Press "Enter" to skip to content

Month: May 2018

That Elephant There

Oh hey, remember that time I pointed out that Republican campaign manager Corey Bliss was ignoring healthcare as an issue? The Democrats have not forgotten that healthcare is an issue.

Health care will be a defining difference in North Dakota, where incumbent Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp faces GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer, who backed repeal. In Arkansas, Clarke Tucker, a cancer survivor, says health care is the reason he’s running for Congress. And in New Jersey, Democrat Andy Kim is talking health care as he tries to unseat Rep. Tom MacArthur, who played a key role in finally getting a repeal bill through the House, only to see it die in the Senate.

I’m not terribly confident about winning the Senate back but the House is going blue.

We Did A New Thing

I was expecting the whole cruise ship experience to be cheesy as hell and possibly not enjoyable without a heavy dose of irony. However, at the tender age of forty-eight, I am keenly interested in new classes of experience and the idea of using a very large ship as a sort of hermit crab shell was intriguing. Also, Alaska.

My short review: that was actually reasonably fun. Alaska is flat out gorgeous and historically fascinating, so you should visit it if possible. There is no way to visit southeast Alaska from the contiguous 48 without a significant investment of time and money; given that, it makes a bunch of sense to unpack your stuff into a big floating hotel rather than unpacking and packing and flying and unpacking and packing and so on. I wouldn’t recommend a cruise for the sake of the food, the entertainment, or the social opportunities — YMMV on the last, I’m a bit of an iconoclast — but all of the above are just fine as side elements to a cruise focused on seeing the sights.

Details: we took Holland America’s MS Noordam on a six night cruise departing from Vancouver. We spent a day cruising the Endicott Arm, stayed in Juneau overnight, and stopped for most of a day in Ketchikan. We also had two full days at sea.

In a little more detail…

Elephant in the Election

I was gonna be snarky about Corey Bliss in this New York Times piece because of how he manages to pretend health care and insurance costs totally don’t exist and shouldn’t be mentioned when you’re talking about the economy. Frank Bruni gets zero points for going along with it. This is literally just letting a Republican strategist control the message while pretending to be objective; well done, Grey Lady!

But then Kevin Drum went ahead and dropped a few charts about wage growth on us and I decided that was a way better reason to snark. Bliss can be laser focused on taxes if he likes but wages aren’t looking so hot. Think the mostly illusory tax cuts will make up for stagnant salaries? Me either.

Bliss also claimed progressive radical candidates are gonna get steamrolled the day after a pretty moderate set of candidates won in primaries. To be fair he’s actually just trying to get Bernie fans angry there.

More Books Than That

Susan and I visited a whole bunch of bookstores on Saturday. Seattle goes all out for Independent Bookstore Day — 19 participating indie bookstores run this program where you get a passport and get stamps at each participating store and if you get to all the stores in one day, you get 25% off purchases for the next year. Last year we missed it. This year it was a priority.

It involved two ferries, ten hours of driving, and a lot of cookbooks. This… is our story.

On Track for a Beating

There’s this cool story about a pair of gamblers who figured out how to beat the odds at the Jockey Club in Hong Kong. Read it if you like that sort of story. If you’re a Feng Shui player, first read it, then have five plot hooks:

    1. Your friend Bill Menter, professional gambler and statistician, calls you. His system is failing for the first time ever and someone’s clearly messing with the odds. As it turns out, it’s a Lotus sorcerer making some cash to fund a more dire scheme. If a player character is a Gambler, the system may be an unnecessary component of this plot hook.
    2. No, the system really is bullshit. Bill Menter is a front for the Jammers and he’s been screwing with the odds by implanting cyber tech into horses. Your friend at the Jockey Club knows something is wrong and needs you to fix it. (The falling out between Bill and his partner was really because his partner went with the New Simian Army.)
    3. Bill has cause and effect reversed. His code is interacting with the complex Chi flows of Hong Kong in such a manner as to create a temporary feng shui site, which the Ascended notice and object to. You are making some extra cash as a runner when they show up to shut the operation down.
    4. Yeah, that whole story about how Bill didn’t cash in that winning ticket? That’s a lie. Bill is using it as a prize in a martial arts tournament, with the intention of trying to hire the winner for certain plans of his own. But the real prize would be stealing his methodology, and some of the tournament competitors know that.
    5. The system really works by stealing luck away from other people — but not in the current day. Rather, the horses Bill bets on are stealing luck from the past. Much to nobody’s pleasure, they’re specifically stealing Wong Fei Hong’s luck — the young Wong Fei Hong played by Jackie Chan. The Guiding Hand cannot allow this to stand.