by claiming their religion requires the discrimination. In other words, Who Would Jesus Hate?

Of course the Christian religion also required discrimination against blacks after the Civil War, all the way through the civil rights era, and in some circles to today. Isn't it funny how religious decrees just happen to agree with these people's own prejudices?

So, my home state of Indiana, you have earned this. 

Awesomely, some caring people ( have stepped up and created stickers that businesses can put in their windows to show that they aren't assholes.

Eventually Indiana will get out of the dark ages. I look forward to it.

America's Education Priority

Right on.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bam! This just happened!

Mirror, Mirror

ABC Family had a "Funday" weekend schedule (their description) last weekend and showed a lot of Disney movies. While I was lounging around on Sunday, I watched most of the 2012 Snow White adaptation, Mirror, Mirror, starring Julia Roberts and Phil Collins' daughter, Lily Collins, a movie which had never really made it onto my radar and which I had entirely forgotten.

After a few minutes I was preparing to turn it off, but the fun appearance of the Seven Dwarfs interested me enough to keep watching. I watched almost all of it, liked it, and afterwards had a few thoughts.

First, Julia Roberts was horribly miscast;  I didn't buy her as the villain at all. More annoying than frightening, she just didn't work in the role and she's the reason I almost turned it off. From the start, I immediately wanted to punch her in the face, which is generally okay since she's a villain, but I didn't want to punch the Evil Queen in face, I wanted to punch Julia Roberts. So there's that.

Armie Hammer, as the Prince, was charming and fun. He has kind of a Brendan Fraser had a child with Jon Hamm vibe going and I enjoyed every minute he was on the screen.

ANY movie can be made better by including a gang of fun, wisecracking, anti-social, little people, in this case the actors playing the Seven Dwarfs. For further evidence, see The Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Time Bandits.

At one point, the King is going to marry two people and he pretty much exactly quoted the wedding vows that first Kirk used in the Star Trek episode, Balance of Terror, then Picard used in The Next Generation episode, Data's Day, replacing the word "Captain" with "King". I loved the subtle easter egg.

Finally, it occurred to me that there are now a LOT of light Fantasy movies with a modern sensibility. The grandfather of them all is the perfect, The Princess Bride. But many of the movies in this genre are quite good, including A Knight's Tale, Ella Enchanted, The Brothers Grimm, Into the Woods, Enchanted, Shrek, and the great Stardust.

So I guess I did have a Funday after all.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

In a shocker, a single snowball doesn't mean we're all covered in snow

A few weeks ago, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, brought a snowball into the Senate to prove that climate change/global warming is a hoax because he is just that stupid.

The facts, from the National Climatic Data Center, show different:
The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for February 2015 was the second highest since record keeping began in 1880. Both the year-to-date (January–February) and seasonal (December–February) globally averaged temperatures were record high.
During February, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.48°F (0.82°C) above the 20th century average. This was the second highest for February in the 1880–2015 record. The highest temperature occurred in 1998, at 1.55°F (0.86°C) above average.
 Yeah, good job, Inhofe.

Enough Drama, Indeed

First, John McCain:  STFU.  Really, just STFU.

Second, CNN (and ABC, and NBC and all other news outlets), stop putting this warmongering, bitter, always wrong, angry old coot on your news shows. Sheesh.

That is all.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fun with Signs - More Weirdness

Apparently not pleased with my lack of sign updates, the Copycat Prankster struck our office early this week in another science-fiction related, nonsensical "prank".

That says "Don't feed the Tribbles" and continues with a quote from Dr. McCoy discussing Tribbles. (If you don't know what a Tribble is, let me explain. No, you should know. If you don't, you should be ashamed.)

There were signs and piles of "Tribbles" on tables in several places around the 5th floor. I made it clear to anyone who asked that I was NOT responsible. It's such a weirdly random thing to do I don't want to be associated.

However, I did do something. While out for lunch I went to CVS and picked up a bag of cotton balls which I then added to one of the piles. I added a bit of a breakfast bar to demonstrate that the Tribbles had been fed. I hope whoever did this appreciated the assist.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Two Steps Back


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party won the Israeli election by going even more to the right than they already were. He even went so far in his desperation to reject the option of Palestinians getting their own state, the "two-state" solution that he had previously endorsed, the position that's endorsed by pretty much everyone else on the planet.

And since the two-state solution really seems like the only way there's ever going to be peace in the Middle East, much less justice, I guess we're screwed for a few more years at least.

Whether his win had anything to do with his inappropriate speech before Congress a couple of weeks ago is unknown, but apparently hobnobbing with the lucky but evil scumbags in the House leadership rubs off on you if you're pretty evil already.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

State of Ipecac's World - March 2015

What's going on with Ipecac?

Things have been crazy busy recently. A couple of weeks ago our heat pump/air handler crapped out during the nasty cold spell. The HVAC guy got it kind of working through the worst days while we decided whether or not to invest in a completely new system. (At night, the temperature in the house was dipping down into the fifties.) Since we've been hemorrhaging money for electric bills to heat the house, we decided to get it over with. Installation was done earlier this week, so now we're finally back in the world of warmth. Our new system should reduce our electric bills considerably.

What's going on with Asshats?

In the meantime, 47 Republican Senators wanted to show just how much they hate the President by sending a letter to Iran in an attempt to scuttle a negotiated deal to keep Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. The letter said Iran shouldn't bother coming to an agreement with President Obama, because we'll just renege on it later. Let's quickly put that into perspective.

There are three (realistic) ways Iran won't develop a nuclear weapon.

One, they decide not to build one on their own. This is unlikely. Since the United States doesn't bomb or invade countries with nuclear bombs, see Iraq versus North Korea, for example, our usual militaristic foreign policy provides them with a perverse incentive to actually build a bomb. Once they have the bomb, the odds of the United States bombing or invading them drop significantly.

Two, Iran negotiates a settlement with the United States and other countries. This is what President Obama, as well as Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, are trying to do. If successful, war is avoided, Iran builds no bomb, and the sanctions on Iran are lifted. It might even help to bring a more moderate Iran into the international community. This is the best outcome.

Three, the United States, or Israel, and Iran go to war. This would be catastrophic for all involved and cost possibly hundreds of thousands of lives. It would also, once again, sow chaos in the Middle East and continue the cycle of violence for another twenty years.

The Republican Senators clearly want the third option. By engaging in an unprecedented act of sabotage against the President's foreign policy, they are actively working towards the third option. They hate President Obama so much, that they're willing to side with the hard-liners in Iran to hurt the President's peacemaking efforts.

Immoral, traitorous scumbags.

What's going on with the Jedi?

At the beginning of The Phantom Menace, the earliest Star Wars movie chronologically, we learn that the Jedi believe that their ancient enemy, the Sith have been extinct for 1,000 years. This means that for the most part, the Jedi have been facing non-Force-wielding beings in their peace enforcement duties. These beings would undoubtedly use modern weapons like blasters, missiles, and such. Given the advantage of the Force, it would be suicide for anyone to try and use lightsabers against the Jedi.

So why do the Jedi still use lightsabers? Against whom are such weapons useful?

Sure, lightsabers are useful in deflecting blaster fire, and useful for things like melting through walls, but they aren't useful against missiles or other high explosive ordinance. Plus, lightsabers are not range weapons and have no stun setting. You can't really subdue someone with a a lightsaber without lopping off one of their limbs.

So, maintaining a dueling tradition for 1,000 years when the only people you will need to swordfight are your fellow Jedi, doesn't make a lot of sense. In fact, when Darth Maul shows up and engages Qui Gon Jinn in a lightsaber fight, that should have been the first lightsaber duel Qui Gon ever fought.

Looking outside the story, we know why the Jedi use lightsabers. George Lucas wanted the Jedi to be like Samurai and even envisioned stormtroopers carrying lightsabers. In such a world, it would make sense for the Jedi to carry them. But as the story developed, only the Jedi and the Sith used the weapons, and with the Phantom Menace, we learned that there are only ever two Sith at one time. So why would the Jedi waste all that time and effort perfecting the use of a weapon of absolutely marginal utility?

Awesome, early Ralph McQuarrie concept art.

To conclude, it makes no sense that the Jedi use lightsabers.

Just something that occurred to me.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Naive Supreme Court Justices are hilarious!

Here is one of the standout moments from this week's Supreme Court hearing to decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act. "Genereal Verrilli" is the U.S. Solicitor General.
JUSTICE SCALIA: What about ­­Congress? You really think Congress is just going to sit there while all of these disastrous consequences ensue. […]
GENERAL VERRILLI: Well, this Congress, Your Honor, I ­­ I ­­-- (Laughter.)
GENERAL VERRILLI: You know, I mean, of course, theoretically ­ of course, theoretically they could.
JUSTICE SCALIA: I ­­ I don't care what Congress you're talking about. If the consequences are as disastrous as you say, so many million people without insurance and whatnot, yes, I think this Congress would act.  Link

Yes, this Congress would ACT! to save Obamacare!


Thursday, March 05, 2015

Fun with Signs - I'm Back!

It's been a few weeks since I changed the sign, but I came up with a new idea and so snuck it in last week. I don't know how many people have noticed (I had to point out the change to one of my staff), but you would certainly notice how the "Your Ad Here" sign was no longer there.

 And here's the closeup. I like the blatantly juvenile aspect of the text.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The die is cast, will people die because conservatives hate Obama?

Today, the Supreme Court heard the Obamacare case which could end healthcare subsidies in all the states whose Republican governors or legislatures refuse to set up their own insurance exchange. This would, of course, be disastrous for millions of people and would likely cause a death spiral that would destroy the Affordable Care Act. Conservatives would love this, as they apparently like to pay more for healthcare, want to increase the deficit and to deprive millions of their fellow Americans of a basic human right. Go freedom!

Chief Justice John Roberts, who cast the deciding vote to save Obamacare a couple of years ago, and was pilloried by conservatives afterwards, was mostly silent during the questioning, not tipping his hand this time. However, there is some hope for those who have compassion for their fellow humans, as Justice Kennedy seems to be concerned about the Constitutionality of reading the ACA statute the way the plaintiffs want him to. That could be very good news. Justices Scalia and Alito were their usual evil, asshole selves.

The decision will come out sometime in June.

Daily Affirmation - LLAP

If you read this blog, you undoubtedly know that I've always been a big fan of Star Trek. Trek was THE defining show of my youth. And back in the 1970's when I was watching endless reruns, before The Motion Picture came out, it could seem a little lonely, and often felt like there were very few who appreciated the show and the actors who starred in it.

That, of course, has changed over the past thirty years and Star Trek's enduring popularity is undeniable. Still, I've been really touched by the many, many tributes to Leonard Nimoy I've seen since he died last week. Nimoy's (and Spock's) image and quotes have been all over Facebook, Twitter, blogs, the news and on TV.

It's a nice affirmation of the impact that he, his cast-mates, and the show have had on the world, and speaks to the huge appeal of its warm, humanist, optimistic message.

Ipecac Eats Burgers #20 - Culver's

This entry is a little bit dated.

When we were in Indiana for Christmas, we went to one of my favorite fast food hamburger places, the midwestern chain, Culver's. The restaurant is within a mile of my Mom's house so if we want fast food, we often go there.

Easily one of the cutest burgers I've had.

The Culver's Butter Burger is a great size (not too huge), with a juicy patty and an excellent buttered, very lightly toasted bun. Mmm. My Mom doesn't like their burgers, but I think they're great.

Their burgers aren't the best thing on the menu, though. They make their own Culver's Signature Root Beer, which they have on tap. It's creamy and really, really good and I drink a lot of it.

Unfortunately, the nearest Culver's to here is in Ohio. Or maybe that's a good thing.

Friday, February 27, 2015

So Long, Leonard

An actor who had a huge impact on my life has died.

Thanks for everything.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How's this for Skin in the Game?

One of the more odious conservative catch-phrases is "skin in the game" which they use to justify the idea of raising taxes on the POOR so that somehow with even less money, they'll pull themselves out of poverty. Conservatives say that the "47%" who pay no income taxes need to have this mythical "skin in the game", as if they don't already pay state and local taxes, property taxes, and sales and usage taxes. It's an awful, cynical, assholish thing to say.

Well, how about this?
Roads are crumbling, bridges require repairs, schools need upgrades and public pension systems remain underfunded. How can states and cities find the money to address any of these problems? One way could be through their tax codes.
According to a new report, if the rich paid the same state and local tax rate as the middle class, states and cities would have hundreds of billions of dollars more a year in public revenue.
Last month, the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that the poorest 20 percent of households pay on average more than twice the effective state and local tax rate (10.9 percent) as the richest 1 percent of taxpayers (5.4 percent).  Link
Sounds like the richest 1 percent need to have some "skin in the game", huh?

Psst. Don't worry, they can afford it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Oscars - 2015

I was only planning on watching the opening number on the Oscars, having little interest in most of the films nominated, but it's been a pretty good show so I've watched most of it. NPH is a great host.

All I have to say, though, is this. The Best Animated Feature winner, Big Hero Six, was not nearly as good as The Lego Movie. Not even close.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Stranger than Fiction

Did you know that in 1919 in Boston, 21 people were killed by a flood . . . of molasses?

It's become known as the Great Molasses Flood of 1919.
Almost a century ago, a giant storage tank in Boston’s North End ruptured, releasing a massive wave of molasses that killed 21 people, crushed buildings, and tore a firehouse from its foundation.
The Great Molasses Flood of 1919, one of history’s most bizarre disasters, has remained a topic of grim fascination ever since, prompting a range of historical analysis. Now, a study has shed new light on the cause of the collapse, finding that the tank was stressed well beyond capacity and made from a steel susceptible to fracture — the same type used on the Titanic.
Absolutely fascinating.  Check out the whole story here, along with some incredible pictures.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

These are the stakes

A total of 11.4 million Americans enrolled for coverage through an ACA marketplace, well ahead of the 10.3 million enrollees the Obama administration projected before this year’s open-enrollment process began. This total, though impressive, does not include the millions of additional Americans who are now covered through Medicaid expansion or young adults who have insurance through their family’s plan thanks to the law’s consumer protections 
Charles Gaba puts the total, including all the young people who've been able to stay on their parents plans, the people who are in expanded Medicaid and the regular enrollees at 32 million.  Link
Remember, Republicans want to take this away from Americans. They'd do it today, if they could. They'd do it without any reservation or hesitation. They'd take away affordable healthcare from families, students, the employed and unemployed, and children. They'd throw millions of people back into uncertainty, ill-health, the lingering possibility of bankruptcy, and in some cases, death. They'd also increase the deficit, skyrocket healthcare costs and hurt the economy.

If you make the mistake of reading the comments following any stories about the upcoming Supreme Court case that threatens to destroy Obamacare, you'll see that conservatives are cackling with glee over the thought of taking away healthcare from millions of people, just to damage Obama's legacy. They literally don't care that people will die from this.

These people are revolting, uncaring, ignorant, disgusting and evil. 

What's Ipecac up to now? Results!

I had my Nucular Stress Test on Tuesday.

Because of the snowstorm, the clinic called and pushed back my appointment to 11AM. I arrived to be first in line and they quickly got me going.

First up, they inserted an IV into my arm so they could inject me with radioactive solution twice during the proceedings. I hate having needles in my arm so this was pretty annoying, but honestly, I got used to it pretty quickly.

After the first injection, I waited for a half hour and then they scanned my heart. I sat in a machine that slowly rotated as the scanner took pictures for thirteen minutes. The goal was to get images of my heart while I was at rest.

After that, I went in for the stress test proper. I was wired up to the ECG and a blood pressure cuff and the doctor started the treadmill. Last time I went for eight minutes before giving up and I vowed to improve that. The doctor told me to tell him when I estimated I could last for two more minutes so he could inject the second batch of radioactive solution. At six minutes and thirty seconds I told him to go. I then hung on until nine minutes had elapsed. Go me!

After the stress test, I was told I could eat some breakfast bars I brought and I waited for a bit before undergoing a second thirteen minute scan. This would reveal my "active" heart, which would give them a point of comparison for the at rest scans.

After that, I met with the Doctor to review the tests. The report on the computer monitor showed a few dozen thumbnails of various "live" cross-sections of my heart as well as a full color, 3-D model. The pictures showed that an area near the bottom of my heart wasn't getting full blood flow when I was resting. This could be because my diaphragm was pushing against a lower blood vessel, or because there was a blockage. My active heart, however, had much less of a blood flow restriction, which supported the diaphragm theory. He said that if there is a blockage, it's relatively small and not problematic at this time. Basically, I am in no danger and don't need to take any further drastic action except occasional ECG's to check if there are any changes. I do need to lose some weight and improve my diet, but that's always been the case.

So good news. All in all, an interesting and educational experience.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What's Ipecac up to now?

I haven't posted anything regarding my health in a while.

A couple of weeks ago I had my first annual physical since our family doctor retired and we switched to a new practice. Everything looked fine, except for an anomalous reading in my ECG (the heart "ping" machine). So, my doctor referred me to a cardiologist.

Nine days ago, I went in for a stress test. I did pretty well on the test, getting my heart rate up to 170 bpm, and my ultrasound showed no problems other than a small heart murmur. But near the end of the stress test, one of the little lines on the ECG which was supposed to go up, was going down. This indicated that my heart wasn't recovering quickly enough when my heart was racing.

The doctor said it might be completely normal for me, but since I am diabetic, he wanted to run another, more comprehensive stress test, the nuclear stress test. So this Tuesday, I will have radioactive gunk injected into my bloodstream through an IV and then undergo another test. This will include a look at the blood flow into my stomach so I'll have to eat during the test at some point, and I'll be at the cardiologist for four to five hours. Oh joy.

(I should note that all of this preventive medicine is possible only because I have good health insurance. Having to pay full price for these procedures without health insurance would be financially devastating, and I make more than your average American. If I were to forego the tests because of cost, and eventually have a heart attack, the financial toll would be much higher for me, for my employer, and for the economy. That's why even poor people should get access to affordable healthcare. Even if you can't find it in your heart to help out the poor in America, it's cheaper for everyone if they have healthcare rather than go into the Emergency Room after a traumatic medical event. There are no losers when everyone in America has affordable healthcare.)

So, that's my update. I'll let you know how it goes.

She's got my vote

If I had to choose someone to take over for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, it would be current TDS correspondent, Jessica Williams. She's fantastic.

Looks like I wasn't the only one to think of that.

Most Awesome Moments from The Daily Show

In honor of Jon Stewart's annoucement that he's leaving The Daily Show, here are the clips from the funniest night in Daily Show history. Just awesome.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I really hoped he was going to pull a Carson and be there for thirty years

Do you remember when humorists Mark Twain and Will Rogers quit after fifteen years as America's moral compasses and conscience? Yeah, neither do I.

Of course, the terrible news of the week is the announcement of the departure of Jon Stewart from The Daily Show. Someone will certainly take over the show, but it won't be the same. This is a huge blow to reason and truth and the loss of a clear, sane voice during this insane time in America.

First Colbert, now this. Aargh.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Obamacare - King v. Burwell Plaintiffs

If you're interested in the upcoming Supreme Court case against the Affordable Care Act, or if you just want to be REALLY DEPRESSED AND APPALLED, this article is a must read.

Meet the Unusual Plaintiffs Behind the Supreme Court Case that Could Kill Obamacare
On March 4, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell, a lawsuit designed by conservative advocates to destroy Obamacare. If the plaintiffs prevail, about 8 million people could lose their health insurance. Premiums are likely to skyrocket by 35 percent or more, threatening coverage for millions of others. Health policy experts have estimated that nearly 10,000 people a year could die prematurely if they lose their coverage. Obamacare itself could collapse.
Make no mistake, the asshats bringing this case are doing so out of animosity towards the President, and in pursuing this hateful agenda, millions of people will lose their health insurance and thousands will die for lack of health care. Yes, die. Because affordable healthcare saves lives. Incidentally, this will also explode the deficit. Nice going Republicans!

This paragraph is about one of the four plaintiffs in the case.
When I asked her if she realized that her lawsuit could potentially wipe out health coverage for millions, she looked befuddled. "I don't want things to be more difficult for people," she said. "I don't like the idea of throwing people off their health insurance." 
Well guess what, dumbass. You're about to do just that. Nice going. I have no sympathy for people so stupid that they will hurt millions of Americans, intentionally or not. Even more incredible, this plaintiff is paying $1500 a month for health insurance because she refuses to choose an Obamacare policy. If she did, her premiums would drop to $148 a month. So not only is she unthinkingly hurting millions of Americans, she's also screwing herself over. Idiot.

Read the article and despair. There are just no words for this level of evil.