The Incontiguous Brick

January 8, 2010

Really? Was it Really Attempted Use of a WMD?

Filed under: politics,Ramblings,Wordpress Political Blogs — iknowkeith @ 11:36 pm
Tags: , ,

Yesterday on NPR, I heard the discussion about the would-be Christmas airline bomber as having attempted to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Really?  Should we really be calling the Christmas airline bomber an attempted use of Weapon of Mass Destruction? He burning his lap!  Seriously?

If we use that term to describe the attempted downing of an aircraft then isn’t every anti-ship cruise missile a WMD?  There can be hundreds to thousands of people on ships.  Or what about a 2000 lbs bomb that we drop all the time?  How about a grenade?  If he stabbed the pilots and brought the plane down would that be a WMD?  Will will have to have an international armistice treaty on box cutters!

I think a more honest term would “attempted mass murder.”  How about we save WMD for the big stuff like nukes and not water down our own language.


August 7, 2009

Why not model a Govenrnment Health Care plan after the FAA?

The FAA model brings up an interesting example in support of government run health care.


There is a definite problem with the current healthcare system. If you have private insurance and get become very sick, the insurance company has an strong motivation to find a way to cancel your policy. Although this makes sense for the companies bottom line, it is not exactly what I would call insurance. Most of us would like to imagine that “insurance” means: any means of guaranteeing against loss or harm. But this goes away when it is a for profit industry that does not want to pay for loss or harm. And quite frankly, if I was an invester in an insurance company, I wouldn’t want them to cut into their profit to pay for your illness either.


However, the idea of the government providing for our health care sends chills up the spines of most conservatives and many liberals. Do we really trust the government with our lives? I argue that you already do… every time you board an airplane in the United States you are trusting the FAA.


Here is one way to model the field of medicine after the FAA and it just might work:


Doctor Pay:

ATC controllers are highly paid and they make more money at larger airports (so rewarded for skill and hard work), have very demanding requirements, little room for error and are government employees. Maybe that is not such a bad model for doctors. Rather than pay them through hospitals that are billing insurance companies, why not have well compensated doctors (perhaps in a similar organizational structure as military doctors) that are paid a wage from the public coffers. Just like air traffic controllers who work at an airport but not for the airport (paid by FAA), doctors could work at hospitals but not for the hospital.

Medical School:

Obviously, we still want to attract the best and brightest to be doctors. Medical school is tough. It will stay tough. Right now it is expensive and tough and that means only people with wealthy families can become doctors (not always the brightest) or people willing to incur massive debt. This requires very high pay later to cover loans. Why not have medical education free and based solely on merit. If you are good enough to get in and finish the program, you are in the club. If not, see you later (and you owe for the ammount spent on you). No amount of money will get you in, rich boy. That makes it more like the Naval Academy which generally produces good officers.

Hospitals and clinics:

Offer free treatment to any citizen (taxpayer) and get reimbursed from the government for treatment. This is still competitive because people have a choice where they go to see the doctor. Provide a crappy facility and you get less patients at your door = less money. Patients that are not citizens can also be seen but will be billed at the same rate that the government would have paid. The non-citizen can utilize a private health insurance provider if they choose or can pay out of pocket.

Alternative Plan:
How about combining health insurance with life and disability, so the company has a financial incentive to keep you alive and healthy?

April 22, 2009

Credit Card Games

Filed under: Money,Ramblings — iknowkeith @ 3:20 pm

I have a Discover card that I have had for many years. It has a decent interest rate (5.9%) and I use it for emergencies. The other day I received a letter from Discover informing me that the rate was going up to 12.99% and if I didn’t like it I could pay off my balance a leave. This applies to all new purchases and outstanding balances. I owe about a $1000 so I would rather not pay it all right now but the new rate is crap.

discover1I called them to complain and see what we could work out. They said the new rate was being instituted “across the board” for everybody and they would send me the paperwork to appeal it. Because I have never missed a payment I could probably negotiate a lower rate than 13%.

But here is the kicker… the guy on the phone said the new rate is “due to the economy.” Seriously? The new rate is Prime Rate + 9.74% (=12.99%). So the increase is not due to the economy because that would mean the Prime Rate had gone up. The increase is not because I am a high risk borrower because nothing in my life or bill paying practices have changed. The new rate of 12.99% is because they know they can get away with it and most of their customers will chalk it up the the bad economy and take it in the shorts.

Think about it. Why 9.74% and not something else? Because that plus Prime is just under 13% and “12 something” sounds less criminal than 13. It has nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with taking advantage of the consumer by playing the headlines. The letter states, “our decision to make this change was based on the higher cost of doing business due to the challenging economic environment.”  Again, that would be Prime Rate and it has not gone up.  In fact, Prime Rate is much lower than it has been in years.


Discover is not hurting anymore than EXXON was hurting when gas prices were high. Discover does not make high risk home loans or anything of that nature. They only do credit cards and online bill paying. Discover’s stock is low but their P/E ratio is hanging around 4. They are showing a sizeable profit already and now Discover is going for the gold by jacking up the rates. Their profits in 2008 equaled close to $1 billion.

Discover Card… I call Bull $hit!

January 18, 2009


Filed under: Life,politics,Ramblings — iknowkeith @ 10:47 pm

I love the irony of our modern world… Especially when government gets involved.

After years of attempting to eradicate the very existence of marijuana, it might be the one plant that saves humanity.

Scientists in Italy and the U.K. have recently discovered substances in marijuana that show promise for fighting deadly drug-resistant bacterial infections, including so-called “superbugs,” without causing the drug’s mood-altering effects.  Great going “War on Drugs”  Maybe we should have a “War on education” so these dang “scientists” will stop embarrassing our policy makers with new discoveries.

But the irony doesn’t end there…

Mere days before a new law goes into effect banning the sale of all children’s products that have not been tested to be lead free a new medical discovery changes the game.  The slow build-up of lead over a long term exposure is likely to cause serious developmental problems in children.   A child who swallows large amounts of lead may develop anemia, muscle weakness and brain damage.  Where poisoning occurs, it is usually gradual, with small amounts of the metal accumulating over a long period of time.

Now South Korean scientists may have found a way to remove dangerous heavy metals such as lead from blood by using specially designed
magnetic receptors.  The scare is over.  It isn’t so much that lead toys, paint, etc. is not a bad thing.  But now, lead may not be an untreatable threat to little ones. 

Once again, government may be jumping in to save us when we weren’t really drowning. Once again, you gotta love the irony.

December 31, 2008

Prediction for 2009

Filed under: Money,politics,Ramblings,Wordpress Political Blogs — iknowkeith @ 3:13 pm

Time to put the reputation of this blog on the line with…
(drum roll, please)

My prediction for 2009!!!!

If I am wrong, oh well. If I am right, remember where you heard it first and worship my genius.

Okay, here is is…

The big three have their bail out. But the reason they needed it was because they couldn’t sell enough cars. This is because the economy was bad, sure. If that was true then why didn’t Honda, Toyota and Mazda need a bailout? Perhaps it is because the big three make cars that such and nobody wants to buy them. So how do you fix that?

Easy! Just give a tax credit for buying American. How about a nice $2000 credit (not unlike the Prius incentive a few years ago) if you buy a big gas guzzling piece of crap American car that will break down sooner and have a terrible resale value? With the right financing, sounds like a deal.

So that is my prediction. This year we will continue to see terrible new car sales from the big three and after the bailout money doesn’t save them we will all be tempted to buy them with a big tax credit.

What does that mean for the smart shoppers who care about mileage and good quality vehicles? It means that their tax dollars will go to people buy crap.

Free market capitalism? No. Democratic Communism? Maybe. We can elect our leaders but we can’t chose where our money goes. We can buy what we want but we are punished for not choosing the government’s choice for us.

I hope I am wrong this time.

September 14, 2008

Are They Still Afraid of Ron Paul?

Filed under: politics,Ramblings,Ron Paul,Wordpress Political Blogs — iknowkeith @ 11:05 pm

Seriously.  I was watching Fox News earlier (a show called Red Eye).  Before I go one I must say that I was trapped and the options were either watch the show or gnaw my own arm off and then use the removed fingers to gouge out my eyes.  After a few minutes of thoughtful consideration I decided to simply watch the show.  It was not an easy choice.


Anyway, let me relay to you what I witnessed.  In making fun of some environmentalist protesters in England, a guest of the show said it reminded her of Ron Paul followers.   According to her, Ron Paul started off with a spark and young people liked him but later you see those sign wavers and you are sure that if they flip the sign over it would say ‘will work for food.’  Hmmm.  First of all, I hope everyone reading this is aware that this is a ridiculous statement.  Homeless unemployed people are very rarely political activists.  But more importantly, t he biggest thing I got from it was that Fox News is still worried about the Ron Paul Revolution.  Although they spent most of their time bashing Obama, they actually took time out to discredit a previous candidate that is no longer in the running. 


Am I reading too much into this?  Probably.  But I don’t hear anyone talking about Giuliani, Huckabee, Romney or any other primary candidates that didn’t stick around.  Maybe it is because there is a significant number of state delegates that are actually participating the electoral process who are strong Ron Paul supporters and would like the see change in the Republican Party.


Maybe it is because he recently held a convention in Minneapolis at the same time as the Republican National Convention but with more people – over 12,000 showed up.   It was the official kickoff for his new lobbyist/PAC organization, CampaignForLiberty. They also had a full-day political training session, 700 attended and according to a Vanity Fair piece, about 3/4 of them plan to run for office or are already running.  Funny, I didn’t know there were 12,000 homeless people in Minneapolis.  They must have been giving out free sandwiches at the convention.


Whatever the reason, it appears that Fox News is still afraid of Ron Paul.

May 9, 2008

Mommy sure is gonna miss us!

Filed under: Life,Ramblings — iknowkeith @ 5:59 pm

As the senior editor-in-chief and the main contributor, I reserve the right to indulge in some personal stories of a whimsical nature. I realize that this is not the sort of article I typically write but I also know that there is nothing you can do about it. You can’t even take back the time you have already spent reading this post so far. Therefore, you may now continue reading about my personal life and I will go back to pondering the greater questions of the world (after I have told my story).

I just got home from an awesome four day vacation at Disneyland. It was by far the best trip I have taken in a long time. The lines were so short we were able to walk up to many rides and get on without any wait at all. The ones we did wait for were usually less than 5 to 10 minutes. I think we did 13 rides yesterday along with a couple of shows and relaxed meals. Not even lines for food!

Anyway, those of you who have been longtime followers of the Brick already know that I have two children. I took the older one (4.5 years old) on Star Tours. This is a full motion flight simulation of a space ship ride with a clumsy robot pilot. At the moment when our impending doom seemed unavoidable (a scary collision with a comet) my daughter said:

“Mommy sure is going to miss us!”

I am convinced that she was completely sincere and these were her last words (she thought). There is nothing like experiencing a ride like that with someone who really believes we were in outer space. That is what makes these rides fun. I can’t wait to take her on Space Mountain and really scare the crap out of her. Does this make me a bad parent?

April 26, 2008


Filed under: Ramblings — iknowkeith @ 12:55 pm

As editor-in-chief I would like to extend my deepest apologies to the loyal readers of the Incontiguous Brick.  I have been away on a rather long trip and was limited to particularly poor bandwidth.  I was also severely sleep deprived and may have been under scrutiny from some unnamed three letter agencies.  And I was sick.  And…

Okay.  I was also quite lazy.  It shames me to say it but not only did I fail to produce any new articles for the Brick but my highly overpaid staff of unpaid volunteers did not step up to the plate and write a damn thing.  Of course this is unacceptable (I believe there was some excuse given regarding a broken hip… seriously?) and putative action will be taken.

February 23, 2008

Sun Tzu’s wisdom and today’s folly

Filed under: China,politics,Ramblings,Warnings,Wordpress Political Blogs — iknowkeith @ 2:27 am

suntzu.jpg“He who wishes to fight must first count the cost.

When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be dampened.

If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.

Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor dampened, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity.

Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue…

In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.”

~Sun Tzu, the Art of War


From the Washington Post:

“Do you want to know who is bailing out America’s biggest banks and financial institutions from the consequences of their folly — by acting as the lender of last resort and controller of the system? Why, it’s the sovereign wealth funds, owned by such nations as China and the Persian Gulf oil producers. The new titans are coming to the rescue, if that’s the right word for their mortgage on America’s future.”

I wonder if the China’s leadership has ever read Sun Tzu. Oh crap, he was Chinese.

February 5, 2008

“Happy Birthday to me”

Filed under: Friends of the Brick,Ramblings,Ron Paul — iknowkeith @ 5:00 am

birthday-cake.pngIt is that time of year again! Although some of you are probably thinking about ‘Super Tuesday’ (as if your Diebold counted votes are really going to make a difference) and others may be more concerned with ‘Fat Tuesday’, the real party is going on right here at the Brick. It is my honor to be the first to acknowledge the birthday of our editor in chief! Yeah!!!! ~Staff Writer.

And now for a special note from the editor:

“Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to meee. Happy Birthday to me. Now stop reading this crap and go vote for Ron Paul! ~Editor, Incontiguous Brick.”

Thank you sir for those brilliant and inspired words. Seriously, if you live in one of the many states holding a primary today, GO VOTE! The Diebold thing was a joke, you really should go. And if you want to give our esteemed editor a really great birthday gift… VOTE FOR RON PAUL! ~another underpaid staff hack.

For a cash donation (an even better gift) you may contact this publication via the comments.  ~Poorly Compensated Editor, Incontiguous Brick.

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