Sunday, July 5, 2009

Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

And blood on my jeans Nickels and dimes of the fourth of July Roll off in a crooked line To the chain-link lots where the red tails dive

"Star Witness"

My true love drowned in a dirty old pan
Of oil that did run from the block
Of a falcon sedan 1969
The paper said '75
There were no survivors
None found alive

Trees break the sidewalk
And the sidewalk skins my knees
There's glass in my thermos
And blood on my jeans
Nickels and dimes of the fourth of July
Roll off in a crooked line
To the chain-link lots where the red tails dive
Oh how I forgot what it's like

Hey when she sings, when she sings when she sings like she runs
Moves like she runs
Hey when she moves, when she moves when she moves like she runs
Moves like she runs
Hey there there's such deadly wolves 'round town tonight
Round the town tonight
Hey there there's such deadly wolves 'round town tonight
Round the town tonight

Hey pretty baby get high with me,
We can go to my sisters if we say we'll watch the baby"
The look on your face yanks my neck on the chain
And I would do anything
To see you again

So I've fallen behind:


Go on, go on scream and cry
You're miles from where anyone will find you
This is nothing new, no television crew
They don't even put on the sirens
My nightgown sweeps the pavement
Please don't let him die

Oh how I forgot...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

She's waiting for me when I get home from work
But things just ain't the same
She turns out the light and cries in the dark
Won't answer when I call her name


On the stairs I smoke a cigarette alone
The Mexican kids are shooting fireworks below
[ Find more Lyrics on ]
Hey, baby, it's the Fourth of July
Hey, baby, it's the Fourth of July

She gives me her cheek when I want her lips
And I don't have the strength to go
On the lost side of town in a dark apartment
We gave up trying so long ago

Repeat Chorus

Whatever happened, I apologize
So dry your tears and baby, walk outside
It's the Fourth of July

Repeat Chorus

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cap the crap

Cap and Trade is a simple concept. You cap the amount of x that you want to limit. Then, in order to allow the economy some leeway to deal with the problem, you allow companies to exceed the limit by purchasing an exception from another company that is falling below the limit. Now, it's important to understand this this plan is itself a compromise. You could simply tax the x or ban it, and be done with it. Instead, cap and trade allows variation in order to help businesses survive.

Now, since it's already a compromise, any added conditions must be to help particular businesses. This is called lobbying or interest group influence. The more of it you have, the less well the original plan will work. Of course, you can tighten the exceptions later, or, as well, continue to loosen them. In any case, you've damaged the simplicity and effectiveness of the plan by fiddling with it.

I have two reactions to this. My Milton Friedman response is that, by allowing interest groups to alter the plan, you've irreparably harmed it. It will turn out to be hellish tightening the plan in the future. My Edmund Burke response is to pass it, and get set for a long drawn out battle to tighten the plan.

But there's another Edmund Burke response. You can stand firm on Cap and Trade, and compromise on other things. If the health of the planet is truly at stake, than either this Edmund Burke response or the Milton Friedman response should win out.

Monday, June 29, 2009

"You were my silver you were my gold you were all the things that cant be told"

I thought of Ben Orr today:

"In April 2000, Orr was diagnosed as having pancreatic cancer and subsequently hospitalized [1], yet he continued to perform in concerts with the band Big People at summer music festivals and state fairs. He reunited with all the former members of The Cars one last time in Atlanta, Georgia, for an interview that was used in a Rhino Records video and DVD of a German concert performed in 1979, The Cars Live.

His final public appearance was on September 27, 2000, in a Big People concert in Anchorage, Alaska. Six days later, he died at home in Atlanta, on Tuesday night, October 3, 2000, aged 53, surrounded by his fellow Big People band members Jeff Carlisi, Derek St. Holmes and Rob Wilson [2]. Big People still performs his classic Cars hits. Orr was also survived by his 5-year-old son, Ben, from a previous relationship.

Ric Ocasek wrote and recorded the song "Silver," which was his musical tribute to Ben. It appeared on Ocasek's 2005 solo album Nexterday."

Ric Ocasek - Silver lyrics

You were my silver you were my gold
you were all the things that cant be told
you were my star falling through the night
you were the one who showed me grand delight
i cant see you but i need you
and youre gone
you were my right hand you were my friend
you were always strong until the end
you were my good time youwere my rave
youre the one that always set the stage
youre what i once new now i miss you
cause youre gone
now i spend my lonely nights
wishing you were here to make things right
to turn my darkness into light
you were my party you were my tea
youre the one that had faith in me

My health care plan

Let me ask everyone a question: Do you consider price and discount when buying Tylenol and Pepcid? I answer in the affirmative.

Here's another question: Do you consider price when considering brain surgery? I answer in the negative.

Therefore, I suggest splitting health care costs into two categories:
1) Medical goods that a consumer could price and shop accordingly on.
2) Medical goods that a consumer cannot price and shop accordingly on.

Once you do this, you can split up medical costs into:
1) Costs subject to a deductible.
2) Catastrophic Costs.

And, further, you can say the following:
For 1) You don't want third party payers, since you want the consumers to shop for the best price.
For 2) You can have a third party payer. In fact, you can have one: the Federal Government.

Now, here's Milton Friedman's plan:

"A more radical reform would, first, end both Medicare and Medicaid, at least for new entrants, and replace them by providing every family in the United States with catastrophic insurance (i.e., a major medical policy with a high deductible). Second, it would end tax exemption of employer-provided medical care. And, third, it would remove the restrictive regulations that are now imposed on medical insurance—hard to justify with universal catastrophic insurance.

This reform would solve the problem of the currently medically uninsured, eliminate most of the bureaucratic structure, free medical practitioners from an increasingly heavy burden of paperwork and regulation, and lead many employers and employees to convert employer-provided medical care into a higher cash wage. The taxpayer would save money because total government costs would plummet. The family would be relieved of one of its major concerns—the possibility of being impoverished by a major medical catastrophe—and most could readily finance the remaining medical costs. Families would once again have an incentive to monitor the providers of medical care and to establish the kind of personal relations with them that were once customary. The demonstrated efficiency of private enterprise would have a chance to improve the quality and lower the cost of medical care. The first question asked of a patient entering a hospital might once again become "What’s wrong?" not "What’s your insurance?"

I would add a Democratic Party addition to this plan: You could relate the deductible to income.

That's my plan. Everyone covered.

I would add the following: I've no idea what the correct amount of money that we should spend on health care should be. That's why I would like some portion of our medical bills to be subject to our own choice.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Billy Mays and the ethics of pitching

I'm going to miss Billy Mays. It was refreshing to have a pitchman who was out front about being a pitchman. From the WaPo:

TV pitchman Billy Mays found dead at Florida home
The Associated Press

"TAMPA, Fla. -- Billy Mays, the burly, bearded television pitchman whose boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean made him a pop-culture icon, has died. He was 50. "

Read on.

Laura Bush and the concert for Bangladesh

Here's Laura Bush in the WaPo:

Do Not Forget Burma"

"For two weeks, the world has been transfixed by images of Iranians taking to the streets to demand the most basic human freedoms and rights. Watching these courageous men and women, I am reminded of a similar scene nearly two years ago in Burma, when tens of thousands of Buddhist monks peacefully marched through their nation's streets. They, too, sought to reclaim basic human dignity for all Burmese citizens, but they were beaten back by that nation's harsh regime."

Read on.

Here's more on Burma.

Burma political map

I try, as best I can, to keep up on a good number of the current conflicts in the world. On both of my previous blogs, I posted a number of stories dealing with today's examples of man's inhumanity to man. However, this post is really connected to my last post. The connection is this: One of the songs on my unconscious playlist is this:

My friend came to me, with sadness in his eyes
He told me that he wanted help
Before his country dies

Although I couldn't feel the pain, I knew I had to try
Now I'm asking all of you
To help us save some lives

Bangla Desh, Bangla Desh
Where so many people are dying fast
And it sure looks like a mess
I've never seen such distress
Now won't you lend your hand and understand
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh

Bangla Desh, Bangla Desh
Such a great disaster - I don't understand
But it sure looks like a mess
I've never known such distress
Now please don't turn away, I want to hear you say
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh
Relieve Bangla Desh

Bangla Desh, Bangla Desh
Now it may seem so far from where we all are
It's something we can't neglect
It's something I can't neglect
Now won't you give some bread to get the starving fed
We've got to relieve Bangla Desh
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh
We've got to relieve Bangla Desh
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh

In other words, because this song constantly comes into my consciousness, I am actually more aware of the need to keep track and bear witness to even the most obscure of human conflicts. I've no great solution or personal ability to influence these conflicts, but I can at least bear witness, and occasionally add my voice in protest. Not much, no doubt, but better than nothing.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson and my unconscious playlist

I am not a big Michael Jackson fan. I just looked at my i tunes library, where I have my music, and there is not a single Michael Jackson or Jackson 5 song. Actually, I shouldn't say that. I have the song "Never Can Say Goodbye", but it's the Isaac Hayes version.

So, that should be the end of the story. I am simply one of the few people who were never moved by Michael Jackson. And yet? And yet?

I don't like music videos as a genre. I do have a few favorites, which include Springsteen's "Streets Of Philadelphia", and Sting's "Fields Of Gold". However, if I had to chose an artist who has multiple music videos that I think are worth watching, the only artist that I can think of is Michael Jackson. From my point of view, Michael Jackson is the music video genre.

There's another aspect of my existential encounter with music in which Michael Jackson features prominently, and that is my unconscious playlist. I've no idea if anybody else has this. I've never thought to ask anyone else if they have one. In any case, I do. What is it?

Well, it's a list of thirty or so songs that I find myself singing, day after day, year after year, and, eventually, decade after decade, in some cases. This is not the list of my favorite thirty songs, although some of these songs are on such a list. Rather, these are songs that have either chosen me, or that are more meaningful to me than I understand on a conscious level. Let me give you an example.

My favorite song is "Hey Jude". And yet, on this unconscious play list, there is only one Beatles' song, and it's not even close to being my favorite Beatles' song. The song is "Taxman".

The lyrics I usually find myself singing are the following:

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet

However, I often find myself singing the entire song.

Anyway, on this list, are three Michael Jackson songs. They are "Human Nature", "Man In The Mirror", and "Rock With You".

These are the lyrics I usually find myself singing:

Reaching Out
To Touch A Stranger
Electric Eyes Are Ev'rywhere
See That Girl
She Knows I'm Watching
She Likes The Way I Stare

If They Say -
Why, Why, Tell 'Em That Is Human Nature
Why, Why, Does He Do Me That Way
If They Say -
Why, Why, Tell 'Em That Is Human Nature
Why, Why, Does He Do Me That Way
I Like Livin' This Way
I Like Lovin' This Way

Here are the lyrics I sing:

I've Been A Victim Of A Selfish
Kind Of Love
It's Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They're Not

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody's Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
(Washed-Out Dream)
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya' See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That's Why I'm Starting With
(Starting With Me!)

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change)

Here's the last one:

And here are the lyrics that I find myself singing most often:

And when the groove is dead and gone (yeah)
You know that love survives
So we can rock forever, on
I wanna rock with you
I wanna groove with you
I wanna rock with you
I wanna groove with you

Here's the oddity. The are only two other songs that come close to "Rock With You" on my unconscious playlist's most sung tunes. Here they are ( and they would be on my top thirty list):

People moving out,
People moving in.
Why, because of the color of their skin
Run, run, run but you sho' can't hide

An eye for an eye,tooth for a tooth,
Vote for me and I'll set you free
Rap on, brother, rap on

The only person talking about love thy brother is the preacher
And it seems
Nobody's interested in learning
But the teacher

Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration,
Aggravation, humiliation, obligation to our nation

Ball of confusion, oh yeah
That's what the world is today, hey

On "Ball Of Confusion", I usually find myself humming the beginning and making a sound like a whirling dervish. On "Everybody Is A Star", the highlight is my Larry Graham impersonation.

There you have it. I cannot count the number of times that I've sung "Rock With You". Possibly close to ten thousand times so far, with no seeming end.

Just for fun, I should say that, although I've never had children, two songs on this playlist are Jackson Browne's "The Only Child" and Paul Simon's "St Judy's Comet": ( It begins at about 6:50 ):

Two other Paul Simon songs figure on this list:

And "One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor". Again, although I like these songs, they are not among my favorite Paul Simon songs.

On this unconscious playlist are about 12 artists. That's it. Now, I'm not saying that I don't sing or hum other songs, only that these songs constantly pop up uncalled for, day after day, throughout my life. I've no idea why. So, obviously, on some level, Michael Jackson's music must mean quite a bit to me.

Let me end with the three Presley tunes on this list:

I wish I knew what all this says about me. Or not.