Flash choir

Sings a new Phillip Glass piece in Times Square. Not crazy about Glass, but what the hell:

More adventures in Thyroidland

So I went back to the nasty endo today. I realize now he’s a really old guy, and just set in his ways. For instance, when I told him I felt much better during the day on the 50 mcg of thryoid but that it gave me bad insomnia, he shook his head and said it “couldn’t” be from the thyroid because that was a hyperthyroid symptom, and you can’t be hyper and hypo at the same time.

Even though you can. Because the doctor who first told he thought something was off told me I had symptoms of both, and that you can have both at the same time if you have adrenal fatigue. (Oddly enough, I’d had a rather compelling dream many years ago where I heard a voice telling me, “You have adrenal exhaustion.” I’d never even heard of it, tried to look it up and couldn’t find anything. So I put it out of my head.)

Anyway, this is a very complicated condition and I don’t have the mental focus to untangle it all. Hopefully my primary care doctor will do that for me — at least, as long as I still have medical insurance. I get really stressed out, worrying about making that insurance payment every month.

Eminent domain

Great idea, hope it spreads. Joe Nocera:

There are few counties in America in as rough shape as San Bernardino County in California. During the housing bubble, the good times were very good. But then came the bust.

Today, San Bernardino County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation: 11.9 percent. Home prices have collapsed. Astonishingly, every second home is underwater, meaning the homeowner owes more on the mortgage than the house is worth. It is well documented that underwater mortgages have a high likelihood of defaulting — and, eventually, being foreclosed on. It has also been clear for some time that the best way to keep troubled homeowners in their homes is by reducing the principal on their mortgages, thus lowering their debt burden and more closely aligning their mortgage with the actual value of the home.

Which is why Greg Devereaux, the county’s chief executive officer, found himself listening intently when the folks from Mortgage Resolution Partners came knocking on his door. They had spent the previous year kicking around an intriguing idea: have localities buy underwater mortgages using their power of eminent domain — and then write the homeowner a new, reduced mortgage. It’s principal reduction using a stick instead of a carrot.

I know. When you first hear this idea, it sounds a little crazy. Eminent domain to take a mortgage? But the more closely you look at it, the more sense it starts to make. It would be a way to break the logjam that keeps mortgages in mortgage-backed bonds — securitizations — from being modified. It could prevent foreclosures. And it could finally stabilize housing prices.

[…] The securitization industry is up in arms about this proposal. In late June, after the plan was leaked to Reuters, some 18 organizations, including the Association of Mortgage Investors, wrote a threatening letter to the San Bernardino board of supervisors claiming that the plan would inflict “significant harm” to homeowners in the county. For his part, Devereaux insists that no final decision has been made. But, he says, “this is the first idea that anyone has approached us with that has the potential to have a real impact on our economy.” Other cities are watching closely to see what happens in San Bernardino.

We’re four years into a housing crisis. Nothing has yet worked to stem the terrible tide of foreclosures. It’s time to give eminent domain a try.

Marcellus Shale study

Good news, bad news?

A Duke University study that examined the possibility that Marcellus Shale drilling in northeastern Pennsylvania contaminates drinking water concluded that pathways in rock formations that allowed salinated water into shallow aquifers were naturally occurring and not a result of hydraulic fracturing.

Still, the authors warned in the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that those naturally occurring pathways could allow chemicals and contaminated water caused by fracking also to travel into the drinking water supply.

Avner Vengosh, a Duke University professor of geochemistry and a corresponding author of the paper, characterized it as “good news, bad news.”

“We’re ruling out [that] this saline water derived from today’s shale gas drilling,” he said.

But, he continued, “everything is not black and white. We’re just in the very beginning of understanding what’s going on. The result of this study does not apply to all of Pennsylvania or all areas of the Appalachian Basin. It needs to be duplicated.”

Katy Gresh, a spokeswoman with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said her office could not comment on the study because it had just seen it.

“We will review it,” she said, adding: “We’ve never seen any evidence in Pennsylvania of hydraulic fracturing contaminating drinking water supplies.”

The paper’s conclusions that contamination was not caused by fracking were based on two major points:
Continue Reading →

Obama falling behind on cash

There are a lot of reasons why Obama’s fundraising lags Romney’s. It’s always harder to govern than campaign, Fox viewers have been thoroughly brainwashed into seeing the Kenyan Socialist and his National Healthcare Takeover as A Major Threat To Our Democracy, Wall Street is too narcissistic to realize they’re not in jail because of Obama, and instead see him as ungrateful for their past beneficence. Also, a lot of voters are quite blatantly racist.

Finally, a lot of the people who trusted him to make things better feel betrayed. They thought he would punish the banks, stop the Bush assaults on privacy and human rights, and stop the economic cascade of mortgage foreclosures. Not only didn’t it happen, he started trying to trade away Social Security and Medicare, all in the name of bipartisanship – something Grover Norquist told us long ago was “date rape.”

But at some point, bitterly disappointed voters still have to make a decision. Do they hold back support from someone they no longer see as a friend, knowing it will result in the election of someone they do know is their enemy? It’s a tough decision:

In the battle for political cash, President Obama is finding himself in an unaccustomed place during the final months of the 2012 campaign: he is losing.

Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee easily outraised the formidable Obama money machine for the second month in a row. A nonstop schedule of high-dollar events around the country brought in $106 million during June to Mr. Obama’s $71 million, giving him and his party four times the cash on hand that it had just three months ago.

Mr. Obama’s fund-raising deficit in part reflects how steeply the terrain has shifted since 2008, when many Republican donors embraced the candidate and his campaign raised millions of dollars from Wall Street and other traditionally right-leaning industries. Now those donors are swinging hard back to the Republican Party — and to Mr. Romney, whose promise to curtail regulation and cut taxes has helped draw a torrent of five-figure checks.

In a worrisome development for the Obama campaign, Mr. Romney, who until now has been heavily dependent on donors giving the maximum federal contribution, also showed success in June drawing small donors, a traditional strength of the Obama campaign. Reflecting the intensifying general election matchup with Mr. Obama and conservative anger over the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the president’s signature health care law, Mr. Romney raised about a third of his total in checks of under $250, officials said on Monday. Mr. Romney and the R.N.C. now have about $160 million in cash.

“This month’s fund-raising is a statement from voters that they want a change of direction in Washington,” Spencer Zwick, Mr. Romney’s finance chief, said in a statement.

Well, yes. I think that’s true, but not in the way Mr. Zwick says. I believe if more Democrats saw the president acting like he was on our side – indicting bankers, telling the Republicans to go to hell the next time they play debt ceiling games, and announce he will not pursue his Grand Bargain, why, they might be more interested in laying out some cash to support their team.

Call it a hunch.

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