The thread continues:

I still cannot understand how the advocates of Obamacare have failed to use one of the strongest President Obama Visits Boston To Talk About Health Careconservative arguments for the program: the elimination of one of the principal roadblocks that innovative Americans face in starting their own businesses.

My wife is an instructive example.  She’s a medical writer who edits journal articles and consults on New Drug Applications for experimental new drugs.  She’s been the project lead for the approval of several new drugs that you’ve probably heard of.  When she went into business for herself at age 45, you couldn’t have named a better example of the can-do spirit that the GOP claims to support.

But she has high blood pressure and a child with autism.  Neither of these conditions has had any significant effect on our healthcare costs, but BOTH of them are considered pre-existing conditions. Without the healthcare coverage I have from my full-time job, she literally could not have obtained coverage at all.  This isn’t idle speculation on my part; I considered starting a full-time business of my own a few years ago but found that it was simply impossible to obtain insurance.

Why on earth isn’t there some Democrat somewhere shouting this pro-business message from the rooftops?

Several more readers share their stories:

I just read your piece on the meep meep that is Obamacare and I am surprised that I haven’t heard more about how it is helping small business owners like the two of us.

Read On

8 Million Sign-ups, Ctd

Apr 21 2014 @ 10:32am

David Hogberg expects the ACA exchange enrollment number to be revised downward:

One factor that the CBO did not include was enrollees who leave the exchanges because their income enrollmentshrinks thereby qualifying them for Medicaid. The U.C. Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education recently estimated that just under one-fifth of enrollees on Covered California would leave the exchange for Medicaid. Combined with people who left because they gained employer-based coverage, the Center found that Covered California would retain about 57.5 percent of current enrollees.

If that occurs across all exchanges, then the final enrollment number will be closer to 4.6 million. Of course, not every state is California (thank goodness), so the amount of churn due to Medicaid and employer-based coverage will vary across the nation.  Yet those factors will cause the eight million figure to be revised downward as the year goes on. Each time that happens in the coming months, the media will hark back to the President’s victory dance.  For a public that doesn’t much trust Obama on health care, each revision will likely erode that trust a little further.

Jaime Fuller also suggests that Democrats shouldn’t get too excited by the 8 million figure:

Despite the relatively sunny past month Obamacare supporters have had, it’s not clear that Republicans are misguided in basing their electoral futures against this one policy that has had a bit of a comeback. First, there is little correlation between a state’s approval of the Affordable Care Act and how many people signed up for health insurance in that state.

Read On

Vicarious Nostalgia

Apr 21 2014 @ 10:02am

Amy Merrick sees the phenomenon on the rise in advertising:

Taco Bell’s target customers are Millennials, most of whom weren’t even born in the eighties. Microsoft and RadioShack want to reach younger shoppers, too. So does the nostalgic approach make sense in these cases?

According to [research by Erica Hepper, a psychologist at the University of Surrey], the other time nostalgia tends to peak is when people are in their late teens and early twenties. They’re facing a series of anxious life transitions, such as starting a career and moving out of their parents’ homes. Millennials, in particular, are facing a tough job market and crushing student loans. People can feel a vicarious nostalgia for an era they didn’t actually live through: witness the appeal of Renaissance fairs, or of steampunk subculture, with its quasi-Victorian costumes.

She also notes, “Millennials know more about the eighties than might be expected, partly because of all the TV reruns they watched as kids.”

Emma Rosenblum discusses the growing trend of professional women freezing their eggs in order to have children later in life, when they are more established in their careers and have more time to parent:

Imagine a world in which life isn’t dictated by a biological clock. If a 25-year-old banks her eggs and, at 35, is up for a huge promotion, she can go for it wholeheartedly without worrying about missing out on having a baby. She can also hold out for the man or woman of her dreams. Doctors hope that within the next 30 years the procedure will become a routine part of women’s health, and generous would-be grandparents will cover it as they would a first-mortgage down payment. “If you’re going to give your daughter a college graduation gift, what would you rather give her—a Honda or the chance to make a decision about when she’s ready to have a baby?” asks Dr. Geoffrey Sher, the medical director of the Sher Fertility Clinics, which has eight locations around the country and the Web address And because it’s done before fertility issues arise, “the potential market for egg freezing is exponentially larger than that of in vitro fertilization,” he says.

Jessica Grose praises Rosenblum’s piece:

The reaction to the piece so far has largely been about the misleading coverline, which says “Freeze Your Eggs, Free Your Career.” “Solution to all of your problems, ladies,” Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan tweeted this morning, “simply be rich enough to freeze your eggs.” But that’s really not what Rosenblum is arguing in the piece.

Read On

The View From Your Window

Apr 21 2014 @ 9:01am

Upper West Side-Manhattan-644pm

Upper West Side, New York, 6.44 pm

It turns out that hybrid vehicles’ fuel efficiency varies from country to country, due in part to “national driving styles”:

When the computer generated vehicles were “driven” according to the real world driving data, the hybrids generated fuel savings of 48 percent in India and up to 55 percent in China, compared with around 40 percent in the US. Why the discrepancy? At low speeds, such as found in many cities, the internal combustion engine is inefficient, and so in the hybrids the electric motor took over. Energy recovered through regenerative breaking – when the electric motor is allowed to run backwards as a generator when the car is slowing – was, as expected, the main reason why they hybrids were much more efficient.

The second most important factor surprised the researchers. “We forgot about the aggressiveness of the driving styles,” says [researcher Anand] Gopal. “Dense traffic and aggressive driving styles favor hybrids.” In India and China, driving involves a lot of accelerating and braking – which can both be done more efficiently with an electric drive train versus a petrol engine. Although a major road in Los Angeles or London may be a pain to get through at rush hour, it does not require the levels of hard, emergency, braking required in New Delhi, Gopal says. Drives that include more time in traffic jams and fewer motorways also generated greater benefits from hybrids.

Why Swooshes Went Out Of Style

Apr 21 2014 @ 8:02am


John McDuling suggests the decline of suburbia bears some of the blame:

Two themes being talked about in retail lately are the death of the mall, and the decline of logo-centric fashion. Both malls and (to some extent) the obsession with logos emerged in the first place due to the rise of the suburbs. Suburban developments were in many cases built around shopping malls, and  the homogeneity of the suburbs created a mentality that “resulted in group think and concentration of brand interest,” Piper Jaffray argues. This environment helped logo-centric brands like Abercrombie and Fitch prosper.

Normcore aside, that is no longer the case: branded clothes have been displaced by so-called fast fashion, designs that are basically straight from the catwalk, more sophisticated – like cities, if you will, in contrast to the suburban aesthetic of the logos. It’s far too early to describe the suburbs as dying, but a shift back to the cities is happening, and it looks like its already having an impact, on shopping malls and teen clothing retailers at least.

(Photo by Vivian Peng)

The Writer’s Better Half

Apr 21 2014 @ 7:31am

Koa Beck explains why Vera Nabokov “remains a revered figure” – and often a source of envy – among writers:

Vera not only performed all the duties expected of a wife of her era—that is, being a free live-in cook, babysitter, laundress, and maid (albeit, she considered herself a “terrible housewife”)—but also acted as her husband’s round-the-clock editor, assistant, and secretary. In addition to teaching his classes on occasion (in which Nabokov openly referred to her as “my assistant”), Vera also famously saved Lolita, the work that would define her husband’s career, several times from incineration, according to Stacy Schiff ‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2000 biography, Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov). With Vera by his side, Nabokov published 18 novels between 1926 and 1974 (both in Russian and English). Through 1976, the year before his death, he also published 10 short story collections and nine poetry collections along with criticism, plays, uncollected short stories, and translations.

She goes on to describe other literary partnerships:

Read On

The Best Of The Dish This Weekend

Apr 20 2014 @ 10:00pm

A beagle takes playing catch to a whole new level:

I took the girls out myself to the park today, which was jammed with picnickers, weekenders and stoners. Drum circle at one end, young Washingtonians sprawled out on the lawn at the other; some Latino soccer players kicking up dust in between; an occasional giant crown passing through from an Easter service; boyfriends balancing girlfriends in yoga poses; a rasta in a loin cloth; awkward prepsters swaying nervously; a child showing off her Easter gown; and the blossoms bursting out of the very branches:


I’m not sure that’s the typical scene many think of when they think of Washington. But on a day like today – a true high holiday – it was really good to be home.

We pulled out some 4/20 stops today – this video is a classic – but focused more on the Easter side of things. One simple account of Easter’s meaning today; one surpassing meditation on its power and vitality; and a George Herbert poem to say what prose cannot.

How to write: advice from Doris Lessing. How to pray: Rosary-learning from Carolyn Browender. How men react to being cruised the way they cruise women; and a hauntingly beautiful portrait of a mother and daughter.

The most trafficked posts of the weekend were Map Of The Day, on where Americans don’t live; and my takedown of a new and surreal book on the marriage equality movement.

As of today, we have 28,395 subscribers. Join them here. Update from one:

I have been reading the Dish since I followed a link to it from a National Review Online article by Jonah 2014-04-17 15.32.44Goldberg. (You guys still friends I wonder?) My memory is little foggy on the point, but I remember donating 20 bucks to your site in your very first attempt to monetize it, before you went over to The Atlantic. So when you said you were going to start charging a subscription to your site, I decided to wait and see if you were really going to go through with it. It soon become apparent that this was real deal, but then I somehow just never got around to it. Anywho, I paid $50 – one year plus arrears for the last year-and-a-half of foot-dragging.

I keep coming back to this site for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I do not have time to browse the Internet the way I used to, so I rely on you and your staff to connect me to interesting content. (Through you I discovered, for example, Coursera, where I’ve taken a half-dozen of their online courses). Secondly, I love your honest and nuanced engagement with the issues, which is expressed in a clear and accessible every man’s style of writing. Finally, I enjoy the eclecticism of your posts, as well as your amusing little pet obsessions. (Speaking of which, I have a burning question. Do you really – now be honest with me – get turned on by a “smoking hot beard” in the same way that I do by a nice set of tits? Don’t bother answering, I know the answer already and it cracks me up!)

I am attaching a view from the window of my office in Sassari, Italy (island of Sardinia), where I own and run a private language school. I would be honored if you used it for one of your contests or in your regular posts.

Happy Easter to you and your family!

Happy Easter to all our readers. And see you in the morning.

Columbine: 15 Years Later

Apr 20 2014 @ 8:32pm

Dave Cullen, author of the best-selling book Columbine, addresses the lessons that much of the mainstream media haven’t yet learned from the tragedy:

Casey Chan puts the anniversary in a broader context:

History buffs might not know this already but it seems as if this week—April 14th to April 20th—might be the worst week in American history. Things like President Lincoln being assassinated, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Columbine shooting, the Virginia Tech school shooting, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Boston Marathon bombing, etc. all happened during this week in history. Of course, if you look back far enough into history, you’re going to find something terrible for every day because, well, terrible things happen all the time. But you have to admit, this week just isn’t a good week for American history.

From an Esquire profile of Frank DeAngelis, the Columbine principal retiring this year after 35 years at the school:

Mr. D’s job of reconciling the past with the present and the future is a difficult one. Because, as the students will readily attest, people are uncommonly weird about Columbine. Tour buses stop to let their riders snap pictures during the school day. Visitors take selfies in front of the school’s sign. Travelers who’ve gotten lost looking for the memorial end up wandering around the parking lot. The memorial was built in 2007, in nearby Clement Park. It was set away from the school to deter tourists from bothering students, but that didn’t work. They keep coming. To them, the school itself is the monument.

The View From Your Window

Apr 20 2014 @ 7:19pm

Littleton, Colorado, 4-57 PM

Littleton, Colorado, 4.57 pm

Theology For Hedonists

Apr 20 2014 @ 6:21pm

David Sedley delves into the philosophy of Epicurus:

Hedonists are ethical thinkers who hold that things are good precisely in so far as they are pleasant, and bad precisely in so far as they are painful. Epicurus was, more specifically, an “egoistic” hedonist, in that he took it to be obvious that the good for each individual, from the moment of birth, is that person’s own pleasure, not other people’s: in other words, your life is a good one if, and only if, you yourself enjoy it. Although an enjoyable life must, according to Epicurus, be centred on moral virtue, what makes it worth living is in the last analysis your enjoyment of it, and not the morality for its own sake.

Moreover there are, besides moral propriety, other factors equally indispensable to enjoying your life.

Read On

A Poem For Sunday

Apr 20 2014 @ 5:28pm


From “Easter” by George Herbert (1593-1633):

Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or, since all musick is but three parts vied
And multiplied,
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

(Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of St. Thomas, 1602, via Wikimedia Commons)

Cool Ad Watch

Apr 20 2014 @ 4:57pm


Alex at Weird Universe captions:

An ad by a Seattle burger restaurant, inspired by the fact that Easter Sunday is on April 20 (4/20), which is a special day for cannabis enthusiasts. Of course, some people are already saying that the ad offends them. But in the ad’s defense, there is a long-standing argument that Jesus and his disciples probably were cannabis users. Though I doubt that argument is endorsed by the Vatican.

Money quote from the guy responsible for the ad:

“No one group is sacred,” [Lunchbox Laboratory owner and "practicing Catholic" John Schmidt] said. “Do you ever watch South Park where they parody everybody and every religion and pretty much anything?”

Update from a reader:

The ad offends me, but not because of the spliff. It shows Jesus eating an animal product from industrial agriculture, which is an act of “grave evil.” Jesus may have been a vegetarian:

Epiphanius quotes the Gospel of the Ebionites where Jesus has a confrontation with the high priest. Jesus chastises the leadership saying, “I am come to end the sacrifices and feasts of blood; and if ye cease not offering and eating of flesh and blood, the wrath of God shall not cease from you; even as it came to your fathers in the wilderness, who lusted for flesh, and did sat to their content, and were filled with rottenness, and the plague consumed them.” [Numbers 11:32-34]

Thou shalt not kill. No one was harmed in the making of the spliff.

Mental Health Break

Apr 20 2014 @ 4:20pm

420 MIX from Eclectic Method on Vimeo.

Researchers in Switzerland are closer to understanding why extreme stress appears to have second-generation effects:

The researchers studied the number and kind of microRNAs expressed by adult mice exposed to traumatic conditions in early life and compared them with non-traumatized mice. They discovered that traumatic stress alters the amount of several microRNAs in the blood, brain and sperm – while some microRNAs were produced in excess, others were lower than in the corresponding tissues or cells of control animals. These alterations resulted in misregulation of cellular processes normally controlled by these microRNAs.

After traumatic experiences, the mice behaved markedly differently: they partly lost their natural aversion to open spaces and bright light and had depressive-like behaviors. These behavioral symptoms were also transferred to the next generation via sperm, even though the offspring were not exposed to any traumatic stress themselves.

Virginia Hughes adds:

The study is notable for showing that sperm responds to the environment, says Stephen Krawetz, a geneticist at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, who studies microRNAs in human sperm. (He was not involved in the latest study.) “Dad is having a much larger role in the whole process, rather than just delivering his genome and being done with it,” he says.

Faces Of The Day

Apr 20 2014 @ 2:44pm


Viktoria Sorochinski describes her project Anna & Eve, which profiles a mother and daughter:

I first met Anna and Eve in Montreal where I used to live…. They drew my attention because of the unusual dynamic of their relationship. They seemed to interact like two sisters rather than like a mother and a daughter. The little Eve had this incredible power and maturity which one can very rarely encounter in a 4-year old child. The mother, on the other hand, seemed to be much more childish and naive for her age. They were both in the process of growing up and discovering this world. They were both learning from each other.

See more of Sorochinski’s work here.

Dwelling Together In Love

Apr 20 2014 @ 2:14pm

Michael Brendan Dougherty reflects on the way Christians celebrate Easter, finding that the patterns of Holy Week reveal “a larger, more comprehensible story about God’s covenant with man.” How he describes the movement from Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday:

We gather at the edge of sanctuary, which is the symbol of the heavenly Holy of Holies, and re-enact the part of the vicious mob in Jerusalem who called for the death of God for the sake of God’s name. We become the Roman torturers who mocked the King of the universe with a crown of thorns. We play the roles of the screaming and vain religious men, who work themselves into a fury. Our pastor intones the hysteria of the chief priest who condemned God Himself as a blasphemer. We once more present to God (and to ourselves) the bitter betrayals, laziness, and weakness of the Apostles after whom our priests are modeled — and who too often imitate their bad example.

And after all this, our own Via Dolorosa, we are finally prepared to hear the words, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.”

This re-enactment — in which reality is suffused with divine meaning — does not end with the liturgy at our Church and is not reserved for the devout or even the believing. Once this vocabulary for understanding the universe seeps into the imagination, the world takes on the same patterns.

Read On

American Is A Christian Country

Apr 20 2014 @ 1:27pm

At least when it comes to demographics:


Max Fisher unpacks the above chart from a Pew study, which shows that the US is “lower than most Western European countries [in religious diversity] and 68th in the world overall”:

Maybe the most surprising thing here is that most of the US’s religious diversity comes not from religious minorities, who in total are only 5.3 percent of the population, but from the 16 percent of Americans who are unaffiliated. Part of that has to do with the fact that, for all of the US’s racial diversity, many of those racial minority groups tend to Christian: most African-Americans, certainly most Latinos, and a significant share of Asian-Americans.

Now compare the US to France and you’ll see two things: that France has almost twice as many unaffiliateds, as a share of … overall population, and eight times as many Muslims. This comparison also gets to a shortcoming in Pew’s metric, though. Something this data does not show is intra-Christian diversity: the US has lots of different Christian groups, whereas French Christians are overwhelmingly Catholic. Diversity between Catholics and Protestants alone has been hugely important for US religious history. While Americans may not be super-diverse along broader religious categories, that intra-Christian diversity has been a real challenge in the US, and one that the country has done an unusually good job of dealing with.

Emma Green connects these findings to another Pew study on religious violence, noting that “some of the least religiously diverse countries also experience some of the most religious violence”:

Read On

Making Room For Many Values

Apr 20 2014 @ 12:27pm

Elizabeth Corey reviews Marc DeGirolami’s recent book, The Tragedy of Religious Liberty, which offers an approach to disputes about the First Amendment that “does not rank [competing] values, but rather sees that all of them may well be more or less important, depending on the circumstances”:

Tragedy in the ancient sense, observes DeGirolami, moves not from joy to sorrow but from “struggle to unresolved struggle.” Its essence lies in recognizing fundamentally competing goods and the consequent realization that the conflict between them is permanent. Thus in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, for example, Clytemnestra can never be at peace with Agamemnon’s sacrifice of their daughter, even as Agamemnon understands his civic duty as king to require the terrible deed. Both characters act on their respective notions of good, which are partial and incomplete. Both, in taking the action they do, fail to recognize and value something else of great importance.

In just this way, DeGirolami points out that the pursuit of a single value necessarily sacrifices the other goods that have not been chosen.

She goes on to connect this style of thinking to Oakeshott’s:

Read On