Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wow, Paul Krugman Lies Again...

...what a surprise.

You may have read recently how noted British health care industry specialist (what? he isn't?) Paul Krugman, and others have been trashing IBD Editorials for suggesting that the NHS would not be a bed of roses for someone suffering from ALS like Stephen Hawking. Oh, the temerity!

Know who else thought such "fascistic" thoughts? Well, Stephen Hawking's biographers, parents and his wife for starters:

Hawking biographers Michael White and John Gribben, in the second edition of their 2003 book, "Stephen Hawking, A Life In Science," found that back when Hawking was less well-known, NHS wasn't nearly as good to him.

In the mid-1960s, Hawking's father became disillusioned with the care Hawking was getting from NHS and took over his son's treatment himself, doing his own research and prescribing vitamins.

On his own Web site, Hawking recalls that private help was also critical. "I caught pneumonia in 1985," he says. "I had to have a tracheotomy operation. After this, I had to have 24-hour nursing care. This was made possible by grants from several foundations."

White and Gribben describe what that meant: "The best the National Health Service could offer was seven hours' nursing help a week . . . They would have to pay for private nursing. It was obvious they would have to find financial support from somewhere.

"Jane (his wife) wrote letter after letter to charitable organizations around the world and called upon the help of family friends in approaching institutions that might be interested in assisting them.

"Help arrived from an American foundation aware of Hawking's work and international reputation, which agreed to pay £50,000 a year toward the costs of nursing. Shortly afterward several other charitable organizations on both sides of the Atlantic followed suit with smaller donations.

"Jane feels bitter about the whole affair. She resents the fact that, after paying a lifetime of contributions to the National Health Service, they were offered such meager help when the need arose. She is very aware that if her husband had been an unknown physics teacher he would now be living out his final days in a residential home.

" 'Think of the waste of talent,' she has said of the situation."

Why do I think we will not be seeing a correction from Mr. Krugman?

Oh, that's right. He's a scum bag, that's why.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Jacob Weisberg Is A Retard

I usually say "moron" for members of the media who show less than average intelligence in their writing, but somehow it wasn't strong enough for this.

Republicans charge that Democratic health care reform would, in Sen. Charles Grassley's words, "pull the plug on Grandma." According to Sen. Jon Kyl, the bills before Congress would ration medical treatment by age. Rep. John Boehner says they promote euthanasia. Alaskan abdicate Sarah Palin has raised the specter of "death panels." Such fears are understandable. It's not preposterous to imagine laws that would try to save money by encouraging the inconvenient elderly to make a timely exit. After all, that's been Republican policy for years.

It was Sen. Grassley himself who rammed the GOP's most astonishing pro-death policy through the Senate in 2001. The estate-tax revision he championed reduces the estate tax to zero next year. But when the law expires at year's end, the tax will jump back up to its previous level of 55 percent. Grassley's exploding offer has an entirely foreseen if unintended consequence: It's going to encourage those whose parents and grandparents are worth anything more than a million bucks to get them dead by midnight on Dec. 31, 2010. This would be a great plot for a P.D. James novel if it weren't an actual piece of legislation.

Uh, yeah, if you say so. (Actually, I wonder how many people have committed suicide after they realized the death of a patriarch/matriarch meant a crushing tax burden that could only be met by selling off a family business that could have been generations in the making. But, hey, scumbags like Weisberg want the money because they know better what to do with it than people who have been employing people for decades. After all, they don't have journalism degrees.)

But wait! There is more:

Other GOP policies promote death for senior citizens with more modest incomes. Take the conservative push to privatize Social Security, which George W. Bush proposed and failed to get Congress to pass in 2005. Social Security has driven life expectancy up and death rates down since it was instituted. It has an especially pronounced impact on suicide rates for the elderly, which have declined 56 percent since 1930. Had Bush prevailed, we would now be undoing income security for the elderly. Those who gambled on the stock market and lost would be less able to afford medicine, food, and heating for their homes. In aggregate, they'd presumably die younger and commit suicide more often.

I'd bring up a discussion of correlation versus causation, if I thought there was a snowball's chance in hell that Weisberg had the mental ability to understand the distinction. Maybe he also believe the phases of the moon cause menstrual cycles?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Product Placement, Iconic Midwest Style

I know I'm running the risk of sounding like The Anchoress hawking Mystic Monk Coffee, but I've been meaning to give folks a quick review of the Canary Street Tea Company, which I've been featuring on the site for awhile now.

Canary Street was started by a former student of mine over a year ago. She was kind enough to ask me for some advice as I had run a small business for a few years around the turn of the century, so I'm a little emotionally invested in the success of this tea enterprise.

That being said, I'd still put Canary Street tea up against any tea you could find out there. I'm partial to black teas as a rule, but here is my take on what I've had so far.

Earl's Excursion: The Canary Street take on Earl Grey. It is more floral and less citrusy on the nose, due mostly to the inclusion of corn flowers along with the traditional bergamot. It is almost too floral on the nose. But in the cup, the flavors are nicely balanced. It probably won't satisfy those looking for a straight Eral Grey experience, but it is a nice cuppa on its own. IMW Grade: B

Vanilla Oasis: This is, for my money, the best vanilla bean black tea out there. (And I've tried all of those I could get my hands on.) The vanilla is pronounced on the nose, but the finish is all black tea. Yummy. IMW Grade: A+

Cinnamon bark: I originally tried this one instead of ordering the Canary Street Chirpin' Chai. I've enjoyed this so much I've never gone back to try to Chai. This is a perfect cold weather tea. IMW Grade: A-

In addition to those three, I have also bought a Peach tea (great for ice tea making) and a tea called Apricot Adventure. Those are not available right now, so you won't see them on the website. They may become available later (I've been reliably informed,) so you might want to keep an eye out for those.

If you are in the market for tea, you cannot really do much better than Canary Street. Tell them The Iconic Midwest sent ya!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Updating The Blog Roll = A Little Depressing

It had been awhile since I had gone through my blog roll with a fine toothed comb. Now I know why. I hadn't realized how many of my "ye olde tyme" blog friends had moved onto other things. I know that is in the nature of this type of communication, but still it can result in a kind of melancholy when you delete old links that no longer lead to anything.

Even some of the links that remain lead to sites that have not been updated for a year or more, or others that still posting but are far less active then they used to be. As if life itself isn't transient enough, I find myself affected by the hyper-transient character of the blogosphere.

Really sometimes I wonder if I was cut out to live in the times I inhabit. I know change is the perpetual state of the human condition, but in past eras the slower pace of change could supply at least a pseudo-permanence to things. Things could endure long enough for people to get used to them, and though they didn't last forever, they were around long enough to become part of the shared experience of many. For that reason, change could take on a generational aspect. Yes, change could signify ordinary decay be it physical or social in nature, but things past continued to live in the minds of older generations. For the younger generations change, because it took its time in coming, could build and grow in its significance. Thus, change could be viewed as growth or decay, and sometimes as both at the same time.

Today, however, the sheer pace of our life (technological and otherwise) makes it difficult to see change as anything other then decay pure and simple. Sure, we see the rise of things, but one could hardly sit back and take them in before they begin to crumble before our very eyes to be replaced by something else which will, all too quickly, undergo the same process.

It's this process which rubs me the wrong way. I'm simply not prone to adopting an Epicurean attitude to the things of this world. For the Epicurean, change is the only meaning possible of our existence, especially the change known as decay and death. Anything that speaks to a permanence (pseudo or otherwise) is a lie pure and simple.

Everything that makes me who I am fights against this tendency. The contemporary world seems hell bent on making our existence into nothing but a collection of ephemera. (Written ephemera being limited to 140 characters, please.) However, I think I am something more then that, just as I believe the people I've put in my blog roll are also more than that.

Blogs may not be the best place to look for pseudo-permanence, but there are precious few places in the world which offer ground much better to look.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Blood Libel All The Rage In Sweden

Well, at least this gives a 21st century spin to Swedish anti-Semitism: Israel fury at Sweden organ claim

Israel is to lodge an official complaint with Sweden over claims in a newspaper that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians to sell their organs.

The article was published in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet this week.

The Swedish ambassador to Israel condemned the newspaper article as "shocking and appalling".

The government in Stockholm has not issued a similar condemnation, and Israeli foreign ministry officials have reacted furiously....

In a blog post on Thursday evening, Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote that he would not condemn the article, and that freedom of expression is part of the Swedish constitution.

Mr Bildt added that condemnation of anti-Semitism is "the only issue on which there has ever been complete unity in the Swedish parliament".

Until now I guess. Seemingly, the blood libel of Jews is not considered anti-Semitic in Sweden.


Friday, August 14, 2009


Words of idiocy from Harry Reid:

"The public option is something that the vast majority of Americans want. They know that the enemy is the insurance industry," Reid said.

Actually, the "enemy" of the American people would be supposed legislators who neither read the laws they want the people to live by (but not the legislators, of course), nor do they even write the laws they are "proposing." Which begs the question as to who these Representatives are actually representing, because it isn't the American people.

We have met the enemy and it is a Democrat controlled Congress.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I got an early look at the Perseid meteor shower tonight as we had nice viewing conditions here in Western Wisconsin. As predicted by the folks who know meteors best, there were some nice long, slow ones this evening that left visible trails behind them. The moon will be rising later tonight (and tomorrow night) partially ruining this shower (maybe cutting the peak numbers in half). That being said, in about a hour tonight (from 9:45 to 10:45 CDT) we saw maybe 4-5 very good meteors and another 4-5 quick ones. The peak viewing should be early in the morning tomorrow with 30-40 being seen on average.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Democrats Come Out Against "The Mob"

Are the Dems going after organized crime? No, presumably they are for that (having a Chicagoland boss as their, well, boss). No, the "mob" in question is the American people, or at least those not content to act like sheep.

My God, what a disgraceful display of contempt for the American citizenry.

Hence their new slogan:

The Democratic Party: Giving Americans The Finger Since 2009!

(Gleaned from QandO)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

How Not To Write Online

Anyone who wants a primer on how not to write an opinion piece online should check out this screed by Joe Conason: Will Bill and Betsy kill again?

How do I know it is a screed? Well, because it is constructed like one. For example, every time Conason makes an ad hominem attack (and there are plenty including the personal problems of his subjects) he provides a link to go check out the details of the off topic information. However, if he makes a point about an on-topic detail he will say things like, "this information is widely available." Okay, so why not give us an example and a link? Are you too busy? Why is a story about a woman's divorce pertinent while information about the intellectual veracity of your subjects is deemed too much of a bother?

Conason's is the worst kind of writing from mainstream journalists on the web. The actual written content on his piece is so slender, spending as much time as he does dusting off his liberal bona fides, you are left with precious little to evaluate his claims. Granted, the use of hyperlinking can allow people to do this while pointing people into more substantive sources of backing information, but Conason seemingly doesn't know how to do this. As a result one cannot read Conason's work and know if he is being intelelctually honest or not. Thus his piece becomes nothing other then a screed announcing his personal dislike of Bill Kristol and Betsy McCaughey.

I would think a real journalist would have something better to do with his time.