Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Pretty in Pink

Thanks, as always, to the magical Ozark Hillbilly for another amazing sequence:


What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?

Late Night KKKlown Car Open Thread: The GOP Retreat (But Trump Found Them Anyway)

Even though it meant not live-tweeting during the DNC’s Houston debate, where he was guaranteed a (considerably less flattering) large audience. Per the Washington Post:

With the president speaking here Thursday to a closed-door retreat of House Republicans, scores of protesters gathered to express opposition to White House policies and outrage at Trump’s recent tweets calling Maryland’s largest city “the Worst in the USA.”

The visit by the president — who maligned Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live” — was limited to a dinnertime speech kicking off the GOP retreat at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Harbor East.

House Republicans selected Baltimore as the location for their three-day conference long before the president’s attack on the city, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 10 to 1. Well before the White House announced that Trump would attend the conference, a coalition of advocacy groups calling themselves the Baltimore Welcoming Committee had planned days of rallies to protest GOP policies on immigration, climate change and other topics. There was to be a singalong, a light show and a dance party. Organizer Sharon Black said Trump’s scheduled appearance “upped the ante.”

“This is about the remarks about Baltimore and his policies. You can’t really separate the two,” she said…

Of course, Donny Dollhands goes nowhere without a few of his devoted sycophants…

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Schlemazel Memorial Service Information

Schlemazel’s niece, who you may remember from comments as Laura Too, emailed me earlier today with the information about Schlemazel’s memorial service.

I have permission from my aunt to share this. Mark’s memorial will be on Saturday September 28th 12:00 Skyview shelter at French Park in Plymouth, MN. Anyone who knew him is welcome to come, and anyone who wants to write a memorial to him I will print out like I did for him at the hospital and put in a form for his family. Please let me know if you need anything else for this, I’m not very good at it, and it hasn’t got much easier. Thanks for making such a wonderful family!

So if you’re in the Plymouth, MN area and want to attend, please do. And if you’re not, but would like to write a few words about him for his family, do so in the comments and Laura Too will print them out for the rest of her family to read.

I’ll repeat this post a couple of times during the week so everyone that would like to gets a chance to leave a memorial comment.

Open thread!

Houston Debate Open Thread: We Have A Winner

Probably a couple winners, actually — but the immediate standout has been decided…

Recommended Reading #6: Audio Drama Edition

I’ve been a sucker for a good audio drama ever since middle school, when my dad introduced me to the old classics. He’d bought some sort of anthology collection on tape, and took to playing it during long drives. I have a fond memory where we were driving through the mountains at night listening to Suspense and The Shadow. Later, in high school, a friend introduced me to the inestimable Nick Danger, Third Eye, which I still think about more than is probably healthy.

So I have absolutely no idea why I waited until 2019 to start listening to audio drama podcasts. It turns out there are a lot of good ones! Some are so good, I wanted to share them. They’re 100% free, so check them out at no risk to your pocketbook:

Steal the Stars (from Tor Labs, written by Mac Rogers) tells the story of Dakota Prentiss, security chief at a secret facility to study a crashed alien ship. It’s set in a recognizable near future, where such things are done by indentured servants at a defense contractor megacorporation, and the employees are forbidden to fraternize. One day, new hire Matt Salem joins the team, and you can probably see where this is going. Taped in a warehouse, Steal the Stars has the distinction of actually sounding like it takes place in its setting. Tightly-written, easy to follow, very well-executed. Available as fourteen 40-ish minute episodes. (Warning: the link contains some spoilers in its description.)

"TANIS" is filled with images of nature, on a black background.Tanis (from the Public Radio Alliance) is an odd duck. It’s told in the format of a public radio podcast, like Serial or Radiolab. In it, fictional podcast host Nic Silver investigates the fictional myth of Tanis, a legendary locale known only from a few cryptic references. Aided by a team of irregulars he picks up as he digs deeper, he aims to uncover the truth behind these bizarre stories, which seem to gravitate around the woods of the Pacific Northwest. The first season of twelve 45-ish minute episodes works as a standalone, and I highly recommend it. Each episode seamlessly blends strange real-world events with the story’s developing mythos, in a manner I would characterize as Borgesian. Recommended especially for fans of weird fiction.

If you’re looking for something lighter, check out StarTripper!! (from Whisperforge, written by Julian Mundy). This zany space opera follows Feston Pyxis, a bored bureaucrat who sells his belongings, buys a starship, and starts a podcast narrating his adventures. Each 25-ish minute episode finds him at a new locale, within which hijinks ensue. Think Buck Rogers meets Futurama. It’s an indie production, so the audio isn’t as good as the above two, but don’t let that stop you.

What sort of audio dramas do y’all enjoy? I know it’s a niche genre, so feel free to talk about books and stories, too! I’m reading This Is How You Lose The Time War and Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, both of which are great. I think the latter was a recommendation from one of these posts…

Adam Schiff Writes A Letter

The Friday night news dump was unusually late this week.

Adam Schiff, Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote a letter to Joseph Maguire, Acting Director of National Intelligence. Read it – it’s short and to the point.

A whistleblower in the Intelligence Community disclosed a concern to the DNI intended for the congressional intelligence committees on August 12. The Intelligence Community Inspector General then determined that the concern was both urgent and credible. At that point, Maguire had seven days to turn the material over to the House and Senate Intelligence committees. The deadline was September 2. He didn’t.

It looks like Schiff has also requested the material from Maguire. That would mean he heard about it through another channel, possibly notified by the IC IG.

Maguire also consulted the Department of Justice (corrupt William Barr) on whether he should turn the material over. That consultation is not allowed by the law; he’s just supposed to turn the material over.

His basis for not turning the material over is that

the complaint involves conduct by someone outside the Intelligence Community and because the complaint involves confidential and potentially privileged communications.

That describes people who are most likely to be trying to do something bad, like spies, and of course confidential information would be part of it. No point to whistleblowing on something that’s been in the news. “Potentially privileged” might suggest presidential communications. Like other legal arguments the administration makes, it boils down to “No, we don’t want to disclose and will use an utterly transparent excuse.”

Schiff puts all that together

Schiff wants the material by Tuesday, emphasizing that it is an urgent matter. If Maguire doesn’t come up with it, Schiff wants him in front of the committee by Thursday. He also says that the whistleblower had better be protected from reprisal. Good luck with that.

I can imagine a great many possibilities for the content of the complaint, but that’s because there is so little information and the administration is so corrupt.

Next week should be interesting.

Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Must Be Autumn, Already

Friday Night ‘Ready for the Weekend’ Open Thread

My Weekend Plans

My spider plant had babies, and I have nine of them soaking in wine glasses around the house before I root them and give them away. I’ll probably keep a couple.

Also, I am hoping that the pears will be ripe enough in the next couple of days to get them canned, and then I will basically have all the canning done for the year. I still have some pesto to make, some sunflower seeds to harvest, and I will pickle the cucumbers as they ripen and we’ll see what happens with my fall crop of beets and pole beans. Regardless, it will be nice to have my dining room back.

In other news, I have been playing a helluva lot of Warcraft classic. My old guild got back together, and we have been playing every night and having a good time. We’re alliance on Sulfuras (because these idiots wanted to be alliance but chose to be on a pvp server anyway… le sigh). If you want to join in, just email me.

Politics is depressing as hell. I watched some of the debate, and man, Joe Biden is really showing his age. I know people love him and think he is the most electable, but he just looks out of his element and too old. We’ll see- I mean, as we know, I will vote for anyone over Trump.

Friday Evening Open Thread

A moment of zen (with crap camera work):

What are y’all up to this evening?

What the WHAT?

Got a call from a friend last night during the debate, so I missed the last hour or so. Read a few of the hot takes and wasn’t surprised by anything until I saw, and then read, this Q&A:

Linsey Davis: Mr. Vice President, I want to talk to you about inequality in schools and race. In a conversation about how to deal with segregation in schools back in 1975, you told a reporter, “I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation, and I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.” You said that some 40 years ago, but as you stand here tonight, what responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?

Joe Biden: Well, they have to deal with the … Look, there is institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Redlining, banks, making sure that we are in a position where—

Look, we talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title 1 schools, triple the amount of money we spend from $15 to $45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise to the equal of … A raise of getting out of the $60,000 level.

No. 2, make sure that we bring in to the help with the stud—the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home, we need… We have one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today. It’s crazy. The teachers are required—I’m married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them.

Make sure that every single child does, in fact, have three, four, and five-year-olds go to school. School! Not day care, school. We bring social workers into homes of parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help. They don’t know what— They don’t know what quite what to do. Play the radio. Make sure the television—excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night. The phone—make sure the kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school—er, a very poor background will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.

Davis: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

Biden: No, I’m going to go like the rest of them do, twice over, OK? Because here’s the deal. The deal is that we’ve got this a little backwards. And by the way, in Venezuela, we should be allowing people to come here from Venezuela. I know Maduro. I’ve confronted Maduro. No. 2, you talk about the need to do something in Latin America. I’m the guy that came up with $740 million to see to it those three countries, in fact, change their system so people don’t have to chance to leave. You’re all acting like we just discovered this yesterday! Thank you very much.

Okay, then.

The Beltway press is calling Castro a meanie because of his (apparently inaccurate) aggressive questioning of Biden’s memory earlier in the debate. I don’t know if that will hurt Castro’s candidacy or not, and I don’t know if Castro had a motive for going after Biden other than trying to make something happen because his (Castro’s) poll numbers are terrible. But whether he did it consciously or not, Castro jumped on a grenade for the party last night.

Ironically, it may have backfired because it looks like the pundits are focusing on Castro’s aggression and ignoring the alarming fact that the Democratic front-runner babbled incoherent nonsense for several minutes. I’m not sure what to make of that.

Anyhoo, open thread?

Slo Mo Train Wreck

I realize that intelligent people can disagree about impeachment, but does anyone think that what the Democrats are doing now is good politics or good government?  Wait – let me rephrase:  Does anyone know what the Democrats are doing now?  Apparently, Jerry Nadler is kinda sorta maybe gonna hold impeachment hearings, according to this cutline from the Snooze Hour:

On Capitol Hill, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are emphasizing that impeaching President Trump is still a real possibility. In a party line vote, the committee passed a resolution setting rules for future impeachment investigation hearings, with Chair Jerry Nadler vowing to scrutinize presidential behavior that “poses a threat to our democracy.”

What a relief!  Impeaching a President who fires off impeachable offenses the way a pyromaniac lights fireworks on the 4th is “still a real possibility”.  Of course, some other major Democrats might beg to differ:

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Wednesday backtracked after saying Democrats were not conducting an “impeachment inquiry,” a remark that directly contradicted top House investigators and sowed further confusion about Democrats’ strategy.

The other news is that Elijah Cummings and the Oversight Committee are looking at Pence’s stay at a Trump property in Ireland (good, but mice nuts compared to other offenses), and the Ways and Means committee is basically burying the fact that a whistleblower has told them that Trump appointees are fucking with audits of Trump and Pence’s taxes.

The net of this is that Democratic investigations are a fart in the windstorm of Trump’s constant made-for-TV drama, and are getting almost zero attention.  Am I the only one who is disgusted by the dithering, split focus, and political cowardice on display here?  At a minimum we need a special select committee chaired by a hard charger that unites all of the threads investigating Trump’s corruption into one coherent narrative that gets some fucking attention.  What we have today is far less than the minimum, and time is running out.

Gold is going the distance, going for speed

Gold plans in the ACA are higher actuarial value plans than non-CSR silver and all bronze plans. The benefit design should be better for people with high costs. The trade-off is that these plans have higher premiums. More protection for higher monthly premiums is a standard trade-off. But this is not always true.

  • Gold can have the same maximum out of pocket limit as bronze and catastrophic plans
  • Difference is the speed of hitting the out of pocket max
  • Speed of claims matter

As part of a series of productively procrastinating steps I had taken when I should have been writing a grant this week, I was thinking about risk adjustment under silverloading.  That led me to wonder how many gold plans have a maximum out of pocket limit equal to the maximum allowable limit?  I used public use files for 2019 to estimate the percentage of 14 digit Plan IDs at each metal level had a maximum out of pocket limit equal to the 2019 maximum allowed out of pocket costs of $7,900 for a single individual.  In order to get a quick and dirty sense of scope, the unit of analysis is county/plan ID combination for both the denominator and numerator.  If I was publishing this in a peer review space, I would have done some type of weighting scheme.

Roughly a third of gold plans/county combinations have an out of pocket maximum for a single individual of $7,900.  Three fifths of bronze plans have the same out of pocket maximum and all catastrophic plans have the same maximum allowable out of pocket maximum.

There are a couple of things going on here.  The big thing is a combination of distance  (total claims spend) and speed of reaching the out of pocket max varies by metal tier.

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Friday Morning Open Thread: After the Debate

My opinion: Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris both did really well (although Warren will no doubt be dinged as ‘too wonky’ and Harris as ‘insufficiently specific’). Buttigieg, O’Rourke, Booker, and Klobuchar all had good moments for their future campaign ads. The two old guys at center stage did a credible parody of Statler & Waldorf… okay, that’s mean, but Biden’s dental implants seemed to be giving him problems, and Sanders was not only hoarse even before he started shouting but his old-man jowls are slipping back down around his jaws…

The Guardian liveblog finished with a pretty good “key takeaways from the debate” summary — and not just because I generally agree with it.

I will have more about last night’s debate, if only to highlight my two favorite candidates’ performances. But here’s a couple immediate OMG moments that the media will be gumming over right now. First, Beto continues his ‘Fvck it, y’all know I’m right about this’ tour:

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On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

So, another Friday…the 13th, even!

One great surprise – a lost otmar submission, so once again, we’re at another otmar Friday.

Calooh, callay…

Have a great weekend, everybody!

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