Don’t vote on what you haven’t finished writing.

Politico on the complexity of the health bill:

“We’re at a critical stage when people are trying to answer that question: ‘How will this help me?'” said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser foundation. Lawmakers “need to answer that in the next month or two.”
. . .
Political strategists say Americans crave concrete details about what it means for them and their families: how much they’ll have to shell out for premiums, whether they can stop worrying about losing coverage in the future or — if they’re lucky enough to have affordable care now — what it’s going to cost them to help pay for others.
But Democrats can’t deliver those specifics yet because they’re not settled on a plan themselves.

And don’t try to tell me that there won’t be unintended consequences that will be as bad as what we have now.

The Anglo-Saxons vs. the Vikings

Sometimes the English won. Or somebody won. And 51 young men lost, sometime between 890 and 1034.
During some road construction archaeological surveying a UK team found a pit with the remains of 51 young men, their heads hacked off and stacked to one side. They found no traces of clothing – no buttons, for instance.
The “Viking” part is still supposition, pending study of tooth chemistry to find out where they grew up – but the excavators suppose that a mass grave is more likely to be Viking victims than Anglo-Saxons – go read why.
Further – this link has lots of pictures – bones!

The Macclesfield Alphabet Book will stay in England

The British Library raised money from the public and from arts granting agencies to pay £600,000 for the Macclesfield Alphabet Book. The article speculates that the book might have been a demonstration piece for customers on the part of an illuminators’ workshop around 1500. Lots of the characters are made of up beasts and people.
Here’s a direct link to the slide show – 10 pages of the manuscript!

The most expensive bell pepper eaten in the 14456 last night




First Fruits!

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

First Fruits! This is the first thing I’ve picked from my garden allotment behind Trinity Episcopal Church – $15 got you a 3×6 rototilled plot and all the water you can use. I have peppers, tomatoes, and okra (!) planted.

I picked the pepper last night and grilled it (skewered with store bought zucchini – I foolishly didn’t plant zucchini). Brad Smith, in town for a research visit to the Cornell library, took the photo.

Warning to film festivals – get more sophisticated web sites!

And lawyers.
Chinese hacker(s?) attack an Australian film festival because of a Uyghur film.
Oh – by the way – I was sure that I have been reading Uighur rather than Uyghur. Some prescriptivist at Wikipedia assures us that there is such a thing as an only correct spelling:

The English transcription of the Uyghur ethnonym: [ʔʊɪˈʁʊː] is Uyghur. Typically, Uyghur is pronounced as /ˈwiː.ɡər/ by English speakers; however, /ujˈɡur/ is closer to native pronunciation. Moreoever, several alternate spellings appear in literature: Uighur, Uygur and Uigur, but the only correct spelling is Uyghur.

The whole point of transliterated words is that there are not correct spellings, only conventional ones, and conventions change. I’m certain that the convention at National Geographic was Uighur as of the last time I read it in the print edition. I’m amused to find by searching that the prescriptivist with the “only correct spelling” has failed as of 7:14 AM EDT this morning to clean up the entire Wikipedia article on Uyghur people. Sometimes Uighur slips in, still.
Further: Even the CNN article linked above has both versions – Uy in the story and Ui in the caption!

Islamists in Nigeria

An Islamic fundamentalist group in northern Nigeria expanded its attacks into three additional states on Monday, a day after at least 50 people died during fighting between the group and security forces in Bauchi State, aid workers and police said.


On Monday, fundamentalist group Boko Haram, which means “education is prohibited” in Hausa, launched attacks in three northern states, where at least 100 bodies were counted by a reporter in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, the BBC reported. Casualty figures couldn’t be confirmed.

Education is prohibited. Lovely. I’m sure they mean Western education as opposed to Islamic – but the intention is clear. This is in the same region, though, that rejected polio vaccination as a Western conspiracy a few years ago – though not the same state, so far as I can tell from reading through some of the other versions. The polio problems were in Kano state, which is not mentioned in the story linked above or the CNN version as one of the four states currently involved.

Keeping Corpses

Not exactly true love, like “A Rose for Emily.”
I think it’s cashing the Social Security checks that undercuts the love angle.

A judge sentenced the leader of a religious sect to 2 years in prison Wednesday for hiding an elderly follower’s rotting body on a toilet for weeks.
Alan Bushey, 59, of Necedah, kept Magdeline Alvina Middlesworth’s corpse on the toilet of another follower, Tammy Lewis, for two months last spring. Middlesworth, 90, moved to Necedah from Washington state in 2005 to join Bushey’s sect, the Order of the Divine Will.
Prosecutors said Bushey kept the body hidden so he could collect Middlesworth’s Social Security checks and annuities. Bushey’s attorney, Thomas Steinman, argued that Bushey thought God would bring Middlesworth back to life.
“A miracle like that is part of the Christian faith,” Steinman said. “He truly believed she would come back from the dead.”
Bushey appeared at the hearing in a black cassock with a crucifix around his neck. He told Juneau County Circuit Court Judge John Roemer Jr. that he should have known God would raise Middlesworth from the dead without his involvement.
“I should have called the coroner and leave the supernatural to God,” Bushey said.
Roemer, who called the case “horrific,” said living with a rotting corpse devastated Lewis’ daughter, now 16, and son, now 14. District Attorney Scott Southworth said they had to use a bucket in a closet for a toilet. Bushey told them that a demon was making the body decay and that they weren’t praying hard enough to bring Middlesworth back to life, Southworth added.

Yes We Can becomes Maybe You Might

Realism – also known as ‘critical thinking’ on college campuses – sets in. I’m glad it only took this long for the mass delusion to pass.

The hope and optimism that washed over the country in the opening months of Barack Obama’s presidency are giving way to harsh realities.
An Associated Press-GfK Poll shows that a majority of Americans are back to thinking that the country is headed in the wrong direction after a fleeting period in which more thought it was on the right track.
Obama still has a solid 55 percent approval rating — better than Bill Clinton and about even with George W. Bush six months into their presidencies — but there are growing doubts about whether he can succeed at some of the biggest items on his to-do list. And there is a growing sense that he is trying to tackle too much too soon.
The number of people who think Obama can improve the economy is down a sobering 19 percentage points from the euphoric days just before his inauguration. Ditto for expectations about creating jobs. Also down significantly: the share of people who think he can reduce the deficit, remove troops from Iraq and improve respect for the U.S. around the world, all slipping 15 points.

I never trust any politicians, but then I’m not a very nice person. Because that’s part of my job, breaking young hearts and teaching them not to trust things they read in print or see on the screen just because they’re in print or on the screen.