17 November 2008

US Car industry and bailout

This business with the auto bailout is tricky. It seems the federal government is keen on bailing out the fake economy (banking and such), but into leaving the real economy (industry) high and dry.

I cannot imagine the effect if GM suddenly ceased to exist. Millions of people would be without jobs and benefits. Double yikes! But then again, Cimarron!

A better idea may be to take GM's healthcare costs off its books by enrolling its employees in a universal health insurance program. If we are spending this money anyway, we should get something nice in return.

19 October 2008

10 October 2008

04 September 2008

GOP attacks contain many lies and stretching of truth

Below is an AP article that details the. . . lies (no more apt word) for what GOP operatives, like Palin are saying.  The AP has lately been known for its GOP love, but this article is a nice departure.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her Republican supporters held back little Wednesday as they issued dismissive attacks on Barack Obama and flattering praise on her credentials to be vice president. In some cases, the reproach and the praise stretched the truth.

PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor,Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "bridge to nowhere."

PALIN: "There is much to like and admire about our opponent. But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform — not even in the state senate."

THE FACTS: Compared to McCain and his two decades in the Senate, Obama does have a more meager record. But he has worked with Republicans to pass legislation that expanded efforts to intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to help destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. The legislation became law last year. To demean that accomplishment would be to also demean the work of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a respected foreign policy voice in the Senate. In Illinois, he was the leader on two big, contentious measures in Illinois: studying racial profiling by police and requiring recordings of interrogations in potential death penalty cases. He also successfully co-sponsored major ethics reform legislation.

PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institutionand the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.

He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.

MCCAIN: "She's been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America's energy supply ... She's responsible for 20 percent of the nation's energy supply. I'm entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America," he said in an interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson.

THE FACTS: McCain's phrasing exaggerates both claims. Palin is governor of a state that ranks second nationally in crude oil production, but she's no more "responsible" for that resource than President Bush was when he was governor of Texas, another oil-producing state. In fact, her primary power is the ability to tax oil, which she did in concert with the Alaska Legislature. And where Alaska is the largest state in America, McCain could as easily have called it the 47th largest state — by population.

MCCAIN: "She's the commander of the Alaska National Guard. ... She has been in charge, and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities," he said on ABC.

THE FACTS: While governors are in charge of their state guard units, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, they assume those duties under "federal status," which means they report to the Defense Department, not their governors.Alaska's national guard units have a total of about 4,200 personnel, among the smallest of state guard organizations.

FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States."

THE FACTS: A whopper. Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor's election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after theIowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 presidential primaries.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: "We need change, all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."

THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.


Associated Press Writer Jim Drinkard in Washington contributed to this report.

11 August 2008

Frequent Posting

This labor of love--blogging--can take some time. That is why my posts slowed to one each month and now appear to be bi-monthly. But on the positive side, I have received my first troll commenter.

An intrepid soul known as "anonymous" called me "stupid." She may be right, but I have been called worse.

And I should include more bicycle-related items on this blog. After all, this is a vanity project with no serious goal. And I spend a fair amount of my time riding bicycles or thinking about riding bicycles or working on bicycles, so it does seem reasonable that this blog reflect that. Once I get some photos of my bikes, I will post them. And hopefully after this cross season I will have some neat photos of my riding my cross bike, which would be nice.

As you were.

07 June 2008

ERISA should be part of health reform

If you are one of the substantial number of Americans who receive their health coverage in connection with their employment (excepting government or church employees), ERISA applies. Absent from the ongoing debate about health care reform is a discussion about the impact of ERISA. ERISA is an onerous and oppressive law that HMOs and insurance companies love and cherish, but do not want the public to understand.

Preach on, Brother!

29 April 2008

On liking America

It is hard to love being an American these days. Our federal government is, at best, incompetent. Actually, it is full of ill-will towards most Americans and everyone else in the world. It is their country too...I suppose.

Anyhoo, the crap covered during this campaign season and knowing how inept our president is, makes me very blue. But then some things make me feel better about being an American.

11 April 2008

How many shitbags have graduated from Harvard and Yale?

Is there a connection between the immorality and poor judgment of people like John Yoo, George Bush, Alberto Gonzales and their education at Harvard and Yale?

These two schools are supposed to be the most prestigious in the United States, yet the aforementioned men are three of the biggest pieces of trash ever, and the best that can be said about them is that they meet the minimum standards of humanity.


Yeah. John Kerry, though a piss-poor presidential candidate is a damn honorable guy. This is especially so when compared to any Bush.

10 April 2008

Breakfast spots in downtown Portland

As a shoutout out to my Sam-bone, I will post names and sometimes links to the downtown Portland breakfast spots. Hopefully, he and I will eat at most of them before our time here is through.

By posting them, I am making no other assertion about the restaurant other than that it is located downtown. Also, I will post them in order I learn about them. And these are not hotel restaurants. This list will be updated as I update it. But you knew that.

1. Leo's Coffee Shop, 837 SW 11th Ave.

2. Sunshine Cafe, 1216 SW Morrison St.

3. Kenny & Zuke's,
1038 SW Stark St.

4. Red Star Tavern,
503 SW Alder St.

4. Mother's Bistro,
212 SW Stark St.

5. Roxy,
1121 SW Stark St.

6. Half & Half,
923 SW Oak St.

Commodore Grill, 1601 SW Morrison St.

8. Bijou Cafe,
1601 SW Morrison St.

03 April 2008

A chance for a small health care reform.

As you may know, a 52 year old Wal-Mart employee was severely injured in a semi-truck v. minivan crash and obtained $700,000 from the trucking company. Permanent brain damage is one of her injuries, so this money has to basically take care of her for the rest of her life.

Wal-Mart, as her health insurer, paid about $470,000 for her medical care. The piss-poor federal statute ERISA allows the health insurer to get *all* of this money back from *any*money recovered by the injured party--including money for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering--anything and everything.

The employee was left with about $417,000 after attorney fees and costs. The United States Court of Appeals upheld Wal-Mart's right to get all of this money and the US Supreme Court denied to rehear the case. That was technically the right decision because since a 2006 US Supreme Court decision the law on this recovery is pretty clear.

However, there was public outcry (as there should be) for this. And Wal-Mart decided to waive its right to take the money. Because of this outcry, there may be the chance to at least change the rule in ERISA that allows this craptacular-ness to occur.

Heck. Maybe there may be a chance to have ERISA serve a purpose other than screwing over consumers. Glory be!

13 March 2008

12 March 2008

my deep thought

Why do people treat political parties and politicians like they treat their sports teams--loving them no matter what they do?

23 February 2008

One more reason to dislike Sen. Betsy Johnson

“My view of this bridge is that we’ve got to move freight…isn’t it conceivable they [bikes and peds] would ride across the bridge on whatever kind of transit option is offered, rather than building separate accommodation that just drives the cost of this already unbelievably expensive structure up?”

Sen. Betsy Johnson

Private health insurance is a poor idea

Companies do bad things for money.

One of California's largest for-profit insurers stopped a controversial practice of canceling sick policyholders Friday after a judge ordered Health Net Inc. to pay more than $9 million to a breast cancer patient it dropped in the middle of chemotherapy.

Ralph Nader is an asshole

Ralph Nader is going to appear on Meet the Press, presumably to discuss why he wants to fuck up America just a little bit more before he dies.


22 February 2008

Indianapolis has wasted opportunities

View Larger Map

Check out the street view to get the full effect. 1422 E. Roosevelt Ave should about do it. You can also click "view larger map" and choose street view.

Beautiful brick, solid construction--all rotting instead of being re-used.

Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and Rambo III

Rambo III is the heartwarming story of John Rambo going to Afghanistan to aid freedom fighters against the evil empire of USSR. As it happened, among the freedom fighters were neat figures like Osama Bin Laden and other Taliban types.

Through the Pakistan secret service, the US of A sent loads of weapons (some crappy, outdated surplus stuff from Britain and Turkey because it was a convenient way for these countries to take American money and unload their junk) and money to anti-soviet forces in Afghanistan.

Anyhoo, Rambo III was scheduled to be the movie of the day on Portland's local Fox affiliate the Saturday after 9/11 but did not air. I suppose it had something to do with the story not being so heartwarming when some of the former freedom fighters had killed thousands of Americans.

A great book on this topic is Afghanistan The Bear Trap.

Anyhoo, a link to more photos of Soviet forces during the war.

21 February 2008

Most Profound

I don't understand why anyone cool or interesting would want to be on TV. I certainly have no desire to be on television.

After all, lame-asses like this and this are on TV all the freagin time. Whatever they do, I should do the opposite I think.

10 February 2008

California fines Pacificare over $1 billion

From my favorite ERISA law blog:

Today's L.A. Times carries Lisa Girion's story about investigations of Pacificare by California's state Department of Insurance and Department of Managed Health Care. Significant problems with untimely claims processing and improper claim denials arose after Pacificare was purchased by UnitedHealth Group two years ago. According to the story, the regulators plan to announce today fines of up to $1.33 billion by the Department of Insurance and $3.5 million by the Department of Managed Health Care.

Pacificare and UHG are going to try to negotiate to pay substantially less than the potential exposure they face for the fines. The insurer said the delays were mostly administrative and did not affect the quality of service insureds received. But that's difficult to swallow. Waiting to receive insurance coverage when you are dealing with health problems is one of the most financially difficult, emotionally stressful, and potentially life threatening situations a person can face.
Meanwhile, in our fair state, Pacificare of Oregon paid fines of $34,000 for denying hundreds of claims without justification.

Stick it to 'em, Oregon!

07 February 2008

Home sweet home

National Archives on Flickr.

A beautiful person does something.

Angelina Jolie in Baghdad.

John Kroger for Oregon Attorney General


I did this post some time ago, but want to move it to the top. After all, it is timely and you should go Krogering! *

*Kroger is a grocery based in Cincinnati (sin city to me) that owns Fred Meyer, QFC and Kroger. Krogering was their logo.


After having a most interesting conversation with John Kroger this Saturday at the Rebooting Democracy event, I am even more enthusiastic about him becoming our Attorney General. It should go without saying that I do not speak for his campaign; I am just one man with some ideas and a blogger account.

On his website, you can read about Kroger's experience as a federal prosecutor, an activist for the Democratic party and his current position teaching law at Lewis and Clark Law School--items that more than qualify him to be a great AG. In person, he will articulate with passion the specific actions he will take as soon as he takes office: protecting consumers from crooked insurance companies or other scammers, and making polluters responsible for the harm they cause.

(I don't even hold it against him that he went to college and law school at private eastcoastintellectual fancypants schools).

Further, he is not afraid to disagree with voters on contentious issues. For example, during a conversation with a criminal defense lawyer who abhorred Measure 11, which imposes mandatory minimum sentences, he did not shy away from his support for mandatory minimum sentences for many severe crimes. I should note that his views on mandatory minimum sentencing are no doubt complex and you should talk to him or his campaign if you would like more detail. For instance, I think he is against Initiative 41, mandatory minimum sentences for property crimes.

It is worth saying a few words about Kroger's primary opponent, Representative Greg MacPherson. MacPherson is a fine legislator (I canvassed for his legislative campaign on more than one occasion), but I worry he lacks the experience and temperament to be a great Attorney General. As an employee benefits lawyer (primarily representing employers) I cannot see how MacPherson has the knowledge to initiate and prosecute criminal matters, and civil rights or consumer rights cases. Surely, he would have to defer to his deputies.

And more importantly, Greg MacPherson's career as an attorney drafting employee benefit plans has not inculcated the fighting spirit or aggressive posture that a great attorney general needs.

In sum, I suggest you vote for John Kroger, donate some money to his campaign, or volunteer. I know I will.

Soviet fashion post

ooh la la Sassoon

Thanks EnglishRussia

06 February 2008

On the money

Obama relating Clinton presidency to Democratic losses of the 1990's.

The 1980's

This is what the 80's looked like.

Thanks Jalopnik.

It's gotta be Barack

Since Johnnie E. left the race, one has to be for Obama. Obama actually talks like a person; he does not speak in empty platitudes or political talk. As a rule, I absolutely hate listening to political speeches. Whether city council, state legislature or anything else, I run out of the room whenever a political opens their yap in public. Of course, Obama is a great speaker, but he also says real things in a normal, genuine way. That is nice.

And he was right on the War. This may be sufficient to trust him, his judgment and his values. In contrast, it seems clear that the Clintons--both Hillary and Bill-- may not have much in the way of fundamental principles.

Hillary voted for the war, voted for confronting Iran and has been nowhere to be seen in the FISA battle (neither has Barack by the way, which blows). What key votes have demonstrated her values?

For Bill, during his presidency he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, which, among other things, prohibits same sex spouses from receiving important Social Security benefits from their spouses. His post presidency career has been crap compared to what Jimmy Carter and Al Gore have done. Now, I know that Bill did not have the dough those two guys did, so he had to work and bring in some money. But he has done that and the most interesting thing he has done has been opening an office in Harlem.

Bill may have been a fine president, but his values and philosophy have not been great for the party. By her record in the Senate Hillary seems very similar.

Let's rock for Barack! Or something like that.

We are the ones we have been waiting for

30 January 2008

Maybe Oregon is better off without a sales tax. Or let's not get into TIF.

Oregon's lack of a sales tax may be a factor in Portland's ability to encourage ownership of locally owned businesses and avoid being overrun by big box retailers. Tax Increment Financing ("TIF") through a sales tax makes it easier for government to give away public assets, especially to baddies like Wal-Mart.

In short, a municipality desperate for economic development allows a large retailer to keep the sales tax it collects because the municipality hopes that the economic benefit to the community will outweigh the tax revenues it is giving away. This hope is probably misplaced.

A general definition for TIF:

A financing method which uses the additional taxes generated by a completed development to pay for development costs such as land acquisition and site improvements. The difference between the taxes before the development occurs and after its completion is referred to as the "increment".
In the context of a sales tax, though, the state of Illinois provides a better definition:
The department distributes state sales tax collections to municipalities that have tax increment financing (TIF) districts for either state sales tax, state utility tax, or both that produced an incremental growth in retail sales, or gas and electricity consumption. Funds are prorated to each municipality based on its share of the overall TIF net state increment.
David Cay Johnson's recent book, "Free Lunch" has case studies where private companies abused TIF.
Well, in many of the big new box stores, when you walk to the cash register to pay for your purchase, you’re required to pay sales tax. But the government never gets that money. Instead, those sales taxes are used to pay for the cost of the store. Now, on one level this means that your community’s police department, fire department and schools and libraries aren’t getting those sales taxes. But imagine for a moment that you own the retail store down the street that’s been there for years. You’re competing against this enormous subsidy that’s going to drive you out of business. In a small town in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, a fellow named Jim Weaknecht ran a little fin, feather, and fur outfitting club. He sold hunting bows and fishing tackle and things like that. One day a big company named Cabela’s came to town. This little town – 4,100 people – agreed to give Cabela’s $36 million to build the world’s largest outdoor goods store. That’s over $8,000 for every man, woman and child in Hamburg, more than the entire city budget for everything -- police patrols, road repair – for more than a decade. Jim Weaknecht charged lower prices. He was run out of business. While he thinks he might have been run out of business anyway, he also says that this isn’t fair. This is not business. This is the government helping the politically connected. I think most people walking into a WalMart, Cabela’s, … a lot of other stores have absolutely no idea that the sales tax money is going to the owners of the store.
It is worth noting that TIF can involve income, property or other types of taxes. The key difference with a sales tax, though, is the "free money" aspect: government leaders are likely to view all the sales tax revenue from the new retailer as coming wholly from the new business generated when it is likely that the bulk of the sales tax revenue would have occurred from the current businesses in that sector. In other words, the Wal-Mart or Home Depot is cannibalizing the locally owned businesses.

Furthermore, use of TIF is not limited to big box retailers. Sports teams and baseball stadium fans will use them, too.

In closing, it would be useful for any sales tax proposal to include very strict guidelines when TIF can be used with a sales tax.

Further reading on TIF.

30 second summary why the FISA bill matters

Senator Russ Feingold:

UPDATE: Thorough discussion of the FISA bill.

He deserves a kick in the groin

U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey's conclusion that the costs and benefits must be weighed to determine whether some conduct is torture.

27 January 2008

Portland Improvement

Robert Moses was a post World War II planner that saw a future where everyone drove cars, no one used transit and most of your life was spent indoors. Just after World War II, the city of Portland asked him what he saw for our city. Thankfully, the voters decided against funding his ideas. Still, Mr. Moses probably deserves a good kick in the groin.

He is generally known as the man that made the New York City we know today. The plan he had for Portland involved removing Union Station, expanding Harbor Highway (where we currently find Tom McCall Waterfront Park), and decimating transit.

This is a summary of a very thoughtful story about Portland's development history found here. It has some great photos, too.

ht: Stumptown Confidential

14 January 2008

So I got this going for me.

For those not too familiar with American pop culture (Sam!), this is from Caddyshack.

12 January 2008

More reasons to like John Edwards

The more I hear about John Edwards' campaign, the clearer it is that America would strongly benefit from him being president. His campaign has become a populist mission to assert control over corporate control--halt the relaxing of regulatory control that harms consumers and blunt the greed that destroys human lives.

His book, "Four Trials," documents the kind of greed he saw and fought in his law practice. Perhaps the hardest example is the company that made a children's pool drain pump strong enough to suck the intestines out of a 5 year old child--which it did. Of course, the corporation knew about this risk but ignored it because it did not want to spend money making it safer.

And corporate lobbyists know about his career and apparently fear his presidency.

Ask corporate lobbyists which presidential contender is most feared by their clients and the answer is almost always the same -- Democrat John Edwards.

The former North Carolina senator's chosen profession alone raises the hackles of business people. Before entering politics, he made a fortune as a trial lawyer.

As an aside, note how the Reuters article refers to "winning" settlements when settlements are, by definition, mutually agreed to by the parties and cannot be "won." The media very frequently makes mistakes in their writing about legal concepts.

One more detail is the reference to "litigious" America without any discussion of what that means. I suppose the writer could mean that we as Americans are argumentative, but I doubt it. If you are not a corporation and assert your rights in court, you are litigious, apparently.

11 January 2008


I think right about now it is OK to be ambivalent about this great country of ours.

09 January 2008

An unfortunate illustration of Indiana as craphole

The state of Indiana requires voters to present photographic identification before they can vote. The law's obvious purpose is to discourage voting by poor and minority voters. Thankfully, the voter ID law has been challenged and has a theoretic chance to be overturned. However, given our US Supreme Court that seems unlikely.

This law is one in a long history conservatives and other reactionaries have enacted to prevent voting by minorities and others they consider undeserving of the right to vote. Poll taxes and literacy or civic tests are some of the more common ones from our recent past.

At least as far back as 1996, while I working for lobbyists in the Indiana legislature, this voter ID law was being thrown-- around even though it has no ostensible or legitimate reason.

Before the voter ID law, Indiana came up with a clever way to dilute the votes of those most likely to vote for Democrats. Unigov. As clever as it was simple, the Republic voting suburbs were consolidated into Democratic voting city of Indianapolis in order to ensure Republic hegemony. And it worked: from its creation in 1969 until the late 1998 Indianapolis' mayor was Republican. (as a neat aside, Senator Dick Lugar was the mayor of Indianapolis at the time of Unigov).

08 January 2008

John Edwards is surging

And nobody knows it but me.

ERISA should meet FCRA

A while back I promised a proposal to amend ERISA. I will make it short unless someone requests more detail.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides for damages, both statutory and actual, and attorney fees. For example, if a credit reporting company messes up your credit report and causes you to be denied credit, you can sue them for damages + attorney fees. This is good.

In contrast, ERISA does not have this. For example, if your health insurer wrongfully denies a treatment and this denial causes poor health or death, you can sue them for the cost of the procedure, but no other damages or attorney fees. This is bad.

Therefore, ERISA should provide for damages and attorney fees like FCRA does. That was easy.

06 January 2008

Somebody writes that Bush/Cheney should be impeached

The always influential George McGovern.

Soviet material culture post: Ekranoplan

Soviet design and production is always interesting. Not only are they Russian--which is cool in a not Western but not quite fully Eastern kind of way--they also were conceived outside of market forces. Usually the central committee identified a need and dispatched some design bureaus to make it so. Of course, there might be competition between the design bureaus but the whole concept was generally conceived by the political body. Something like that.

Image source.

Anyway, the Soviets certainly did make some really cool stuff.

Fear of the GOPer

The worst kind of protest is a black one. Apparently.

03 January 2008

Don't be a functionary

A film worth watching:

He said he has returned repeatedly to one concern: the power of authority to warp morality. At bottom, Mr. Gibney said, people do what they are told. "Everything in life," he said, "goes back to the Milgram experiment."

In the early 1960s Dr. Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale, showed that many people were willing to deliver what they understood to be painful electric shocks to other human beings simply because they were told by a scientist that it was necessary.

ODS just gets by with $5 mil

Those poor suckers at ODS made only $5,000,000 in 2006.

02 January 2008

A Bad Measure Rising

As you know, the forces of evil and darkness want to prevent the non-wealthy from accessing the courts or otherwise asserting our rights. The recently filed petition 51 is the latest attempt. It will screw us over by limiting the contingency fees of plaintiffs' attorneys to 25% of the first $25,000 recovered and 10% of additional recovery.

The purpose of Petition 51 is to make lawsuits against negligent or incompetent doctors, dangerous product manufacturers, or even drunk drivers financially impossible. That is bad public policy.

Dr. Evil, aka Loren Parks, has given $125,000 for the petition. In fact, he is the only contributor so far.

Thankfully, Oregon State Bar Association opposes Petition 51.

Links to the text of Petition 51: in html or pdf.

Texas needs more lawsuits!

At least the insurance industry think so.

Now, though, the insurance industry is wondering if its campaign worked too well—not because malpractice victims can't get justice (which they can't) but because tort reform is cutting into insurance company profits. Defense lawyer Gary Schumann told a group of insurance execs recently that tort reform had worked so well in Texas that judges were trying cases that might otherwise go to mediation just to stay busy. Not only that, but Texas nursing homes (among the worst in the nation) have become so unconcerned about getting sued that many have stopped buying private liability insurance.

Schumann said he was worried about the industry's future. "We want a little bit of litigation out there, don't we? We want a little bit of risk. We need risk or we're all out of business. … We'll see what happens but tort reform has worked. I just hope for all of our sakes it hasn't worked too well."

Soviet Material Culture Post

If anyone read this blog, this might be an open thread. However, since it's just me, here is a post about calculators from former soviet union. Motto: where calculators calculate you!

Haven't you wondered what glorious mother russia produced other than military hardware like the respected MiG or Su aircrafts? I know I have! Behold the Elektronika DD.

All that I know of soviet calculators I owe to this wonderful website. Though the USSR had impressive aircraft, tanks and the like, their electronics (and other consumer goods) were inferior to those in the West. Consequently, most of the electronic calculators were reversed engineered versions from Japan or the United States.