August 30, 2005
Money talks, Part III: Now it's time for the breakdown
Well, it's all over but the voting, but just for kicks, here are some finance calculations from Dave from the medfordmass Yahoo group:
Here's some totals from the data I gathered, without comment, without
judgement, just to think about...
Contributions this year for Michael J Callahan (98 filed, including 2 contributions totalling $5000 in loans to self))
Woburn: 3 contributions totalling $400
Winchester: 3 contributions totalling $250
Somerville: 1 contribution totalling $50
Medford: 15 contributions totalling $2750
22/96 from in-district
Contributions to Jehlen (Jehlen has filed 651 contributions, including 2 contributions totalling $20,000 in loans to self):
Medford: 55 contributions totalling $5975
Winchester: 27 contributions totalling $4010
Woburn: 2 totalling $250
Somerville: 307 totalling $61,664
Mackey (Filed a total of 453 contributions, including 7 contributions totalling $21,300 in loans to self and a donation of $500 to himself):
Somerville: 174 contributions totalling $17,010
Medford: 37 totalling $2819
Winchester:26 totalling $3,755.00
TODAY'S THE DAY!
If you live in Somerville, Medford, Winchester, or Woburn, get out to your polling place and vote!
This is an open thread. Tell us what you're seeing and hearing.
August 29, 2005
Where do I vote?
Find out here. Then just do it, baby.
As sco has scooped, Harvard Pilgrim CEO Charlie Baker has decided not to go up against the Kerry Healey money-printing machine for the Republican gov. nomination.
From what I've heard from a couple of different quarters (including esteemed co-blogger David), this is good news and bad news. Baker is said to be a member of the "reality-based community", not a wide-eyed radical, and a guy who really knows the health care business and has led Harvard Pilgrim to a lofty status as the top health plan in the country. He would have been a worthy opponent.
So assuming -- I don't think it's a stretch -- that the Dems will be facing a well-funded but, er, lightweight opponent, with deep pockets but shallow support ... whom do you want doing battle out there? Do you bet on bucks and institution, or passion and organization? What's the trump card?
A superb debunking
In case you missed it, this column by Daniel C. Dennett in Sunday's NY Times is the best takedown I've yet seen on the so-called "theory" of intelligent design ("ID") as an alternative to evolution.
You should read the whole thing, because it is extremely well done and, I think, unanswerable. This ought to be the final word on this stupid "debate" (it won't, of course, but it should). A couple of the truly excellent points in the article:
- The "design" touted by ID promoters as so "intelligent" is actually not all that great in some ways. The example the author gives is the blind spot that everyone has in their vision, which results from the awkward path that nerves must traverse to get from the retina to the brain. Surely an omnipotent and merciful "designer" could have, and would have, done a better job. So ID can't explain the blind spot. But such a defect is perfectly understandable if you accept that these structures evolved over billions of years, and that non-critical design flaws may never be weeded out in that process. As the author says, "this is just one of hundreds of accidents frozen in evolutionary history that confirm the mindlessness of the historical process."
- I can't help adding my own example to this line of thinking that is probably not suitable for publication in a family paper like the NY Times. If you think about it, really, what's up with the organs used for reproduction and for excretion being the same (for men) or very, very close (for women)? The two functions have nothing to do with each other, and there's no reason they couldn't be separated. And, really, they should be - if I were designing an animal, they'd be pretty darn far apart. But in fact they're not, presumably because although the system we have ain't perfect, it works well enough to keep the species self-perpetuating - the sign of a system that evolved, not that was "designed" by an omnipotent being.
- The author does an excellent job of summarizing the trick ID promoters have used in advancing their phony cause. He first describes the right way to create controversy in science:
- "The legitimate way to stir up such a storm is to come up with an alternative theory that makes a prediction that is crisply denied by the reigning theory - but that turns out to be true, or that explains something that has been baffling defenders of the status quo, or that unifies two distant theories at the cost of some element of the currently accepted view." He notes, however, that "to date, the proponents of intelligent design have not produced anything like that. No experiments with results that challenge any mainstream biological understanding. No observations from the fossil record or genomics or biogeography or comparative anatomy that undermine standard evolutionary thinking."
- Then he explains how the ID promoters have cheated - they have done an end-run around this process: "the proponents of intelligent design use a ploy that works something like this. First you misuse or misdescribe some scientist's work. Then you get an angry rebuttal. Then, instead of dealing forthrightly with the charges leveled, you cite the rebuttal as evidence that there is a "controversy" to teach."
- In short, the ID gang has created "controversy" where none should exist. And that is, so far, their greatest victory. I made a similar point here.
Like I said, it's a great article and you should read the whole thing. And then you should visit this site, which has a less high-minded, but much funnier, take on the "intelligent design" issue. About the site, I will only say this: it is the home page of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Money talks part II
... but does it knock-'n'-drag?
A fellow named Dave posted these links to the Medfordmass Yahoo group -- they may have shown up in the bazillion comments here, sorry if I missed them:
- An article about campaign spending by the various candidates in the Winchester Star. Here's a tidbit from that:
"Casey spent $260.96 on cakes for the elderly and Mackey spent $152.65 on helium in hopes of lifting his campaign with balloons. Jehlen hoped to make a splash by dropping $75.72 into a soup party for her campaign."
There's a few one-liners in there somewhere...
- Good old-fashioned spying on your neighbors from the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, with contributions and amounts for any candidate you want.
Video of yesterday's debate
In case you weren't awake yesterday morning @ 8:35 ... there's a link to yesterday's Senate debate, moderated by Jon Keller of WBZ4, at the bottom of this page. (Thanks to Jonathan of the medfordmass Yahoo group.)
As I've noted, the candidates all seemed to be coffee-achieved and awake for the event.
Bay Windows backs Jehlen
The endorsements in the 2nd Middlesex Senate race are still trickling in - Boston's major gay and lesbian newspaper, Bay Windows, has endorsed Pat Jehlen. They also had kind words for Joe Mackey ("just the sort of person we want in politics"), but concluded that, among other things, Jehlen's vocal support for gay marriage since the Goodridge decision and her appreciation for the special issues facing the GLBT community made her their pick.
I thought Bay Windows' editorial supporting Jehlen was quite good. I will confess to being a tad put off by the pro-Jehlen stuff coming out of MassEquality and others - after reading it, you could be forgiven for thinking that Pat Jehlen was running against a bunch of James Dobson clones. The fact is, of course, that Mackey has come out strongly in favor of gay rights, including marriage, and even Michael Callahan has said that he doesn't favor amending the state Constitution to ban gay marriage - Paul Casey is the only anti-marriage candidate in this race. For that matter, the Globe's endorsement of Mackey suffered from a bit of the same problem by saying nothing about any of the other candidates. Good for Bay Windows to acknowledge the race as it actually exists, lay out their reasons, and make their choice.
August 28, 2005
Just like that old time HMO
Tufts Health Plan says forward -- into the paaasssst ...
Tufts Health Plan is trying to revive the company by returning to old-fashioned managed care: The insurer has put its own nurses into hospitals to monitor patient stays and is requiring doctors to get permission to perform hysterectomies, back surgeries, and certain other procedures.
Ugh... yeah, we've seen this movie before. The moral-hazard cops manage to piss off patients, doctors, politicians, you name it. Tufts wants to cut costs and offer lower rates, but I can't imagine many more people are going to want to sign up for it unless they've learned something from the mid-90's HMO horror stories. If so, I hope they share it with the rest of us.
Traffic on Blue Mass. Group
A regular reader posted a comment asking how many visitors Blue Mass. Group receives, and I thought other readers might be interested as well. These numbers are of course approximate because they're based entirely on the cookies that our tracking software is able to place and read, but with that caveat, here is some basic information.
On a typical weekday, we receive between 300 and 500 unique visitors (you are a "unique visitor" if you are either here for the first time, or are returning more than one hour after your last visit). Weekends tend to be slower - between 100 and 300 unique visitors. And on some days our traffic shoots up substantially - on Friday, for example, our post on ex-US Marshal Anthony Dichio was picked up by buzzflash, resulting in almost 2,000 visitors, and yesterday our post on Mitt Romney and the National Guard was picked up here and here, giving us our biggest weekend ever at 750 visitors yesterday and 500 (so far) today. Since we went live nine months ago, nearly 75,000 unique visitors have stopped by.
That's the traffic report. This also seems like a good opportunity to extend, on behalf of all of us here, a HUGE "thank you" to all of our readers, without whom this blog would serve no useful purpose whatsoever. I very much hope that you find this an interesting, informative, thought-provoking, and entertaining place to visit, and that you'll keep coming back.