Wednesday, October 30, 2013

ACA Rollout Hearing: I could be wrong, but...

I've been watching the hearing in which HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is being questioned about the stuttering, stumbling roll-out of the Affordable Healthcare Act website. The hearing has been remarkable in its consistency, left and right. 

The folks on the left side of aisle keep showing their ACA support while expressing irritation and frustration, but it's clear these folks want the ACA to work (even though many of them wanted single-payer Medicaire for all, ideally). 

Meanwhile, the folks on the right side of the aisle keep proving they have no desire to see it work and are clearly delighted that the rollout has stumbled, even as they express their mock irritation and want us all to believe they're suddenly deeply concerned that things aren't working too well. 

A couple of things come to mind. 

A large number of states refused to declare their own state-based exchanges, which were the original plan for the ACA, and they instead entered the national healthcare exchange, whose portal is the site, which is having so many implementation problems and about which this hearing is being held. In almost every case, the states with their own exchanges are seeing popular support of the ACA, seeing thousands of people enrolling, seeing premium prices going down on average, and seeing users having little to no difficulty/problems with their web portals or their state-based implementations of the ACA. 

On the other hand, in almost every state that deferred starting its own health exchange and whose state representative(s) is(are) at the hearing today, problems are being reported, albeit being reported anecdotally (and possibly being exaggerated but I will admit if I'm wrong about this). Many if not all of these same states sued the US Government (or the IRS) to get the ACA repealed because of their disagreement with the individual-mandate portion of the ACA (which was ruled to be constitutional by the SCOTUS), many of these same states are run by the very people who have publicly stated they want the ACA to fail, or simply be repealed, defunded, or all three (and have unsuccessfully voted over 40 times to have this happen), and many of these same states have representatives who routinely cry "states rights" when they perceive overreach by US Government yet are blithely willing to give themselves over to a federally run portal for the ACA. 

Is it possible that there is a real connection here? Is it possible that the implementation of the ACA, which, again, had state exchanges as its original intent (i.e., not a single national exchange), might have gone far more smoothly had these complaining states instead chosen to help everyone, and to at least help their own populations, by creating their own exchanges? 

Put another way, is it possible that the implementation of the ACA, which was voted on, passed, became law, survived SCOTUS oversight, and is now up and running might have had a cleaner rollout if all the United States of America had taken part, had pulled together, and had worked earnestly to make this thing happen, rather than to complain, resist, sue, waste time, posture, obfuscate, and generally demagogue, deny, and decry something that such a truly small portion of the US population really needs? 

It's amazing to me that these same folks who have so obviously worked against the ACA --- none of whom has offered any alternatives aside from repealing or defunding it --- are now asking us to believe they are genuinely outraged that the ACA's rollout isn't going more smoothly. They are now also the ones bitching most loudly about the money that has been spent on this rollout, which is a pittance compared to the good it will eventually do but plain miniscule when compared to the $24 billion these same fools cost us all by shutting down the US Government in order to try to get the ACA repealed, defunded, or both, which everyone (including these same fools) knew was not going to happen, ever!

The truth is that they're delighted the ACA's rollout isn't going more smoothly, and any one of them who says otherwise is just lying. Meanwhile, folks in their states are suffering and being grossly misrepresented by these posers.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Squeezebox Rebuffering Problem with Netgear 4G Router

Posting this for anyone doing a search on Squeezebox buffering problems. This is not a "normal" blog entry. Please ignore it if you do not have a Verizon/Netgear 4G router and a Logitech Squeezebox Classic Wi-Fi music player.

I recently started using my Squeezebox player again to play music in the music library I have stored in a 500 GB external hard drive. Almost immediately I started getting a rebuffering problem that I had never before encountered with this player and custom-built desktop PC running Windows 7. This system always worked flawlessly. 

The problem manifested itself in the form of my Logitech Squeezebox player stopping playing momentarily but frequently as this rebuffering took place. The rebuffering message would appear on the Squeezebox player's screen. The problem seemed chronic and was certainly annoying.

I tried a number of things to fix the problem, but it kept happening. I finally found a forum page that suggested changing the Wi-Fi channel, as some are more commonly used by Wi-Fi users. I found that channel 6 seems to work much better: so far, no rebuffering problems. Perhaps no one close by our home is using channel 6 as much as the channel I was on, which was channel 3.

So, if this information can help someone else out there, cool!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Again, and again, and again...

Right after the last national election, an election that easily put President Obama into his second term, the Republican Party was seen to be doing some wholesale soul-searching, trying to assess where they went wrong, attempting to address those issues for the future. 

Was it the Romney candidacy and his 47% comment? Was it the lack of appeal to minority voters? Was it the lack of an appeal to middle-aged white men? Was it the wrong-headed messaging about women's health and reproductive issues (see "forcible rape," "rape is God's will," et al.)? Was it general mean-spiritedness seen in the forms of truthers and birthers and voter ID laws? Was it just thinly veiled racism? 

Whatever it was, it would seem little was learned by the GOP, and so little appears to have changed for the GOP.

Since then we've seen...
...a Republican official in Alabama referring to "lazy blacks";
...a North Carolina GOP representative facetiously not calling President Obama a traitor because he hasn't seen the president do anything against Kenya;
...the GOP's junior senator from Texas suggesting Kenyan email scammers built the website;
...a Minnesota GOP senator saying she sees signs of the end times because of Obama's weapons deliveries to Syrian rebels;
...numerous new state initiatives to curtail women's health and reproductive rights;
...numerous new state initiatives to disenfranchise minority and senior voters, who routinely don't vote for the GOP;
...the far right of the GOP shutting down the government for political gain;
...the far right of the GOP bashing the GOP moderates to an unelectable pulp.

And now, as a result of all this and more, we have little-to-no evidence that the GOP learned anything from the last election. 

Put another way, we have enormous evidence that GOP hasn't learned a damn thing and that it's doing the same things again, and again, and again and expecting something different to happen, which is... well... we all know what it is. 

If they're expecting a result that's different from the last election then they'll prove to be every bit as crazy as the crazies who are doing and saying all these crazy things already appear to be, and the GOP will hurt itself again... and again.. and again...

Update, 3/24/15: With the GOP now having regained control of congress, it is once again about to park the Campaign's Clown Car at the curb so that a dozen or so would-be candidates can emerge and do the same thing they did last time: tear one another down so badly that no one will be left standing who has even a prayer of being elected. It's not because the Dems have unbeatable candidates; it's because for the last couple of election cycles, the GOP has been ensuring the Dem's candidates are unbeatable by repeating the same proven-to-be-doomed behaviors. Will they make it three in a row?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Inside the echo chamber...

Currently there seems to be a rippling disruption in the right-wing blogosphere regarding an Arkansas teacher’s recent assignment to have students perform an academic exercise to “rewrite” the Bill of Rights. The text of the assignment is available in several places and, while not exactly perfectly written, clearly suggests, at least to me, a hypothetical case with hypothetical parameters. The use of hypotheticals is a common tool for teachers. I know because I used them a great deal (and to good effect) in my classrooms. Perhaps this teacher didn't point this out to students. I don't know.

Anyway, this particular assignment makes the following (I believe hypothetical) statement: the government of the United States is currently revisiting the Bill of Rights. Please note the lack of quotation marks, which is intentional.

Meanwhile across the country, an educational initiative is underway, called Common Core, to standardize curricula across state lines and among states, and is being sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Even as a majority of states have adopted these Common Core standards, a majority of conservative groups are, perhaps not at all surprisingly, criticizing these standards. Moreover, some in the conservative media (Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh, among others) have suggested Common Core is a naked power grab by President Barack Obama, referring to it as "Obamacore."

Now, back to the assignment. Doing a simple Google search on the text string, the government of the United States is currently revisiting the Bill of Rights, I found it, verbatim, in the following places:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and… to name just a few.

Almost every one of these sites is commonly viewed as a conservative, right-wing site or blog, with the exceptions perhaps being,, and, which to some might qualify as pure wack-job hate sites, but this isn’t my point.

My point is that all these sites and blogs have picked up and run with the “quote” that… the government of the United States is currently revisiting the Bill of Rights (again, please note my lack of quotation marks), and have put it out there as proof undeniable that the US Government is running amok (is there ever another way to run?), that Barack Obama is behind it all, that our rights are being taken away (some are, I admit, but this has been ongoing since the whole “war on terror” began in the last administration and is another issue), that children are being indoctrinated by said government, and that the end times are upon us because of Common Core, Barack Obama, and a falling sky in the form of, God forbid, educational standards.

But let’s be clear. The real source of the assignment's original statement, the government of the United States is currently revisiting the Bill of Rights, is never disclosed in the assignment, further suggesting, at least to me, it’s a hypothetical academic exercise to get students to think critically and to actually read something (in this case the Bill of Rights), which are two fundamental skills that far too many teachers struggle to get students to master. (And raise your hand if you’ve actually read the BofR all the way through yourself. Uh huh… see?)

More importantly however, the true source of the statement (aside from pulling it from the teacher’s assignment) is never offered (or, conversely, questioned) by any of the blog sites or websites on which this statement appears, because there isn't one! And this is exactly the issue: a teacher wants to get students to think critically, even as dozens of conservative bloggers and pundits prove there is a real need for critical thinking skills by not thinking critically, by not questioning if the assignment is a hypothetical exercise, and by, instead,  repeating a statement as if it’s gospel, as if it’s a direct quote from someone in the US Government who is “currently revisiting the Bill of Rights.” Rest easy, dear reader: the echo chamber continues to function perfectly.

My hunch is that this whole assignment imbroglio is a function of all these folks believing yet another Obama-as-tyrant shaggy-dog story, and faithfully repeating it as if its gospel via the echo chamber.