this week i

published our report outlining the world of privatized medicare plans' quality-based payments - designed to untangle plans available to older americans trying to find insurance coverage.

dug up the best of new orleans.  oh wait, this might be even better.

flew to the pacific.

tore up the royal road in the '85 mustang.  talked..  about the ethics of spare time.  about safely delivering nuclear fuel beyond our atmosphere for a trip to mars.  about the brain capacity of chimps.

tuned the radio to classic rock and npr.  heard the yemeni president describe governing his country as 'dancing on the heads of snakes.'  and that a kfc opens in china every 18 hours.. and that they've modified the colonel to make him look 'more asian'.




played chess over a couple of couple of beers.

heard the band in guadalupe.

never knew curtis played the violin so well..

with a little help

from his friends.

..not bad, eh?

hate when an unsourced opinion piece sneaks into the lrb. cut the armchair psychoanalysis and stick to the facts.

obama is choosing to leave behind the popular base of the democratic party and build an ecumenical consensus which starts in his head.

obama is still mystified by the idea that there are people who don't like him.

obama is unique among politicians in running out the clock when there are many minutes left on it and he is not ahead.

the temperament that moves him in the direction of pre-emptive concession.

he is, by nature, a man of tendencies rather than commitments.

learned that thirteen- and seventeen-year cicadas surface at those odd intervals because they are prime numbers, minimizing the chance that any predator's life-cycle might synch with theirs.

drank 'family-size' beers.

attended, fact-checked dambisa moyo's lecture at ucsb.  most resonant quote: 'pensions are the next great ponzi-scheme.'

humbled other wallets.

blew hookah cheerios.

should have stocked up.

had a guitar lesson.

headed to ventura harbor..

..for the channel islands.

made friends on the way.

quoted pulp fiction at every opportunity.  what do they call a big dog in france?  a big dog's a big dog, but they call it le big dog.


re-enacted lord of the flies.

saw giant birds that would make any edgar allen poe fan go wild.

spotted a few of the channel islands' custom-built species of fox.

turned home.

love california.  love america.  love physics, too.


this week i

published our explanation of how year-to-year changes in income will affect americans' premium subsidies in the new health reform insurance marketplace.  because when was the last time you had the exact same income two years in a row?

perfected the art of the video postcard.

mustn't forget how much i love this woman.

found an excellent mark twain quote, "twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. so throw off the bowlines. sail away from the safe harbor."

had this city to ourselves.

think tourists are funny, seen here pursuant of the perfect photo.

enjoyed saint valentine's day as it should be enjoyed: at the french embassy with québécois.

met heart-stoppingly important dead people, like colonel sanders..
 ..and with february 14th so close to lincoln's birthday, he decided to make an appearance.

experienced a variety of emotions.  after all, valentine's day can be an emotional holiday.

practiced spanish with a colombian friend. compared to guttural mexican spanish (the dialect i was half-assedly taught in high school) and spanish spanish (which just sounds thtupid), colombian spanish comes out clear. i thought i'd never understand, till i spoke with the folks from barranquilla.

ate shrimp, monkfish, and asparagus with my father.  leave some for me, mr. wolverine.

learned some malarial tidbits.  also: this picture is excellent.

for every 1,000 children who sleep under insecticide-treated bed nets, 5.5 lives are saved.

read about..

(1) scandal in the nyt newsroom.  'a newspaper columnist..a person obliged to find significance three times a week in events of absolutely no significance.'

(2) health reform euphoria.  'lawsuit filed by thirteen attorneys general..arguing that health care reform is unconstitutional..most legal scholars think this is far-fetched..the lawsuit is inspired by state politics.. florida a.g. bill mccollum, for example, is running for governor.'

(3) the social behavior of older animals.  'in our species youth is prized, but among chimps the reverse is the case.  importantly, female chimpanzees (unlike female humans) do not experience menopause, and thus can remain fertile into old age.'  'the last common ancestor of the elephants and ourselves was a rat-sized creature that lived over 100 million years ago.  yet undeniably we share much in common, perhaps because some of our ancestors were shaped at the same evolutionary forge - the productive, crowded, and intensely competitive world of the african savannah.'

(4) tony judt on modernity.  'we know what things cost but we have no idea what they are worth.'  'in the us, the uk, and a handful of other countries, financial transactions have largely displaced the production of goods or services as the source of private fortunes.'  'contrast 1968, when the ceo of general motors took home, in pay and benefits, about sixty-six times the amount paid to a typical gm worker.  today the ceo of wal-mart earns nine hundred times the wages of his average employee.'  'life expectancy in the us remains below bosnia and just above albania.'  'not intrinsic to humans.  there was a time when we ordered our lives differently.'

(5) the former british foreign secretary on afghanistan. 'the so-called ten-dollar-a-day taliban.'


this week i

buried this time capsule.

google image searched myself.

ate soul food with my father.

found my favorite version of the st. louis blues - bluella track two - after plenty of searching.

watched anna deveare smith's healthcare solo.  "the most important thing you can do for someone is be with them when they die."

visited friends in baltimore.. camera was as happy to see emily as i was.

overheard on the jhmi shuttle, "i'm pretty tolerant, but they were totally swinging those babies around."

read german proverbs.  "in wine there is wisdom.  in beer there is strength.  in water there is bacteria."

shared korean bbq.

went to a crowns and cutoffs party..

..some more prepared..

..than others.


this week i

published an overview of the role of medicare among americans who are eligible for both medicare and medicaid.

sure am glad egypt doesn't have nuclear weapons.  aren't you?

bought a cell phone once.  i was twenty and lived out of my car that summer.  i figure you should have a home or a cell, but not both.

discovered the unbelievably convenient screen-sharing website.  and a good reason never to buy luggage locks.

found my old quote, "music and blood are not so different."  and also one from the prophet muhammad, "i have a good life here, i can't deny it.  but it has to change."

caught up with britt over nearby vietnamese cuisine.

blame the u.s. deficit on our aging population more than on any toxic politicking.

celebrated mozart's birthday at the embassy of austria.  notice our entertainers' ages.

read the hard way to peace, a surprisingly relevant © 1962 book about the future of the cold war and the rational russian perspective..

after all, as the russians see it, only one nation has ever employed an atomic bomb.

we really think that the russians are out to destroy us; we find quotations in lenin about "just wars against capitalism" and remember khrushchev's saying that communism will bury us.  we do not realize that the russians find quotations in dulles and eisenhower speeches and writings that refer to a "crusade" against the evil of communism and to our intentions to "liberate" china, eastern europe, and the russian people...we feel that we defend freedom and they enslave people; they feel that we are capitalist exploiters and warmongers while they are carriers of social justice, the basis of true freedom as they see it.

..the author discusses the need to eliminate nuclear arsenals..

 a single plane can now deliver a bomb with an explosive power as large as the total amount of high-power explosives dropped on germany and japan in all of world war ii.

human history can be recounted as a series of interludes between wars.

the age of big bombs on a small planet

it takes one commander of a polaris submarine to shoot sixteen nuclear bombs into russia; it takes two madmen per minuteman to send a nuclear bomb from a home base to moscow..we have already suffered several narrow escapes from nuclear war caused by false alarm.  in the recent past, the alert was sounded because american radar screens recorded the rising of the moon, because meteors fell, because a flock of geese veered in their winter flight

negotiations were going along smoothly until one of the knights was stung by an asp and drew his sword to kill the reptile.  the others saw the sword being drawn and immediately fell upon each other.  a tremendous slaughter ensued..when the battle was over everybody except king arthur, mordred, and a couple of knights lay dead.

..and other bits of hysteria..

assume now that a man gets sick from a cause other than radiation.  not believing this, his morale begins to drop.  you look at his meter and say, "you have received only ten roentgens, why are you vomiting?  pull yourself together and get to work."

in nuclear war the odds are almost overwhelmingly in favor of the attacker

in 1955, 55 percent of the american people were willing to engage in atomic war in order not to lose quemoy and matsu.

the american people do not know what war means..its people have built up an enormous conviction of invincibility.

to drop atomic bombs on hiroshima and nagasaki, before the american public even knew that such bombs existed. each possible strategy, argues for gradualism..

we need not strip ourselves naked to show the other party that we are willing to talk with him.

it may never satisfy the idealist, especially the supporters of unilateral or multilateral disarmament, since it requires that some arms and bombs be kept for a considerable length of time; but unlike more appealing programs, it has a chance to be agreed upon and to be carried out.  unlike multideterrance and arms control, it leads to disarmament.

as military researchers are transferred to peaceful work, as weapons factories begin to produce consumer goods, and as armament appropriations are used to build schools, we create a large variety of new interests vested in peace and we reduce the vested interests in the arms race.

gradualism offers the world a slow, hard but safe way - i believe the only feasible one - out of the continuous slide into the thermonuclear furnace.

..talks about cuba, predicts iran's revolution, and reminds us how to behave. 

this communist success, thousands of miles from the closest communist country and only ninety miles from the united states, underscores the point that ideology and political movements know no distance and are not "deterred" by maginot lines or sac bombers.

iran itself, after $1.1 billion american military and economic aid, is still economically underdeveloped, ruled by an oligarchic landed aristocracy and a tyrannical shah, widely penetrated by communists and quite ready for a revolution.

linus pauling's reformulation of the golden rule: "do unto others 20 percent better than you expect them to do unto you, to correct for subjective error."

think the scale of destruction posed by these weapons ought to dwarf any fears of a conventional bomb from an enemy like al qaeda.  though the cold war might be over, this book still provides considerable insight into the thought-processes of modern-day rivals like india and pakistan.

also started reading the author's blog, from which i intend to steal the line, "other than that, mrs. lincoln, how did you like the play?"