July 27, 2007

I hear Starbucks gives benefits to part-time baristas…

Posted in Health care, Medicine, Mental health, Musings at 11:46 pm by The Lizard Queen

THE FACTS:

1. I am a graduate student at a state university, entering my seventh (and final) semester.
2. I had an assistantship for my first six semesters. Six semesters is the maximum length of an assistantship in our department, because that’s the most we have funding for.
3. Health insurance was included in the assistantship.
4. As I am no longer employed by the university, my coverage ends on August 20th.
5. I have another job, but that job does not offer health insurance.
6. I have suffered from depression for most of my life. I first saw a psychologist when I was seven years old.
7. I have been on medication for my depression for the past six years, with occasional breaks. The medication is not a cure-all, but it makes a significant difference.
8. With my insurance plan, I paid 40% of the cost of my medication, and it was still expensive. (The patient’s share of medication costs will go up to 50% when the fall semester begins.) I’m not sure I can afford to pay 100% of the cost of my medication.
9. I’m also not sure I can afford to pay for the graduate student insurance plan out of my own pocket.
10. I thus find myself considering tapering off my meds at a rather inconvenient time solely for financial reasons.

The facts lead me to THE QUESTION:

Can someone please explain to me what’s so bad about universal (socialized) health care?

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July 26, 2007

Thursday YouTubein’ — Rocket Packs

Posted in Music at 7:43 am by The Lizard Queen

A few months ago I mentioned to my dad the fact that, if you’d asked me when I was a kid if we’d have flying cars by the year 2007, I’d have said yes.  In fact, what I said basically boiled down to, “Hey, it’s 2007 — where’s my flying car?”  My dad sent me this YouTube video in response:

Sheesh.  Will the future never get here?

July 25, 2007

Hump Day Poetry: Martín Espada

Posted in Poetry at 4:03 pm by The Lizard Queen

General Pinochet at the Bookstore

                                               Santiago, Chile, July 2004

The general’s limo parked at the corner of San Diego street
and his bodyguards escorted him to the bookstore
called La Oportunidad, so he could browse
for rare works of history.

There were no bloody fingerprints left on the pages.
No books turned to ash at his touch.
He did not track the soil of mass graves on his shoes,
nor did his eyes glow red with a demon’s heat.

Worse: His hands were scrubbed, and his eyes were blue,
and the dementia that raged in his head like a demon,
making the general’s trial impossible, had disappeared.

Desaparecido: like thousands dead but not dead,
as the crowd reminded the general,
gathered outside the bookstore to jeer
when he scurried away with his bodyguards,
so much smaller in person.

—Martín Espada, 2006

I doubt I’d want to visit if I didn’t already live here

Posted in Civil rights, Government at 1:49 pm by The Lizard Queen

Apropos of my post the other day about the detailed information the TSA will soon be gathering from visitors to the U.S. from Europe, here is an anecdote of one woman’s experience. She was flying from London, U.K. to Auckland, New Zealand, and the plane stopped in Los Angeles to refuel. Here is an excerpt (emphasis in the original):

We were told to disembark with all our carry-on luggage, leaving nothing on board. Those who were flying from London to Auckland were told to line up against a wall in a corridor while those whose flights terminated at Los Angeles filed past and disappeared. And there, in a hot, cramped corridor we stood and waited. And waited. And waited. I finally couldn’t stand it, and asked where to find the ladies’ loo – to be ordered not to leave the line. (Sod that, thought I, or rather, my bladder) and I wandered up the queue to discover that we were being processed, slowly, one by one, by a single officer in a tiny booth. After a quick dash to a toilet, I made my way back down the line to where I’d left my new comrades-in-arms – Judy, a petite, smartly dressed 61-year-old Kiwi schoolteacher in London on compassionate leave going home to Auckland to see her terminally ill father, and Derek, a wiry Scots engineer with an acerbic sense of humour. ‘You bloody Yanks seem to think terrorism is something new and only ever happens to Americans,’ he groused to me. Being possibly the only bloody Yank going from London to New Zealand, I became by default the sole available representative for my fellow countrymen. ‘We’ve had the IRA and the French have the Algerians and the Spanish have ETA. Now you know what the rest of Europe’s been living with for the last few hundred years. Why don’t you lot just grow up?’ Heads around us nodded in irritated agreement.

To our relief, we were finally moved out of the corridor, all following another LAX official to what we were expecting to be the transit lounge… but to our collective dismay, we were herded into a bigger Immigration area, where all those who were not US passport holders filled out long green cards asking detailed personal information, to be handed over to US Immigration officials busy taking everyone’s fingerprints and photographs. There was some confusion about just what to do with me, as I was a US citizen, but was flying on to New Zealand. Eventually, I was given a shorter blue form to fill out. A couple of students with worried expressions – Germans, I think, judging from the language – were being led away by uniformed police who were having interpretation problems. It was a very repressive and rather frightening atmosphere.

Bear in mind here… we were all ‘non-stop’ transit passengers, due to get straight back on the same plane we’d just gotten off and fly on to Auckland, never setting foot outside the airport and onto American soil.

Is this really keeping us safe, or is it just alienating individuals who might have been supportive of our country had they not been treated like criminals just so they could use the toilet and have a snack while their plane was refueled? I suspect we have enough enemies as it is — do we really need to be putting so much effort into making more?

At any rate, the whole piece is worth a read.

July 24, 2007

“World’s Only Reliable Newspaper” soon to be no more

Posted in Apropos of nothing, News at 10:51 pm by The Lizard Queen

It seems that the Weekly World News is to cease publication soon. I’m thoroughly disappointed — where will I then go for stories about the world’s fattest cat saving Christmas, about Nostradamus’s most recently translated prophecies, about Bat Boy, and perhaps most importantly, about the Pentavirate?

I’m not entirely joking, either. WWN is the only tabloid I’ve ever purchased: this past January or so there was a cover story about a giant cat that “owned” 23 old women. How could I resist? I’ve always found WWN to be an entertaining distraction in the supermarket checkout line, much more so than any of the celebrity-based tabloids, so I do think I’ll miss it. Ah well.

(h/t PZ)

July 23, 2007

U.S. Homeland Security to Europeans: tell us your secrets and we’ll let you in

Posted in Civil rights, Government at 5:32 pm by The Lizard Queen

I’ve written before about the ridiculousness in which the Department of Homeland Security and TSA engage in the name of safety and security. (And it’s clearly working, because we haven’t had any terrorists attacks here since 9/11! Also, I have a bridge you might be interested in buying!)

This might well take the cake, though (at least until a few months from now, when they try something new and even worse):

Highly sensitive information about the religious beliefs, political opinions and even the sex life of Britons travelling to the United States is to be made available to US authorities when the European Commission agrees to a new system of checking passengers.

The EC is in the final stages of agreeing a new Passenger Name Record system with the US which will allow American officials to access detailed biographical information about passengers entering international airports.

Because, what, conservative Muslims who don’t have much sex are potentially terrorists and ought to be detained? Or maybe it’s the oversexed atheists who enjoy Dungeons & Dragons and Harry Potter? What, exactly, is this new plan going to accomplish that previous, presumably less offensive, plans did not? There are a few more details further down in the article: Read the rest of this entry »

July 21, 2007

ZOMG best thing EVAR (after the new Harry Potter book)

Posted in Animals, Apropos of nothing at 9:49 pm by The Lizard Queen

Me as a lolcat:

Your Score: Longcat

64% Affectionate, 28% Excitable, 48% Hungry

Protector of truth.

Slayer of darkness.

Loooooong.

Longcat may seem like just a regular lengthy cat, but he is, in fact, looong. For proof, observe the longpic.

It is prophesized that Longcat and his archnemesis Tacgnol will battle for supremacy on Caturday. The outcome will change the face of the world, and indeed the very fabric of lolcatdom, forever.

Be grateful that the test has chosen you, and only you, to have this title.

To see all possible results, checka dis.

Link: The Which Lolcat Are You? Test written by GumOtaku on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Finished!

Posted in Literature at 9:25 pm by The Lizard Queen

Yes, I — a fairly slow reader, in fact — just tore through a 759 page book in less than 24 hours. Such is the power of the Potter.

Part of the reason I was avoiding the internet today, aside from the fact that I was busy reading, was because I was afraid I’d stumble across spoilers. So, rather than say anything specific, I’ll just copy Evil Bender and give you my one-word review: perfect. It’s not a word I use often, but once I finished the last page I looked up at EB (who beat me by a half-hour or so), and said, through tears, “That was perfect.” Then we discussed more specific events, and more than once I said “I just thought that was perfect.” Thus I figured I’d go with my gut for the one-word review. 🙂

Just dropping in…

Posted in Literature, Personal at 11:02 am by The Lizard Queen

…to say I’m busy reading Harry Potter.  Currently taking a break between pages 310 and 311.  More from me when I’ve finished.  In the meantime, here’s an amusing thread about what HP would look like were it written by another author.  Cheers!

July 20, 2007

Credit where credit is due

Posted in Media, News at 12:07 am by The Lizard Queen

A member of the mainstream news media has actually admitted to getting something wrong [h/t Crooks and Liars]:

On the July 19 edition of ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer apologized for her false assertion — documented by Media Matters for America — regarding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) plan to hold an all-night Senate debate prior to the July 18 cloture vote on a Democratic proposal to withdraw troops from Iraq.

On the July 17 edition of the program, Sawyer said that Reid “vows to filibuster, talking all night to close out all topics besides a vote on Iraqi troop withdrawals.” In fact, by extending the Senate session throughout the night, Reid did not “vow to filibuster,” as Sawyer reported; rather, he highlighted the Republicans’ blocking of an up-or-down vote on the proposal. Indeed, it was the Republicans who opposed the Democrats’ effort to end debate on the legislation and move to a simple majority vote. In her on-air statement, Sawyer clarified that Reid had actually “held the all-night debate to protest the threat of a filibuster from the Republicans. … You wrote me. You were right. I was wrong. I apologize.”

I respect someone who can admit when she’s wrong. It might not be much, but it’s something.

[So, the paragraphs from Media Matters are supposed to have links, but they’re dead at the moment; I’ll try to get them in there in the morning.]

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