Lea Bohlman, 9/18/32-7/16/13

My mother, Lea (nickname for “Evangeline”)  Bohlman, nee Sofianos [1], passed away on July 16, 2013 at age 80 (almost 81). This was expected.

I would credit my mother with kindling my interest in politics, history and culture, among other things. I may update this further, but don’t count on it.

I am her only surviving child. My sister died in 1998. My father, Victor Bohlman, is alive at the age of 88. They would have been married for 60 years this coming March.

[1] Some official records suggest that her family name was actually spelled “Sofianas” [update: these appear to be quite a minority and are probably transcription errors]. To any genealogy buffs, her father was Demitrius (James) Sofianios and her mother was Sophie Pichinos. She was born  in Chicago, and both of her parents were born in Greece in 1895 (James) and early 1901 (Sophie).

Amusing note: the local high school teams are nicknamed the Trevians (New Trier,  Winnetka IL) and the Spartans (Glenbrook North, Northbrook IL). My ancestors are purely Trevian (e.g. from around Trier, Germany)  on my father’s side and Spartan on my mother’s side, which is unusually unmixed for someone who was born in Chicago in 1959 (my extended family, however, is slight-majority Mexican-American, with plenty of Czech, Irish, Italian and Polish members, as well as some ethnicities that I’ve probably forgotten (bur notably missing anything of African  or Asian ancestry; the US is still an awfully segregated society)).

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Two very different weeks

The events of last week led to about 20 needless funerals. The events of this week are going to lead to at least a thousand times that many needed weddings.

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Congratulations, New Yorkers

You have just doubled the number of Americans who live in a jurisdiction where government officials are forbidden from peering down the pants of couples seeking marriage licenses. Now people who would have had outlaws can have in-laws instead (that’s actually what “traditional” marriage was about, creating ties between entire families with the actual married couple being the least important part). The wedding industry in Connecticut probably isn’t so happy, though.

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Reaching for a word and missing

In a welcome development, New Mexico’s Attorney General issued an opinion stating that New Mexico would recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who married elsewhere (NM does not yet have full marriage equality). Gary King was quoted as saying:

While we cannot predict how a New Mexico court would rule on this issue, after review of the law in this area, it is our opinion that a same-sex marriage that is valid under the laws of the country or state where it was consummated would likewise be found valid in New Mexico.

Er, Gary, I think the word you were looking for is “solemnized.” As a commenter on BTB wrote, how does the state plan to determine if a marriage was consummated?

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Truly the wildest conspiracy theory I’ve ever seen

Most of my readers know that Age of Autism can come up with some real doozies, but this one doesn’t just take the cake, it takes the pie and the plate and the silverware and the tablecloth as well. Remember the plane crash that killed several key members of the Polish government? Well if we’re to believe the AoA commenter, the plane was deliberately brought down by Big Pharma because Poland didn’t offer the H1N1 vaccine last year.

I hate to say this, but the only other site that I’ve seen with the same general tone as AoA is Stormfront (I’m obviously not linking to it).

Posted in Amusement, Anti-vaccination lunacy, Conspiracy theories | 3 Comments

Groups I didn’t know existed

The Dearborn, MI Press and Guide recently ran what was basically a PR piece for the Dearborn Health Department. In it, a spokesperson for the department said

“When people go out of their way to come here, we hate to turn them away so we opened it up to everyday. When someone wants to have their blood pressure tested, whether it’s a senior or a regular aged person, we try to take care of them,” Jones said.

I never before knew that there was a category of human beings known as “regular aged people”. I suppose that, at age 51, I must be one of them.

Dearborn, MI (a town I can remember visiting when I was 4 or 5) is, of course, one of the two communities that Nevada Republican Senatorial candidate Sharron Angle has claimed to have implemented Sharia law. It’s the only community whose leadership has explicitly disavowed such an implementation (the other community, Frankford TX, has not made such a disavowal because it doesn’t actually exist).

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Clickity: A tool for simulating hard-to-perform mouse clicks

I’ve written a mouse-accessibility tool, Clickity, that provides similar capabilities to Gnome’s MouseTweaks and KDE’s KMouseTool (though the user interface is different). From Clickity’s Sourceforge homepage:

Clickity is a tray-icon program for simulating mouse clicks and drags that are difficult to perform because of limited hand use or limited pointing hardware. It will run on any X system that supports tray icons and does not require an integrated desktop environment or accessiblity framework to be installed (as of version 0.1.2 it will also run on Microsoft Windows systems). It’s capabilities are similar to those of Gnome’s MouseTweaks or KDE’s KMouseTool, though it has a different user interface. Clickity’s goal is to provide mouse-click accessibility to users of lightweight desktop environments like LXDE or XFCE or standalone window managers outside of desktop environments. Continue reading

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What’s wrong with this idea?

What if the US government made Medicare available on the open market to people under 65? It would simply become one of the options available to individuals or employers seeking healthcare coverage. It would be priced according to what the market could bear, which I suspect would be fairly high because people would be willing to pay extra for the brand name (try to imagine how much a private company would have to spend to develop a brand like that). This means that private insurers couldn’t whine about subsidized competition (OK, OK, I mean they’d have no logical reason to whine, not that that would stop them). Of course, they could start marketing Medicare supplement coverage to The Rest Of Us.

This would have several advantages. It would broaden Medicare’s risk pool, which currently consists of only the oldest and sickest. It would likely be a net non-tax-based revenue generator for the Federal government, again due to the brand premium (pun partially intended). It would provide a “public option” without having to create a new program complete with a new administrative bureaucracy. It would be an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, step towards providing universal healthcare, and one that’s consistent with American history and American culture (all countries with universal healthcare got it that way, by refining existing systems, with the possible exception of the British who had the luxury to build a new system when the old one was wartorn).

Obviously there’s something wrong with this idea, since nobody with any clout is seriously proposing it. But what? All I can come up with is that it doesn’t provide enough pie for vested interests to stick their fingers in.

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Hello world!

After several years of commenting on various blogs, and even more years than that of participating on Usenet, I’ve decided to start a blog of my own.

Why “Turnips and Potatoes”? A few days ago the New Hampshire [1] state legislature was faced with proposals to undo their recently-enacted legislation allowing same-sex marriage. Speaking in favor of repeal, one legislator argued that “a turnip is not a potato” (since this was a transcript of a spoken remark, it’s possible that it was really “a turnip is not a potatoe”). This is a rather delicious example of the Red Herring fallacy, one that even vegans [2] can enjoy.

[1] Where I don’t live

[2] Which I’m not

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