R.I.P.: Go Gently, At Last, John Hurt

John Hurt was an actor of such versatility — not to mention his indefatigable work ethic — that most of us must have a favorite Hurt cameo (even if it’s not among his ‘best’ performances).

A lovely memoir from Buzzfeed‘s Patrick Strudwick, “John Hurt Saved My Life”:

Dusk, in a sparse restaurant in Haraar, eastern Ethiopia. John Hurt is sitting across the table performing lines to me from The Naked Civil Servant.

His voice – that brandy and gravel baritone, the same one that in 1987 boomed out on AIDS public information adverts on TV warning people not to die from ignorance – reverberates around the restaurant…

… As the words slip from his mouth, now cradled by wrinkles, he conjures the defiance and vulnerability of Crisp so beautifully that my eyes fill. Hurt keeps going. He can see what this means to me. He has seen it a thousand times. Gay men would often approach him in the street to tell him how transformative it was for them to watch Crisp alive in Technicolor, in full, brazen mauve, sashaying down the street, all scarves and rouge, waving at sailors and giving bigots the middle finger.

The fact that most gay men are not fabulously camp was not the point. Hurt brought to life a template for defiance that saved people, including me…

To convey both the courage and vulnerabilities of outcasts takes an extraordinary person. During the week I spent with Hurt in Ethiopia I saw the extraordinary in him all day, every day. We were there because he was patron of a charity called Project Haraar, which sends doctors and surgeons to Ethiopia to perform surgery on children with severe facial disfigurements.

The head of the charity, who never forgot Hurt in The Elephant Man, approached him to become a patron, not thinking for a moment he would accept. Hurt agreed immediately.

I was sent by a newspaper to shadow Hurt and report on what we saw at the charity’s hospital in Addis Ababa, as well as at the convalescence clinic in the nearby countryside… What neither of us were expecting was what the true horror would be. Hurt, his beloved wife Anwen, and I were taken round the hospital to meet the children. Some had holes in their cheeks, destroyed by a flesh-eating infection called noma, through which they had to push their food in order to eat. Some were simply tiny, growth stunted by malnutrition not because they did not have access to food but because their disfigurements were so extreme that they physically could not eat properly. The smell from facial infections, in some of the cubicles, was almost overwhelming.

But it wasn’t any of this that hit John, Anwen, and me like a boxer’s punch. Watching Hurt meet those children, and how he interacted with them, revealed precisely what it was that knocked him back: their loneliness.

To see Hurt reach out and clasp their hands, to see their faces react with caution, bafflement, and then deep relief – the medicine of human touch – was to know that he was a great actor because his empathy ran so deep.

He did not talk much. In the entire week he did not show any signs of ego, narcissism, or histrionics – precisely what one might expect of a movie star – because he was too busy connecting with others. He watched those children with kindness. He sat and played with them. He laughed with them.
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Two great philosophers for the next four years

Okay, now it’s real so let us rely on two great philospophers for the next four years:

And it looks like America agrees with Ron Burgundy


CBS News:

It has been 10 weeks since Donald Trump was elected president, and more Americans disapprove (48 percent) than approve (37 percent) of the way he has handled his presidential transition. They are split on his cabinet picks. Views divide heavily along party lines.

Just days before his inauguration, Donald Trump’s favorable rating (32 percent) is the lowest of any president-elect in CBS News polling going back to Ronald Reagan in 1981, when CBS News began taking this measure.

Well we’ll have to survive being “governed” by the Brietbart comment section so we can either laugh or cry while we bang our heads into our desks today.



The CSR sword of Damocles

I need to start morning drinking after the following exchange this morning.

It started with Politico reviewing what some carriers are thinking about doing if the Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies are pulled if the Trump Administration drops an appeal a loss to the Court of Appeals.

That lawsuit challenged the Obama administration’s authority to fund those subsidies, and prevailed in a federal district court ruling last spring. The Obama administration appealed that decision. But if the Trump White House doesn’t continue that appeal, and Congress fails to appropriate funding, the subsidies would end.

Insurers would likely bolt from the health law’s markets if that happens because they’d still be on the hook for providing reduced costs to their customers, but with no guarantee they’d ever be reimbursed by the federal government, say experts….

Ken Janda, CEO of Community Health Choice, a Houston-based nonprofit health plan with nearly 150,000 customers, said the insurer would shift customers into less robust coverage that wouldn’t trigger the subsidies if the funding disappears. But that would mean that Obamacare customers with incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level — or less than $18,000 for an individual — would go from paying nothing to see a doctor or get a prescription, to having a $1,500 deductible before most of their insurance kicks in

How I read this (along with a few other tweeps) is that CHC would try to move people who had Silver 94 or Silver 87  with CSR to Gold plans after they pull their Silver plans from the market.  CMS in their 2017 QHP contracts allowed carriers to pull products from the market if the CSR subsidies disappear and it looks like that would be the plan of CHC to pull their Silvers.  My immediate thought on this is that this would be a massive adverse selection problem.  People on CSR with 94% Silver or 87% Silver make under 200% FPL.  They are getting subsidized as they are buying Silver.  If they are switched to Gold or Platinum their monthly post-subsidy premiums will dramatically increase and quite a few healthy people will drop coverage as it is no longer functionally affordable.  The only people who would stick would be the very sick and very expensive.

Wait, it gets’ worse:

Carriers have to offer Silver plans to participate on Exchange. If they yank all of their Silvers, they have to yank everything on Exchange.

And carriers will flee if CSR disappears as they will not eat a 30% revenue loss for a high cost population in a market that they don’t know if it will be around long enough to actually make money on.

#Daydrinking



Late Night Open Thread: “If You Can’t Get Rid of the Family Skeletons, Make Them Dance”

#ConfessMyUnpopularOpinions: I loathed Singin’ in the Rain so intensely it put me off movie musicals for life, so I never paid much attention to Debbie Reynolds. But after watching Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking (highly recommended! — with due trigger warnings), I suspect her mother, if she had to die at all, would’ve loved the theatricality of dropping in her tracks while planning her daughter’s funeral.

NYMag:

While many paid tribute to Carrie Fisher’s legacy on Tuesday by sharing their favorite scenes from Star Wars or When Harry Met Sally, some fans chose to remember the actress for her work destigmatizing mental illness… Soon the hashtag #InHonorOfCarrie had over 180,000 unique visitors on Twitter with many revealing their mental-health issues…

Julie DiCaro, a Chicago journalist who also tweeted on Tuesday, told the Times that Fisher made it easier to not feel so alone in her illness: “It’s comforting that Carrie, or Princess Leia — who’s cooler than Princess Leia? — was comfortable speaking publicly about her struggles. It made me feel comfortable.” Which seems like the message Fisher would have wanted, especially as she chose to present only her true self, war wounds and all, in her later years.


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As Veterans Day Comes to an End

As Veterans Day comes to an end, here is the Old Guard with a 21 Gun Salute and Taps.

Updated at 12:25 AM EST

Per Omnes in comments the Dropkick Murphy’s The Green Fields of France:

And to Terry (my ASO) and Gregg and Mike and Nichole and Paula – rest well.



Late Night Fond Melancholy for A Spiritual Teacher

From the Rolling Stone story MisterMix posted earlier:

… “My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records,” Cohen’s son Adam wrote in a statement to Rolling Stone. “He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor.”…

“I never had the sense that there was an end,” he said in 1992. “That there was a retirement or that there was a jackpot.”…

The final act of Cohen’s career began in 2005, when Lorca Cohen began to suspect her father’s longtime manager, Kelley Lynch, of embezzling funds from his retirement account. In fact, Lynch had robbed Cohen of more than $5 million. To replenish the fund, Cohen undertook an epic world tour during which he would perform 387 shows from 2008 to 2013. He continued to record as well, releasing Old Ideas (2012) and Popular Problems, which hit U.S. shops a day after his eightieth birthday. “[Y]ou depend on a certain resilience that is not yours to command, but which is present,” he told Rolling Stone upon its release. “And if you can sense this resilience or sense this capacity to continue, it means a lot more at this age than it did when I was 30, when I took it for granted.”…

Along with my deep sadness, I’m embarrassed that our country just showed its frog-belly-white arse so gleefully in front of this man, by electing (with an asterisk) the kind of gaudy shouting grifter Leonard Cohen had warned us about for so many years. It’s not the worst thing about Tuesday’s debacle, nor will it be the last insult, but for me it’s one more irritant and sorrow.








Rest in Peace, Janet Reno

Per ABC:

Janet Reno, the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney general and the epicenter of several political storms during the Clinton administration, has died. She was 78.

Reno died early Monday from complications of Parkinson’s disease, her goddaughter Gabrielle D’Alemberte said. D’Alemberte said Reno spent her final days at home in Miami surrounded by family and friends.

Reno, a former Miami prosecutor who famously told reporters “I don’t do spin,” served nearly eight years as attorney general under President Bill Clinton, the longest stint in a century.

One of the administration’s most recognizable and polarizing figures, Reno faced criticism early in her tenure for the deadly raid on the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Texas, where sect leader David Koresh and some 80 followers perished.

She was known for deliberating slowly, publicly and in a typically blunt manner. Reno frequently told the public “the buck stops with me,” borrowing the mantra from President Harry S. Truman…

In the spring of 2000, Reno enraged her hometown’s Cuban-American community when she authorized the armed seizure of 5-year-old Elian. The boy was taken from the Little Havana home of his Miami relatives so he could be returned to his father in Cuba.

After leaving Washington, Reno returned to Florida and made an unsuccessful run for Florida governor in 2002 but lost in a Democratic primary marred by voting problems.

The campaign ended a public career that started amid humble beginnings. Born July 21, 1938, Janet Wood Reno was the daughter of two newspaper reporters and the eldest of four siblings. She grew up on the edge of the Everglades in a cypress and brick homestead built by her mother and returned there after leaving Washington. Her late brother Robert Reno was a longtime columnist for Newsday on Long Island.

After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in chemistry, Reno became one of 16 women in Harvard Law School’s Class of 1963. Reno, who stood over 6 feet tall, later said she wanted to become a lawyer “because I didn’t want people to tell me what to do.”…

In 1995 Reno was diagnosed with Parkinson’s after noticing a trembling in her left hand. She said from the beginning that the diagnosis, which she announced during a weekly news conference, would not impair her job performance. And critics — both Republicans and Democrats — did not give her a pass because of it.

“Did not give her a pass” is a very genteel phrasing for the way she was treated, by Democratic should-have-been-allies as well as the Disloyal Opposition. If anyone deserved to see the first woman elected President, it was Janet Reno — I only hope she got the chance to vote early, because from everything I’ve heard it would have been important to her.