“God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!”

There are still people trying to argue that Kim Davis is in the right. That Obergefell can and should be overturned. That loving couples should not be afforded the right to marry because of their orientation. To them, I ask: open your hearts and be loving human beings. Nothing has been taken from you.

There are no legitimate moral, ethical or legal arguments left to be made that two consenting adults should be excluded from rights to a legal contract that other pairs of consenting adults are afforded. Arguing otherwise is merely wrongheaded religious bigotry, by definition of the word. It’s either an attempt at passive theocracy based on your interpretation of select segments of religious text, or it’s ‘I disagree because I think it’s gross,’ which is still not a legal position supporting exclusion of non-heterosexual adult Americans from marriage. This discussion is over. We can continue to piss in the wind, but just like Roe v Wade, Obergefell is not going away for the duration of this constitutional republic. Sorry.

Also, again, this.

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2015/04/02/ctn-sot-indiana-religious-freedom-law.cnn

Shenanigans of the Day: The Shipping Shell Game

Who thought FedEx SmartPost and UPS SurePost were a good idea? If you’re not familiar, this is the “economy shipping” method on large sites like NewEgg and Target.com. They have the UPS / FedEx driver pick up the package and immediately drop it off with their biggest competitor, the one with the debt and customer service problems: The once mighty United States Postal Service.

Each service takes 9-12 days from pretty much anywhere in the US to suburban Cleveland. The last package was 12 days from Texas, through Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Ohio again. The current “free shipping with your RedCard from Target.com!” item is over a week in transit from Kansas City so far, two days in KC, to Ohio, to Pennsylvania, on its way back to Ohio again.

This is clearly a lowest-cost solution in the era of eCommerce, with customer service complaints generally resulting in “we’re sorry you were unhappy. Next time consider upgrading to 3-5 day Standard Ground service?”

Look, I understand tiered pricing. I understand the notion we should be informed consumers and spend our dollars appropriately. My beef: We have tools, logistics, information technology, and capacity to handle things better. Maybe the choices shouldn’t be $100 to get it tomorrow, $25 to get it in 2 days, $10 to get it in 3-5 days, and “free” to get it in… 2 weeks, give or take, while the package acts like a train-hopping hobo.”

Meanwhile the US mail washes their hands of accountability, because they’re meeting this ridiculously anachronistic 2-week delivery SLA. It can’t possibly be cost effective to ship an item through five to ten distribution centers on the way! My grandfather would not have stood for this horsepuckey.

I can’t tell if this damage is interesting or something I should try to cure

Recently I was on a business trip, attempting to focus on an issue a developer had been dragging me through for a few weeks.  My ego depleted, my brain suddenly wandered to a random thought: Perhaps the theory of a multiverse simultaneously proves and disproves that humans have free will in this universe.

For background, I highly recommend this video, at least the first twelve minutes.  It describes in relatively basic terms the ten dimensions of existence. We exist in the third and experience the fourth as the slow rolling of time. It’s pretty easy to consider the fifth dimension, alternate timelines where other circumstances occur and other decisions are made, resulting in other outcomes.  After that… well, watch the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gg85IH3vghA

Once you understand the concept of all possible possibilities existing simultaneously in all possible universes under all possible physical laws, consider that you have already made every decision in every possible way and everyone other variable has changed in every possible configuration at that same instance to produce all possible outcomes in all universes. Your choice in this 7th dimensional plane (described as “infinity” in the video) was yours to make, but the you of that moment spun off into an infinite number of decisions, interactions, and outcomes, which by default, means free will doesn’t exist in our universe, even though from your point of view, you have exercised it.

The fact that humans can only experience the fourth dimension in one direction (as third dimensional creatures) is one bitch of a fact that helps drive my thanatophobia – knowing this self, this id will never view, know or experience any fifth dimension possibilities.

FAQ: No, I’ve still never tried recreational drugs, yes, I understand this unfounded anxiety is pointless, yes, I most likely under-thought which dimension I’m in when considering the empirical truth of whether or not free will is an illusion, and yes, this really is the stuff that is going through my head sometimes while you’re trying to explain why the .jsp isn’t rendering properly.

The Immoral Protection Racket Known As “Epi-pens”

My son has an anaphylactic response to sunflower seeds. He’s only had one reaction, but that’s enough. To protect him in case he starts having a reaction, he needs an Epi-pen available to him at all times. And the shots “expire” every 12-14 months, despite studies that say most epi-pens contain viable doses 2-3 years past expiration. So each year, we buy the Epi-pens at the pharmacy… the list price is $500, but “only” a $60 copay to us. We do the same for my wife’s tree nut allergy.

EpiPen

This is a matter of life and death; of course I’m going to pay the $60 a year as a contingency. (My health insurance pays a pre-negotiated price for the rest- I’m guessing less than the $440 difference from list.) But with schools demanding “current” medication, the requirement to purchase 2-packs (1-packs are no longer available) and 911 operators advising against using expired Epi-pens… there isn’t much of a choice to make for most people. It’s simply: “Your money or your life.”

Says goodrx.com: “Generic Availability: Some or all forms of Epi-pen may become available as generic epinephrine after June 2015, depending on FDA approval and patent expiration.”

Meanwhile, Mylan, who own the patents on epinephrine injectors, has seen its stock grow more than fourfold in the past five years.

These sorts of manipulations of the market where consumer health is at risk make me take, internally at least, a VERY anti-libertarian position on this company. These are the reasons our health care costs are so high. Because fundamental, essential medication is hugely expensive for an extended period of time, thanks to patents.

The leveraging of the wallets of people who are in live-threatening circumstances may be ethical in a system of crony capitalism, where the USPTO, the FDA, and Mylan conspire to enrich stockholders on the backs of anxious customers who have deadly allergies.

But it is certainly immoral.

Ah yes, the bearded fat man.

It’s Santa season, which reminded me:

When I explained to my then-7 year old son, in answer to his questions about Santa, that mommy and daddy had been the ones buying him all those things, he gave me the greatest hug and said “you guys are the best parents ever! I love you so much!” I kid you not.

It made me want to start encouraging everyone to stop using Santa as a proxy for discipline and generosity.

 

“Why do you bother?”

It’s a cold morning in downtown Cleveland. I had five dollars left in my wallet this morning, and I saw Ricky begging for change. I gave Ricky my five dollars, and he gave me a big smile, half a hug… then asked me if I could spare any more.

If you’ve worked in downtown Cleveland in the last 15 years, you probably know Ricky. Ricky has a gravely voice and loudly asks “YOU GOT ANY CHANGE?” He can be pretty scary, especially when you look him in the eyes. I’ve bought Ricky food 6-8 times. I’ve given Ricky a few dollars when I’ve had it handy. My walking companions usually ask me why I do this.

To me, Ricky is the face of metal illness and homelessness in America, right here on the streets of Cleveland. I’ve talked to others who know Ricky better than I. Ricky is a paranoid schizophrenic, and is in and out of jail and in irregular contact with social services. I have seen him unmedicated – right out of jail, without his meds, gesturing wildly and yelling about the poisoned cigarettes they tried to give Kennedy in the 60s. I’ve seen Ricky calm and enjoying a meal on the sidewalk. I’ve seen Ricky walk right up and beg people in a very aggressive manner as they are trying to get into their car. I’ve seen Ricky smile and give me a hug.

When I do buy food for Ricky, or give Ricky money, he always begs me for just a few dollars more. He never says a word of thanks. But a smile is a good start. I get a lot of feedback that I’m exacerbating a problem or making others uncomfortable. This is valid feedback. I understand that a better way to handle vagrancy is not provide handouts to encourage more panhandling. What I also believe is true is that:

  • Ricky is severely mentally ill.
  • Ricky does not have someone regularly helping him get his medications.
  • When Ricky goes off his medications, he can be both scared and scary.
  • We don’t have a good social system in place to care for rare, complicated cases like Ricky.
  • Ricky is still a human being.
  • The start of fixing the problem is realizing Ricky is still a human being and being kind to him.
  • How you decide to show that kindness is up to you.

I know that giving Ricky a few dollars here or there doesn’t fix things, it only provides some short-term comfort. I’m OK with that. I struggle with many things in my life, but living on the streets of Cleveland with severe mental illness isn’t one of them. I choose to give him a little something when I can. I hope we find a better way – as individual humans, not as a country or a government or a system – to help people who really can’t help themselves.