The ongoing craziness of the legislative session is sapping my creative energies, so I give you the latest music video from the robot queen of future-charged hip-hop, Janelle Monae. The video is for the single “Q.U.E.E.N.” from her forthcoming The Electric Lady. It’s got a healthy dose of funk, a stylish vision of the future, and Erykah Badu in full vamp mode. It is, in a word, awesome.
Ezra Klein rightly castigates Democrats for completely surrendering to Republicans on the sequestration. Klein points out that by voting last week vote to exempt the FAA from across-the-board budgets cuts, Democrats threw away their one bargaining chip that might have enabled them to replace the sequestration with something more sensible. But because Dems couldn’t stomach the thought of taking a little flak for flight delays, other people who don’t have frequent flyer cards will continue to suffer. Other people who may have never stepped foot in an airport will continue to have their housing vouchers revoked. Other people who don’t have the money for a plane ticket will continue to have their unemployment benefits cut.
But our elected officials will move heaven and earth for lobbyists and corporate executives who bitch about being stuck on the tarmac for an hour.
Perhaps Obama and Democrats are playing some long game that I don’t have the political acumen to understand. Perhaps they really aren’t the cowards they seem to be.
The Times looks at the commercial promise of neural interfaces and concludes that the crude devices available on the market today will seem archaic in just a couple years. I’ve read enough of pieces like this over the years to realize that tech journalists lack a functioning hype filter. As much as I’d like to believe otherwise, the sixth- or seventh-gen iPad probably isn’t going to include a neural connection. We have yet to understand how to accurately decode brain signals using noninvasive hardware, much less figure out how to cheaply produce that hardware. I have no doubt we’ll eventually see such tech emerge, but it’s probably not as imminent as this article would have you believe.
The Times, like a lot of other news organizations, is discovering there’s a lot of mileage to be had reporting on the challenges of implementing the Affordable Care Act. The Times article gives particular attention to the need to convince healthy young people to purchase health insurance. If only sicker, older people buy coverage, costs will quickly spiral out of control and we’ll be back to where we started; health insurance will remain unaffordable to the vast majority of Americans. It’s going to take some skillful marketing to convince twentysomethings already saddled with mountains of student loan debt to buy something they might not regard as necessary. But without the millennials, this whole endeavor could collapse under its own weight.
This weekend will be a mix of work and play, so I’d better commence with the play. Once the legislative session is over, I might indulge in some truly inadvisable recreational activities. You may want to start planning the intervention now before I’m too far gone.
I took this science quiz and apparently scored better than 93% of participants. The questions weren’t particularly difficult, which makes me wonder how we Americans are able to maintain our position as one of the world’s more technically advanced societies. If this trend continues, our descendants will be computer-worshipping simpletons straight out of a lesser Star Trek episode.
Legislators can get some curious ideas when drafting legislation, particularly legislators who reluctantly decide to participate in the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. When Arkansas passed a law authorizing its Medicaid expansion, they included language that does its best to make damn sure beneficiaries understand that this ain’t no entitlement. The language reads:
(i) An eligible individual enrolled in the program shall affirmatively acknowledge that:
(1) The program is not a perpetual federal or state right or a guaranteed entitlement;
(2) The program is subject to cancellation upon appropriate notice; and
(3) The program is not an entitlement program.
This provision only applies to adults enrolling in the expansion, so we can assume that children and people with disabilities aren’t required to comply with this empty gesture. I’m not sure the courts or the feds would allow Arkansas to use this language as a future escape clause from the expansion. The strained legal reasoning of local conservative lawmakers doesn’t change the fact that Medicaid is an entitlement.
I’m in a desperate race to finish my book club selection before Thursday, so you’ll have to excuse the abbreviated post. If you’re looking for something to read, you could do much worse than Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. I’ll give a brief review in a few days. But first, the text awaits.
I’m hoping to travel to San Francisco sometime this year to visit my brother. And while I’m looking forward to seeing him and exploring the Bay Area again, I don’t look forward to flying again. For us gimps, flying can be an uncomfortable hassle that forces us to abandon our wheelchairs and sit in seats that are not designed to accommodate our unique anatomies. Then there’s the added stress of wondering whether our wheelchairs will arrive intact once we reach our destination. It’s enough to make someone start a petition to require airlines to allow wheelchairs in the passenger sections of airplanes. On-line petitions probably don’t carry much weight, but I signed it anyway because I’d someday like to fly without choreographing the whole endeavor.
I’ll leave it others to blog about the grim news unfolding in suburban Boston. Instead, here’s an amusing clip of Harrison Ford and Chewbacca airing things out on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Because sometimes humor is the only way to cope with the insanity.
Of course, I’d like to see Ford in the next Star Wars movie. And I’m guessing he feels the same way.