Back to the Moon

Well, actually watching Duncan Jones’ ‘Moon’ on cable. Fine screenplay from Nathan Parker, amazing acting from Sam Rockwell and himselves, as well as a fine performance by Kevin Spacey present in voice only.

I’ll excuse the lack of diversity just for this time since Sam Rockwell was the only actor on camera, except for Dominique McElligott as his earthbound wife, Tess. That role requires Ms. McElligott to be beautiful, which is not a stretch.

Have you seen any smart and provocative films lately? How come they can spend a gazillion on making stuff explode but have so much trouble finding a good screenwriter? I have a short list, a very short list, of movies I like.
Three Brothers
Fast, Cheap and Out of Control
American Splendor

The Smartest Guys in the Room

Remember Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room? The California energy corporation that stole and mismanaged piles of money, subjected California to rolling brownouts, laughed at the people they were robbing? Remember their poor brainwashed, fired employees whose retirement funds of Enron stock was only good to line the catbox?

We hear Enron traders laughing about “Grandma Millie,” a hypothetical victim of the rolling blackouts, and boasting about the millions they made for Enron. As the company goes belly up, 20,000 employees are fired. Their pensions are gone, their stock worthless. The usual widows and orphans are victimized. A power company lineman in Portland, who worked for the same utility all his life, observes that his retirement fund was worth $248,000 before Enron bought the utility and looted it, investing its retirement funds in Enron stock. Now, he says, his retirement fund is worth about $1,200.

Michael Lind at Salon remembers. His post today is a 101 on how we got into this mess…

Beginning in the 1970s, Democrats and Republicans alike dismantled the regulatory systems that a previous generation of Democrats and Republicans had constructed in the 1930s and 1940s. In electricity generation and distribution, airlines and trucking, as well as finance, the conservatives and neoliberals of the last generation dismantled New Deal-era regulations. Entranced by a naive Econ 101 view of markets, the champions of deregulation promised market miracles that did not happen while failing to foresee disasters that did.

The Republicans in Congress have united to filibuster finance reform. They are the same party that pushed deregulation with evangelical zeal, and for thirty years have been constructing the myth of virtuous bankers and brilliant financiers who will save us all if only we don’t ask questions or trouble them with rules.

Let’s revisit a true crime story, and let the Republicans go on record as a party united to defend ‘too big to fail’. The Democrats don’t have clean hands either, and they need some serious pressure from ‘we the people’ because money talks louder than a bunch of people writing blogs. Vote and make it count.

Is Greed An Alien Concept?

According to British scientist Stephen Hawking, E.T. and his alien compadres are somewhere out there in the vastness of the universe and presumably possess the soul of an investment banker. If you thought complex derivatives and other financial weapons of mass destruction were scary, just wait until the aliens arrive to plunder the planet for personal profit. Like Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers, the Earth will go belly up, and we’ll all be homeless. Well, everyone except the crafty folks at Goldman Sachs, who bet against the planet’s survival. And maybe the citizens of Arizona, who don’t take too kindly to illegal aliens.

Anyway, here’s what Hawking had to say:

Aliens may exist but mankind should avoid contact with them as the consequences could be devastating, British scientist Stephen Hawking warned Sunday.

“If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” said the astrophysicist in a new television series, according to British media reports.

The programmes depict an imagined universe featuring alien life forms in huge spaceships on the hunt for resources after draining their own planet dry.

“Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach,” warned Hawking. [link]

Providence in NYT

Cool to see a local business, Home Instead, featured in the NYT today. Also cool that it’s my profession, home care nursing.

Today’s article, ‘A Graying Population, a Graying Work Force’ profiles some of the workers and their clients. It’s demanding work, essential work and fulfilling.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — One recent morning Antonia Antonaccio, a home care aide, got a call to help an elderly couple whose regular aide could not make it. The regular aide, who is 68 years old, had thrown out her back.

Ms. Antonaccio said she empathized. Sometimes her legs hurt from going up and down stairs. “But it’s nothing I pay attention to,” she said. “I don’t have the time.”

Ms. Antonaccio is 73.

In an aging population, the elderly are increasingly being taken care of by the elderly. Professional caregivers — almost all of them women — are one of the fastest-growing segments of the American work force, and also one of the grayest.

Not all the home care workers are older. Some are young women just entering the work force. Some are caring for children or parents and need flexible hours. The wages are low, and not all home care workers have health insurance themselves.

I hope that health care reform will remedy this injustice. Right now the years before Medicare kicks in are years of risk for many workers. Health care security would free them to try less conventional jobs outside of the forty hour grind.

What My Doctor Prescribed

Regular readers will be shocked to hear that Ninjanurse, on her last physical exam, was not found to be in perfect health. Sitting in a car for half the work day, fighting the traffic up and down Rt.95 in a car the size of a golf cart, followed by a relaxing few hours of pointing and clicking on the net does not tone up your cardiovascular. My breakfast of a pot of coffee in the morning and the Ben and Jerry’s at night have not been conducive to weight control.

This is harsh, and grossly unfair, but there it is. My doctor called me into his office and gave me a prescription for Vitamin-Ex.

I really appreciate a doctor who would rather prescribe common sense than another pill. Prescription drugs are lifesaving if they’re used wisely, but they’re not a substitute for eating right and exercising. Let me note that there is not a big lobby for integrating activity into daily life. A physical therapist once said to me, ‘if it’s physical, it’s therapy’. But you won’t see a commercial urging you to ‘ask your doctor’ for a bike path.

My doctor doesn’t get free pens and sticky notes, much less free lunches, for prescribing Vitamin-Ex–in fact he could make more money if he didn’t take the time to counsel his patients on health.

If you want to know more, visit Dr. Berg on Vitamin-Ex. Tell him Ninjanurse sent you.

Just Wondering…

• Why senior staff members at the Securities and Exchange Commission, who were found to be “surfing Internet pornography when they should have been policing the financial system,” weren’t satisfied with viewing the naked greed of bankers screwing the American people?

• Whether Senator John McCain, who is facing “a tough primary challenge from former radio-talk-show host and blowhard congressman J. D. Hayworth,” was actually the recipient of “the world’s first full-face transplant”?

• If privacy is, like, so 20th century?

• How it came to be that Jon Stewart, the satiric host of The Daily Show, demonstrates greater journalistic daring and integrity than much of the mainstream media?

• Now that Archie comics will feature a gay character, whether Batman and Robin will come clean about their relationship?

• Why my three cats (two of whom are shown below) fail to understand the concept of the weekend and insist on meowing and scratching at my bedroom door at 5:30 in the morning?

Caboodle and Zooey relax on the couch