On Medicare For All

Now that the Green New Deal has been placed on the back burner, so to speak, the Big Issue on the Left is getting Medicare for All (MfA). This would be a complete overhaul of one of the larger sectors of the national economy (health care spending is about 18% of the GDP).

I am in favor of some sort of national health care plan (just as I am in favor of much of the Green New Deal). But as someone who will hopefully be living through the transition period, I’d like to know what I’ll be getting into.

While any sane person has to agree that making sure every American has equal access to health care, regardless of their income or financial situation, the people pushing MfA seem to be letting some serious questions about it slide. Maybe they don’t want to answer them; maybe they haven’t even thought about them enough.

So of course I’m going to ask them.

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Movie Review: Seytan (Turkey, 1974)

Back in the 70s and 80s, Turkey – or at least the Turkish film industry – didn’t seem to care much for international copyright law. If a movie was successful in the US, they’d quickly churn out their own version, rights be damned. “Turkish Star Trek” dropped a noted comedian into the Star Trek universe for (presumably) comedic effect. “Turkish Star Wars” is really a movie called The Man Who Saved the World, and is not a knock-off of Star Wars – it just ‘borrows’ a couple of space battle scenes for background footage (and steals music from Raiders of the Lost Ark). Seytan is sometimes called “Turkish Exorcist” – with very good reason. It’s practically a scene-for-scene, if not shot-for-shot, remake.

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Eurovision Time Again

Yep, it’s that time of year.

All the official videos are out, the running orders for the semifinals are set, the host city is getting ready for the crowds, bookies are giving odds…

Having looked over and listened to all the entrants, I have to say that nothing really stands out. Maybe I just haven’t listened to them enough.

Anyway, here’s the “compilation” video if you don’t want to spend over two hours listening to the songs in their entirety:

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The Limerick

The Limerick

The Powers That Be in the world of poetry and literature have decreed that April shall be National Poetry Month. The general public is encouraged to read more poetry, recite poetry, and share poems with their friends and acquaintances.

But with all that, there’s still one form of poetry that does not get any respect.

The Limerick.

I’m not going to get into the history of the form (its Elizabethan antecedents, the Maigue Poets, Edward Lear, etc.); that may be for another post. Instead, I’ll take an analytic look at it.

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Waiting For Opening Day

Overall it’s been a pretty dull off-season for Major League Baseball. Not many “blockbuster” trades, and though there were two major free-agent signings, there are still a lot of good players available. It also seems like too many teams aren’t even trying to field a good team, which has pretty much preordained the results of the regular season.

What discussions there have been involved rule tweaks to make the game play less boring, and the upcoming financial negotiations as the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is set to expire in a few years.

Nothing is ever simple enough to be blamed on one single cause, but this writer thinks that the increasing prevalence of advanced metrics (launch angle, batting average on balls in play, etc.) is having a ripple effect throughout the sport.

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Crimefighting Strategies for Bruce Wayne

I follow Hollywood news about as much as I follow what’s going on in the NFL (There was some sort important game this past weekend, wasn’t there?), so I have no clue on the ins and outs of studios and gossip. But I have seen headlines indicating that Ben Affleck no longer wishes to play Bruce Wayne / Batman.

So the studio controlling that particular franchise has to cast about looking for a replacement actor to wear the Batsuit. No doubt they will be considering the fees a new actor will demand, plus what the box office take can be expected to be given the new lead. Sure, some actors will be cheaper, but those are also likely to be the ones with less “pull” at the box office. It’s a standard thing called “return on investment”.

Speaking of which – and this is a really clumsy way to get to the main subject – what crimefighting results does Bruce Wayne get out of being Batman? How effective is being the Caped Crusader in reducing crime in Gotham?

How can he improve the return on his investment?

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Unanimous

There isn’t as much blather about Mariano Rivera being the first player unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as I honestly expected. Partly because, I suppose, that it’s been expected for a few years that he’d at least be a “first ballot” nominee, and partly because, I hope, that there’s also been a growing realization that it’s not that big of a deal.

There’s always been some griping about the Hall’s voting procedures; and the Hall has tweaked them seemingly every five years or so. Not just recently, but throughout its history (the Hall’s own website covers the many changes in the voting rules for the BBWAA, and there’s a GREAT article on the various veterans committees here). In recent years, as the Hall has become more open in its election process, attention has been drawn to the fact that no one has ever been chosen unanimously in the standard ballot process. It’s been rightly believed that given all the popular pressure in the media that someone would eventually get the Magic 100%. The only question was who.

Now that it’s happened, Mariano Rivera will become the answer to another trivia question. Because it makes no difference how you get in to the Hall of Fame.

Rivera is just as much a Hall of Famer as Ralph Kiner (made it in by two votes in his last year of regular eligibility) and Ron Santo (selected by one of the Veteran’s Committees) and Roberto Clemente (special election) and Harold Baines (wtf?). There’s nothing on the plaques that indicates the player’s voting percentage; no special alcove for the “first ballot” selections. I suppose Rivera could add a little “100%” thing to the “HoF” that he now gets to put on his signature, but no one should care. It doesn’t make him any better or greater a player than any other Hall of Famer.

And we shouldn’t forget that three other players were chosen alongside him. Edgar Martinez, whose Double saved baseball in Seattle, Mike Mussina, whose excellence often went unacknowledged until we got to see the totality of his career; and Roy Halladay who threw a perfect game in 2010, and then no-hit the Reds in the NLDS that year on his way to his second Cy Young Award.

Rivera is still responsible for the Biggest Blown Save of All Time, though.

Fixing the Senate

I’ve been reading a bit lately about a general dissatisfaction with the construction of the Senate. Seems people aren’t happy with the rule that gives every state, regardless of population, two senators. Such an arrangement gives a drastically unequal representation to the citizens of the states. Why should Wyoming have the same number of senators as California (to use the example most frequently cited) when they only have about one seventeenth of the population?

This would be a very strong argument – if it weren’t for one thing.

The Senate isn’t the only part of Congress.

There’s also the House of Representatives, which *does* have proportional representation.

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2018 in Review

It’s been five years since I started this blog, and I have to say I really am a little surprised that I’ve been keeping it going for so long. I’ve managed to come up with over 300 posts along the way – a nice average, and what I hoped to achieve. One of these days I might go through and see exactly how many reviews I’ve posted or do a ‘tag cloud’….but not today.

By far and away my most-viewed post has been “Indiana Jones and the Top Men”. I can’t figure out why this essay where I propose that the government agents knew exactly what they were doing with the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark takes that spot. I haven’t been referring people to it at all, but when you put “Indiana Jones Top Men” into your favorite search engine, it shows up in the first few results (after the links to clips from the movie and the obligatory memes / reaction GIFs).

“The Hall of Fame and the Keltner List” from 2017 has gotten a lot of views, largely because I’ve been referring people to it when commenting in threads about the Baseball Hall of Fame. I still think it’s one of my better pieces.

Even though I posted it just two weeks ago, “Terry Gillam’s Christmas Card” turned out to be the most viewed of 2018’s posts. It even bubbled in to the #10 spot for all-time views! And to think I almost forgot to post it.

My personal favorite post for the year is probably “The Greatest World Series Ever” from back in March. I use someone else’s calculations to present the Ten Greatest (i.e. most important) Plays and Games (i.e. most exciting) in the World Series, and then the Ten Greatest (again, most “exciting”) World Series of All Time. It was fun doing the research.

I’ve got two followers who regularly “like” my posts. I’m stingy with my “likes”, rarely giving them out unless I actually do read an entire post, and like it. But Sheree of View from the Back and John Grant of Noirish are kind enough to press the “Like” button on seemingly every one of my posts. So I thought it would be fair to give them a shout out here.

Sheree lives in Europe and writes about travel and cooking and bicycling. She’s got some great photographs accompanying her posts.

John is an author whom I met at a nearby science fiction convention. He’s an award winning writer of SF, fantasy, and science, but is also an authority on film noir. His blog covers books and movies from around the world that don’t exactly fit into that genre – ones he had to leave out of his 2013 work: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir: The Essential Reference Guide. I love the layout of his blog; he uses genre terms for the various tools. You don’t “search” the blog, you “Frisk the Suspect” and the “Previous Posts” lists is under the heading “Prior Offenses”.

Sheree and John are both cool people – check out their blogs, and tell them Pure Blather sent you!