Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Monday, January 28, 2019

How Cold Is It?

Temps Around 53

Getting Warmer in Wisconsin

How Cold Is It?

An annotated thermometer
(degrees Fahrenheit, then Celsius)

+50 / +10
• New York tenants turn on the heat
• Wisconsinites plant gardens

+40 / +4
• Californians shiver uncontrollably
• Wisconsinites sunbathe

+35 / +2
• Italian cars don't start

+32 / 0
• Distilled water freezes

+30 / -1
• You can see your breath
• You plan a vacation in Florida
• Wisconsinites put on T-shirts
• Politicians begin to worry about the homeless

+25 / -4
• Boston water freezes
• Californians weep pitiably
• Wisconsinites eat ice cream
• Cat insists on sleeping on your bed with you

+20 / -7
• Cleveland water freezes
• San Franciscans start thinking favorably of LA
• Cranberry bog frost warnings

+15 / -10
• You plan a vacation in Acapulco
• Cat insists on sleeping in your bed with you

+10 / -12
• Politicians begin to talk about the homeless
• Too cold to snow
• You need jumper cables to get the car going

0 / -18
• New York landlords turn on the heat
• You plan a vacation in Hawaii
• Wisconsinites go swimming

-5 / -21
• You can hear your breath
• Sheboygan brats grilled on the patio, yum!

-10 / -23
• American cars don't start
• Too cold to skate

-15 / -26
• You can cut your breath and use it to build an igloo
• Miamians cease to exist
• Wisconsinites lick flagpoles

-20 / -29
• Cat insists on sleeping in your pajamas with you
• Politicians actually do something about the homeless
• People in LaCrosse think about taking down screens

-25 / -32
• Too cold to kiss
• You need jumper cables to get the driver going
• Japanese cars don't start
• Milwaukee Brewers head for spring training

-30 / -34
• You plan a two-week hot bath
• Pilsener freezes
• Bock beer production begins
• Wisconsinites shovel snow off roof

-38 / -39
• Mercury freezes
• Too cold to think
• Wisconsinites button top button

-40 / -40
• Californians disappear
Car insists on sleeping in your bed with you
• Canadians put on sweaters
• Record ice-fishing catch on Lake Mendota

-50 / -46
• Congressional hot air freezes
• Alaskans close the bathroom window
• Michiganders put gloves away, take out mittens
• Green Bay Packers practice indoors

-60 / -51
• Walruses abandon Aleutians
• Sign on Mount St. Helens: "Closed for the Season"
• Boy Scouts in Eau Claire start Klondike Derby

-70 / -57
• Glaciers in Central Park
• Superior snowmobilers organize trans-lake race to Sault Ste. Marie
• Hudson residents replace diving boards with hockey nets

-80 / -62
• Polar bears abandon Baffin Island
• Birkebeiner at Hayward

-90 / -68
• Edge of Antarctica reaches Rio de Janeiro
• Lawyers chase ambulances for no more than 10 miles
• Minnesotans migrate to Wisconsin thinking it must be warmer

-100 / -73
• Santa Claus abandons North Pole
Girl Scouts in Eau Claire start Klondike Derby
• Cheeseheads pull down earflaps

-173 / -114
• Ethyl alcohol freezes
• Only Door County cherries usable in brandy Manhattans

-297 / -183
• Oxygen precipitates out of atmosphere
• Microbial life survives only on dairy products

-445 / -265
• Superconductivity

-452 / -269
• Helium becomes a liquid

-454 / -270
• Hell freezes over

-456 / -271
• Illinois drivers drop below 90 MPH on I-90
• Madison study committee on downhill water flow turns in findings

-458 / -272
• Incumbent politician renounces campaign contribution

-460 / -273 (Absolute Zero)
• All atomic motion ceases
• Wisconsinites allow as how it's getting a mite nippy

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Monday, January 07, 2019


Wisconsin has a lieutenant governor named Mandela!

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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

No System To It

Rob Thomas is the film critic for The Capital Times here in Madison, and I always find his reviews to be informative, insightful, and well written. The one he did last week was no exception. It was a sympathetic interview with Milwaukeean Steve Burrows, director of the HBO documentary Bleed Out, about his decade-long struggle to find justice for his mother, who had been seriously disabled in what should have been a routine medical procedure.

Something about the review nagged at me, however, and I finally realized that it was the use of the term “health care system” in the headline and thruout the article. It perpetuates the mistaken notion that there is such a thing in America.

There is not.

I’ve done a fair amount of systems analysis in my time, and I’ve got a good grasp of what a system is supposed to be. Above all, it’s something that’s been designed, something to serve an intended purpose, with all its parts properly constructed to fit together smoothly to produce the desired result. If that were the case here in the US, we’d actually have proper health care for everybody. But it’s not. It’s stupendously excellent, world-class, cutting-edge health care for the privileged few, occasionally adequate and fitful attention for the bulk of people in the middle of the economic spectrum, sincere wishes of good luck for the people between jobs, bad nutrition and emergency-room visits for the poor, and “suck it up or please die quickly” for the desperate.

No, health care in America is like our measurement system. Not neat, orderly, consistent, and easy to learn and use like the metric system used by 95% of the world’s population. Instead it’s a cobbled-together patchwork of disparate profit centers like hospitals, pharmacies, independent medical practices, X-ray and lab-test providers, insurance companies, employee-benefit plans, lawyers, accountants, marketers, lobbyists, claims deniers, and of course corporate CEOs whose only joy greater than their annual 8-digit bonuses is pissing all over their competitors. The sole purpose of each of those independent components is not health care or patient sympathy but the ability to make a buck. And if there’s no money to be made, there’s no service.

That’s why, for example, you can get mail delivered to your front door 6 days a week for any address in the United States, or flip a switch and be assured that the lights will go on anywhere in America, but good luck if you need an emergency appendectomy in the northwoods of Wisconsin. No money in it, you know.

And that’s Wisconsin. Imagine what it’s like in Appalachia. Or Alaska. Or ranch country in Wyoming. Or Indian reservations in the Southwest. Or even inner-city Los Angeles, with no public transportation.

We can do better than this. Congress needs to buckle down and give us a serious health-care SYSTEM, like every other industrialized democracy on Earth! Sorry to say, they apparently have higher priorities. Instead of health care, they’re focusing on wealth care. But my rant on big money in politics is a topic for another day.

= = = = = =
Health tip: If you can’t afford a doctor, go to an airport. You’ll get a free X-ray and a breast exam. And, if you mention al-Qaeda, they’ll throw in a free colonoscopy.

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