Monday, December 15, 2008

Health care: a subtext

I saw a billboard the other day, here in the sometimes-chilly western suburbs of Philadelphia, concerning PA CHIP - the Pennsylvania Children's Health Insurance Program. The ad proclaimed that now no uninsured child, no matter how much the family's income, can be denied CHIP coverage. My immediate thought was along lines of "misaligned incentives": taken at face value, this program would seem to disincent parents from insuring their children privately. I emphasize that I had no knowledge of premium costs, requirements that parents who had private insurance available actually use it, or any other details - just this ad, which says in essence, "Don't insure your child; Pennsylvania will take care of it for you."

So today I googled "Pennsylvania children's health insurance" - the search I performed is here. The first item that came up (and Google being what it is, it may not be the same one now) was this - the website the billboard sent people to, to learn more. Reasonable.

But the text accompanying the link on Google? That was interesting. I quote:
All wealthy uninsured children and teens not eligible for Medical Assistance have access to health insurance. It doesn't matter how much money your family...

I goggled. (At Google.) Surely they couldn't really have said "all wealthy uninsured children...", could they? I clicked the link. Here's what I read:
Don't assume that you earn too much to qualify.

All uninsured children and teens not eligible for Medical Assistance have access to health insurance.

In other words, somebody at CHIP had the same thought I did, and had access to the metatags. Interesting indeed.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Well, it's "change" at any rate...

The whole Blagojevich thing, I mean. Such as here.
Because so far as even the most rabid of Bush-haters has been able to tell, W.'s gubernatorial seat was not on the auction block once he was president-elect.


You'd think that after this long, politicians on both sides of the aisle would be wary of speaking in absolutes. They have so much faith in our short attention span, though, that the never-to-be-fulfilled promises just keep coming (cf. "Most Ethical Congress Ever"...)

I don't fault a politician for making promises to try things that ultimately fail as long as he or she actually does try them; as everybody knows, the President does not control the pursestrings and so has limited influence over the budget (although in this case even less-rabid Bush-haters seem to believe W. is, again, both blindingly stupid and a malevolent genius), for instance. But when a politician promises to deliver on something that's in his or her basic control, such as how, ethically speaking, he or she will govern if elected, I do expect results.

Bush promised "compassionate conservatism." It's not an approach I think makes much sense, but he did indeed deliver on it. Obama promises "hope and change" (again, what kind of stupid idea is that? But it's what got him where he is); we'll see how well he does. So far the scandals and the Clinton-era appointees and so forth don't bode all that well. I'm willing to cut him a good bit of slack because he has to actually govern, not just pander to the nuttiest among those who voted for him, but I do expect to see something different. Bring it on, Mr. President-Elect.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Notice how I'm off politics?

Yeah, me too. Burnout.

Things I Like, Pt. Deux

But wait, there's more! Song lyrics. I like song lyrics.

Back in high school, I remember laughing over the lyrics of some song or other - "let's take a shower together," something like that. My sister, who I don't believe liked the actual song any better than I did, nevertheless thoughtfully noted that songs of that genre had more heart than the rock songs that were the staples of my social circle. At the time I had to agree. It's hard to argue that "If You See Kay" (that was April Wine) or "The Number of the Beast" (that was Iron Maiden) were as - for lack of a better term - makeout-worthy as, say, "Let's take a shower together," the name of which I can't remember if indeed I ever knew it.

And then I fell for and eventually married (and somewhat more eventually divorced) a young man for whom song lyrics were almost his preferred mode of communication, and I discovered a world to which I'd been blind and deaf before. After this long and a second marriage that's everything the unfortunate first one wasn't for either of us, I still thank him for giving me ears to hear:
  • I thought I loved you - it was just how you looked in the light. ("Hum Hallelujah," Fall Out Boy)
  • I feel the way you would. ("Afterimage," Rush)
  • I need to feel your heartbeat, so close it feels like mine - all mine. ("Heartbeat," King Crimson)
  • (Here's a whole verse from one of my favorite songs ever:)
    I saw teenage girls like gaudy moths,
    A classroom's shabby butterflies,
    Flirt in the glow of stranded telephone boxes;
    Planning white lace weddings from smeared hearts and token proclamations,
    Rolled from stolen lipsticks across the razored webs of glass.
    Sharing cigarettes with experience
    With her giggling jealous confidantes,
    She faithfully traces his name
    With quick bitten fingernails
    Through the tears of condensation
    Thatll cry through the night
    As the glancing headlights of the last bus
    Kiss adolescence goodbye. ("Warm Wet Circles," Marillion)
  • I am the ticket, you the prize; when begins the winning? ("Girl With Grey Eyes," Big Country)
  • If I only could
    I'd make a deal with God
    And get Him to swap our places;
    Be running up that road,
    Be running up that hill,
    With no problems. ("Running Up That Hill," Kate Bush)
  • (Another whole verse, and an uncharacteristic choice:)
    Well I don't give a dang about nothing
    When I'm singing and bling-blinging
    While the girls are drinking
    Long necks down!
    And I wouldn't trade ol' Leroy
    Or my Chevrolet for your Escalade
    Or your freak parade
    'Cause I'm the only John Wayne left in this town. ("Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy," Big & Rich - and it's a laff riot! I love this song)
  • And the man from the magazine wants another shot of you all curled up,
    'Cause you look like an actor in a movie shot, but you're feeling like a wino in a parking lot. ("Heart of Lothian," Marillion)
  • (Another whole verse:)
    The sky was Bible black in Lyon,
    when I met the Magdalene.
    She was paralyzed in a streetlight.
    She refused to give her name.
    And a ring of violet bruises,
    They were pinned upon her arm.
    Two hundred francs for sanctuary and she led me by the hand,
    to a room of dancing shadows where all the heartache disappears
    And from glowing tongues of candles I heard her whisper in my ear.
    'J'entend ton coeur,'
    'J'entend ton coeur':
    I can hear your heart. ("Bitter Suite," Marillion - I think Marillion's former vocalist and lyricist, Fish, was one of the great prog poets)
  • (One more Marillion. The setting is children running through a sprinkler:)
    Then I heard the children singing;
    They were running through the rainbows.
    They were singing a song for you -
    Well, it seemed to be a song for you,
    The one I wanted to write for you. ("Lavender," Marillion)
  • Show a little faith: there's magic in the night.
    You ain't a beauty, but hey, you're all right. ("Thunder Road," Springsteen)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Things I like

It's been brought to my attention by this and that person that my Twilight/Mrs. Robinson thing is kind of creeping them out. So I thought to myself, "Self, perhaps it's time - rather than withdrawing - to put a little more out there." Because, well, why not? So the following is some of the mishmash that constitutes my essence.

  • I like cloth napkins. We don't have paper napkins in my house; we have old and increasingly ratty cloth ones. (Sometimes we do use paper towels, but usually only because all the ratty cloth ones are waiting to be ironed.) We use napkin rings in their old sense: to mark the family's already-once-used napkins. I'd never use them for company.
  • I like tiny cute things, like really tricked-out dollhouses and those bitty glass animal figurines. I've never had these things; I just like them.
  • I like old-school Heinleinian science fiction. I do not like new-school "crystal singer" (which, yes, I know is already old) "science fiction." I like Card, Herbert (up through the third, MAYBE the fourth Dune book), Foster, some Asimov, some Niven, some Clarke, (in an odd departure) some Brin, a few others, in addition to Heinlein; but really my repertoire is limited. I'm actually not that fond of the genre, except for these folks. Not a woman in the mix. Women's science fiction has always disappointed me - the little I've made it through.
  • I like to read Shakespeare; I sometimes like seeing Shakespeare performed.
  • I like the men of my romantic fantasies to be young, not because they're at any sort of physical peak, but because they're at a certain kind of emotional peak: wherein they are idealistic, passionate about everything, sometimes thoughtlessly cruel in their black-and-whiteness, but when they realize the cruelty they're profoundly sorry. Probably I could chalk up this preference to the fact that a whole lot of me remains young in this sense.
  • I like good grammar. I also like messing around with grammar, knowing that I know what's good grammar.
  • I like Scotch, the dirtier-tasting the better. And lately I like Irish whiskey too; I drink both straight up. I don't care for bourbon, at least not to drink on its own. In other libations, I like Guinness very much indeed, most beers that are darker than (ahem) p*ss, most dry wines - though I steer clear of Merlot generally, because it's too wishy-washy, in my price range at any rate. I like very strong coffee, which I then turn into girly coffee with flavored creamer. I like Diet Coke and will stomach Diet Pepsi if I must. I do not like sugared sodas.
  • I like making things, usually the hardest way possible. My sister has commented on this fact. If equally tasty tomato sauce can be made by opening a jar or by peeling, seeding, and cooking tomatoes from my laboriously organic garden, mincing (garden) garlic by hand, sweetening with sauteed minced (garden) onion (not sugar), picking (garden) herbs and mincing them too, well, I'd be happiest if I also had an olive tree out back from which I could make my own olive oil. I don't actually have time for what I want to do.
  • I like knowing how to do lots of things, even if there's no conceivable way I'll ever need that knowledge. I know how to make a dovetail joint; at no time in my life will I ever make one. I know how to find water in the desert; I plan never to get into that kind of pickle.
  • I like reading on vacation. My idea of a perfect day in Paris has nothing to do with the Louvre or the Rive Gauche or anything like that; it'd be any obscure cafe´ with my well-stocked and charged-up Kindle in hand, weather irrelevant. My perfect day at the beach actively avoids being at the beach, but rather lounging around at the hotel with the Kindle. Actually, I like reading, and re-reading, more than just about anything.
  • I like being poorly paid. Don't ask me why. If you do ask, I'll probably have to say it's because that way (a) I don't have to feel too guilty about whatever level of effort I make, and (b) people are astonished at how committed I am, considering how poorly I'm paid. Contradictory but true.
  • I like winning games but I don't like people to know that.
  • I like confession. Does it show?
  • I like making lists. Sometimes I even use them as tools to help organize my overly committed life. It seldom works very well, because I make too many of them.

That's some of it. The great wonder of it all is that my dear husband married me knowing my "bag of crazies," as some nearly-as-dear friends call it, and has stayed married to me for going on fifteen years so far, and assures me he'd do it all again. What a fella.