Video of the day

Thanks to Bob A. for this.

Fetal host update

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, start here.  Now, Emily Bazelon:

Marlise Munoz has been brain dead since Nov. 26, and the suffering of her family can only be getting worse. Munoz was found unconscious on her kitchen floor in November, probably because of a blood clot in her lungs. At the time she was 14 weeks pregnant. Ever since, she has been kept “alive” with a ventilator because the hospital where she was taken, John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, believes it must not withdraw “life-sustaining treatment” from a pregnant patient, based on a Texas law that so mandates. And now, lawyers for Erick Munoz, her husband, say that the fetus that his brain-dead wife has been kept on life support to carry is “distinctly abnormal.” …

So Marlise remains hooked up because the hospital is misreading Texas law. NYU bioethicist Arthur Caplan laid this out last week, explaining why the hospital is misinterpreting the law (and also why that law must be unconstitutional). “The fact that the fetus apparently has significant abnormalities shows just how awful, misguided and cruel the Texas law is,” he emailed me Thursday morning. “The uncertainties about the pregnancy—damaged fetus, almost no cases of trying to bring a 14-week-old to term in this circumstance, what he the dad is able to cope with, his dead wife’s wishes about wanting to have a child if she cannot parent, the massive costs involved and the impact of a tragic outcome on his other child—they point clearly in the direction of who should be making the decisions and who should have been making them all along. Not the hospital, not the legislature, not pro-life or pro-choicers—the husband.”

Had a rare political disagreement with my wife over this case.  Therefore, I will assure her in this public forum that if she ends up brain dead while pregnant (not that we’re planning on either of those conditions), I will allow the pregnancy to continue, because those are her wishes.

Roger Ailes and Fox News

Listened to a great Fresh Air interview today with the author of a new book about Roger Ailes– the man behind Fox News.  Easily the most fascinating bit for me was how he was a big fan of Leni Riefenstahl (obviously not her politics, but her skills) and learned what he could from this master of filmed Nazi propaganda.  I think Fox’s most successful and insidious strategy is actually quite successfully convincing most of their viewers they are truly getting both sides of the story and actually making up their own minds, e.g,. Hannity and Colmes.  Great stuff.  Here’s a NY magazine excerpt I haven’t had the chance to read yet.  And lastly, might as well put this funny image a student shared with me here:

HOW NEWS REALLY WORKSCNN: Obama appeals to Pepsi fans.Fox: Obama declares war on Coke.MSNBC: In about an hour, we will have livecoverage of Obama drinking the best cola. All who disagree are racist. BBC: 18 killed in US drone strike in Pakistan.,funny pictures,auto

Odds on 2016

Oh, how I miss intrade.  That said, there’s still plenty of British sites that let you bet on US presidential elections.  This site provides a summary of betting on the Republican nominee (among many other US political bets).


I loved Intrade’s historical graphs– if anybody knows of an equivalent, let me know!– but for this current snapshot I was quite surprised to see that Christie is still leading or awfully close in many betting markets.  I’ll short that bet.  I’m not expert on such things, but it seems that surely there’s some money to be made from the very different odds across some of these markets.  And finally, I find it interesting to see the odds on some of the people who really have no chance.  E.g., Condi Rice is simply not going to be the Republican nominee.  Even at $13 for a $1 bet, that’s a bad deal.  Most of these markets seem to have Rubio in or near the lead.  Personally, that’s where I’d put my money now.  Peter Beinart failed to convince me of the case for Rand Paul.

Photo of the day

I’m shamefully ignorant of all that’s going on in the Ukraine.  I’ve got a Ukrainan student who’s really into it and he has talked to me in a while.  The least I can do is link to a photo gallery from In Focus.  Not to make light of the situation, but I couldn’t resist this photo:

Reporters take pictures during clashes between protesters and police in Kiev, on January 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

And I haven’t read this yet (open tab), but Ta-Nehisi Coates suggests this is a great primer on Ukraine.

On hold

Loved this week’s This American Life.  One of the stories was about people who love music we’re all familiar with– the Cisco default hold music.  Alexis Madrigal gives a nice summary and link to the music here:

Hold music is a replacement for silence that delivers one message, “Yes, you are still on hold.” This is all it has to say, and in that sense, it only has to be noise. Yet on this shriveled cactus of purpose, baubles hang that delight anyway.

This is the lesson Ira Glass taught me in the latest episode of This American Lifein which reporter Sara Corbett gloriously spins out the story of her father-in-law’s obsession with Cisco’s default hold music.

Yes, Cisco! The leading purveyor of fine corporate phone systems. And on these systems, there is hold music. It sounds like this:

Groovy, no?

You probably hate it. I mostly do. At three minutes, there is this horrifying funky Michael Bolton breakdown played on a xylophone synth.

In the stale elevator descending slowly into hades, this is what pours from the padded, yellow walls.

But some people love it!

For me, nothing will ever replace the time at OSU and listening to recordings of the OSU Marching Band while on hold.

Our recent Salem witch trials

Yeah, most of he injustice was a long time ago, but it sure is still plenty disturbing to read and crazy, absurd, outrageous, truly incredible, things that people were successfully prosecuted for when children were so clearly making up outlandish stories to please coercive therapists.  Yet, most Americans were on board with the notion that daycare providers were engaging in systematic, Satanic ritual abuse of children.  Now that some of the last victims (i.e., the falsely charged and convicted adults) have been freed, Linda McRobbie looks back on this whole sorry episode.  Here’s the intro:

Among the atrocities that Frances and Dan Keller were supposed to have committed while running a day care center out of their Texas home: drowning and dismembering babies in front of the children; killing dogs and cats in front of the children; transporting the children to Mexico to be sexually abused by soldiers in the Mexican army; dressing as pumpkins and shooting children in the arms and legs; putting the children into a pool with sharks that ate babies; putting blood in the children’s Kool-Aid; cutting the arm or a finger off a gorilla at a local park; and exhuming bodies at a cemetery, forcing children to carry the bones.

It was frankly unbelievable—except that people, most importantly, a Texas jury, didbelieve the Kellers had committed at least some of these acts. In 1992, the Kellers were convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a child and each sentenced to 48 years in prison. The investigation into their supposed crimes took slightly more than a year, the trial only six days.

And here’s a nice short column from the N&O about North Carolina’s very own very shameful case:

In the beginning more than 90 children at Little Rascals accused a total of 20 adults with 429 instances of sexual abuse over a three-year period. Among the alleged perpetrators, though not charged: the sheriff and mayor.

Along with sodomy and beatings, the therapist-generated accusations [emphasis in original] detailed a baby killed with a handgun, a child hung upside down from a tree and set on fire and countless other fantastic incidents involving spaceships, hot air balloons, pirate ships and trained sharks.

Prosecutors used exorbitant bail and court-calendar delays to keep defendants jailed in hopes at least one would turn against their supposed co-conspirators. Showing remarkable courage, none did. Five defendants had to wait longer to face their accusers in court than anyone else in North Carolina history.

Bob Kelly was convicted of 99 counts of child abuse and sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences. He would serve six years in prison before the N.C. Court of Appeals resoundingly overturned his conviction and that of day-care cook Dawn Wilson, who had served two years.

This case was going on in NC when I was an undergraduate at Duke and what I remember is being aware, but for the most part, incurious about the case.  I just hardly paid attention to NC news.  I wonder how I would have been different with today’s internet back then.  Anyway, a very shameful chapter.  In some ways, we really haven’t come that far from the 17th century.


Every now and then I check in on the National Review’s Corner blog to see what’s up.  The great liberal scandal of late?  Ex felons helping people get health care.

National Review Online has confirmed at least one instance where a convicted felon is working as an Obamacare navigator.

Late last year, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress it was “possible” convicted felons could be working as navigators, prompting concerns about privacy and identity theft. (When navigators help sign people up for health coverage under Obamacare, they have access to confidential information including Social Security numbers, financial information, and health records.)

Open records obtained from Connecticut show that one navigator for that state’s exchange was allowed to work despite a Class B Felony conviction (Connecticut’s Class B Felonies are punishable by 1 to 20 years in prison).

AccessHealthCT declined to disclose the navigator’s name or the charge associated with the conviction, citing privacy protections. It noted the felon navigator’s sentence had been suspended, and the criminal act had occurred more than 19 years ago. The navigator has had no convictions since then, according to AccessHealthCT.

Oh, no!!  Such a great risk to the citizens of Connecticut.  Somebody who committed a crime almost 20 years ago and received a suspended sentence is helping them get health care.  When he’s not stealing all their personal data an plotting their rape and ax murder!  It could be worse, you could be in New Mexico and face this:

Last week, NRO reported that one in seven navigators for New Mexico’s exchange triggered a hit in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s criminal database, though that does not necessarily indicate a criminal conviction. New Mexico has among the most stringent navigator background-check requirements in the nation.

I’m sure we’ll hear of the rash of New Mexico stolen identities, etc., any day now.  But seriously, if this is the level of stuff that conservatives are left to freak out about regarding Obamacare, I’d have to say we’re in pretty good shape.

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