2013 Review: Part 6

2013 ReviewFinally, the end of it. I think by this one, I’m starting to get the hang of it. Now I could go back and do it correctly. But that isn’t going to happen. Maybe if I do it next year, it will be better. I think I have a better idea. Just one introductory paragraph and then a list of the ten best articles from that month. That would be pretty simple and most usable for the readers. We’ll see.

November 2013

There were a few notable events in my life in November. I got my very first smart phone, a Samsung Exhibit. It isn’t as great as some of the newer phones, but it does all the things that the newer phones do. It seems the main thing about the newer phones are that they are a bit faster and they are thinner. Neither of those things matter too much to me. I really like my new phone, but it isn’t that great. I like that I can serf the web more easily than I used to be able to. In particular, having 4g, instead of no-g, is good. But it is still pretty hard to get any real work done. I also like the mic feature for texting. But it makes a lot of mistakes. For example, I absolutely cannot get it to recognize the word “atheist.” I just said the word a number of times and it gave me: 80 AST; a CST; ACS; eight CST; a fierce; a fifth. What’s more, I haven’t figured out how to make it stop censoring me. Today, it changed “sexualized” to “s*********.” Since when is “sexualized” a “bad” word? But the main thing is that the phone has not changed my life in any meaningful way. It’s nice to have, but it isn’t a big deal.

I coined a term in November, Placebo Policies. This came about because of all the whining about people losing their cheap healthcare policies because they didn’t meet the requirements of Obamacare. Hence the term. These are great policies in that they don’t cost much and they give the holder the feeling that he is covered. But when it comes down to it—if he gets sick—he will find that the policy is of no use. So all these news reports, in as much as they are true (which they usually aren’t), are just arguing that people should be able to keep placebo policies. And that’s really terrible. These reporters would feel terrible if you put it to them like that, “So you want to allow this person to go on thinking they have health coverage when they really don’t?” The stories ought to be the other way; they ought to be about consumer protection. These are the opposite: making sure that companies can continue to lie to their customers.

As I said in Part 5 of this series, the Obamacare website problems went on into November. Most of my coverage was like that in, Democratic Freak Out Will Not Help. As I pointed out again and again, it was just a technical problem. They had good people working on the problem and that no one had given them any time. In fact, every new bug that turned up was seen to cause for panic. This is typical of people who aren’t software development professionals. For those of us who are, we know that finding bugs is a good thing. It’s what you are supposed to be doing. If you have a broken system but you aren’t finding any bugs, you have a really bad development team. And by the end of the month, the system was basically fixed. Of course, work will go on fixing and improving it as long as it exists. That’s just the way software works.

November also brought the end of the filibuster on nominations. That was something I’ve been begging for for a couple of years. And once it was done, I wanted more. I wrote, Obama Must Use Filibuster Reform. What I meant was that now Obama needs to quickly fill all the openings on the courts. Because God knows, if he doesn’t and Ted Cruz is our next president, he will. Of course, as is typical for this president, I don’t see a great deal of urgency coming from the administration. We’ll see. But mostly, he seems to have other priorities.

Memorable Articles

Selective Conservative Outrage
I Love Democracy
Sympathy for Rob Ford
The Veil in the Western World
Conservative Ideological Clumping
How to Catch a Cheetah
Where’s My Third Lost Skeleton Film?!
The Q Filmcast
Income Inequality is Government Policy
Two Great Vincent Price Murder Films
Libertarians Just Don’t Like the Poor
No Economic Lessons from Star Trek

Enjoy the entire: November 2013 Archive.

December 2013

Now we are almost back to the present. It was almost exactly a month since I stopped watching MSNBC. The reason? Martin Bashir Fired, MSNBC Sucks. It isn’t just MSNBC, I think that liberals have a loyalty problem. The smallest scandal and liberals start firing each other. The best example of this was Shirley Sherrod. But when MSNBC fired Martin Bashir, I had had it with the network. What he did was not a firing offense. And then, less than a month later, the right-wing has Melissa Harris-Perry falling all over herself apologizing for what, I still don’t exactly get. But I feel certain that had she not done her parade of self-flagellation, she too probably would have lost her job. It’s just pathetic. And the truth is that I don’t miss MSNBC. It was convenient to put on while I was cooking dinner, but that was about all. And now looking back on it, it seems even worse. I still admire Chris Hayes, but Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell both have annoying and obvious biases. Regardless, I want to send my own little message that firing people like Bashir (and Alec Baldwin) for minor things costs them viewership on the other side. And I don’t think they gain a single viewer from their cowardly behavior.

Something I’ve written about a lot is the hypocrisy of conservative Christians. The public ones, anyway, clearly have two masters; God as they see it and free market capitalism as they see it. For short: God and Money. In December, I went after one of my favorite targets: Ross Douthat’s Politics Before Religion. Douthat is very ostentatious about his Catholicism. In the article I talked about how Douthat was cheering for the failure of Obamacare, even though it will give healthcare to up to 50 million people. And before that, he thought that Pope Francis’ liberalish public statements only mattered if they got more people to go to church. It didn’t even occur to him that Francis might think of these things as a matter of faith. That Francis cares more about the teachings of Jesus than he does money. And then, at the beginning of the year, I had much to say about another supposedly religious man, David Brooks Puts Profits over Prophets. Or pick another: Paul Ryan. They are all a bunch of phonies. See also: More on Politics First Religion Second.

In December, I started another series on income inequality solutions. I’ve been working around the edges. I figure I’ll get to the big ones later. The first was on the estate tax. The second was on higher inflation. I’ve got to get back to that series. There are a lot of things we can do. We have high income inequality because of government policy, not because it is “natural.” And so there are a lot of government policies that can fix the problem.

Memorable Articles

My Creepy People Models
Conservative Hatred of Nelson Mandela
Pennies from Heaven, Roses from Cairo
The Bald Soprano Economy
America’s Vague Caste System
One Year After Sandy Hook Little Changed
How to Not Become a Neo-Nazi
Play-By-Play Chess Action!
These Are Victims: Matthew Shepard and Emmett Till
Our Economic Turn From Shared Sacrifice to Social Darwinism
More Evil English With Palate and Palette and Pallet
The Beauty of Abandonment and Decay

Enjoy the entire: December 2013 Archive.


If I had to pick one quotation from all my writing last year, it would come from my article in early December, Prison, Dentists, and the Least Among Us. It is sad, but it sums up the fundamental problem in our society and explains generally all of our problems:

In our society, justice is something that is applied to the poor. It is rarely something done for the poor. In a world where that’s what passes for justice, we would be better off with less justice.

Let us hope that things continue to get better. I know that as humans we have the power to make that happen.

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