Wednesday, June 19, 2013


i felt a hand on my ass, so i turned around and he just grinned at me.  whiskey soda in hand, i smiled because it's been a long time since i've cared how grabby old men can get.  i mean i definitely still have boundaries, they're just not as drawn as they once were. and this behavior may not be completely harmless as there are a lot of men and women in the world who do not deserve to be groped like this, but personally i just don't mind.  it's sort of flattering - some drunk stranger likes the roundness of my bottom enough that he could brazenly put his hand there and squeeze a little.

i should be determined not to become one of these men as i grow older.

and perhaps i am succeeding.  i apparently already look old and i don't remember leering at or groping any young boys recently.  this friend said to me, "how old are you anyway?"

i said, "oh, i'm twenty-eight, actually."  in my head, it's sometimes hard for other to imagine that i'm as old as i am considering how young and fresh of face i still look.

nope.  he said, "ugh.  i thought you were older than that."

my youth must be disappointing, just i have suddenly become disappointed in my evidently rapidly decaying youth.

john refers to my boyfriend and me as "the blands."  we don't party and drink as much as john.  as plenty of other fierce people my age do.  i have never considered myself as particularly cool, though i did point out to john how bland he acted having spent the past six months in sobriety and seclusion within his house.

sunday, i watched a group of people lick droplets of drugs off their hands like salt before a shot of tequila.  i met up with adam.  we ordered pizza and then sat around talking with his roommates.  adam and i had sex.  not bland.  waking up was difficult the next morning - it always is - but i did not feel like crap all day at work.

Monday, June 17, 2013

china laughing

smug, maybe, but who wouldn't be?  china must be just laughing as this snowden affair unfolds.

the thing is, china and the u.s. have known for years that each has been spying on the other's computer networks.  both countries know this has got to be happening.  but you cannot pretend that such a spy program exists then criticize another nation about the invasion of their citizen's privacy and their collusion in cybertheft and espionage.

last week obama met chinese premier xi jinping to ask him to work with him to curb chinese cyber espionage of american companies.  america believes we lose a lot of technology and revenue to china because chinese companies and the chinese government steals it.  the obama administration had the audacity to publicly kind of scold china.  it deserves to be slapped in the face after this recent leak publicly revealed that u.s. is spying on the world.  credibility - obama is losing it fast.

here's the point though: this could all have been out in the open to begin with.  the public reaction to the prism program now has been amplified because of the clandestine aspect of the program.  i would like to consider the program further, talk about it, but honestly, does the prism system do much?  it gathers phone numbers and call durations and connections via social networks of several million people.  the sheer size of that data already begins to obscure the movements of individuals from special observation.  but what does a telephone number or contact name really tell anyone?  a program like this looks for suspicious patterns.  and when patterns emerge from a list of telephone calls, a warrant must still be obtained to investigate the identity and lives of any specific persons.  thomas friedman argues that controlled programs like this may be a compromise that keeps us from giving away more privacy and liberty later should further terrorism occur.

right now, the prism surveillance program does not seem particularly intrusive to me.  but when the government keeps programs like this a secret, i think the country begins to wonder if this glimpse into our clandestine government ends here or extends further.  if a program like this is kept secret, how much more surveillance is there of which we are not even aware?  furthermore, if this program had been made public, if congress had voted to put this program in place for the good of american security, then the president still has a foot hold when he scrutinizes other nations on privacy, espionage, and cyber theft.

perhaps someone could make the argument that certain surveillance, to be effective, must be kept secret.  however, at at certain point our government must balance doing whatever it can for the security of the american people against the protection of our civil liberties.  national security does not mean much if it cannot protect our values and rights as a nation.  transparency is the first step toward that balance.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


“If you harness all the capabilities of our nation, you could have a better understanding of foreign threats,” he said. “But what makes it hard is that everyone has an opinion. There’s very little appreciation for the threat, and there are so many special interests, particularly civil liberty groups with privacy concerns. That mix keeps us from getting to the crux of the national issue."

this quote comes from mike mcconnell, former head of the n.s.a and director of national intelligence currently working as vice chairman for booz allen hamilton.  he was commenting on the snowden leaks concerning the secret u.s. surveillance system called prism.

it's the special interests that make america.  it's those special interests we're guarding.  the crux of the national issues shouldn't be security for security's sake, but rather security to guard american rights, particularly the personal autonomy and agency that our culture highly values.

bradley manning does not seem like the brightest bulb.  he released a lot of classified diplomatic cables less revelatory about american diplomatic missions than they were embarrassing to some of the diplomats.  he acted like a teenager, impulsive, and caused a big stink.  at the same time, as with a lot of people who act impulsively, the consequences of his actions will probably be more severe than he deserves. 

the information that edward snowden recently released about secret surveillance programs in the united states is completely different than the information released by manning.  snowden leaked information he genuinely thought the american public needed to know.  he wanted to inform the public about an issue that potentially affects them.  and now we see america actively considering the role of government in their lives, the importance of national security weighed against their own privacy.  after over a decade of hearing the war drums started by president bush, this is a conversation the american public needs to have.

ps: david brooks completely misses the point with snowden.  i think he could have made this argument with manning, but this is completely different.

Friday, June 7, 2013

unhealthy disappointments

ryan said, "it wouldn't be tuesday if you weren't freaking out about health care."

it's not tuesday, but let's talk about it anyway.

some pundits have been lauding the changes currently under way to the american health care system, and i, too, believe that the affordable care act could do a lot of good here and there, in bits and pieces.  but the more i read about it, the more i realize the affordable care act will not actually make healthcare in this country affordable.  here are a few articles from the new york times i've been looking at recently:

reed Abelson writes, "Say goodbye to that $500 deductible insurance plan and the $20 co-payment for a doctor's office visit."  in an effort to avoid the "cadillac tax" of the affordable care act, a penalty on "luxury" health care plans, many insurance plans are scaling back their offerings.  the author writes, "In a way, the changes are right in line with the administration’s plan: To encourage employers to move away from plans that insulate workers from the cost of care and often lead to excessive procedures and tests, and galvanize employers to try to control ever-increasing medical costs."  but my $20 co-pay isn't a luxury for me - it's what makes going to the doctor affordable.  when the point of health care policy is preventative medicine, accessibility and thus the price of health care has to encourage every american to seek medical help.  no one should be discouraged by the price of an appointment.  preventative medicine starts with absolute accessibility.

certainly, patients may be insulted from seeing cost and subjected to excessive medical procedures, but this has not resulted from the luxury of a low deductible or co-payment.  in this litigious age, doctors themselves have been insulted from the cost of medicine.  they have no idea how much their recommendations, prescriptions, and orders cost.  therefore, they have no way to know or incentive to prescribe more cost-effective evaluation and treatment.

here's another essay i dig: "a simpler, better solution."

usually i don't care much the room for debate forums.  these two doctors (david himmelstein and steffie woolhandler) write an opinion that simple, succinct, and scary.  they first simply argue that a single-payer health care system is more simple and efficient.  done.  then they note several disturbing problems with the affordable care act, which has a lot to do with how complicated the act is.  first, this:

"If your income is below $31,321 for a family of four (133 percent of the poverty line), you will get Medicaid (unless you live in a red state that declined the federal assistance, like Texas or Alabama). And “Medicaid” nowadays means a privately run Medicaid H.M.O. But make one dollar more (or if Junior moves out, leaving a family of three) and Medicaid disappears; now you’re shopping for subsidized private insurance in the state-run exchange. That’s not a rare occurrence: 28 million adults cross the 133 percent line annually."

then they note that if you, "[m]ove from 400 percent of poverty to 401 percent, and individual premiums rise $2,303. Can’t quit smoking? Add $3,365."

the rules and exceptions are labyrinthine.  flatly: the affordable care act is far from comprehensive and does little to make health care affordable to average americans.

mandating that all americans pick up health care is pointless if basic health care is still unaffordable.  we can't argue for preventative medicine, medicine that deals with mole hills before they become mountains, then keep access to that out of reach while patting ourselves on the back for insuring the nation.

i had hoped the affordable care act could be obama's greatest legacy, and he has definitely been a fantastic president, but i think this may just be one of america's greatest disappointments.