Archive - 2014

November 13th

Palm Greasing Now Has an App

    Uber, the car-summoning service, got some flak not long ago for "surge" pricing. Customers complained about its policy of raising prices charged for trips at times of high demand. That might happen on New Year's Eve, in the teeth of a monsoon or, less dramatically, during an especially busy lunch hour.

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Republicans, Meet Science

    Just days before the midterm elections, we got the latest alarm: The globe is heating up like a griddle, and we're just lolling here like eggs.

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The World Is Fast

    We've just had a nonsense midterm election. Never has more money been spent to think so little about a future so in flux. What would we have discussed if we'd had a serious election? How about the biggest challenge we're facing today: the resilience of our workers, environment and institutions.

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A case for compulsory voting

    A thought experiment in the election's aftermath: What if, instead of focusing on making it harder for people to vote, we made voting mandatory?

    Indulge me in a rant against the phantom menace of voter fraud. The efforts to suppress it are barely disguised Republican moves to hold down minority votes that would, presumably, go to Democrats.

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A feisty nurse vs. Ebola panic

    Nurse Kaci Hickox is still at large, despite efforts by two governors to put her back in captivity.

    As such, she has become a threat to public health or a hero to the cause of freedom, science and good sense, depending on your point of view.

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A Prescription for Better Health

    Here’s a typical scene in any American checkup: The doctor walks in to find the patient sitting on the table. “Well, your cholesterol is too high,” the doctor tells the patient. “I can prescribe something for it, but the real solution will be diet and exercise.”

    The patient leaves that day with a bottle of Lipitor and maybe a pamphlet about healthier living habits.

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Afghanistan’s Poppy Output Hits New Highs

    I have breaking news from the frontlines of the war.

    No, not the new war in Iraq. That really is Iraq War III for us — our nation’s third trip there in just 25 years. Maybe the third try will be the charm, though I really don’t think there’s anything charming about it.

    Nor do I mean our wars in Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, or…oh, who can keep up?

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Always Look on the Bright Side

    Our topic for today is: looking on the postelection bright side.

    The polling places hadn't even opened before the Senate's right-wing firebrand, Ted Cruz, was demanding that the majority-leader in-waiting, Mitch McConnell, take a hard line against President Barack Obama or risk losing his new job. Cruz is from Texas, and he wants to re-create the Alamo, if you can imagine Obamacare in disguise as the Mexican army.

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America's Broken Politics

    Let's face it: The American political system is broken.

    The midterm elections were a stinging repudiation of President Barack Obama, but Republicans should also feel chastened: A poll last year found Congress less popular than cockroaches.

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Citizens United Ruling Resonates In Midterm Results

    Look at it this way: At least the 2014 midterm elections are over.

    Maybe the most clueless pronouncement ever made by a U.S. Supreme Court justice was Anthony Kennedy's comment in the 2010 Citizens United case arguing that unlimited "independent (campaign) expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption."

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