Open Thread for Tuesday, October 1, 2013

As he took a carrot out of the refrigerator last evening to give to my 3-year-old granddaughter for a snack, my elder son told me that he’d been having very mundane dreams lately. For instance, he’d dreamed that he’d already given her this particular carrot (it was the longest in the bag).

Well, I can identify. Last night, I dreamed that somehow, I’d found the time to post more than 10 times that particular day, which gave me great satisfaction. I like days when I can post that often, but they seldom come any more.

That said, to make up for light posting the last few days, here’s an Open Thread for y’all to do with as you will.

Some possible topics:

  • The government shutdown: There’s plenty out there to read about this. I liked this headline in The Washington Post — “9 ways to punish Congress for a shutdown.”
  • The launch of Obamacare. Which was inevitable, all the tears and flapdoodle from the peanut gallery notwithstanding. Will it work? Will it fail? I don’t know, but the only rational approach is to give it a chance.
  • The last epidode of “Breaking Bad,” which I didn’t watch until last night, and which was amazing. They really wrapped it up right, and I did not see how that was going to happen. A perfect example of something that I did not see coming, but once it came, I realized that’s the way it had to be: The identities of the “two best hit men west of the Mississippi.” All through that scene, I’m like, “Who could that be? Who’s left whom Walt could get to do that? Whom could he trust? And it even introduced a light note into the end of a tragedy.
  • Ideas for how we can raise more money for Walk for Life, which is Saturday. We’re now at $3,156. Gimmick ideas are welcome.
  • This awesome weather.


70 thoughts on “Open Thread for Tuesday, October 1, 2013

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Direct quote from Mark Twain. It’s from Huck Finn. It’s from when the King and the Duke are running their scam pretending to be the long-lost brothers of a moneyed dead man.

      A more complete quote:

      “Well, by and by the king he gets up and comes forward a little, and works himself up and slobbers out a speech, all full of tears and flapdoodle about its being a sore trial for him and his poor brother to lose the diseased, and to miss seeing diseased alive after the long journey of four thousand mile, but it’s a trial that’s sweetened and sanctified to us by this dear sympathy and these holy tears, and so he thanks them out of his heart and out of his brother’s heart, because out of their mouths they can’t, words being too weak and cold, and all that kind of rot and slush, till it was just sickening; and then he blubbers out a pious goody-goody Amen, and turns himself loose and goes to crying fit to bust.”

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Good word. I’m heading to Court in a minute for a motion hearing. Maybe I’ll work that in on the record, since that’s how I would characterize my opposing counsel’s pending motion.

  1. Elanie Dickinson

    There’s no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?

        1. Joey

          I think you’re the greatest, but my dad says you don’t work hard enough on defense. And he says that lots of times, you don’t even run down court. And that you don’t really try… except during the playoffs.

          1. Norm Ivey

            Shanna, they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let ’em crash.

  2. FParker

    Maybe you could explain why my, and it appears only my, posts are moderated and not posting for anywhere from 5 to 24 hours later? It’s difficult to discuss anything when everyone else is using e-mail and I’m stuck with using the post office. I don’t quite understand why this suddenly started.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      First, you are not the only person whose comments are moderated. Of those who ARE on the moderation list, you are the only one who, currently, posts frequently.

      You are on the list for an ad hominem insult that you directed at another commenter recently. Totally gratuitously, you directed the following at that other person: “I’m curious, when you walk into a room, do people walk away?”

      That’s how you make the list. That’s the way it works here. For more on my civility standards, read this.

      1. Silence

        Maybe for a sizeable (3 or 4 figure) donation to the Walk for Life team and a promise to behave FParker could get himself off of the naughty list…

      2. FParker

        Brad, that’s interesting, as I recall that post was also waiting moderation and that you approved it. So I was on “the list” prior to that post.

        So I can ask a legitimate question and my posts are blocked, yet Kathryn can directly call me a troll and nothing happens. Maybe Kathryn should reread your civility standards, or you could go about this fairly and treat every member here equally.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Kathryn is discouraged from calling you or anyone else a troll. If you point out where that occurred, I’ll go back and consider whether or not to allow it.

          Note that I say “consider.” I need to see the context. Because there IS a double standard on this blog, and I make no bones about it. As you will see if you follow that link above, people who use their real, full names — and confirm to me that those are their real, full names — get more leeway. I’m much stricter with people who use pseudonyms or nicknames.

          These rules have been in place for some time. To quote from that earlier post:

          As most of y’all know, I have a double standard in trying to foster civility on this blog — I allow people who use their real names on their comments greater leeway in their comments. Although there are things that go too far even to allow named commenters to say.

          1. FParker

            If you go back to whatever thread that was, I did point it out. I asked something to the effect of whether your code of conduct allows calling others trolls.

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Here’s one idea for raising more money for “Walk for Life:” I could promise to play guitar (really, just strum chords) and sing a song of the donor’s choice, on video online, for $100.

    Does anyone think that would work? How about if I included the threat that if they don’t give anything, I’ll sing TWO songs…?

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    I was thinking of doing it this way: For $50, I sing a song of my choosing. For $75, a song chosen from the donor from a list I will offer of songs I sorta know how to sing. Then, for $100 or more, any song of the donor’s choosing, as long as I can find the guitar chords for it, and it doesn’t involve chords I find it hard to play, like B, or B flat.

    1. Silence

      I couldn’t access it either, and i was gonna buy something too, or at least add “heatlhcare” to my wish list.

      1. Doug Ross

        Having been through many software implementations, the next phase will be when different contractors (who have probably been paid extremely high rates to implement this) will start pointing fingers at each other.

        Hypothetically, if this system continues to experience technical issues for an extended period, does anyone think any government employee will lose his/her job? If Amazon put out a new system that failed, SOMEONE would be fired.

        1. Doug Ross

          Still can’t get into the system… There are times when my cynicism seems more like reality. This is one of them.

    2. susanincola

      Well, I couldn’t get on the exchange, either, so I just went over to BCBS directly on their private exchange (since I’m not eligible for the tax deduction, it doesn’t matter) and looked to see what a new plan for my family will look like, since as a consultant I have non-company insurance now, and my spouse had to go in the high-risk pool before. For the same coverage we have now, it is $600/month cheaper.
      Let’s just say, I’m more than a little happy.
      Don’t know what will happen to rates in 2015, but 2014 is going to be a very good year for me. I can put up with a few glitches in the system for $600/month…..

  5. Doug Ross

    There have been several reports today explaining the Democrats greatest fear: the death spiral. If young, healthy people don’t sign up for Obamacare, then rates will rise rapidly next year to cover all the sick people who finally get coverage. When the rates go higher, then only people who need insurance will sign up… creating another round of price increases.

    Based on polls of young people released today, fewer than two thirds plan to sign up. And why would they? The penalty for not signing up is much cheaper than the insurance.

  6. bud

    The penalty for not signing up is much cheaper than the insurance.

    Unless of course you get sick. Even if the 2/3 figure is correct that’s still a sizeable number of people who will be insured and who will contribute to the cost of their hospital stays when they get sick. Pay the penalty and that’s just money down a rat hole. Even if ALL the horrible things about Obamacare come to pass it will STILL be better that where we were heading. I just can’t understand the logic that suggests that 40 million uninsured PLUS the most expensive health care in the world PLUS one of the shortest life expectancies in the developed world is a good thing.

    1. FParker

      Let’s give it six months and we’ll see if anything changes. I’ve talked to doctors who are going to providing cash discounts and some who are toward the end of their careers are stating that they’ll likely retire from medicine within the next two years. Will the number of people visiting the ER for non-emergency treatment decline? Will ambulance rides for non-emergencies decline? I fear Obamacare is going to do more harm than good.

  7. Scout

    If you post 10 times in a day, it’s far less likely that I will get them all read, so I prefer the 2 – 3 post days, myself.

  8. Doug Ross

    Day 2 of trying to create an account on Thirty minute wait to get to the create account screen, same problem as yesterday when you get to the empty security question dropdown boxes.
    Put in random answers to blank questions and clicked next.. two minute wait and then:

    Important: Your account couldnt be created at this time. The system is unavailable.

    Yesterday, Obama tried to claim this was just like Apple. I think we’re moving closer to K-Mart right now…

    If it wasn’t ready, it shouldn’t have been turned on.

    Also, government spokemen would not reveal how many people actually were able to purchase insurance yesterday.

  9. Doug Ross

    Tried a half dozen times to login to today… no luck. Same issues as yesterday. According to what I read, one insurer in Louisiana had ZERO people buy insurance yesterday. It’s not a case of too many people trying to get to the system, it’s that the system is broken.

    This is what is known as a FUBAR project.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Considering that no one wants Obamacare, it’s weird that the website keeps crashing.
      –Andy Borowitz

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Right! It’s almost like the website doesn’t work or something.

        I mean WHO KNEW that a national healthcare exchange (where people are either motivated by a great deal on health insurance, or fear of non-compliance with the law) would have such high traffic?

        I mean, it’s *totally unexpected* that a national website, after months of ads would have a high number of people logging on. Who would have planned for that, right?

      2. Doug Ross

        Gee, I wonder if they consulted with private companies that already have websites that handle far more traffic… Ebay… Twitter… Facebook… Google… Amazon.. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of solutions already available to sign people up for accounts and present a list of security questions.
        The fact that you can’t even get past that part of the signin is not a result of too many users.

        This is a major screwup that would cause plenty of CIO’s to lose their jobs.

  10. Mark Stewart

    This couldn’t have happened at a better time. With much of the NSA furloughed, their computer power can be harnessed to host the healthcare website. That’s an executive order that should have gone out yesterday.

    Y’all realize that this is basically a denial of service attack right? On an agency that was trying to limit its budget – least it get burned for being accused of gold plating the system. They can’t win. Doug, how many times have you tried to log on since yesterday? And how many more times are you going to waste resources to satisfy your morbid curiosity? Me, I’m enjoying some MyTeeFine weather; y’all come get outside!

    1. Doug Ross

      @Mark – seriously? My half dozen attempts to find out what insurance options are available are killing the system? I am a self-employed person so I have every right to see what options are available.

      Do you have ANY evidence that this is a denial of service attack? There has been zero mention of that by anyone. I’d like to hear your technical analysis of this attack and what measures are being used to counteract it.

      I’ve built software systems all my life. This is bad engineering and lousy project management. I predicted it and I was right.

      1. Mark Stewart

        I’m not saying you are wrong Doug. I was also trying to be facetious.

        That said, I keep hearing from people that they have tried to log on “just to see”. Sounds a lot like the gas “crisis” after a Hurricane…

        1. Doug Ross

          There are software programs that can (and should) be used to simulate maximum loads on systems.

          This is a failure in execution and a result all too typical where a deadline is set and not moved regardless of the readiness of the system.

  11. Rose

    Random comment since this is an open thread:
    7yo son & friends have discovered Pokémon. Am watching husband attempt to learn it & play it with son.
    Pray for us.

    1. Scout

      🙂 I once tried to learn it too because I had a student who loved it and I tried to work it into his therapy to motivate him. I recall it was odd and confusing.

  12. Doug Ross

    Day three of trying to sign up for an account on Actually got past the security questions this morning. Got an email with a link to click to get into the system. Wow! Am I going to finally be able to get in? Click on the link and hold breath in anticipation!!! And then:

    Access Denied

    You don’t have permission to access “” on this server.

    What a joke…

  13. Herb

    Every system has its hiccups when it first comes out. I still have no desire to put Windows 8 on anything until the first Service Pack comes out. For that matter, I might not put it on at all.
    If you’re looking to find fault with something, it usually isn’t hard to do. All depends on attitude and expectations.
    Me, I’m signing up for healthcare the first chance I have, but I figured from the beginning that I’d have to wait a few days for the rush to slow down and the glitches to be smoothed out. Can’t wait to finally have some health insurance after being denied for years simply because I lived in Europe. Though maybe my face looks so bad it suggests mad cow disease.

    1. FParker

      This is why you beta test. This rollout is probably one of the most amateur that I’ve seen. It’s obvious there was no load testing done, maybe they thought people would form an orderly single line and access the system one at a time. As Doug says, three days and the system is still broken, in the corporate world this would have the entire IT department looking for work.

    2. Doug Ross

      There isn’t a competent IT professional who would call what the Obamacare website is experiencing a “hiccup” or “glitch”. It is broken. It wasn’t ready.

      To sign up 30,000,000 uninsured by the end of the year, they will need to enroll a quarter million people per day for the next three months. And the current load isn’t actually supposed to be the worst since you have to make your first payment when you enroll, most people will wait til December too do so. Think about that – a massive rush for insurance during the holiday season.

    3. Kathryn Fenner

      I am trying to deal with the fallout of installing iOS 7 on my iPad Mini, prematurely, it seems. I can no longer access GMail or update apps….

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          I finally got everything to work. It started when I disabled the stupid motion feature that has all the apps jump around…so I re-enabled it. Some people complain of motion sickness from it.

  14. ACA Computer Tech Support

    There is nothing wrong with your computer. Do not attempt to adjust the picture or refresh the screen. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image; make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your computer. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to the outer limits.

    1. susanincola

      Then you’re lucky, Herb — my experience has been more like Doug’s. I tried a few times this morning, and did finally get an account set up, but then it wouldn’t let me log in. I did the Live Chat thing, and after half an hour had someone answer the chat, only to tell me he couldn’t help me. So I called the helpline 800 number, and she was obviously having a hard time, though she was very pleasant. Simple questions like “Can you check and see if my account was actually created?” resulted in going on hold while she asked somebody how to do that. In the end, she told me the system is just “down” and “it’s crazy right now” and to try again in a day or two.

      1. Doug Ross

        Finally was able to log in after creating a second account. First attempt to start the process hung for awhile and then got an “Unexpected Error”. Tried again and was able to get to the part where it verifies my identity against Experian Credit reporting database. Tried twice to do that, answering questions related to mortgages, etc. but each time it said it could not verify my identity.

        It’s not a “glitch” when multiple steps in the process fail repeatedly. A glitch is a single small error.
        This is a train wreck.

  15. Doug Ross

    From the Washington Post:

    ““Very, very few people that we’re aware of have enrolled in the federal exchange,” said one insurance industry official, who like many in the industry, spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concern for possibly offending the Obama administration. “We are talking single digits.”

    A spokesman for one major Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in a southern state said that, as of Wednesday afternoon, it had not received word from federal health officials of any customers who had completed enrollment in the plan — even though a local news outlet had reported about a man who thought he had signed up.”

    1. Doug Ross

      Other exchanges have had to pare down their initial statistics. Covered California, that state’s subsidized insurance exchange, initially claimed that its website had received 5 million hits on October 1. They later had to revise that number down 87 percent, to 645,000. KUSI-TV in San Diego is reporting that not one policy has yet been sold on the California exchange.

  16. Herb

    I didn’t say I had bought a policy yet. That takes time to gather info and consider options. All I meant was that I had created an account and can investigate further. Tickles me pink, though, that they can’t turn me down, come Jan 1, based on pre-existing conditions.

    1. Doug Ross

      Were you able to log into the account and view options? I have been unable to get to that point yet.

        1. susanincola

          I created a new account, too, and was able to get in OK with it, but also could not get through the verify credit portion — and I know I answered the questions correctly, so I think that part just isn’t working. The second time I tried to verify, it still gave the red box with “unexpected error” at the bottom, but then gave me Experian’s phone number and a code. I called that, the code didn’t work, but she still said she was able to verify me in their system. Then I tried to continue in, but it said I was still not verified. The Experian person told me that was a lot of people’s experience, and to wait a couple of hours and try again. So I’m waiting….
          I have to agree with Doug, as far as the gateway is concerned — train wreck.

          1. Silence

            Why does the healthcare insurance exchange need to verify your credit? I thought everyone could buy insurance now. If I put a “freeze” on my credit – as many other SC taxpayers likely did after the SCDOR hacking debacle, will it prevent the health exchange website from being able to verify my identity?

          2. susanincola

            Silence, I don’t think they were actually verifying my credit — they were just verifying my identity — I should have called in “identity verification”. It’s just that Experian is doing it, and they do that my asking questions about things that they know about me because of credit reporting (like my previous employers, for instance).
            I went on with the application, btw, and I have found out that if one saves one’s data and goes back to complete the process, they take you through the entire application every time — it’s a pretty lengthy process.

          3. Doug Ross

            Exactly my experience, susanincola… I know I answered the identity verification questions correctly but it didn’t work. I haven’t gotten to the point of trying to do it by phone.

            I was able to get around it to create a profile where I supplied all my family members’ SSN and DOB info… but it failed at the end with the same error about not being verified. The entry of dependents was weird… you had to specify the relationship between myself, my wife, and kids… then my wife to the kids… then the kids to each other…. and the race selection was started with a question about whether I was Hispanic before asking my race. There was also the very depressing part where it asked about citizenship and said explicitly “You don’t have to be a citizen to qualify for healthcare coverage”. That’s nice…. why don’t we all just sign up for Canada’s system while we’re at it?

          4. susanincola

            I do know why the Hispanic question’s there, because that’s in all gov’t race checks — it’s because one can be any race and consider themselves Hispanic, so they collect those separately.
            I was told by someone on the live chat (after getting the standard scripts about high volume) that they took the system down last night to fix some of the problems, and will do the same tonight. I had gotten an email notice that there was a message related to my identity verification, which I hope is to say that their system talked to Experian’s system, and I’m all set. But I can’t tell, as there doesn’t seem to be any way to view the message itself…..

  17. Herb

    Oops, you’re right. I can’t actually look for info this morning; in fact, the whole system ‘is down for maintenance.’ I did get almost get through the identity confirmation yesterday, but got hung up on some of those questions. I’ve never seen anything so elaborate, and I wonder if they tried to make that too complicated. Anyway, what I need right now is info; I can wait for the other.

    1. Doug Ross

      Thank you, Herb, for sharing your experience. In thinking about this from a programmer’s perspective, I think they would have been smart to release the capability to create and verify an account months ago. That part of the process should be pretty standard. That would have alleviated much of the problem of people hitting the system all at once on October 1.

  18. Doug Ross

    From Andrew Sullivan – a conservative who is also pro-Obama…

    “There’s time yet to fix many of the problems. But I’m tired of the lame excuses. This has always been the top priority for this administration in domestic policy in its second term. And yet, even with a one-year delay for corporations, they blew it. Most people’s first interactions with Obamacare have been frustration at a computer screen that won’t work. Inexcusable. The team that ran a brilliant technological re-election effort could not construct a system that worked on time for their most important test of government effectiveness. And do you think any heads will roll? Me neither.

    In some ways, Obama is lucky that the GOP decided to commit political suicide by shutting down the government this week. If only the Republicans had had the restraint to let Obamacare’s disastrous early roll-out play out alone.

    Not this administration’s finest hour.”

  19. susanincola

    I went out looking for who developed this website for the gov’t, and found this somewhat ironic post on the Atlantic from June ( Turns out a “scrappy startup in a garage” was a part of it, and, personally, it looks to me like it was built by exactly that sort of group. The kind that doesn’t have rigorous testers or user interface design folks. They previoius built Drupal, which I’ve used, and it is cool — but building cool software that builds websites, and building large pieces of business software that interface with a bunch of other systems are totally different things. It sounds like content-oriented folks trying to build a data and process-oriented system. They put the emphasis on all the wrong things.

    It’s really pretty painful to read the article, actually, knowing how it is turning out.
    I’d also note, it’s ironic that the article is heavy on how great it is that all these private groups are involved, instead of it being a stodgy old government-y kind of development project. It’s all open source — the ultimate free market in the world of coding! Good example of the types of projects that don’t really lend themselves to that sort of thinking…..

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