December 25, 2008

A Follow-Up to What's Wrong with America...

Rachel Maddow, who I've recently discovered (apparently, I'm a little behind the times), once again lays out how absurd this bailout has been.

In summary, have you ever filled out forms for a loan? Maybe filled out a FAFSA application? Dealt with, say, your insurance company? I'm sure when you did, all you had to do was fill out two pages, one of which was nothing more than contact information. Right? HA! FAFSA, for example, has been widely regarded as very difficult, if not impossible, to fill out.

Now let's say you're a bank that needs federal assistance from the $700 billion TARP program funded by taxpayers. How long is your form? Yep, two pages, one of which is simply contact information. And, as Rachel Maddow says, the other half is basically "How much money do you want? Is there anything else we should know?"

Don't believe me? Google "TARP Application" and visit the first hit.

Meanwhile, attempts by the Associated Press to figure out where all the money has gone have been rebuffed. Could you imagine getting a loan from a bank, then when they ask why you haven't paid it back yet, you simply say "I don't want to tell you what happened to the money?" Not going to work. Unless, once again, you're a bank getting taxpayer funds.

Seriously, $700 billion would be better spent on things like universal health care, job creation, and infrastructure improvements. Rather, we're giving it away to banks with no accountability. Less accountability than the banks use to loan it to us, because when they loan it to us, you're damn sure they're coming after you.

December 21, 2008

What's wrong with America...

Now for something a little different:

According to an Associated Press analysis, of the 116 banks that received $188 billion of taxpayer money last year, the average paid to each of the banks' top executives was $2.6 million in salary, bonuses, and benefits.

For someone who makes Federal minimum wage (which will soon be $7.25 an hour, so let's use that number) and works 40 hours a week, for fifty-two weeks a year, for every year between age 18-65, they will make a grand total of $708,760 IN THEIR LIFETIME.

That's 27% of what the executives made last year alone, and the executives couldn't even do their jobs right.

To quote Mr. Barney Frank: "Most of us sign on to do jobs and we do them best we can. We're told that some of the most highly paid people in executive positions are different. They need extra money to be motivated!"

America has a huge poverty problem, and either our priorities in this bailout are clearly misplaced, or the wealthy are bilking us taxpayers for all they can get their hands on. Or both.

December 19, 2008

Not hard at all

December 18, 2008

New Years in Boston?

December 16, 2008

How Harvard Works

December 14, 2008


December 12, 2008

An "M-to-F Kind of Girl" - Awkard

Imagine someone tells you that she is an "M-to-F" kind of girl. And then you have a whole conversation about how that influences where she wants to hang out and who she hangs out with.

And you have this conversation that seems kind of strange, but you figure, whatever, I'm a socially awkward person who can make any conversation strange.

And then it turns out that "M-to-F" meant Monday-to-Friday, kind of like 9-to-5. Aside from the fact that I'm not sure what "I'm a 9-to-5 kind of girl" means, I left so confused. And I don't think she ever realized that we were on different pages at all.

Straight (non-trans) people sometimes make my head hurt.

Erase Hate

December 09, 2008

Notice to all Employers

Health care is not some unnecessary cost you can thoughtlessly put into your "cost-cutting measures." Especially when you start raising deductibles by the thousands of dollars!

Some people have chronic conditions and know they will reach the deductible every year. And just as bad, people without chronic conditions may not realize to budget this ridiculous raised amount.

The following arguments should never be made: (Note: Not all of these arguments were made by the same employer, as far as I know).

  • Such a small number of our employees would have even been impacted by this policy had it been in place last year.
  • One of the purposes of health insurance is cost-sharing (or risk spreading, or whatever you want to call it). You made my the point! So few of your employees would have each had to pay thousands of dollars. So why are you putting a large burden on a few people rather than paying a relatively modest amount overall.
  • When someone complains and say they will meet the deductible every year, you should not say, "Well, we gave you a raise equal to x% of the new deductible." And the great news is that despite the economy, we are not cutting your pay!
  • You are cutting my effective pay by approximately (100%-x%)*(new deductible-old deductible).
  • This will incentivize frugal use of health care resources.
  • You should try receiving less medical treatment (/fewer doctor visits/fewer specialist visits/whatever).
  • Health care is a benefit, not a right. We're already paying for a lot for you.
  • I'm not dignifying all of these with a response.
Stupid employer-dependent health insurance.

That is all.

Guilty Confession # 1

December 08, 2008

My Beloved

December 07, 2008

Reading comprehension problems at the Herald

So, ok, I know the Herald isn't known around these parts for its super-high journalistic standards, especially in matters of the queer. But honestly?

Lindsay Lohan still undecided
By Herald Wire Services

Lindsay Lohan isn’t sure what she is. The actress told Harper’s Bazaar magazine that she’s not a lesbian but she’s not bisexual either. “I think it’s pretty obvious who I’m seeing,” the actress said. But, when asked again if she’s bisexual her reply was “Maybe. Yeah” When asked if she’s a lesbian, Lohan replied “No.” Such confusion . . . .

In what world is "Yeah, I'm bisexual; no, I'm not a lesbian" all that confusing?

Let Us Love

December 05, 2008

Reader submission: Oxfords

Click to enlarge.

December 04, 2008

Announcement: More zine pages, coming soon to Quench blog!

Hi folks,

As the quench team has gotten more geographically spread out, we've had more and more trouble publishing paper issues like the ones you see in the sidebar to the right. While we are all for saving paper, in the past this has meant that the wonderful zine pages we've received from readers (and created ourselves) have not seen the light of day.

No more. Starting tonight, we'll be going through our backlog of paper page contents and posting the awesomeness for all to see.

Thanks for reading, and please remember that you can submit pages and posts to us for publication.

December 03, 2008

Harvard Has a Bigot!

For those of us that have been at Harvard sometime during the last four years, we are well aware of the bigoted ranting of one Ms. Lucy Caldwell. For the record, "Lucy M. Caldwell, '09, a Crimson editorial writer, lives in Adams House. Her column appears on alternate Wednesdays." Unfortunately, I believe that The Crimson has once again forgotten to include the word "bigoted" in front of "column."

Two weeks ago, Ms. Caldwell wrote a horrific article entitled "Misguided Activism", which chided "gay activists" for protesting the Proposition 8 electoral results. Her article, which can be read here, prompted me to send in the following Letter to the Editor. As of today, it has not been published.

I am disappointed to read Lucy M. Caldwell’s poorly-researched and poorly-reasoned column from Wednesday, November 19, 2008. Ms. Caldwell makes the allegation that “gay Americans are not being denied rights” and that “the push for same-sex marriage is a rally for additional rights.” Perhaps Ms. Caldwell should be reminded that the same argument was once used to justify state bans on interracial marriage. The reasoning was that African-Americans were not being denied rights because African-Americans could not marry Caucasians, just as Caucasians could not marry African-Americans. Thus, the argument claimed, there was no discrimination based upon race. The United States Supreme Court rejected this (clearly racist) logic in 1967 and ruled that state bans on interracial marriage violated the federal Constitution in Loving v. Virginia, even despite the fact that the general public overwhelmingly opposed interracial marriage, as evidenced by a Gallup poll in 1968 which found that 73% of respondents disapproved of marriage between “whites” and “non-whites.” I seriously doubt that Ms. Caldwell would suggest that such a foundational case in the civil rights movement was actually caused by “unchecked judicial activism.” When the general population or the legislature votes to eliminate the rights of a protected class, it is the responsibility of the courts to intervene and uphold the principle of Equal Protection under the law. The “popular democratic processes” Ms. Caldwell lauds should never be used to enshrine abject discrimination into a constitution, whether state or federal. Even the “much-beloved” Barack Obama, who publicly expressed his opposition to Proposition 8, agrees with that.

And yet, despite her inane rantings, once again Ms. Caldwell is back. This time, she writes about "Lessons from Mumbai."

In the article, she claims: "Islam has come to possess more extremist members than any other modern religion." Yes, you read it right, Islam has more extremists than any other modern religion. Wait until you read what she cites to prove it.

You ready?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

She begins her final paragraph with the following conclusion: "If there existed any doubts that radical Islam poses one of the biggest threats to our time, let the horrifying news from Mumbai erase those. This is a threat far greater than the damage wrought by a dissatisfactory Bush administration or by domestic disagreements."

Perhaps, however, Ms. Caldwell should open a newspaper. If you calculated "biggest threat" based upon number of deaths, then I believe "heart disease" still ranks by far and away as the "biggest threat to our time." Perhaps Ms. Caldwell should follow the liberals in advocating for improved health care rather than retaliatory attacks against entire religions because of a few crazy people. And while I do not know whether Ms. Caldwell is religious, I am sure that there are a few crazy and dangerous people in whatever religion she might be. Perhaps she should be taking a stand to control them, but alas, I have been unable to locate said Crimson editorial to date. Nor do I think I need to respond to her Bush administration claim other than to say that the damage wrought by a "dissatisfactory Bush administration" is not limited to "domestic disagreements", but rather includes the tens or maybe even hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian lives lost in Iraq due to our misguided American invasion. Yes Ms. Caldwell, President Bush just may be the "biggest threat to our time." What do you have to say to that?

In short, Ms. Caldwell should probably abstain from writing her columns. When she is not insulting the LGBTQ community or Muslims, she often can be seen claiming that poor people are dumb.

Sadly, I wish I could say that The Crimson should have higher standards for publication. Instead, it appears they don't know how to use a dictionary! (See this article, in which they write: "There is no question that this will diminish our quality of life and dim students’ prospects in the near future. But that is what a recession does. We cannot expect others to pay the penultimate price without shouldering part of the weight ourselves." Someone should kindly inform the Crimson staff that "penultimate" means "second to last".)

For shame.