Monday, April 07, 2014

Kansas soundcheck with Steve Morse and Kerry Livgren

Steve Morse is my favorite guitarist, and I've also long been a fan of the band Kansas and guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter Kerry Livgren.  Morse replaced Livgren on guitar when Kansas reformed in the later 1980s.

Kansas put out a special live DVD a few years ago, and both Morse and Livgren put in cameo appearances.  But perhaps even better than that, the soundcheck before the concert featured a version of "Down the Road," an early Kansas song, with Steve Morse and Kerry Livgren playing guitar.

It's kind of special.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Where's Merlin now?

This is a Merlin. Look it up if necessary, 'cause it's worth it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You know, Obamacare may slow the growth of health care spending after all

I've been highly skeptical (along with quite a few experts) that Obamacare will slow health care spending.

It's counterintuitive, after all, providing health insurance to a bunch of people and then see spending on health care drop.

However, I was under the impression that the new health insurance policies would actually be better.  That's what Democrats have been telling us, anyway.  It's now looking like Obamacare sets up strong pressure within the insurance industry to get patients to pay a larger share of their health care costs out-of-pocket, via higher copays and higher coinsurance rates.  The "better" in our better insurance comes largely from lower maximum out-of-pocket spending by the insured.  People who exceed that maximum are a rarity, relatively speaking.

This means that for many routine medical problems Obamacare partially addresses the third-party payment problem.  The third-party payment problem, briefly, simply means that people use more of something if somebody else pays for it.

I don't think this is the outcome Democrat legislators had in mind when they passed the law.  If it was, then it's likely I'd have heard somebody describe it this way.

Correction 2/25/2014:  Not sure how I ended up spelling "Ocamacare" in the title and then overlooked it for so long, but it's finally fixed.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Boston Red Sox @ Tampa Bay Rays, game 4

In the past I've viewed Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson as the potential reincarnation (not literally!) of Cubs/Braves great Greg Maddux.

So it's been frustrating watching Hellickson struggle his way to a 12-10 record and an ERA in excess of 5.0 in 2013.  And it causes me to raise an eyebrow or two at the coaches' decision to use rookie pitcher Chris Archer (9-7, 3.22) in relief while using Hellickson as the fourth starter during the playoffs.

GM Joe Maddon and company have to see something in Hellickson at this point in the season that's eluding me.

It's not that I think Hellickson can't pitch well.  I viewed him as the No. 2 starter for the Rays entering the 2013 season.  So far it hasn't panned out that way.  But beating the Red Sox tonight will do a great deal to make his performance this season look good.  I hope Maddon is right on this one.

Go Rays.

Update 12:31 a.m.

Hellickson cruised through the first inning before getting lifted from the game during the 2nd inning jam he helped create.  The bullpen sustained a shutout through the 7th inning, when the Red Sox scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead.  The Rays didn't score after that.

Game over, season over.  And the game was akin to the season.  Boston played consistently well (still hate 'em; this is just respect) and the Rays played spotty.  Pitching wasn't the strength it should have been, and the batting lineup was dotted with severe slumps from key players.

Go A's or some other team I hate less than Boston.  The lower the payroll the better.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Not a Jetpack

I don't care what they call it, this newfangled personal flying device is not a jetpack.  It's a little closer to a jetpack than gluing a big patch of velcro on the back of your t-shirt and then attaching yourself to the Space Shuttle. But only just a little closer.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Music video: "The Storm" by Flying Colors

It's a super group that's super. Prog chops all over radio-friendly hook-filled tunes with excellent singing.

Is Neal Morse raising that one hand in worship at 3:47? You go, Neal.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Music Video: "Excuse" by the Ettes

The Ettes had a pretty good tune on the "Whip It" soundtrack.  "Whip It," for those who remember, was a hip and entertaining movie about a Texas teen who gets hooked on roller derby.  Ellen Page played the teen and Drew Barrymore directed.  Good flick.  But enough about that.

The Ettes:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

George Alexander Louis?

George Alexander Louis.

"Seinfeld" would have been shorter.

And maybe it's all a coincidence.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rays, Tigers, Cabrera, Zobrist (because I can)

The red line is the inside edge of the batting box. Big yellow circle indicates the batter's head. The small yellow circle indicates the baseball.

Yes, the images are potentially misleading because there's no guarantee that both pictures show the baseball at the same point in its approach to the plate.

"I don't care about throwing inside, but I don't like it up there," Leyland said. "We will not tolerate that."

"That's part of baseball. Guys get hit in baseball games," Leyland said.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pakistan, umbrellas, Jeffrey Osborne and R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Back in the day, journalists could plausibly stand in awe of President Obama's great attention to detail on foreign policy.  He pronounced Pakistan the way Pakistani natives pronounce it.  It was about respect.
His aides know that this is an area where the president wants to be right. In Obama’s view, pronouncing someone’s name or hometown correctly is a simple way of showing respect, they say. It’s a sort of baseline diplomacy. That’s particularly so in foreign relations, where aides say the president will privately practice pronouncing a leader’s name a number times before saying it publicly.
It's this frame that makes some of the president's actions troublesome.  Take Mr. Obama's decision to direct attending Marines hold hold umbrellas as he and a visiting diplomat spoke on a recent rainy day in Washington D.C.

We have a commander-in-chief concerned about pronouncing Pakistan correctly but not concerned about respecting Marine tradition.  It's about respect.

The president's defenders tried to flip it around:
So what was the grave transgression? It seems that Marines (except, bizarrely and somewhat patronizingly, female Marines) are not supposed to carry umbrellas, according to military tradition. Fine, but in fact, they weren't carrying them in the sense that they weren't holding them over their own heads – they were protecting the president (which, in fact, is part of their job while at the White House). Also, the president is the commander-in-chief, and while that is not strictly a military rank, he does outrank the servicemembers there to protect him. That's the point.
The president outranks the U.S. soldiers attending his functions.  That's the point.  He can have them bend and shine his shoes on the spot if he chooses.

No, that's not the point.  It's about respect.

More recently, Mr. Obama repeatedly referred to British dignitary George Osborne as "Jeffrey."  The president apologized, offering that he was confusing the dignitary with his favorite R&B singer, Jeffrey Osborne.

Pakistan.  Umbrella.  Jeffrey Osborne.

It's about respect.  Who and what does the president respect?  He's either very careful about showing respect or he is not.