Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Random Musings

As I mentioned in the comments section, I've recently gotten on Facebook. (Hey, when your son is stationed in Hawaii, you do whatever you can to make things easier for him to communicate. Not that Luke has ever been the most communicative of people - he'll talk to you if you're in front of him, but will he pick up a phone and call his parents? Oi, it's a shandeh!)

(Yeah, I know. My yiddish accent is a shandeh un a charpeh. But what can you do?)

And thumbing around the internet this weekend, I came across a “Boycott Whole Foods” group in Facebook. (For anybody who may not be aware, the owner of Whole Foods, John Mackey, a millionaire who makes enough money that he won’t be thrown into bankruptcy the first time he gets sick, wrote an editorial saying that universal health care was a bad idea.)

So anyway, like I said, I found the "Boycott Whole Foods" group in Facebook. And on the first page, I noted that among its almost 28,000 members was a friend of mine named Melissa. So, on a whim, I joined. Apparently, I’m now boycotting Whole Foods.

Now, here’s the thing. This won’t be a particularly arduous boycott for me, because I never shop there (I just don’t see the sense in paying twice as much, or more, for an apple just because somebody slapped an “organic” label on it – and since “organic” really doesn’t mean much, I’m just as happy paying less at a standard grocery store). However, since Melissa, as far as I know, shops almost exclusively at Whole Foods, maybe the excessive amount of inconvenience that she’s dealing with, makes up for my lackadaisical boycott.

(For the record, I also boycott veal. Since I never bought it anyway, this is another boycott that isn’t exactly causing me excessive pain. So in the end, when I do the right thing in a completely passive manner like this, does it increase my chances of going to heaven? Do I get a couple of points in the “nice” column on Santa’s list or anything?)

My wife, being on a low-protein diet, has extremely fine hair. This did not, however, prevent me from removing a hair clump the size of a vole from our bathtub drain yesterday. (It was too small to be an ordinary mouse, so “vole” seemed appropriate. But it’s a descriptor that nobody uses, at least here in the USA, so I’m happy to throw it in there.)

It shames me to admit it, but I’m not the biggest opera fan in the world. However, after years of forced association, I find that I can stomach it to a limited extent (and I’m actually a big fan of Amici Forever, despite the fact that they’re in contention for the stupidest band name ever). And, if you happen to be in the Albuquerque area on a Friday night, and you happen to be an opera fan (and statistically, these two occurrences aren’t likely to converge to any great extent), quite probably the best place to go is a coffee bar called the Roasted Bean CafĂ©, down by Old Town, where the three best singers in Albuquerque (and whoever else shows up) spend the evening singing operatic arias, art songs, and the occasional Broadway number (over the strenuous objections of Erskine, the baritone). It is, in fact, called “Opera and Broadway Open Mike Night,” and it starts at 8:00 p.m.

This has been an entirely unpaid advertisement, neither requested nor approved by the singers, the venue, or the owner of the Roasted Bean. I apologize if anyone is offended. (I also feel compelled to apologize for including that link to the Roasted Bean; they have great coffee, but a butt-ugly website.)

We have a company which provides health screens to go along with our health insurance; it’s a different company than the one I bitched about last year. So I just registered with them, and I noticed the following statements in the middle of this long, three-page “Participant Notice and Consent.” Let’s see if you can spot the part that took me aback, just a little.
This program is being offered to help you become a healthier and happier you. Participation in this program is voluntary and is not considered part of your work-related duties and responsibilities. A health screening will be done at the beginning of the program to assess your current health status...

In consideration of your participation in the Bravo Wellness and Know Your Number programs, you hereby accept all risk to your health and any injury or death that may result from such participation and you hereby release your employer, Bravo Wellness, BioSignia, Hooper Holmes, Heritage Labs, and their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, successors and assigns from any and all liability to you, your personal representatives, estate, heirs, next of kin and assigns, from any and all claims and causes of actions for all illness or injury to your person resulting from your participation in the Bravo Wellness and Know Your Number programs, including, without limitation, your death, any medical problems or any health issues, whether caused by the negligence of your employer, Bravo Wellness, BioSignia, Hooper Holmes, Heritage Labs, or any of their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, successors and assigns.
What the hell kind of “wellness program” are they running here?

That looks a hell of a lot more like the "death panels" that Sarah Palin is whining about than anything that’s come out of the White House.


Anonymous said...


Glad you're supporting the Whole Foods boycott ... and yeah, its causing me some pain, though I never shopped exclusively at Whole Foods, there are things that I can get there that don't seem to be anywhere else. I went to a locally owned Natural Foods store today -- driving further than I would have to my neighborhood Whole Foods, but then, I used to drive to Evanstan before that one when in -- at any rate, tried a substitute, and found it ... meager. Difficult for me to believe that store has been in business since 1982, because it looks like they haven't quite stocked up yet.

But what can you do? The CEO of Whole Foods is an ass ... there was always the union thing, but to pile the distain for healthcare on top of it ... really, he makes it clear that while WF may care for the environment, they don't care at all for people.

Anonymous said...

Can I ask a silly question here isabinda?

Why is an employer responsible for your healthcare? Where is it said in any founding document that government is supposed to provide healthcare? When do you start to be responsible for you? How long before the government needs to be called in to wipe your ass because they’re responsible for your crap? You liberals all think of government as a provider of something you are entitled to. The founding documents LIMIT governments roll in the privet sector. If you need to be watched over so badly, move to Cuba.

Diogenes said...

"Why is an employer responsible for your healthcare? Where is it said in any founding document that government is supposed to provide healthcare?"

Why, for that matter, is an employer responsible for paying you a salary? The founding documents allowed for slavery, so what the hell? Why not go back to the "good old days"?

Healthcare coverage is a fringe benefits offered by most employers. Has been that way for decades. Employers VOLUNTARILY offered those benefits, to entice workers to come work for them instead of a competitor. That's the free market at work, chum(p). It's far cheaper for an employer to offer health insurance for their employee group than it would be for them to raise salaries enough to allow employees to buy their own.

It gets really tiring to hear this minimalist "if it ain't in the Constitution, we don't need it" crap. We're not in 1776 anymore, Toto, so wake up and join the 20th century, now that the rest of us have joined the 21st. Evidently you've not heard of the "elastic clause" have you? It's a shame that simplistic minds need to be so literal... whether reading the Constitution or the Bible!

Nameless Cynic said...

And to add to that, I pay for my healthcare, I just get it cheaper because that's the benefit my employer offers.

And technically, since I work for a hospital, wouldn't it be sad if they didn't have a health plan?

ToeJamm said...

Hey Nameless. You ever read Atlas Shrugged?

ToeJamm said...

Why don't you guys just earn your own health care? I don't get what the big deal is. Its way easy. I really don't get why people want to sacrifice their potential for others and be forced to mediocrity.

Nameless Cynic said...

Oh, my lord. ToeJammer is back.

Yes, I've read Atlas Shrugged. A mediocre book at best, both badly written and poorly thought out. Those philosophies, taken to their extreme, lead to the economic collapse we're in today.

Why don't you just earn your own health care?

"Because the poor people should just be allowed to die! They don't deserve to live. They aren't as good as us!"

Very Randian of you. Kind of morally bankrupt, but at least it's good to see that you're finally publicly admitting that you aren't a Christian. God knows you don't follow the teachings of Christ, anyway.

ToeJamm said...

You're right, I'm not a christian. But I never said that I was. Is that supposed to hurt my feelings or something?

Rand's philosophies do not advocate government interference in the public sector at all. Mass government growth is what has led to the disaster that we are in. Whether you want to point to Bush, Obama, Clinton, Reagan...it doesn't matter. The government is in huge debt and Randism wouldn't have led to that.

I thought it was a good book, a bit extreme and boring, but good. The characters are very bland. But I think the book does illustrate what an extreme leftist government is capable of. An extreme right(I don't know if thats what you call uber conservative or not) probably isn't capable of much more either, but since all of our candidates today, even the republicans, are teetering to the left, the book is more relevant today then when it was written.

Nameless Cynic said...

Oh, cool. We're doing book reports now.

To be honest, I'm a little surprised you read at all. But assuming you do, I have no problem visualizing your bookshelf (singular). Rand, Glenn Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity nestled shoulder-to-shoulder, right? (But no Bible. Now we know, right?)

Rand's objectivism, which she uses as a framework for most of her poorly-written novels, is a shallow, self-absorbed philosophy which would be a disaster if applied to a society.

She believed that a policy of blatant self-interest is a feasible basis for a society, against all available evidence. The purpose for a society is one of group survival; otherwise, why work together at all?

Her mindless support of laissez-faire capitalism, when combined with a policy of self-interest only, is exactly what led us to our current economic crisis. People who only looked out for themselves felt justified in bending the rules or making their own, and everything eventually came tumbling down.

In that sense, you're correct. The book is more relevant today than when it was written. Because, first, it wasn't particularly relevant then. And second, because it serves as an example of exactly what not to do.

Melkor said...

It's funny that you automatically assume that every conservative you come across is a christian. Give this unneeded rhetorical salvo a rest eh unless someone makes a religious contention against your political opinions (unless deep down you have some sort of Liberation Theology christian just waiting to break out) religious pining has no place in a policy discussion.

I'm glad you figured out that Objectivism specifically targets the selfless giving which theology, as an aggregate rule, attempts to elicit.

To say that a society based on "self interest isn't feasible based on all available evidence" must be a play where you kept your willing sense of disbelief into reality. Ours, unless you've forgotten, is that society and increasingly the world over. As the wise old man here, you should be the one with a memory that can recount the collapse of such economic systems that sought to exist outside of man's selfish nature (Please...attempt to make a rebuttal to this concerning our Western European friends).

I hope you can make a connection between your comments here to your next post concerning how people could perceive you as arrogant. This probably stems from your statements, whether intended or not, that categorize people, politics, books, etc in extreme terms. You're right that absolute unregulated capitalism lead to the crash of 1929, but because you feel like you're on a roll, you throw in a bunch of meaningless attacks on Rand herself with a groundless assertion about human nature that turns a building intelligent argument into pejorative laden dribble. I fail to see how Rand can be intellectually equated with media talking heads. Even if you choose to oppose her works, it does your analytical abilities a disservice to make such a leap. It would be like if I equated MSNBC Olbermann or the rants on Huffpo to Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky.

P.S.--> Conditions of regulation assisted in the current crisis. You can thank the Honorable Representative Frank for forcing banks to give out increased loans to people that would otherwise be too risky to lend to...cough, sub prime loans "Guarrenteed Loans", Federal Housing Finance Agency: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac... But we can talk about Market speculation on these loans if you want to.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Melkor. Very well said.

Uncle Slam

Anonymous said...

"A mediocre book at best, both badly written and poorly thought out."

So, in other words, it's the template upon which you base your style of movie reviews? We'll have to forgive Aimless: literature is one of the many arts with which he struggles. His misunderstanding of all with which he disagrees is perhaps a reason he jumps to so many conclusions regarding the perception of people being Christian?

It's incredible the way he dismisses such a widely recognized book. But, like mentioned before, he doesn't understand it, so in his mind, it's wrong.

Recently he pondered if I had participated on the Liberty University Debate Team. No, but that is quite a degree of praise (unintentional, no doubt). Had he reseached the topic, he'd have found that University to have a formidable team.



Pat Riot

Nameless Cynic said...

Wow. You guys are like cockroaches. The lights go out, and you come scrambling out into the room. As I write this, it's three weeks since I posted. Weird.

So, Melkor,

It's funny that you automatically assume that every conservative you come across is a christian.

Yeah, it's weird, isn't it? All those "War on Christmas" rants from the left, all those Ten Commandment monuments that the Democrats want the government to pay for, I can see where you'd be confused.

OK, here's how it works. All conservatives are not Christian. I have always admitted that. But it's an easy gamble to take. Let's try it this way - all the Dominionists (look it up) are Republican, or at least right-wing; that does not mean that the entire GOP is religious, but the odds go up quite a bit.

Add to that the fact that the 'wingers motivated to come a'callin' here have often been religious. So it's a good gamble.

"Society based on self-interest" - the theory that "I got mine, to hell with the rest of you" hasn't worked well for the last eight years, has it? Look at the stock market.

You're pulling in a logical fallacy. At no point did I suggest that we should have some weird Utopian society, nor that one has ever worked. Running out to the extreme end of the field and screaming "why do you think we want to be here?" is an ignorant attempt at smoke-screening.

Didn't you just write something about people who "categorize people, politics, books, etc in extreme terms"? You don't think that smacks, just a little, of hypocrisy?

I fail to see how Rand can be intellectually equated with media talking heads.

Well, to be honest, they do it for us. Limbaugh, for example, seems to think that she's some kind of Oracle of Delphi, and even farther afield, Michelle Malkin likes to quote her on occasion. (Misquote, really, but Malkin's failures at reading comprehension are massive and many.) You find mention of her all over Fox "News" - what's to misunderstand?

No, I understand all of Ayn Rand's work. I just find them badly written and philosophically flawed. Why would you assume I don't understand?

Ah, right. "Reading comprehension" - never been (any of) your strong point(s), has it?

Anonymous said...

"I just find them badly written and philosophically flawed."

This from someone who struggles through a critique of "G.I. Joe"?

Roger Fleabert

Nameless Cynic said...

There was a struggle there? It was a mindless, 2-hour commercial.

I'm sure you enjoyed it, though, Rog.