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Lost Friends

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
A friend of mine died on Saturday. As I understand it, he was driving in the rain and lost control of the wheel. He didn't even make it to the hospital. I won't exaggerate how close we were. I hadn't spoken to him in years and we hadn't friended each other on facebook or anything. I'm not that great on facebook, so that's no surprise. In fact the only reason I found out about what happened as quickly as I did is because a mutual friend posted about it. We were never especially close friends - we would hang out occasionally and spent a lot of time one very boring summer talking about geeky gaming stuff. I have some fond moments, like the time an fundamentalist tried to convert us and using the Socratic Method and a better knowledge of the Bible we made the evangelist run away. He wasn't my best friend, but he was always there, always part of it. He's in a lot of my stories from that time, which is a pretty good indication of someone's importance.

We were part of a large, extended social circle that I stumbled into in grad school. He's the first of our cohort to die, and it's shaken me up quite a bit. The circumstances, the suddenness of his passing is probably part of it. He had diabetes and never treated himself very well (smoking, drinking), so if you'd asked me who would be the first to go, I would have said him. We all would have - including him. But to die in a stupid car wreck at 32 years of age? It just seems pointless.

I'll miss him, and regret that I didn't stay in touch. I think one of the things I've learned from this event is that it may be mistake to start with an entirely clean slate every time you're in a new situation. My whole life, I've started completely over every time I've moved. I've let nearly all of my old friendships lapse because I thought it was important to move on. But now I'm beginning to think I may have missed something along the way, that starting fresh comes at a price. I'm going to try to make an effort to re-connect with some of those old friends, and to try to hold onto some of the ones I make here.

So here's to you Phil, wherever you are. Thanks for being.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:49 AM

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Disturbing, Amusing, And An Inquiry

Friday, September 25, 2009
So to start off with, I have two links - one funny, one said (bad spellling!) sad.

In the first, Senator Debbie Stabenow puts the smackdown on Senator Jon Kyl. Don't mess with Senator Mom, I always say.

In the second, Tom Carper demonstrates such incredible "logic" that I can only believe he is a) pathological, b) a moron, or c) hopeless shilling for his insurance and drug company paymasters. Generally I've learned that when a politician says something patently absurd he's pretty likely to be covering for the interests of his clients - and by that I don't mean his constituents.

Finally, what would you guys do if you realized that the firm where you did policy research was making public policy arguments with which you greatly disagreed?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:20 PM

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Tired of the Traitor's Flag

Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I'm not one to throw the word "traitor" around casually - it's something wingnuts like to do - but sometimes one can't help it. Every time I see someone flying a confederate battle flag I am put into a terribly foul mood. And to see a bunch of white Republicans, whose base of political support is in the South, launch protests against an African-American President flying that flag I am scandalized. That flag was flown by those who killed and died to defend the enslavement of other human beings, and anyone who claims that they do so because it is "their heritage" is claiming the worst part of their history. And one must be insensitive to the point of being a sociopath to not realize what effect that flag has on African-Americans. No, as far as I'm concerned, there are no excuses. Anyone who flies that flag is declaring himself outside the bounds of American society - because, you know, that flag was the symbol of those who didn't want to be Americans. That flag is evil, and flying it is indistinguishable from flying a NAZI flag. How dare they call themselves patriots. How dare they.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:51 PM

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This Is More Than I Anticipated

Monday, September 14, 2009
As I believe one will discover from reading my archives, one of my less mature reasons for wanting Barack Obama to be elected President was to irritate my less tolerant southern brethren. I grew up in the deep south, and am quite aware that the prospect of an African-American intellectual from a big northern city with an Arabic name would push just about every xenophobic button they have. After having received more than a few beatings at their hands as a child, I saw Obama's election as a very mild measure of revenge. What I did not expect, and what makes me question the flippancy of my earlier statements, is precisely how nutty they've become. Now they aren't concentrated exclusively in the South, but there are a fairly substantial number of people getting on TV right now who are, how shall describe this delicately, psychologically marginal. And the people who are egging them on are either a) conscienceless monsters, b) psychopaths, or c) both.

I really hope no one gets shot. But I'm beginning to think someone will.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:26 PM

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A Very Bad Sign

Saturday, September 05, 2009
In a meeting with House Progressives, Obama asked how far they would compromise on the public option. That element didn't concern me - one needs all the information one can get. But then he apparently reminded them that they are in safe districts.

Oh boy.

This means 2 things to me. First, that Obama is leaning in the "shit sandwich" direction when it comes to health care reform. Second, that he really believes that such a bill would be a political winner. Um, Barack, what do you think is going to happen when you shovel a trillion dollars to the insurance industry while mandating young and lower-middle-class people - y'know, the base of your coalition - buy unaffordable health insurance? If that happens, no Democrat in any district will be safe.

I'm one major address to Congress away from being officially sorry I ever voted for this guy.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:57 AM

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