Welcome to Major League Baseball, Starling.


Watch Starling Marte‘s home run again. I can’t get enough of this. First at-bat, first pitch, bomb.

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In preperation for Branstad’s attack on state workers during this year’s negotiation process

As we already know, Branstad is doing what he can to get an early jump on making state workers look bad prior to this year’s contract negotiaions.  His primary target is health insurance–remember how he magnaminously offered to allow state workers to voluntarily contribute 20% to their policies.  The point that this would be nothing but a backhanded paycut is well explained by Mike Owen of the Iowa Policy Project in a recent blog post:

Once and for all, let’s get one thing straight: Health benefits are part of compensation for work performed. Benefits are not “free,” any more than a paycheck is “free,” and it is absurd for anyone to suggest otherwise. Public employees receive those benefits because they put in the hours and provide the services as agreed upon by both employee and employer. They are not a gift.

I am a public school teacher and a union member.  Twice in the last four years our union has agreed to moving to a slightly less expensive insurance package in exchange for seeing more money put towards salaries in our district.  This has, no surprise, been controversial–but the move was made each time with the understanding that any savings from the change to our insurance would be transferred to salaries. As do all unions, we negotiate the total package–not just salary with insurance tossed in as a gift!

For the record, my wife is a state employee, so I do have something of a personal stake in this. Regardless, it is a fallacy to argue that health insurance is somehow separate from salary.

Brilliant. SuperPacApp: A Shazam/Soundhound type app for political ads

Every week when I listen to On the Media, I think of about a dozen things I should write about on DailyDisgust.  This is one of the rare instances when I remember to do so.

The SuperPacApp is the brainchild of Dan Siegel and Jennifer Hollett, two very well educated young people working out of the MIT Beehive Cooperative.  The app will allow users to record a snippet of a political ad and then will search their archive to find the ad in question and share who funded it and even a rating of the ad’s veracity.

From their website:

To date over $240 million has already been contributed to over 650 Super PACs, and those numbers are only going up. Most of that money will be spent on TV ads. So what exactly are all those ads trying to tell us?

With the Super PAC App, viewers can find out with ease. While watching a political TV ad, a user can hold up her phone to identify the commercial and receive objective, third-party information. The Super PAC App allows the user to rate the ad, while understanding who and how much money is behind the ad, what claims the ad is making, and whether those claims are based on facts.

In the On the Media interview, Siegel explained a desire to see the app branch out to deal with all types of advertising down the road.  What a great idea: (near) instant feedback and insight on the daily barrage of commercial messages people endure in our modern world.

It looks like the app won’t be available until the end of August, and then will be for the iPhone/Pad/Touch.  Hopefully it will take off and be available for Android soon thereafter.

Wandy Rodriguez is a Pirate. Took me completely by surprise, but in a good way.

Romney v.2002 told Olympians they didn’t build that

Romney’s jumping on the President’s “you didn’t build that” remark is fairly indicative of the vapidity of his campaign.  His whole message was based on a purposeful misconstruing of what Obama was saying.  That’s all you got, Willard?

So it sure was fun seeing the video the LA Times dug up of Romney giving essentially the same message to Olympians in 2002.

Romney in 2002: Olympians ‘didn’t get here solely on your own power’ by Morgan Little for the LA Times, Jul. 23, 2012

“You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power. For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers encouraged your hopes,” he said after praising the competitors in footage unearthed by NBC News. “Coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches and communities.”

To paraphrase how candidate Romney would respond: That’s tantamount to telling Sarah Hughes that she didn’t win her figure skating gold medal, or that Bode Miller didn’t earn his two silver medals.

The article also includes Romney’s retake on his response to the President’s comments:

“We of course have benefits from fireman and people who build roads, and teachers, and they help contribute to our society. Don’t forget by the way, that government does not provide those things. We pay for those things, all right. We’re paying for that,” Romney said.

Um…isn’t that the point?  We are paying for those things and asking the government to provide them because they help us all?  Is it socialist now to acknowledge that there exists a common good to which we all can and should contribute?

Chronic wasting disease detected in Iowa

Scary stuff. CWD has been knocking on Iowa’s door via southwestern Wisconsin for a few years now. And now it is here.

Iowa Environmental Focus

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has now been detected in Iowa.

CWD is a neurological disease that causes deer, elk and moose to develop small holes in their brain. This causes the animals to become disoriented and emaciated, and eventually die.

It’s believed that the disease spreads from animals eating grass contaminated with the excretion of an animal with CWD.

The disease was detected in a hunting preserve in Davis County.

Read about how the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is dealing with this situation here.

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