Dec 252013

One of the effects of Obamacare is expansion of medicaid to people of somewhat higher income than previous. It was *supposed* to provide health care for the desperately poor; now it covers up to 138% of the poverty level. Still poor, but perhaps well enough off that even though your income sucks, you might have accumulated some property… a car, a house, a million Hummel figurines, whatever. Normally you might expect to pass these on to your heirs. Ooops! Not anymore!

Washington state, for example, has had an asset “recovery” system in place to bill dead people of the cost of the Medicaid they’d consumed. But up till now, the income standard was so low that only the truly poor would have been on Medicaid, so they wouldn’t have anything for the state to seize. now, though, there’ll be people with stuff actually worth taking.

Is this wrong? Not really… if you consume a product or service, you really should pay for it, and being dead does not absolve you of your bills. For anything else in life, if you’ve racked up a stack of bills and then keel over, your creditors can dip into your estate. What’s new here is that there just might be a whole lot of folk who are not only mourning dear Granny’s departure, but coming to find out that the few trinkets and doodads she had left for ’em in her will now belong to the state.

“If you like your inheritance, you can keep it.”

Expanded Medicaid’s fine print holds surprise: ‘payback’ from estate after death

The article says that the Washington state legislators are scrambling to “fix” this. But it also suggests that this is an unintended consequence. Riiiiight.

 Posted by at 9:37 pm
Dec 242013

Well, now. Here we have the Apollo Image Atlas, which brings together a whole bunch of official Apollo Program photos taken on or around the moon.

One of my favorite sets is  70mm Hasselblad Image Catalog Apollo 11, Magazine S


The Apollo Image Atlas can be accessed in the following ways:

  • Browse Image Catalog
    • 70mm Hasselblad
    • Mapping (Metric)
    • Panoramic
    • Apollo Lunar Surface Closeup Camera (ALSCC)
    • 35mm Nikon
  • Search
    • Search by Feature Name
    • Search by Coordinate
    • Search by Description
 Posted by at 10:35 pm
Dec 242013

With all the yammering yahoos yipping on about the War on Christmas and similar rubbish, I find it incredibly difficult to give a fart about Santa Claus’ ethnicity. Yes, “Saint Nick” is based on an actual person from what today is Turkey, so he probably would’ve been sorta olive-colored, like modern Greeks or Turks. But “Santa” is a product of northern Europe and Anglo-Saxon America and was pretty much as white as you can get. But you know what? I just can’t seem to generate any outrage when I see a Black Santa or a Hispanic Santa (or, theoretically, an oriental Santa or an Indian Santa or any other such thing that’s possible but that I don’t think I’ve ever seen). While I question the wisdom of teaching kids that there are magical beings who grant wishes (and, apparently, grant those wishes based upon the financial status of the family involved), once past that… shrug. I mean, come on… if we’re to accept that he can travel all the world in a night flying in a sleigh pulled by magic reindeer and can quantum teleport into peoples living rooms… changing ethnicity based on current conditions would seem an easy trick.

I am a bit confuzzled about Macy’s Santa, though. Macy’s department store and Santa Claus are pretty much joined at the hip, so it’s only appropriate that they have a Santa. But as it turns out, the flagship store on 34th Stree in Manhattan has *two* Santas on the job at any time. One right out front… standard white-guy Santa. The other… a black Santa, sorta hidden away in the back. They don’t advertise him; you have to ask for him, and of course, you had to know about him in the first place.

It makes sense to have the two Santas well separated. Don’t want to confuse the kiddies. But hiding the black one in the back… well, that might not go over so well. And why have one if you’re going to keep him kind of a secret? Still, I gotta give Macy’s props for having the two. It’s business *genius.* Macy’s is not in the business of giving children magical Christmases, they are in the business of selling stuff. And to sell stuff, they have to bring people in. And if giving children magical Christmases brings people in and they buy stuff… well, there ya go. And like it or not, children of all ethnicities like seeing their own ethnicity represented. So a black Santa makes *all* kinds of good business sense. There is an interesting article with photos here:

Fear of a Black Santa

Footage provided of both the white and black Santas. You know what? The black Santa looks *better,* though the white Santa has the better “Santa Voice.”

[youtube 1KZ7iEYBV1U]

White Santa, black Santa… whatever. Just so long as you don’t halfass it.And please don’t shoot black Santa while he’s out doing his thing. That’s lame.

Besides, we all know that the *true* Santa is green.

 Posted by at 7:31 pm
Dec 242013

Forty Five years ago today, the crew of Apollo 8 read a bit of Genesis to the people of Earth from lunar orbit.  No matter what your religious views, this was a pretty neat thing (unless you’re a bit of  a dick).

[youtube vFUx_KC1bHQ]

As reenacted in “From the Earth to the Moon:”

[youtube z_NZ4rSvBCg&feature=player_detailpage#t=209]

 Posted by at 2:14 pm
Dec 242013

Sandwich Shop Cans Workers Days Before Christmas

A sandwich shop claims that their business is bad, and they are closing down to turn themselves into a burger joint. And they can all their employees, just days before Christmas. Boo! Bad scrooges!


Earlier this month the self-same employees went on strike demanding fifteen bucks an hours (remember, their job is to put slices of stuff on other slices of stuff). This shut the place down for four days. Good job, folks. You have jobs that can be done by entirely skill-free kids, and soon enough by sub-Cylon robots, and you want to double your wages? And to do that you’re willing to drive away what customers the place had? Yeah, good luck with that.

 Posted by at 12:47 pm
Dec 242013

Some high speed footage of an AK-47 being fired underwater. There are a number of interesting things here:

1) The bullets go *maybe* 5 feet, and seem to have completely blown their kinetic energy within 4 feet. This should come as no real surprise… humans are, basically, ugly bags of mostly water, and you’d hardly expect to fire though six feet of *human.*

2) The bullets tumble almost instantly

3) Bubble reverberation

4) Possible sonoluminescence (but probably not)

Lesson: don’t bother trying to shoot someone underwater with an AK-47 unless you are right on top of ’em

[youtube cp5gdUHFGIQ]

 Posted by at 3:06 am
Dec 242013

Post-war US Army film showing US soldiers poking around with some captured German rocket vehicles: the Bachem Ba-349 (basically a manned surface-to-air missile) and the Ruhrstahl X-4, an air-to-air missile. The X-4 would have been difficult to use… wire guided like the modern TOW missile, the lone fighter pilot launching the missile would have to fly his plane while simultaneously  steering the missile, using a Mark I Eyeball to track a visible flare.

[youtube t-P8NjcMemY]

 Posted by at 12:40 am