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Comments

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The Bogus Batoid Submarine is Wooden, not Yellow (Video)

Roblimo Re:Um... okay...? (44 comments)

i kan(t) read:

You know very well that Tim hits various events and videotapes whomever or whatever he considers interesting. If we were paid for running "video ads," each one would be clearly marked "ad" or "sponsored content."

Should we interview you? Know someone else we should interview? Email me with contact info. Maybe we will.

3 days ago
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Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video)

Roblimo Re:Post-Steampunk (155 comments)

My first oscilloscope was one of those. Tiny little round screen, black crinkle finish... I got it in 1960 or 61; WWII surplus. Found it at some sort of hamfest or other electronics swap meet.

about two weeks ago
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Send Your Own Radiosonde 90,000 Feet Into the Sky (Video)

Roblimo Re: That's a lot of who knowses (48 comments)

You mean like in A.E. van Vogt's book, The Voyage of the Space Beagle -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... -- ? It was old (published in 1950; I wasn't born until 1952) when I found it in the school library. My first piece of science fiction. I was in 3rd grade.

about two weeks ago
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Send Your Own Radiosonde 90,000 Feet Into the Sky (Video)

Roblimo Re:I will Elon Musk (48 comments)

Thanks. Left out the word "join." Not at my best today.

about two weeks ago
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Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 1)

Roblimo Re:Worst video... (139 comments)

Amazon plans to deliver them to you via drone.

about a month ago
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Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 1)

Roblimo Re:TRANSCRIPT! (139 comments)

It did, but only a few minutes. I had to go to the VA for an electrocardiogram. I had to leave before the transcription was done, and the appointment ran a bit longer than I expected. Sorry about that. My heart still seems to be beating, or so they say.

about a month ago
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Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 1)

Roblimo Re:TRANSCRIPT! (139 comments)

Thank you for your courteous request, mythosaz. Serving good people is always a pleasure.

about a month ago
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David Klann Talks About Using Open Source Software in Broadcast Radio (Video)

Roblimo Re:Transmitter manufacturer (35 comments)

Corrected. Thanks for noticing.

about 2 months ago
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David Klann Talks About Using Open Source Software in Broadcast Radio (Video)

Roblimo Re:Artists vs programmers (35 comments)

I think you meant "rich people." Every Democrat I know works for a living or is retired after a lifetime of work.

about 2 months ago
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Slashdot Talks WIth IBM Power Systems GM Doug Balog (Video)

Roblimo transcript finally ready (36 comments)

Better late than never, although this was *way* late...

about 2 months ago
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Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report

Roblimo I drove cabs and limousines... (182 comments)

I know the cab and limo business pretty well (check my /. user name), and I give Uber and Lyft another two years before they start fading. Drivers will get tired of paying high commissions, having all their income reported to the IRS, and beating up their cars like crazy. I survived and did well in the limo biz largely because I could do most of my own repairs and knew low-cost shops that could handle the rest. If I wanted to go back to driving for money (no need - between SS and the "side" freelance work I do, I'm fine) I'd probably work work with Uber until I built up my own "book" of business, that is, personal customers. Then I'd say "sayonara" to Uber, just as I did to the cab company as soon as I had enough personal business to tell them to go screw themselves and a threatened RICO suit against the Baltimore cab companies and the MD Public Service Commission opened the business to anyone with an inspected car, good commercial insurance, and a clean criminal record.

My little group of owner/drivers competed successfully with Boston Coach, Carey, and other national companies. I have no doubt that I could compete successfully with Uber, too. Lyft? A low-rent gypsy cab service. I could beat them, too, but why bother? I did a little gypsy cab work many years ago, but didn't love it.

about 2 months ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Roblimo Kick their asses! (393 comments)

I wrote to my Congressman, Vern Buchanan, earlier today and told him to kick these guys in the ass for me.

about 2 months ago
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Microsoft's Olivier Bloch Explains Microsoft Open Source (Video)

Roblimo Re:This is it. (101 comments)

One generally isn't ironic/sarcastic when "pushing" a company or its products. :)

about 3 months ago
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Peter Hoddie Talks About His Internet of Things Construction Kit (Video)

Roblimo Re: Thanks for another unplayable video (53 comments)

A lot of Slashdot back end code is being rewritten, and HTML5 is supposed to be part of the deal. All the people who actually work on the site and read your comments agree that Flash video is [insert bad word here].

about 3 months ago
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A Credit Card-Sized, Arduino-Based Game Device (Video)

Roblimo Re:Not to sound rude, but .... (33 comments)

Why bother? Because it's a challenge and it's fun. I'm working on a customized bike with stabilizer wheels instead of simply buying a trike like other Old People.

Why? It's a challenge and it's fun. :)

about 3 months ago
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A Warm-Feeling Wooden Keyboard (Video)

Roblimo Re: Buy a Kinesis instead (82 comments)

Wow. My whole laptop cost less than a Kinesis keyboard.

about 3 months ago
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Buying New Commercial IT Hardware Isn't Always Worthwhile (Video)

Roblimo Re:Question for Roblimo (92 comments)

Thousands of viewers, 10 or 20 complaints. That seems like a pretty good ratio to me.

And, of course, if you have good ideas for video interviewees, why don't you send them to me instead of complaining? Please make sure to include contact info. My email is robinATroblimo-com.

Thanks!

about 3 months ago
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All Web Developers Should Have Access to a Device Lab (Video)

Roblimo Re:Responsive Design Mode (60 comments)

That wall of screen was a tradeshow display -- by Google, of course. But check this link (it's in the intro text) again: https://groups.google.com/foru...

The idea isn't that every Web designer in the world should have his or her own wall of screens, but that you and other people who make sites and games and such might collaborate on setting up a group of displays that includes some of the most popular OSes, browsers, and device form factors.

I have always been shocked at how many people who make websites design for a browser, OS, and screen size just like theirs. I remember a conversation in 1998 or so with with a web designer who said, "But our target audience is like you and me - they all have big monitors."

I said, "Really?" and hauled out my little laptop. "What if I'm looking at your site in a hotel room someplace instead of in my home office?"

"Oh," he said.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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Viewfinity CEO Leonid Shtilman Says Many Computer Users are Overprivileged

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "This isn't about your place in society, but about user privileges on your computers and computer networks. The more privileges, the more risk of getting hacked and having Bad People do Bad Things to your company's computers, right? So Shtilman's company, Viewfinity, offers SaaS that helps you grant system privileges in a more granular manner than just allowing "root" and "user" accounts with nothing in between."
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Michigan State Professor Helps Brings Broadband Internet to Rural Africa (Video)

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "Assistant Professor Kurt DeMaagd, of Michigan State's Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media, runs a program that brings broadband Internet to villages in Tanzania that have never known connectivity better than what they get with non-smart cell phones. Lots of students are involved, and Kurt (who was one of Slashdot's co-founders many years ago) believes the students get as much out of the project as the people in Tanzania who are its primary beneficiaries. Setting up not only computer networks but also satellite communications and solar arrays in areas where you can't zip on down to the local computer or hardware store for parts you forgot teaches how to work under adverse conditions, and how to plan in advance instead of winging everything at the last minute. But we'll let Kurt DeMaagd, who is an engaging speaker, tell the story himself in this long (8:12) video."
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Timothy Lord Checks Out the New MakerBot at CES (v

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "The MakerBot Replicator is bigger, better, and easier to set up than earlier MakerBots. In this video from CES, Company CEO Bre Pettis shows Timothy Lord how wonderful a device it is, and tells us why every child (and most adults) should have a MakerBot."
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Timothy Lord Takes You to CES

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "Slashdot's Timothy Lord is at the International Consumer Electronics Expo (CES) in Las Vegas. There is no way any one person can take in the whole show. It's just too big for that. But on Timothy's first day, he spotted an overlay keyboard for the iPad that's been mentioned on Slashdot before, an invisible keyboard for your smartphone or tablet, and a crazy-interesting all-in-one computing device with a built-in projector and built-in virtual keyboard. Watch the video and join Timothy as he learns about these three devices. (Before you ask: Yes, we'll have more videos from CES over the next few days.)"
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A New Job for a New Year?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "Congratulations. You have survived 2011. It is now 2012, and some economists and analysts say the recession we’ve been enjoying for the past few years is now easing, and that there will be more job openings in 2012 than in any year since 2008, maybe even 2007. Huzzah! But does that mean you should start circulating resumes immediately? Not necessarily. If you have a job now, no matter how humble, you may be better off staying with it than moving on. But may does not mean will ."
Link to Original Source
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Do You Really Need a Smart Phone?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Roblimo writes "My phone is as stupid as a phone can be, but you can drop it or get it wet and it will still work. My cellular cost per month is about $4, on average. I've had a cellular phone longer than most people, and I assure you that a smart phone would not improve my life one bit. You, too, might find that you are just as happy with a stupid phone as with a smart one. If nothing else, you'll save money by dumbing down your phone."
Link to Original Source
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No U.S. Government Shutdown This Week

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "If you were hoping for a government shutdown, it looks like you are going to be disappointed. In a last-hour cliffhanger, Democrats and Republicans managed to agree with each other enough to keep the government funded for the rest of the current fiscal year. Since the budget bill that finally passed was a compromise, no one is happy with it. So it goes. That's how things work in a representative government."
Link to Original Source
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My $200 Laptop Can Beat Your $500 Table

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "Yes, we know tablets like the iPad are the wave of the future and that PCs and laptops are dead. But some of us see tablets as laptops with their keyboards missing and a few hundred bucks tacked onto the price."
Link to Original Source
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Five Low-Cost Windows Video Editing Programs

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "Every year, an increasing percentage of my income comes from video shooting and editing. I also help friends, neighbors, and various business associates learn to shoot and edit their own videos. This article describes my five favorite entry-level Windows video editing programs, with a brief run-down of each one's strengths and weaknesses. While I wrote this for people doing business-type videos, this information is also valuable if you want to edit your family's holiday videos. (Free registration required to view.)"
Link to Original Source
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Australian Code Repository Company Buys Competitor

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  about 4 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "Wow. They sent press releases out about this, and we're happy for them. But isn't Git easy to install and use — for free, even if your project is proprietary and secret, not Open Source and public? Whatever. Some people seem to feel better about proprietary software than about FOSS, so I suppose this business story is news. Sort of. At least the featured company, Atlassian, has free versions of its repository for FOSS and small-scale proprietary developers. Which is sort of nice."
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Can an Open Source Map Project Make Money?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "Bing and Mapquest both use output from OpenStreetMap.org (OSM). Mapquest supports the project with money for equipment and access to the code they've written to integrate OSM's work with their display. Bing? They just take from the project and do nothing for it in return. This may be okay in a legal sense, but it is a seriously nekulturny way to behave. Even so, having Microsoft's Bing as a reference might help the project's founder make money. They've put a lot of work into this project, and it's doing a lot of people a lot of good, so they certainly deserve some sort of payback, either direct or indirect. They have a few ideas about how they might legitimately earn a few bucks from their project while remaining free software purists. Do you have any ideas, yourself, about how they might turn a few bucks from OSM?"
Link to Original Source
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Net Neutrality: Threat or Menace?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "I had a dream. In it, I was CEO of a large telecommunications company that was also a major broadband Internet provider and all five members of the FCC were stabbing me with pitchforks and yelling in my ear that my company would be treated as a common carrier, not as a special entity they couldn't regulate. That's when I woke up..."
Link to Original Source
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Phone Spam Comes to Craigslist

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "You couldn't make this up. You wouldn't *want* to make this up: phone spam after you post on Craigslist. The article includes a genuine phone spam robocall I got after I advertised on Craigslist in Florida for a video production service salesperson. I had to get several of these calls before I believed they were real enough for me to actually record one, but they're real, all right. Is Satan behind this idea or is it just an extraordinarily greedy company? If we all yell, 'MOMMY, MAKE IT STOP!' loud enough, will they go away?"
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San Francisco's Cell Phone Law: Too Much, Not Enou

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "'In response to concerns about cell phone radiation and brain cancer, cell phone manufacturers will publish information about the radiation they produce, even though there is no clear link between radiation and brain cancer, and the radiation figure is only one component,' writes Sharon Fisher in PCWorld."
Link to Original Source
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Goodbye, freshmeat, we're going to miss you

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "Geek.net, the parent company of SourceForge.net, Slashdot.org, ThinkGeek.com, Geek.com, freshmeat.net, and ohloh.net, has told employees that it will be closing freshmeat.net and ohloh.net. This information has not yet been released to the public, but we've heard it from more than one Geek.net employee. The company also reportedly laid off 25% of its staff this week. After the story was posted at devx.com, a Geek.net Vice President emailed this response to its author: 'If you're asking whether or not the sites are for sale, the answer is no. However, we are looking to create better ways for our community to interact with the information on these sites, likely through SourceForge.'"
Link to Original Source
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Frank Zappa's Influence on Linux and FOSS developm

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Roblimo (357) writes "Zappa's Dinah-Moe Hummm is totally about Linux, at least in spirit, while the song Montana, with its talk of zirconium-encrusted tweezers and dental floss, "is obviously about Mac users." Not only that: In the early 70s Zappa wrote a song called Penguin in Bondage, an obvious foretelling of the anti-Linux lawsuits and threats from SCO, Microsoft, and other evildoers. Zappa was also a heavy user of the Synclavier, an electronic music-machine that was a precursor to today's "studio on a computer" recording and sound editing software. According to the article on DevX, today Zappa would no doubt be using Linux and Ardour for most of his recording and composition."
Link to Original Source
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R.I.P. Linux Advocate and Writer Joe Barr

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Roblimo writes "Our colleague Joe Barr sometimes described himself as a doddering old geek. Many knew him as a Linux evangelist; others knew him from his ham radio activities. And those of us who worked with Joe knew him in all of his sometime irascible, often funny moods. Joe was always one of our favorite people, and we are devastated to report that he died at home, unexpectedly, last night. Joe Barr was a reporter and editor for Linux.com, which is owned by the same company that owns Slashdot."
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Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Roblimo writes "Florida's 13th Congressional District race was won, at first glance, by Republican Vern Buchanan by 368 votes out of 76,549 votes cast for both candidates combined. Florida law requires a recount if the winner's margin is less than 1%, but now comes the big problem: Sarasota County, the heart of this Congressional District, uses ES&S paperless touch-screen voting machines, so there is no way to do a real, ballot-by-ballot recount even though there are good reasons to suspect that voting machine irregularites may have played a part in Buchanan's apparent victory. From the article: 'The results were loaded with controversy as nearly 13 percent of all ballots cast in Sarasota didn't include a choice for Congress. That difference, and scattered reports of difficulty finding the race on Sarasota's touchscreen ballots, raised concerns about under votes in the race.' An amusing side-note to this controversy is that in this same election Sarasota County voters seem to have passed a referendum requiring recountable paper ballots in the future."

Journals

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Hord Tipton of ISC2.org Talks About Getting into the IT Security Field (Video)

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 2 years ago

IT Security is an ever-growing field. Every year more hackers and crackers try to steal you bank PIN number, mess up your nuclear fuel centrifuges, jam your attack dronesâ(TM) control signals, steal your company passwords an other secrets andâ¦. it goes on and on, to the point where, Hord says, over two million (2,000,000) new IT security people will be needed in the next few years. Should you be one of them? Do you have the skills to be one of them? If not, can you acquire those skills? Read the rest and see the video

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Is It Time to Become an Android Developer?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Android phones may have overtaken Apple's iPhones in the marketplace. Then again, maybe they haven't. And to you, as a developer, what may matter most is which smart phone OS is going to be the biggest player a year or two from now, and fellow IT Knowledge Exchange writer Ron Miller (no relation) thinks Google may have hurt future Android adoption badly by buying Motorola's mobile phone unit. Still, it's probably prudent to put at least as much effort into Android app development as into developing iOS apps. Read the Rest .

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Where Did Our Future Go?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

When I was a kid our school textbooks and the general societal belief (what we would now call a âoememeâ) led us to believe in a future where machines would do the heavy manufacturing and agricultural tasks, which meant humans would be freed to do fulfilling tasks instead of drudgery. We were all going to work 20 hours a week and spend the rest of our time choreographing ballets or writing poetry or something, and lots of serious think-papers were written about how weâ(TM)d use our growing leisure time. -- Read the Rest.

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Beyond IT: Should You Consider Changing Careers?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

On June 27, the IT Ladder headline was, Tired of IT? Become a Private Investigator. Today weâ(TM)ll look at a few other responses to my âoepanel of expertsâ question, which was, âoeWhat new fields should IT professionals consider?â Read the rest.

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Instead of Silicon Valley, What About Rochester?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

I know a guy, Lee Drake, who has an IT business in Rochester, New York, called OS-Cubed. He's also part of a chamber of commerce-type group that touts Rochester as a great place to start and run a high-tech business. Why Rochester? Why not? And why not look at a lot of places besides Silicon Valley if you want to be involved with exciting, cutting edge technology? Read the rest...

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Promotion or Job Change: Which is the Best Way to Advance in IT?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Iâ(TM)ve had a couple of management consultants tell me that if you want to move into management, itâ(TM)s better to change jobs or change where you work within your current company than to stay where you are. What if you have to fire one of your old friends? Not cool. Or are you better off starting your management career surrounded by peope who know and (hopefully) like you? Read the rest .

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No Degree, Little Experience Pay Off Big -- for WI Republican Donor's Son

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Have you heard about Walker, Wisconsin Ranger? He's busily busting unions and making sure those awful people who work for the state don't make hardly any money. Except...

Just in his mid-20s, Brian Deschane has no college degree, very little management experience and two drunken-driving convictions.

Yet he has landed an $81,500-per-year job in Gov. Scott Walker's administration overseeing environmental and regulatory matters and dozens of employees at the Department of Commerce. Even though Walker says the state is broke and public employees are overpaid, Deschane already has earned a promotion and a 26% pay raise in just two months with the state.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the rest of the story.

Of course, here in Florida, this wouldn't be news, would it? Our Republicans have been pulling this kind of crap for decades and still manage to con morons into voting for them.

Read other inflammatory articles at Roblimo.com.

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Certification Can Increase Your Perceived Value to Employers

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Youâ(TM)re a great person and a valuable worker. Your peers and your supervisors know this. But do the folks in Human Resources who set your salary know how good you are? Probably not. And what about HR people at companies where you are applying for a job? They know nothing about you other than what they see in your resume or on an application form. Impressing these people is the main reason for taking (and passing) certification exams. Read the rest.

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Whatever Happened to “Gravity” Nuclear Reactor Safety Controls?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

When I was a young teenager, one day my father took me to visit the then-new San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. I recall quite clearly that the basic atomic pile control system was a series of control rods that would drop into the Uranium core in the event of a power or steam pressure loss and automatically shut down the reaction. WTF is up with reactors built since those early-generation Westinghouse ones that don't have this simple and obvious safety shutdown feature? Crazy.

From roblimo.com

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What’s Wrong with Florida Governor Rick Scott?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago Rick Scott was elected governor of Florida by a narrow margin, propelled into office by a campaign he financed with $78 million of his own money that was aimed at mentally handicapped citizens and Alzheimerâ(TM)s sufferers. Since we have plenty of these people in Florida, Scott won. And now heâ(TM)s letting us down. Heâ(TM)s supposed to be the tea-est of tea partiers, but Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is getting so much tea party glory that thereâ(TM)s hardly any left over for Rick Scott. The thing is, on the surface Scott is just about as loonie a tea partier as you can find outside of a mental hospital. He claimed he was going to bring 700,000 new job to Florida, then made it clear in his first budget proposal that he was going to lay off a whole bunch of state employees â" except in his own office, which he wants to grow by 91 employees and $343 million in funding.

Read the rest at Roblimo.com

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I don’t mind mosques, but churches scare me half to death

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Every Sunday, and often on a weekday or two, millions of Americans eat Jewish flesh and drink Jewish blood. As a Jew, this scares the shit out of me.

The people doing this claim theyâ(TM)re faking it; that itâ(TM)s not real Jewish flesh and blood. Yeah, right. Thatâ(TM)s like Rush Limbaugh saying he really isnâ(TM)t a hateful bigot, heâ(TM)s just kidding, hah hah hah.

But let me tell you something: before the Army sends you off to shoot at real people and kill them, they have you practice on human-shaped targets.

CPR and first aid are the same way. You practice on a dummy before you are turned loose to do it on real people.

And kids who torture or kill pets often grow up to be serial murderers.

Do these âoeChristiansâ expect us to believe that after practicing for years, even for decades, on âoetransubstantiatedâ fake Jews, they donâ(TM)t want to sink their fangs into the real thing?

I am not a big fan of Islam, but given a choice between people who blow up a few Jews now and then and people who openly practice ritual cannibalism on Jews all the time, Iâ(TM)ll choose the Muslims any day of the week â" especially Sunday.

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Evil Terrorist Babies are Attacking America!

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Yes, there are "terror babies" among us. But most of them were planted here many years ago by Russian Communist spymasters, not recently by demented Muslims.

One notorious Soviet-planted goon is Sarah Palinsky. Her parents and her husband's parents were secretly transported across the Bering Strait from The Motherland in the 1950s.

Note that Todd Palinsky has agitated for Alaska to secede from the United States, no doubt so that it can rejoin Russia, and Sarah Palinsky has noted, wistfully, that she can see The Motherland from her home in Alaska.

This song -- http://tinyurl.com/Sweet-Ala -- could easily be rewritten as "Sweet Home Mother Russia" and used to help Americans realize that Red states are going to become Red for real.

You see, the nefarious commie plot is subtle. Right now, in Phase One, the main objective is to impoverish the American working class while further enriching the richies. Phase Two, of course, will be the violent workers' uprising. In Phase Three, a resurgent Soviet Union will send troops "to restore order."
Newt Gingrovich, Ron Paulowsky, Rush Limbauvich, and Glenn Beckovits are also leading members of this evil conspiracy.

So, too, is GOP Chairman Michael Stalin (Stalin is "Steele" in Russian).

Please, fellow Americans. Go to the rifle range and hone your shooting skills. Make note of the tea party people, Republicans, and other traitors who live near you, and be ready to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights on them when the day comes, which won't be long now.

And remember, no matter how evil the Richies and their Republican stooges become, We are the country, we will survive!

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Let's All Vote Republican in 2010

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Face it: we're going to have at least two or three more years of economic decline, and Obama is a DINO who worries more about his image on Fox News than about doing anything that might actually help working Americans, so we might as well have a Congress that agrees with him.

Here's what we'll get if we vote in a Republican Congressional Majority:

  • More local and state government layoffs as federal aid to local jurisdication stops
  • "Obamacare" gets repealed despite presidential veto; Blue Double Cross and other health care insurers raise rates 50% to celebrate; Columbia/HCA and other Medicare-defrauding pain profiteers rejoice
  • Less Medicaid funding; reductions in other medical care for poor people; many deaths due to lack of medical care
  • No taxes at all on Paris Hilton, the Walton heirs, and other useless rich parasites, lower income taxes on speculators' proceeds than American Workers pay on their salaries (if you include FICA, which *I* do)
  • National parks and other government amenities we take for granted closed or their operations drastically curtailed
  • More homeless people as more of the long-term unemployed stop getting any government aid at all
  • More crime as more of the long-term unemployed stop getting any government aid at all
  • More BS from Republicans about "the free market" and how "fiduciary reponsibilities" are the reason their asshole profiteer buddies keep laying off American workers and sending jobs overseas even as more long-term American unemployed stop getting any government aid
  • This George Carlin routine becomes the most popular video on YouTube
  • Formation of local Coffee Party groups that hold mass firearm training and target practice sessions at local shooting ranges
  • Massive long-term unemployment leads to wave of assassinations of Republican politicians, thieving richies, and Fox News anti-American commentators by laid-off blue-collar workers who have nothing left to lose
  • Assassination fear leads to mass resignations by Republican politicians, corporate thieves, lobbyists, and other traitors
  • 2012: Election of a strong Democratic majority in Congress and a "for real" Democratic President with balls, possibly Hillary Clinton -- who appoints Barrack Obama to the Supreme Court the next time there's an opening.

Yeah. Let the Republicons do their worst for the next two years. We're Americans. We're resilient. We will survive. And once we totally discredit them, we can get on with the business of moving America into the 21st Century.

 

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Any Old Biker or Pilot can Tell You Why We Need a Gulf Drilling Moratoriumoil

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago A Reagan-appointed Republican Federal Judge who owns a bunch of oil company stock has said the government can't stop drilling in the gulf because, you know, just because one rig went blooie doesn't mean others will.

Yeah. And when I was learning to ride a motorcycle about 200 years ago, the old Calif. Motorcycle Highway Patrol guy who taught my cycling class told us that even if the last 1000 blind curves you took didn't hide oil slicks that would lay you out flat, you should still act like there might be a slick or a gravel patch around the next blind curve until you saw otherwise.

This is sort of like the flight instructor's saying, "There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there no old, bold pilots."

This thought pattern used to be called "conservatism." What is currently passing for conservatism in political circles, specifically when it comes to regulating the oil industry, not to mention bankers, investment houses, health insurance companies, and other white-collar thieves, could more accurately be called "moronism."

Judge Feldman and a whole lot of Republicans and loonietarians need to learn about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, assuming they're smart enough to understand it -- which is unlikely.

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We Must Undo Unions' Damage to Save America!

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Unions not only destroyed many once-proud American businesses, but also promulgated such evils as a 40 hour workweek (remember that?), health and safety regulations on the job that have saved many workersâ(TM) lives, paid vacations, and the now-discredited idea of defined-benefit pensions, plus a particular horror this country used to value called âoejob security.â

And letâ(TM)s not forget that pesky minimum wage.

We need to finish rolling back all the damage unions have done to the U.S. so we can compete with China and India. American workers have been spoiled by having things like indoor plumbing, electricity, telephones, and cable TV. Once we get them to roll back their living standards to the dirt-floor hut level common in the countries that are now eating our economic lunch, we will return America to its former state of greatness, where millionaires had hordes of servants (which we need because of the stress our fortunes cause) and children started working at age 8 instead of lollygagging around in schools all day.

Another institution we may want to consider bringing back is slavery â" except that weâ(TM)re more racially enlightened now that we were in the 18th and 19th centuries, so we wonâ(TM)t deny this opportunity for lifetime employment to non-black people but will extend it to all.

Never forget: America is a Christian nation, and slavery is mentioned in the Bible but unions are not.

God bless America!

by Lazlo Toth, American

(at least, I *think* that's what the scrawled signature said.)

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What Should We Do With Our Surplus People?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

We seem to have collectively decided that at least 15% of our working-age population is no longer necessary to keep our country's businesses running, and every year we have a larger number of surplus people as we shift more jobs overseas or automate them out of existence. We basically have two choices: we can either remove some of the connection between work and income or we can build tariff barriers that eliminate at least some competition for American workers from people in other, lower-cost countries. Or we can come up with some combination of these two solutions.

Let's assume we don't want citizens' armies of former workers who have nothing to lose roaming our countryside, looking for food and shelter and killing anyone who gets in their way. If you are a prosperous or rich American, this would not be good for you, because you and your family would become possible kidnap, carjacking or home invasion victims. You can hide behind the walls of gated communities, but then you will need to worry about your hired guards, especially if you pay them the same low wages most security personnel receive today. And what if some of the redress-righters who want to kidnap you or steal from you are relatives of your guards? When this situation arises, your guards are more likely to help loot your house than protect it from looters.

It is, therefore, a good idea for America's more prosperous citizens to help those who have little. Forget morality for a moment and think of enlightened self-interest. Almost every communist revolution and pre-communist revolt against an imperial or dictatorial government was preceded by period during which the rich got richer at the expense of everyone else. In other words, maybe pre-communist Cuba was a paradise for the wealthy families whose offspring fled to Florida to get away from Castro's revolutionaries, but before the revolution life was miserable for most Cubans; no decent medical care, barely enough food to eat, high illiteracy rate due to a lack of public schools, low pay at best, no work at worst. In other words, a dog-eat-dog state, with no protection of the poor from the depredations of the rich, and no social safety net.

Class warfare? You bet! And it typically ends with bodies of the formerly rich or prosperous hanging from lamp posts or their heads piling up next to guillotines while rampaging mobs loot the stores and ransack mansions. Smart American rich people (think Warren Buffett) realize that too much greed by too many people will inevitably cause society to break down, so the rich and prosperous need to allow a certain amount of wealth-sharing through taxation, and must support at least some level of "entitlements" in order to save their own skins. Dumb American rich people (think of the Olin, Walton, and Hilton heirs) seem to believe they can get away with living on the backs of working people because they chose the right parentage and have no obligation to share any of their unearned wealth with anyone else.

If we want more employment, let's hire a lot of people

The two biggest federal depression-era employment programs were the WPA and the CCC. I know the current anti-government people love to say no government handout program ever ends, but both the WPA and the CCC went away as soon as they were no longer needed. It took WWII -- and a level of government spending that eclipsed the WPA, CCC, and all other government entitlement programs before or since, to end the need for these two agencies. Hopefully we won't need a similar war to pull our country out of our current depression, but to make sure of that we need to start figuring out how to help our surplus people before the unemployment problem becomes as acute as it was in 1934 or 1935.

Remember that the WPA and CCC were both "workfare," not "welfare" programs. They included construction projects and public art projects, folklore research (John and Alan Lomax were partially funded by the WPA), and many other useful projects both blue-collar and white-collar.

Were the WPA and CCC "successful?" Not from the standpoint of the 30s far right wing, but a large majority of Americans both rich and poor supported these programs because they staved off misery for an awful lot of Americans, and removed much of the very real threat of a socialist or communist revolt supported by the Soviet Union, which at the time openly talked about spreading communism to the whole world.

There was plenty of right-wing squawking in the 1930s about the government getting too large and not following the Constitution, but that noise was tempered by knowledge that millions of angry workers out of work permanently or even for more than a few years represented a far greater danger to the Republic than a liberal interpretation of the Constitution's Commerce Clause.

The Player Piano Alternative

Kurt Vonnegut's 1952 novel, Player Piano, takes place in a future where most American workers have been displaced by machines, live on scant welfare payments, and want to be useful rather than live on the dole -- except that there is hardly any demand for physical workers in an automated world. Replace automation with "Chinese workers" and include many white-collar workers whose jobs have moved to India, and you still have Vonnegut's Player Piano, along with its original automation component. You not only have massive and growing unemployment, but structural unemployment that is unlikely to abate even if the economy "recovers" from its current malaise.

What do we do about this problem? Warehouse our surplus workers and feed them just enough dole money and free TV to keep most of them sitting on their couches drinking beer instead of plotting home invasions? Do we decide to put strong tariffs in place that make imports artificially more expensive than American-produced goods and services -- and deal with the inevitable smuggling and other problems this solution would create as by-products?

I'll admit that I am personally attracted to the idea of protectionist-level tariffs for a large "basket" of items that we should make here in the U.S. instead of obtaining overseas if only because we are so dependent on them. Food? Yup. Energy? Why not? Support American oil, nuclear power, solar and wind generation, etc., by levying a large per-Joule tax on all imported energy sources. Computers and electronic components? If, as so many companies in this industry claim, "intellectual property" is what matters, producing the physical products here would not lead to huge price increases. Ditto with pharmaceuticals. One day I bought a popular over-the-counter cold remedy and noticed that it was manufactured and packaged in Costa Rica. This is a product where the actual production cost is only a small fraction of the retail price. Making it here in the U.S. would not drive its maker into bankruptcy, especially if all that company's competitors also manufactured here because of tariffs or because of laws prohibiting the manufacture of FDA-controlled products outside our borders.

An aside: we pay the world's highest prices for pharmaceuticals, and have many laws prohibiting individual citizens from buying pharmaceuticals in other countries and bringing them home for their own use. And yet, a growing percentage of the price-supported drugs we buy are made elsewhere. This makes no sense whatsoever. If "safety" is the reason not to allow individual Americans to import drugs on their own, why should pharmaceutical manufacturers or wholesalers be allowed to do it? This is a ripoff. And I'm scared that we won't get rid of it anytime soon because the pharmaceutical industry has always been a prolific source of political donations and the Supreme Court recently decided to make it even easier for pharma companies and their trade associations to influence elections. Grrr....

Where Will We Put the Welfare Trailer Parks and Tent Cities?

Another way to make American workers competitive is to house them in circumstances similar to those "enjoyed" by Indian and Chinese workers. In other words, get away from the idea that Americans inherently deserve luxuries such as separate bedrooms for children, indoor plumbing, and broadband Internet service, let alone government-paid education or decent medical care. Under this scenario, we dump the concept of a minimum wage and let the market determine the value of each human's contribution to our increasingly corporate-dominated society. If supply and demand in a world of free trade dictates that the value of an American blue-collar worker is $5/day and that a knowledge worker is worth $10/day, so be it. Of course, this means most American workers won't be able to afford any market-rate housing we currently have, let alone allow their children to attend school instead of working for their daily bread (or possibly nutritious soy mush). TV? We'd better make sure they still have that, along with low-cost beer (and possibly pot) to keep them happy in their new ghettos, where they will live out their lives in the equivalent of FEMA trailers. Or tents. Or yurts. Or shanty towns and slums like the ones common in third-world cities.

Provide a Minimum -- but Low -- Income to All

I am starting to believe we need to provide a minimum income "floor" for all Americans, along with basic education and health care services. This is not an ideological belief. It is purely practical. Perhaps you want to live somewhere people are falling off the edge of civilization and you need to carry a gun whenever you go out because many of your fellow citizens have no way besides crime to eat, clothe, and shelter themselves. I do not want to live in that kind of country. At the same time, I don't want to live in one where the government dictates my every move, including where I live and how I earn a living.

This is why, when I say "minimum income floor," I mean truly minimal, not in suburban houses people work hard to afford. And I don't believe everyone has a right to the most expensive medical treatment available, either. And education? I have nothing against you (or anyone else) sending your children to a private school at your own expense, any more than I have a problem with you wanting (and paying for) medical care from a private physician and private hospital rooms while people with less money deal with clinic-style medicine and open hospital wards.

Housing? This is what I wrote about housing the homeless in 2007. I haven't changed my mind since then.

As far as food, I am not in favor of the current program that lets poor people spend government food subsidies on things like soft drinks and cheese doodles. Sorry, but if you're going to eat on the taxpayers' tab, you had better get used to cooking from scratch or at least from low-cost mixes. Want more than four to six ounces of meat per person per day? You are going to have to find a way to make some money. Ditto if you want white meat chicken instead of thighs and legs or butter instead of (generic) margarine.

Opportunity is Important

What keeps people from going wild when things aren't going well is hope. For many, religion furnishes it, in the sense that there will be pie in the sky bye and bye. But for even more it is important to have a belief, even a false one, in our ability to make our lives better through our own efforts. This is the oft-cited "American Dream.

If you're broke and facing bankruptcy or you've already lost a home you sweated hard to buy, that dream seems more like a nightmare. We have millions of citizens who are living that nightmare, and even when we read "hopeful" employment numbers, they are "hopeful" only because fewer people lost jobs this month than in previous months, not because more people are suddenly getting hired than are getting fired.

So what are we going to do?

I'm afraid that lowering taxes, especially on our richest and greediest citizens, isn't going to help put a lot of unemployed Americans back to work. An awful lot of people seem to have forgotten that some of the years when this country experienced its greatest economic growth, and saw the greatest rise in the percentage of citizens who owned their own houses, and the greatest rise in standard of living for working people, and some of our greatest scientific advances, along with major strides in civil rights and other social aspects of our lives, happened in the 1950 - 1970 period when we had some of the most progressive income tax schedules ever. Banks and other financial institutions were highly regulated. Unions were far stronger than they are today. And in most married households, one income paid all the bills.

Sure, our houses were smaller then, and we didn't have Medicare for old people. But, in general, every year was a little better than the year before. Every day, in every way, we really were getting better and better.

Can we say the same thing today? I don't think so. If anything, life is getting worse for a majority of Americans.

Are we really willing to see our fellow citizens living in tents, especially in winter? Are we willing to risk that kind of life, ourselves, if we lose our jobs and health insurance and face medical bills we can't pay? Are we so determined to hold on to the illusion of liberty it's easy to enjoy when we have substantial incomes, but not so easy to hold onto when we run out of money before the end of the month, that we want to keep saying, "The free market will save us," in the face of evidence that it will not? And increasing evidence that our most vocal "free market" proponents aren't even interested in trying?

At the same time, we can't run government deficits forever. I'm okay with the Keynesian ideas that led to the Golden Age of Capitalism after WWII, but sooner or later we need to pay back the money we have borrowed -- and that means true government austerity, not the little bits of savings (starting next year) Obama has proposed, plus it would mean tax increases larger than any American politician at the national level has enough guts to propose.

No matter what, the current "rich get richer while the poor get poorer" economic reality will not go on forever.

The only question is whether we'll end it by purely political means (more transfer payments), by government stepping in and helping capitalism work (creating jobs during bad economic times; increasing import tariffs; tax incentives to help persuade businesses to hire more Americans) or by civil breakdown and insurrection.

So which alternative do you prefer?


  •        
  • The ultra-leftist ideal of giving money to everyone in need, no strings attached
  •        


  • The ultra-rightist ideal of low taxes on rich people, regardless of their neighbors' misery, until society breaks down
  •        

  • The Keynesian course of helping people get back to work with government help

I prefer the third alternative, myself. But I don't hold an elective office and don't plan to run for one (and don't have the level of corporate support it's going to take win future elections, anyway), so you might as well disregard my opinion since it can't possibly translate into action in today's sad political climate.

This post sponsored by Millers Art & Video -- the company that makes professional video for people on tight budgets.

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Why Libertarians and Communists are Both Wrong

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

In a fantasy libertarian paradise, each citizen works hard out of enlightened self-interest. No one uses force on anyone else, since my rights stop where your nose begins. If you accumulate a whole bunch of property, bully for you! If I fail in business or some other endeavor and suddenly have no money for food, clothing or medical care, too bad for me. Maybe some of my enlightened neighbors, out of self-interest, will help me out with voluntary donations. And maybe they won't. Under communism, the opposite is true. Each citizen works to his or her maximum capacity in order to benefit society as a whole, and society as a whole owns the major means of production, including farms, factories, and mines. No one goes without the basics of life, and the idea of any one person owning a yacht disappears, because no citizen needs a private yacht when he or she can freely use state-owned boats for anything from fishing to partying. Under either system, everyone is happy and fair and treats other members of society with respect.

But both philosophies suffer from a problem. That problem is human nature. I'm sorry, but there are hardly any instances in human history (or pre-history) where applying an essentially utopian political or economic philosophy has resulted in a utopia. In the modern world, we have Somalia as an example of extreme libertarianism in practice, and North Korea as an example of extreme communism in practice.

"But...but...but," the libertarians stammer, "we don't want anarchy like Somalia. We believe in having enough government to serve as referee in disputes, and we don't believe violence is a valid basis of society." I hear you, folks. Unfortunately, plenty of people do not hear you, and in a situation where government is weak, will inevitably exert their will through force. It doesn't take a high percentage of the population to believe that power comes from the barrel of a gun to destroy even the rosiest libertarian paradise. And, as we have witnessed in the U.S. over the past few decades, many of the people who talk loudest about deregulation and freeing themselves from burdensome laws essentially want to be able to steal from their fellow citizens without risking prison sentences when they do.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the street, the communists are apoplectic with rage at the very idea that any sane person could conflate their inevitable workers' paradise with North Korea's brutocracy. Or Cuba's repressive regime. Why, those countries don't represent communism any more than Somalia represents libertarianism! True. But in real life, communist revolutions have almost always led to dictatorships of one sort or another. And, as a little-noted side effect, endless, mind-numbing speeches by the dictators. Even mild communists like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez (who calls himself a Bolivarian and denies being a doctrinaire communist) can go on TV and spout drivel for hours on end, and has enough control over the airwaves that you can't necessarily change the channel and catch a soccer game or telenovela instead.

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's the other way around.

Under a truly libertarian capitalist system, if some people become so wealthy that they can afford personal airliners while a few miles away, others live in
grinding poverty, that's fine. Under the Soviet Russian (communist) regime, party leaders have always had sumptuous dachas where they lived in luxury, far from the prying eyes of ordinary citizens who typically lived in crowded communal housing.

In other words, neither system serves most people very well, although adherents of both philosophies will spend as many hours as you let them (and then some) telling you why theirs is better for you than the other one.

As an American, what I really want is the best parts of both systems. I want the income security of communism, or at least of its milder cousin, socialism, while at the same time I want libertarian-style personal freedoms. I realize that taxes are the price we pay for civilization, so I am happy to have you pay taxes to support our government. (I also believe I should be exempt from most of them, just as I'm fine with laws that restrict any of your behavior I may not like, but none that restrict my behavior.)

Do I sound spoiled, hypocritical, cynical, or all three?

Or do I just sound like a normal American?

The reality is that no system will work perfectly as long as it is run by human beings. Private industry screws up all the time, and big companies often turn into impenetrable, inefficient bureaucracies -- as do government agencies that don't get constant oversight from concerned citizens. Even science-fictional computers running a large society are likely to screw up, since they would be built and programmed by fallible humans.

So what is the solution?

I' m a mild believer in what some call the Third Way. Neither leftists or rightists (in old-fashioned politics-speak) like or respect moderation. I do. Nobody goes away happy, but we manage to generally keep everyone's unhappiness level low enough that we transfer power after elections without blood in the streets, and tend to have excesses of socialist-leaning presidents and Congresses muted by the libertarian-leaning ones that almost inevitably follow them -- and vice versa.

This kind of compromise is the American way. Our founding fathers didn't agree on everything. They compromised, and our Constitution was the result of that compromise. Let's carry on that tradition!

(Now we will all rise and sing the national anthem together.)

More drivel at Roblimo.com

     

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Doctors Are Not Immune to the Recession

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

One of my wife's friends is a doctor's wife -- who is now on an austerity budget because, she says, her husband's pediatric practice now sees an average of seven patients per day, down from an average of thirty patients per day a year ago. He's laying off two more of his office staff people this week, and this is not his first layoff. The reason? My wife's friend says it's because many of her husband's patients' parents have lost their jobs and health insurance and can no longer afford to take their kids to a doctor for minor illnesses or regular checkups. And if something happens to their children that makes medical care necessary rather than optional, these newly-impoverished families seek out public health clinics or go to the local emergency rooms, and will only call their old pediatrician as a last resort.

This situation is not necessarily typical in the doctor business. We are speaking here about a Spanish-speaking (bi-lingual) pediatrician in Sarasota, Florida, one of the cities in the U.S. that is in a true depression, not a mere recession. We're also talking about a doctor who caters heavily to Spanish-speaking residents, a group whose members have historically depended more on the now-moribund construction industry for income than most others, and because of this is now experiencing an extraordinarily high rate of unemployment -- by some estimates as high as 40% or 50%.

And even Hispanic families here whose members still have jobs are feeling pinched. Many of them are facing reduced hours and, even if that's not a factor, feel obliged to help unemployed relatives. There has long been a local, truth-based stereotype of Mexican and Central American families packing four people into a one-bedroom apartment and six or eight into a two-bedroom place. Now families are doubling up, so that crowding is worse than ever.

An Anglo with a steady job or some kind of entitlement income (Social Security or an old-fashioned defined pension) may turn up his or her nose at the idea of so many people living in so little space, especially if the nose-turner is living alone in 1000 square feet or is part of a family of four that lives in a 2000 or 3000 square foot suburban house. The complacent love to sneer at those less well-off than themselves. I don't know why this is, but it is a habit among many in this part of the world.

But how many of the sneerers have taken in their laid-off relatives? Or send substantial part of their incomes to relatives in Mexico or Michigan or other places where the economy is even more depressed than it is here? Some, I'm sure, but not a huge percentage.

We can also sneer at families whose adults may be illegal immigrants, and point out that a Spanish-speaking pediatrician here probably has plenty of illegals -- or their "anchor baby" children -- among his patients. Still, when these children don't go to doctors as often as they should, the doctor's income drops, and employment in his office drops, and the risk of those children carrying commicable diseases goes up. And fine, yes, we can send all those families back to Mexico or Guatemala or which means the pediatrician will have even fewer patients and may eventually be forced to close his practice entirely, which means everyone who works for him becomes jobless and our already-high local commercial property vacancy rate will increase by one more unit.

I'm sure other doctors are also feeling pinched. From what I hear, mostly second-hand and third-hand, plastic surgeons and those who specialize in Lasik eye surgery and other optional procedures are also seeing their practices shrink, and more people are tryig to stick with their family doctors or internists instead of going to pricier specialists either because, now uninsured, they are paying for treatment out of their own pockets or because (my wife is in this second group) they can't afford the risk of their insurance company failing to pay all or part of a specialist's fee.

What's the point here? Nothing, really, except to point out that even businesses once considered recession-proof aren't. Gambling was once considered recession-proof but casino revenues are now way down from where they were a year or two ago. And the medical sector was once considered even more recession-proof than the gaming industry. But this no longer seems to be so. We don't have many doctors standing on street corners yet, holding their medical bags and signs that say, "Will Cure You for Food," but I have one relative and more than a few friends who have lost more humble jobs in the medical field (phlebotomy, lab techs, receptionists, etc.) and are now having a rough time feeding their families.

What should we do about all this? Unleash the now-discredited free market so it can work its so-called magic? Use more government subsidies or job-creation programs to put money in ordinary citizens' pockets? I have no idea. But I hope someone has one. Soon.

---------------

Read more of my essays and see some of my videos at Roblimo.com

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My Lottery Ticket Didn't Win. Where's My Bailout?

Roblimo Roblimo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

I find it amazing that so many people who talked a good "free market" game were so quick to use my tax money to save their wealthy friends' millions when said friends made poor bets -- and lost. This "bailout for the rich" scheme was originally hatched by Bush appointees. The only piece of blame Obama should shoulder -- and it's a large piece -- is his failure to stop the "too big to fail" yammer and let the Wall Street finaglers know, the day after his inauguration, that there was a new sheriff in town and that their previous antics would no longer be tolerated.

Making financial re-regulation (bring back Glass-Steagall!) his first priority would have been a far more productive move for Obama than immediately jumping on health care reform.

It looks like even the most optimistic health care scenario, based on the bills now before the House and Senate, will do little to change our current, broken system for the next two or three years, while some tough love for our financiers could have yielded near-immediate results.

Read a slightly different version of this essay at Roblimo.com

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