Friday, March 16, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Themeless Edition

I have no theme for this week. I'm slowly getting back to normal, just in time for the crunch time of figuring out summer camps (this gets harder as the kids get older! They start wanting me to coordinate with their friends' schedules and are less happy with our default Y camp options). Also, my 10 year old will turn 11 soon, and after some angst settled on a Harry Potter themed party at home. This is funny to me because this is the child who steadfastly refused to read the Harry Potter books for years. One of her friends convinced her to try them this year, and she sped through them in less than two weeks and is now super excited about planning her party. She has lots of ideas. I am trying to be encouraging but also insisting that we focus first on getting the invitations out. I am sure I'll rally and get into the planning with her soon.... I'll try to get some good pictures of whatever she comes up with and will write a post about it later.

So anyway, let's get to the links:

In Annorlunda Books news, I'm ready to start gathering advance readers for Here's the Deal, Micah Edwards' humorous retelling of the Book of Exodus. If you're interested, sign up here.

David Roberts had a twitter thread about the problem with the NY Times op-ed page that got shared a lot, and he turned it into a column. It is worth reading, and I can't argue with his contention that the ascendant group on the right are more about tribalism than ideas.

The one problem I have with it is that it doesn't really reflect my friends who would consider themselves conservative but are not in the Trump tribe. To be fair, he's talking about columnists and "thought leaders" and not average people, but I think there are still a bunch of good people who are conservatives out there, who are just as lost about how to respond to the Trumpism crap as the rest of us are. I mean, none of us really knows what to do- that's why there's so much arguing about what sort of candidate Democrats should run, etc. I don't think the "Never Trump" conservative columnists are really doing a great job of representing these people's views, and I agree that right now, as a political force, they're not particularly powerful. But they are real, and I think there is value in continuing to hear their views.

I don't want us to get so riled up by the horrible things Trump et al are doing and the poor behavior of  most elected Republicans in this crisis that we forget that there are and always will be good people who disagree with us on some of the issues, because I think the eventual way out of this disaster involves us all learning how to disagree without hating each other again.

This Matt Yglesias analysis of the Conor Lamb victory seems right  to me. But maybe I just hope it is right? I don't know anymore.

And here is an article from Laura Putnam about what she saw on the ground in PA-18.

Here is your regular reminder that we already ration health care and we already have bureaucrats not doctors deciding what health care options we can have.

Here's a less high-stakes example from my own life. I have asthma. I am having a hard time with getting a long term lingering cough after I get a cold or other respiratory infection. The last time I saw my doctor, we decided to restart Singulair and also perhaps to switch up my maintenance inhaler. We decided that I'd see how the Singulair did, and then email if I wanted to proceed to trying a new inhaler. Today I decided to go ahead and try a new inhaler, so I sent her an email, and got the following back (paraphrased because I'm too lazy to log in to my patient account to get the exact words):

"I sent in a prescription for symbicort. If your insurance won't pay for that, ask to find out what medicine similar to symbicort or advair they will cover."

In this case, there are several similar options and no obvious "best one" so we'll start with whatever insurance will cover. But if that one doesn't work well, then we have to essentially negotiate with the insurance folks to get to try different things. I've been through this with nasal inhalers (sorry, insurance co, I don't want to deal with persistent nose bleeds because one brand is cheaper for you than another). Instead of just stepping through options with my doctor, I see my doctor, she picks an option, if my insurance doesn't like it, I (or my doctor's office) call and argue why this option and not their favorite one... It takes time and has nothing to do with what is best for me as a patient. I eventually gave up on the nasal inhalers, and my allergies were worse than they had to be for many years until the non-steroid one went off patent and our pediatrician prescribed it to our kid and I started wondering if it would help me. It does. Azelastine is a godsend. I never tried it during its time on patent because the steroid ones were so much cheaper and the insurance companies kept steering me to those.

I'm not saying it is bad to consider cost vs. benefit in health care decisions. I'm just saying that we already do and I don't understand why so many people are OK with those decisions being made by for-profit companies but freak out at the idea of a government agency getting involved. At least I can try to change the government agency's policies via political means! The for-profit company doesn't even see me as its customer... because I'm not. My employer is.

Moving on....

I really like Nicole Cliffe's answer to the question from the parent of an "average" kid. I hate the obsessions with finding your one true passion/identifying your special talent, particularly as applied to kids. I don't think this message was as strong when I was a kid, but it clearly crept in, because I spent years feeling bad about having a lot of different interests and not being a superstar at anything. It is OK to not be a superstar! It is OK to not make a mark on the world that everyone sees. Our average little lives are beautiful and worthy.

Also, as I said on Twitter, sometimes the most useful talent you have is something that won't be apparent until you're well past high school:

I did not know about this:

I'd like to learn more about this effort in particular, and efforts like it in general. I keep hearing little snippets about what folks in Tijuana are doing to deal with the problems our changing immigration policy creates for them, but I haven't seen anything comprehensive. If you have, drop it in the comments.

I can't really call today's xkcd funny, but you should go check it out anyway.

This, however, is funny:


Giant fluff ball bunny!

Happy weekend everyone!


  1. Alexicographer8:24 PM

    So this is out of the blue, but I just learned two things, the second of which might be relevant to you -- (1) Stormy Daniels is an equestrian (, and this is important to know, because all you have to do is watch that video and think of other recent pictures of her to know that this is a woman who's found a good sportsbra. And, (2) supposedly, it's the Glamorise Women's Full Figure Adjustable Wirefree Sport Bra #1166 (at Amazon). In case of interest, I know you've commented on the difficulties of finding something that works for you ...

    1. Ooh, thanks for the tip. I'll take a look!


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