Monday, January 29, 2007

surly mondayism and assorted crabbage

Ok, see if you can tell whether I'm in a bad mood or not. You have 20 guesses.

  • Candid photo of our Glorious Leader found via Trelanea. In a just world, this pic would show that someone has mad Photoshop ski11z, but in our world it probably appears exactly as it happened. I read somewhere that you're no longer required to eat a live kitten to join the Republican Party. But some diehards maintain a stubborn devotion to the Party's age-old rituals. It's sort of like their version of celebrating Mass in Latin, or so I'm told.
  • You probably haven't noticed, and you probably wouldn't care if you had, but I'm still using the Old Blogger. I keep seeing glowing reports about New Blogger, and you'd think that as a professional tech geek I'd be really big on the whole early adopter / bleeding edge thing, but I'm not. Trailing edge all the way, baby. I'm basically convinced that if I hit the "upgrade" button, Blogger will lose every word I've ever written, and furthermore, I'm basically convinced that would be a bad thing.

    Also, I'm still deeply suspicious about all this newfangled CSS and JavaScript business -- for all we know, it may still turn out to be a passing fad, and we'll all go back to good old 7-bit ASCII text, monospaced font, preferably green on a black background, with a blinking cursor. Hey, it could happen.
  • An update on what's become of Stephanie Pierce, the woman who used to run our fair city's Church of Elvis. It's a sad story. Everyone says they loved the place, everyone babbles on about how wonderfully quirky it was, but when the proprietor falls on hard times and gets a bit too quirky, well, then what? Are longtime CoE fans rushing to her side? Well, no. Not so far, anyway. That's classic Portland: If you want to walk the tightrope, we'll all cheer for you. We'll let you bask in the spotlight, and we'll squeal with glee at your every move. We'll do that for years, well after your 15 minutes are up everywhere else. But we won't, under any circumstances, put out a safety net for you. Because in the end, as Portlanders we don't want to spend any money, and we don't want to get involved.
  • Remember a few weeks ago when I was gloating about saving my employer a big pile of money they were about to blow on a dubious outsourcing scheme? Well, they spent the money, and it's turning out exactly as dubious as I said it would be. 50% cost overrun so far, and they don't seem to have written any code yet, after endless email threads and constant teleconferences and design documents, and on and on.

    I haven't done a lot of gloating around the office, though. In the business world, one is generally not rewarded for saying "I told you so". Oh, nooo, this is the point where we all shrug and act sincerely perplexed and agree that none of us saw the damn iceberg coming, and really there was no way anyone could've guessed it would turn out so badly, etc. I know that isn't true. Hell, probably we all know that isn't true. But nobody's going to go out on a limb and say so. Oh noooo.

    It's one of life's little mysteries that we can all be perfectly decent people on an individual basis, but when we form groups over a certain size we always end up with soul-killing bureaucracies. If I had any insightful theories about that, I might have a bright career in philosophy, or maybe management guru-ism. But sadly, I don't.
  • I didn't go to the big tram grand opening party, because a.) I've already ridden the thing, and b.) There is nothing lamer than a government-sponsored party. Balloon animals for the kiddies. Yay. The same 4 or 5 musical groups that someone at city hall has on speed dial every time there's a big event. Yay. Politicians making speeches. Double yay.

    Besides, it's no fun riding on the thing when everyone gets to ride for free. Me, I've got my employer-provided monthly TriMet pass, so I can go ride the damn thing as much as I want. For whatever my share of the $60M comes to, I think I deserve to ride it a few times.
  • Speaking of that, I'm rather fascinated by the news that OHSU's selling a block of precious South Waterfront land to build an ultra-ritzy old folks' home. They're stoked about this because, apparently, they'll have all these well-heeled geezers right there at their doorstep, all of them potential test subjects.

    Call me crazy, but if I was that age, and looking for somewhere to spend my golden years in uber-upscale urban bliss, I would immediately cross this place off my list. Sure, they'll probably offer a wealth of fun vanity medical treatments, so (for example) you and your beloved Weimaraner can get botoxed together in a luxurious spa-like setting. But in the end, that's not why they want you to live here. The whole time, the medical folks will be eyeing you greedily with their beady little gimlet eyes, just waiting for you to fall and break a hip or something equally lucrative.

    In a way, this is a very, very old idea. We may be returning to the 1700s medical model, in which modern medicine existed to palliate the vague ailments of the rich and fashionable, and everyone else could go get stuffed. Typically one would go spend the social season at a fashionable and luxurious spa town (Bath, Carlsbad, etc.), and the staff would fuss over one's every minor ache and pain, and wring their hands melodramatically over one's nebulous feelings of ennui and/or Weltschmerz. Meanwhile, entire villages of common folk were regularly decimated by cholera, smallpox, and other such ailments, but no matter.

    If this sounds like fun, our Glorious Leader's new health care plan may be the plan for you. What it boils down to, as far as I can tell, is that big business has decided that their employees' health care is just too damn expensive and they don't want to have to pay for it anymore. They've tried HMO's, they've tried employee wellness plans, they've tried everything, but the costs keep increasing well over the rate of inflation, and now it's time to just throw in the towel and be done with it. Nobody wants to be the first big company to dump health coverage, because there might be bad publicity, but everyone wants it off the balance sheet. If that means casting everyone adrift, to sink or swim as they may, so be it. So the Bush plan provides political cover, giving everyone the "right" to buy individual health coverage, in the unlikely event they can afford it.
  • On the other hand, the local TV news coverage of the tram opening mentioned something about the entire 9th floor at OHSU (i.e. the "main" level, where the tram docks ) being turned into an upscale retail/restaurant complex. It's an age-old cheap shot that most doctors only got into the business to fund their real estate and golf hobbies. I'm starting to think the real estate thing has become an all-consuming passion for the guys who run OHSU. I'm starting to wonder whether they wouldn't prefer to dump all that boring medical crap altogether, and just be greedy developers 24/7. I mean, now that the tram's up and running, Marquam Hill is seriously prime real estate, with amazing views and everything. There are plenty of people out there who'd pay millions to have a view like this. One might argue the land's going to waste being used for a mere hospital.
  • Oh, and on top of everything else, the Hubble Telescope is broken again.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I can understand the bad mood/Monday pessimism, but the OHSU retirement home project is pretty sweet and also uses technology that walks the fine line between marvelous and creepy. The idea is to outfit the place w/ anonymous and binary sensors and computing infrastructure so that these people's aging can be tracked with minimal interference w/ normal processes. They don't even need to come up the hill to be subjects! This huge pile of data will help identify people at risk for major problems earlier. They may even be able to tell whether living on a floor that is designed to facilite social interaction helps you age better. Cool stuff i think, cause we'll all get there soon enough... -Anna