Things That Make You Go WTF?

Or at least me, anyway. I don’t normally read Atlas Shrugged, but Pamela Geller has had some interesting stuff up lately, like this chilling pointer to an essay on how Obama is changing the country from one ruled by law to one ruled by men.

He’s not the first, of course. This has been ongoing for longer than we’ve been alive. But the brazenness is noteworthy. Just as disease acts as a stressor to a body’s systems, attacks like those noted–dismissing contract law to favor a political ally–are a stressor to the country’s systems. The effects will be bad; the only question is how bad.

But that’s not what made me go WTF. This did. It’s a poll showing what percentage of Democrats and Republicans blame the Jews for the financial crisis.

Wait, what? Blame the Jews? Yeah, it’s awful that such a large percentage (32%) of Dems do, but it’s no great shakes that 18.4% of Reps do, either. And those are just the moderate-to-great blamers! 38.4% of non-Jews blame the Jews at least a little!

Why, in this most PC time, is this even imaginable? Do people blame The Blacks for crime? The Whites for slavery? The Men for domestic abuse? Wait–some of those are okay to do, I guess.

Maybe that’s the clue.

The problem with having protected classes and unprotected ones–saints and villains–is that it’s easy to move a class from the saintly to the villanous as circumstances arise.

Still, you’d think the Jews would get a little long respite, what with the Holocaust and all.

Medicine and Technology

The Boy and I watched an interesting demo today on a device that monitors blood sugar continuously for 72 hours. I was a little disappointed by it, because I thought it was going to be something like a watch you could look at to see your blood sugar at any time. Instead, it doesn’t transmit the information at all. After the 72 hours you remove it and a computer reads the data.

How positively medieval.

This is all a come-on for an insulin pump. If I had known that, I probably wouldn’t have bothered. Two extra trips downtown (one for the demo and sensor insertion, one to drop off the sensor later) for something I don’t think we’ll be using, but it was kind of interesting. The basic premise is simple enough: You wear an external device that acts sort of as a pancreas.

The pancreas does more than produce insulin but, hey, it’s a start.

Anyway, the boy raked the rep–who was, of course, cute and hot, as all such reps seem to be–and the doctors over the coals: What were the bugs? What could go wrong with the system? His syringes sometimes leak, what if that happened? What if his blood sugar dropped too low at night? How would he know what his blood sugar was at any given moment?

The technology is pretty good, though, and delivers small amounts of insulin over time rather than big loads, and apparently can actually do so based on blood sugar readings from the sensor. (Via wireless bluetooth! Now we’re talking! The rep said one guy had the readings hooked to his car GPS.)

Part of the appeal of this is that you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want.

But, you know, what if that’s how you got into the mess you’re in in the first place?

The Boy’s numbers are looking good anyway. In the two months since we started the diet his scores have dropped 20% (lower is better), and he’s started lowering his insulin again. (This time, theoretically, he should be able to keep the insulin lowered.)

The outlook for me is not so rosy, unfortunately. My numbers are rather dire and getting worse, and despite a checkout from a doctor, I’ll be having X-rays and bloodwork done tomorrow. So wish me luck. (Again.)

I Found A Million Dollar Baby (In A Five-and-Ten Cent Store)

I can’t remember when I first heard the title of this song. I think it was a running gag in the B.C. comic strip, though I might’ve first heard it in an old Warner Bros. cartoon. I thought it was a joke. I think the first time I actually heard it sung was in a short-lived action TV series called “Tales of the Gold Monkey”.

It’s not a joke, of course, just a whimsical relic of a bygone era when life wasn’t nearly as good–yet you’d never know that from the popular culture. Not that they didn’t have their sad songs, stories and movies, only that they didn’t wallow in it.

There’s an optimism and sweetness to it that is common in the music of the time. Listening to it now, in the way it was listened to then–say, for example, this recording by Bing Crosby–we have a certain distance from it. Horror movies like Jeepers Creepers and The Shining have used this distance to create alienation, the jauntiness seeming weirdly misplaced. Sometimes–say in the Steve Martin/Bernadette Peters Pennies from Heaven–there’s a manic quality.

Very often, though, it’s simply given a melancholy cast. Think of The Green Mile, as Coffey watches and listens to “Cheek to Cheek”, that zephyr-lightness moving him to tears as those around him contemplate his grim fate.

You can listen to that tune and impose your own emotion on it, as you see fit.

It was a lucky April shower
It was the most convenient door
I found a million dollar baby
In a five and ten cent store.
The rain continued for an hour.
I hung around for three or four.
Around a million dollar baby
In a five and ten cent store.

Most of the brilliance of the song is wrapped up in that one contrast. Today, it would probably have to be a trillion dollar baby in a 99 cent store.

She was selling china
And when she made those eyes,
I kept buying china
Until the crowd got wise.

Of course, it’s just a nicely rhyming cliché about “making eyes”, but don’t most human relationships begin with eye contact? Case in point, Freeman Hunt’s intimidating baby. Or, a look across a bar, if you like. Even just a picture, if done right, can make you feel like you have a window into someone.

The inevitable confirmation comes next:

Incidently
If you should run into a shower,
Just step inside my cottage door,
And meet the million dollar baby
From the five and ten cent store.

Now, they didn’t dwell on these things much–we’re already 1:20 into the song, let’s wrap up what we’re trying to say.

Love comes along like a popular song
Any time or anywhere at all.
Rain or sunshine
Spring or fall.
Say, you’ll never know when it may say hello
In a very unexpected place.
For example, take my case.

Well, we gotta fill out the 78, so we’ll have Bing do some scatting and repeat the opening versus, but this’ll fit nicely on one of those folded single sheets, with a nice picture on the front and the remaining three sides holding the music. We’ll sell it for four bits.

Can you imagine? That’s how they used to make their money: Writing songs and selling the sheet music. My first piano teacher got one of her songs published that way right about the time she retired. (I was maybe four or five.)

This, like the music itself, is what it is. And whether we cast a dismissive or nostalgic eye on it is up to us.

Just remember: You’ll never know when it may say hello.

Links You May Have Missed, But Probably Would Like To See, If Only You Knew About Them

These are for me as much as you. I’ll thank me later. Mostly from Twitter.

Via Freeman Hunt : The blog of Milton Friedman’s “Free To Choose” PBS series. Funny that for all the PBS crap I got shown in school, this wasn’t among the viewing options.

Via Andy Levy via Allahpundit: Face transplant story with pictures. Amazing.

More on the voucher situation from the WSJ: “If, however, you are a pol who piously tells inner-city families that public schools are the answer – and you do this while safely ensconcing your own kids in some private haven – the press corps mostly winks.”

Also, today is not the day where I wish I sent my kids to public school.

27% of all marketers suck? Sounds a little low to me.

Funny and short: Why copywriters should be native speakers.

Cringely talks about the future of television on the Internet. It’s interesting.

Hot: Bill Whittle schools John Stewart on the history behind Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The beauty of being a useful idiot is that you never have to research and you never have to say you’re sorry. Because, damn the facts, you’re right, and Harry Truman was a war criminal.

Lastly, Tabitha Hale aka Pink Elephant Pundit has started doing a radio show/podcast/audio blog/whatever the hell the kids these days are calling it. Episode One is here. I was going to listen to it, but there’s, like, the entirety of “Walk This Way” at the front and that used up any time I had, plus confused me.

Fan Service

I asked, Trooper York answered. What this blog needs, apparently, is more pointy breasts. For those who don’t know, by sheer whimsy, the Bit Maelstrom ended up #3 on a search for “pointy breasts” in Google. (Below womenanswers.com and above the urban dictionary.) And for most of 2008, visitors came to this site looking for cheesecake. Since I’ve not posted any real breasts since November, we’ve slipped a bit, and are now drooping at #13.

I’ve nothing against breasts, mind you; I’ve developed no aversion to the fairer sex. It’s just a matter of integrity. Or something. I just haven’t been watching the right sorts of ‘50s movies to provide examples. And now that Troop has his own blog, I feel a little like a pretender before his cheesecake-posting grandeur.

Nonetheless, since he made the request, I submit for your approval, one Kim Novak.

More perky than pointy, really.

I love Novak because at 21, she played opposite a 36-year-old William Holden (Picnic), and a 25 she played opposite a 50-year-old Jimmy Stewart (twice, once in Vertigo and once in Bell, Book and Candle), and did it with a gravitas that made it all seem plausible and not creepy.

Scarlett? Natalie? Either Jessica? Lovely and fine though they are, could they carry a Vertigo? Even with broad-shouldered help from a Stewart or Holden? I don’t think so.

Organic?

Freeman Hunt tweeted an article on organic being unsafe relative to other foods. This is probably true, if you take the entire category of foods that slap the word “organic” on their box/package/can, whatever.

The usual attack on “organic” begins with “organic doesn’t mean anything” or “it means ‘containing carbon’”. But, of course, since the ’40s at least, it’s meant “raised or conducted without the use of drugs, hormones, or synthetic chemicals”, presumably going back to the earlier meaning of derived from or pertaining to living organisms. Then, of course, there’s a larger, vaguer meaning which has to do with adherence to a particular set of dogma as varied and splintered as Christianity.

The premise of “organic” is that modern agricultural techniques result in less nutritious food, or food that otherwise has unwanted side-effects. If only, the argument goes, we had the nutritious food of the 19th century, we might all live into our 50s.

Actually, it’s easy to snark, and harder to make truly substantive points here. Many factors led to the earlier deaths of our ancestors, including (perhaps) a lack of food, but perhaps not the general quality of food when you could get it.

My suspicion is that many modern agricultural techniques are truly harmful, but only in the slow, ticking time-bomb way that is rather preferable to the less slow, horrible approach of starvation. The organic market is one that places a premium on long-term health (they presume) over short-term economic gain.

The yin to the synthetic pesticide yang is mineral depletion of the soil. It’s really not debatable that the foods we get in the market are not optimal, nutrient-wise. All you have to do is stop by a roadside vegetable stand or pick an apple off a tree to know that something is lost in transit.

Whether that’s due to the soil we can debate, and I’ll take that up at a later time. The point is, if mineral depletion of the soil is the key element, a product can be certified organic, be produced with the greatest attention to health imaginable, and still be as bad or worse than non-organic food. (For simplicity’s sake, I’m ignoring the myriad shams.) As bad, because just like their conventional counterparts, they lack the nutrients. Worse, because without conventional treatments, they’re susceptible to all the same diseases with none of the protections.

So, it’s not at all surprising to find “organic” foods more susceptible to disease or bearing disease: Between the charlatans, the well-meaning-but-ignorant, and maybe some bias in the research, I would be surprised to find anything else. (See the earlier discussion here about raw milk.)

I don’t have any kind of magic bullet here. Obviously, the ideal would be to test food items for both the presence of various substances: poisons, pathogens, phytochemicals, minerals, and so on.

Tricorder anyone?

Well, That Sucked!

I basically lost April from that damned ear infection, which now appears to be cleared up. My ears aren’t right yet, but that’ll take longer.

I started doing the same nutritional program as The Boy, only a bit more severely. I’ve just finished two weeks without meat, sugar, white flour–you know, all the good stuff.

Perhaps surprisingly, this hasn’t been particularly hard. Despite Trooper posting pictures of pastry. (Hey, the best thing is still on the menu.) And I have eaten like this before, even if it was as a strident, organic-lovin’, tofu-munchin’, birkenstock-wearing post-teen.

Guess I should’ve kept it up.

Anyway, meat should be okay, at least in small quantities, after a while. And I don’t plan to always be saintly. But for now, I’m on the wagon.

Weep for me.

The Children Are Our Future: They’ll Be Paying All The Bills, After All

There are some things that just make you say, “Really?” Like, when the teamsters union gets all pissy because Mexican trucks are allowed on our roads, and then you find out that there’s a whopping 97 Mexican trucks on American highways.

So, because one group was mildly threatened, draconian measures have been taken, resulting in draconian retaliation. I’d wonder who can blame countries that retaliate by hiking up tariffs–and countries around the world apparently are reacting to the various little Smoot-Hawleys the President is building–but I’d hope that someone, somewhere, in charge of some country gets that while one-way free trade isn’t fair, by blocking it, you only hurt yourself.

But the one that gets me the most is this beauty: Obama cancelled a successful voucher program in DC, including 200 scholarships already sent out. The most powerful lobby in the state, maybe in the country, controlling the lives of millions upon millions of students, regardless of how poorly they educate them, was threatened by a handful of poor souls who had managed to escape.

So they had to uproot these kids. Give them a taste of the good life, then take it away. And who’s taking this opportunity away? People who send their own children to private schools, quite possibly the same ones these kids will not be going to.

Politics is always stupid. It’s a shame that it’s often mean as well.

Conversations From The Living Room, Part 13: Another example of why living with a three-year-old is like living with a drunk.

Scene: The Barbarienne is climbing on top of the laundry hamper, balancing herself somehow on the edge, when suddenly she vanishes behind the couch and a loud THUNK is heard.

“Are you okay?”

“That was awesome!