Saturday, August 15, 2009

Public Service Announcement

I was just watching Wheel of Fortune, and I am forced to the conclusion that there are lot of people that don't bother to prepare for the game.

Since the contestants win money by correctly guessing letters that might be in the puzzle, simply using the normal distribution of letters in the English language dramatically increases the chances of winning. I mean, there's a REASON that one has to 'buy' vowels: they constitute 5 of the first 12 most common letters.

For those that would like a quick and easy 'tool' to remember, the most frequent 12 letters in the English language are (in order)

ETAOIN SHRDLU

If you'd like to see the full distribution, you can either see it as a graph in alphabetical order, or in the most- to least-used order.

If anyone reading this should happen to find themselves on WoF, and win whacking great wads of money, you're welcome to show your appreciation by sending some of it to me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Explanation, please?

I'm paying attention to all the fuss and furor over The One's health care reform program, and there are a few things that I'm not understanding. Now, I'm not a Republicrat or a Demolican, I'm not a spokesmodel for any interest group, nor a doctor, lawyer, or Indian Chief. I'm just a plain-old Mk I, Mod I human people. Perhaps some knowledgeable person could give me clear and definitive answers to a few things:
  • A lot of what I'm hearing involves affordable health care -- so just what, exactly, does "affordable" mean? Is that going to be the same for me and the schmuck next door, or is it going to be dependent on income? If it's going to be income-dependent, doesn't that mean that some folks are essentially going to be underwriting (paying for) the care their less-fortunate brethren get?
  • There's also a lot of discussion on a "public option", where "public option" translates into government-funded. If the government DOES get involved, how much would that involvement include? Simple transfer of funds from collection to disbursement? Or would the government start mandating policies, procedures, and a whole raft of other dictates? If the government IS involved in the decision-making process, what would the limits of that involvement be?
  • His Obamaness (and the Democratic party) are pitching a fit that there's a lot of astroturfing going on by opponents to Health Care Reform, and that everybody should be supporting the reform program -- except that all we have at this point are two completely different bills, one in each of the Senate and House, that aren't anywhere near ready for Presidential signature. With no single implementable bill available, we don't have any details or particulars to consider -- just a couple of incompatible vague suggestions. So just what the hell is it that we're supposed to be supporting?
  • I haven't heard any clear, definitive explanation of how all this reform is supposed to be paid for. Sure, there're a few billion here and there that can be saved via pooled drug purchases, increased efficiencies in medical facilities and practises, and so on -- but those are minuscule compared to the projected costs of the entire reform program. So where is the money coming from? Somebody is going to have to pay for all this change -- so who is it?
  • I find it telling that nobody is addressing the issue of the efficiency of any administration of this reform. Since the government doesn't have the most stellar record of efficiency, the ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstance, accountability, or restraining program growth, why in the world should any of us believe that government involvement is going to be beneficial to the process?
  • Something else that I haven't heard any mention of is what specific goals are going to be set, who's going to set them, and how we're supposed to know when they're achieved. Is this whole thing going to be turned over to a bunch of social-reformers, professional (non-government) administrators, or someone else? What, if anything, is going to be done to keep any ├╝ber-progressives from inflicting their wishes and opinions on those that don't agree with them? What reason do we have to believe that any policies that are proposed will have the greatest effect for the least cost, versus targeting anything or anyone the policy makers don't like?
  • Who's going to be in charge of this operation? What are their responsibilities, and how are they going to be evaluated? Who's going to decide how much of what should be done? How are those decisions going to be reached, and what recourse is there for those adversely impacted by the decisions?
I have to admit that I've got a deep, deep mistrust of any policy or program that is initiated, sponsored, controlled, or directed by our very own U.S. Government -- there are simply too many shining examples of gross incompetence, ineptitude, inefficiency, and flat-out dumbassery for me to view any kind of major proposal like health care "reform" with anything else.

Cat-speak

Cat Says
It means

miaowbu

Feed me.

meeow
Pet me.

mrooww
I love you.

Miioo-oo-oo
I am in love and must meet my amour outside beneath the hedge. Don't wait up.

mrow
I feel like making noise.

rrrow-mawww

Please, the time is come to tidy the cat box.

rrrow-miawww
I have remedied the cat box untidiness by shovelling the contents as far out of the box as was practical.

miaowmiaow

Play with me.

Miaowmioaw
Have you noticed the shortage of available cat toys in this room?

mmeww
I believe I have heard a burglar. If you would like to go and beat him senseless, I shall be happy to keep your spot in the bed warm.

mioawmioaw
Since I can find nothing better to play with, I shall see what happens when I sharpen my claws on this handy piece of furniture.

raowwwww

I am not amused by your shenanigans. Cease at once!

mrowwwww
I am now recalling, with sorrow, that some of my private parts did not return with me from that visit to the vet.

Roww-maww-roww
I am so glad to see that you have returned home with both arms full of groceries. I will now rub myself against your legs and attempt to trip you as you walk towards the kitchen.

gakk-ak-ak
My digestive passages seem to have formed a hairball. Wherever could this have come from? I shall leave it here upon the carpeting.

mow
Snuggling is a good idea.

moww
Shedding is pretty good, too.

mowww!
I was enjoying snuggling and shedding in the warm clean laundry until you removed me so unkindly.

mroow
I have forced my body into a tiny space in order to look cute. How'm I doin?

Miaow! Miaow!
I have discovered that, although one may be able to wedge his body through the gap behind the stove and into that little drawer filled with pots and pans, the reverse path is slightly more difficult to navigate.

Mraakk!
Oh, small bird! Please come over here.

ssssRoww!
I believe that I have found a woodchuck or similar small animal. I shall now act terribly brave.

mmmrowmmm

It is certain that the best tasting fish is one you have caught yourself.

mmmmmmm
If I sit in the sunshine for another hour or so, I think I shall be satisfied.

Mreoaw

I do believe that you are failing to pay sufficient attention to me.

Mreeeow
Do you serve catnip with that?

Miaooww! Mriaow!
Since you are using the can opener, I am certain that you understand the value of a well-fed and pampered cat. Please continue.