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* You MUST see this chart of positions on gay rights issues by state. Besides the political interest, it's an awesome graph.
* Placer County, replacing Orange County as the conservative exemplar
* GOP undermining their own deficit message; if Bush strayed, it's not Obama's fault. May be obsolete by now, as people fret about lots of low-interest debt, even though we may well need more stimulus
* Iran's election: "Not 170, only 50, cities have more voters than people.

538 on Iran
* Initial analysis; comments are more interesting, including alleged analysis of uneven distribution of the *last* digit (vs. Benford's Law, which looks for logarithmic distribution of the first.)
* Inferring intimidation from response refusal
* Fishy numbers

538 on health care
* Obama needs to get off his ass and starting actually selling his policies. Sounds like he may have started doing that.
* Comments on medical innovation across countries. The US isn't as good as we proclaim.
* In performance across countries, we do best in Medicare and geriatric care. Which are paid for by... the government. Also, possible biases in cancer numbers.
* Public option polling. More. Really popular among the people, but a hard fight in the Senate. Special interest money doesn't help. Even though half of Republicans may favor a public options.
* George Will's argument against it: it's unfair! The government doesn't have to make a profit and can do a better job in negotiating down costs! Wait, what's the problem? Does he favor the market over the government even if government is more effective? Ah, this truly is free market fundamentalism.

* Is the stimulus working?. Summary of recent talks
* Stiglitz's economic pessmism
* It's tough to stick with Keynes. I've wondered if we need some fiscal equivalent of central banks.
* The insanity or hypocrisy of concerns about effectiveness measures.

Health care
* San Francisco has a health plan, of sorts.
* Kristof on Canadian health care
* The "45 million Americans have no health insurance" is for people without insurance for an entire year. 52 million go without for 9 months.
* AMA corruption The AMA derives at least a fifth of its budget from drug companies through
an arrangement known as "licensure."

* You may have heard that the CBO pronounced the Democratic health plan to be really expensive. Turns out the CBO didn't analyze their plan, but something else without mandate or public option.
* More on insurance companies dumping people, and 'rescission'
* A public option: really popular

* Me on types of deficits, and their being unavoidable -- we borrow money for a stimulus, or borrow money in a depression to pay for services, or cut services and get deficits in education, roads, health care, the military...
* Republican mullahs?
* Followup to this: more on evangelical chaplains in the military, and illegal proselytization that may endanger troops.
* Old news by now, but Obama's DoJ filed a brief defending DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act, aka "screw the gays" as far as full faith and credit goes).
** DoJ may claim it has to defend the laws, but Arnold and Jerry Brown seem happy to disown Prop 8
* On black atheists.
* Obama uses teleprompter, Bush used it or index cards, according to Ari Fleischer.
* Optimism about development
* New police chief for San Francisco. Sounds promising, but I'm also struck by George Gascon replacing Heather Fong as police chief names.
* In 1746 the French scientist and abbé Jean-Antoine Nollet gathered about
two hundred monks into a circle about a mile (1.6 km) in circumference,
with pieces of iron wire connecting them and discharged a battery of
Leyden jars through them; he observed that each man reacted at
substantially the same time to the electric shock, showing the speed of
propagation to be very high.
Also says the Nevada constitution was telegraphed to Congress for speedy approval before the Slavers' Rebellion.
* Racism in the South Carolina GOP
* The Medea Hypothesis, a pessimistic counterpart to the Gaia hypothesis, that Earth processes could easily end up wiping out life.
* Global warming and precipitation changes.

Canada and cartoons
* Colin Powell's endorsements and Canada's state secrets. FilibusterCartoons was a conservative Canadian editorial cartoon I discovered recently, with a fair bit of amusing stuff. From the author's blog: Canada's royal wedding and associated ugliness. I think he's a republican. Gay marriage. Anti-Americanism

* Presently, the Act of Settlement of 1701 constitutionally binds Canada to only heads of state who are not Roman Catholics. They must also be required to hold the position of Supreme Governor of The Church of England, thereby also preventing, Jews, Hindus, Muslims or anyone not a member of that Protestant denomination from becoming Canada's head of

* "Tough love" for Australia's aborigines. No booze for you -- or porn! I don't know much of the context, and I know non-Old World populations have had a lot of problems with alcohol, but it still seems rather paternalistic. Porn?


Damien Sullivan

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January 2019


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