Archive for March 23rd, 2004

Just Our Luck – Medicaid Broke in 2019

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Medicare will have to begin dipping
into its trust fund this year to keep up with expenditures and will go
broke by 2019 without changes in a program that is swelling because of
rising health costs, trustees reported Tuesday.

Social Security’s finances showed little change, and its projected insolvency
date remained 2042.

What a coincidence! Medicare will run out in 2019 – the year the
Dowbrigade becomes eligible! It’s enough to make a lesser mind paranoid.
Actually,
this might be good news for the Dowbrigade, since our social security
checks will keep coming until we hit 89. At this moment a secret conclave
of shaman, herbalists, witch doctors, lamas and assorted other purveyors
of esoteric knowledge are working on the ultimate medicine. The final
solution, on the health front. One capsule cures all.

Of course, it will not be available to the general public, since
the anticipated supply will be quite limited, and pharmaceutical companies
and world leaders would literally kill for the formula if they knew it
existed.  However, limited quantities may be available to readers
of the Dowbrigade News, through DB Virtually Natural Pharmaceuticals. Stay
tuned for Paypal info….

story from AP

photo from Worth1000

The Blob that Ate the Black Sea

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They called it "the blob that ate the
Black Sea." And now the world’s most dangerous American biological
export — a jellyfish about the size of a man’s hand — has moved east
and is devouring the Caspian Sea.

This ecological monster, a voracious jellyfish called Mnemiopsis leidyi, was
accidentally transported from the backwaters of the US eastern seaboard two decades
ago in the hull of a ship. When the ship emptied its ballast water into the Black
Sea, the jellyfish began its rampage.

Last month, a five-nation group of scientists decided that the best hope for
saving the Caspian Sea’s caviar and restoring the Black Sea’s anchovies lies
with yet another gelatinous stowaway. For three years beginning later this year,
Iranian researchers will release small numbers of specially bred predator jellyfish
named Beroe ovata along the coastline of the Caspian Sea, hoping they will consume
their troublesome cousins and then die off.

Sounds risky to us. The Dowbrigade has had a number
of
embarassing
run-ins
with both jellyfish and Iranians, and the combination
"Prediator Jellyfish" could be dangerous.Is Tom Ridge aware of what is
going on?

from The Boston
Globe

Crossword Conundrum

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The Dowbrigade, like the
Redhead
, has long been a fan
of the daily crossword in the Boston
Globe
.  Frankly, the main reason
for this is that the crosswords in the New York Times are just too damn
hard. You
practically
have to
be a Nobel Prize winning polyglot with a photographic memory to finish
their Sunday puzzles without help, and if you do need help you have a
choice between doing your research via Google, which we consider cheating,
or paying $3.95 per clue to call the Times for the correct word, which
we consider a blantant rip-off useful only to those with both too much
time on their hands and more money than they know what to do with.

On the other hand, the crossword in the Daily Metro, distributed free
on the MBTA, is much too easy to be any fun. Anybody
know
a six
letter
word for "lacks intelligence"?

The Globe, like the third option in the Goldilocks tale, seemed just
right. It usually took us between 20 and 30 minutes to finish, and if
we got frustratingly stuck, the answer was always there on the Comics
page.  We started our day with a feeling of accomplishment when
we were able to complete it without looking, which was about half the
time. Plus, we usually learned a new word or two, which is definitely
a plus in the Dowbrigade’s book. From today’s puzzle, for example, how
many of you knew that a "Sumpter" was a pack animal?  We
thought it was a fort!

So it was with some dissapointment when we saw last week that the editors
of the Globe had adopted the mercenary methodology of its nominal parent,
the NYT, and no longer included the answers in that day’s paper.  They
would, we were advised, be available in the NEXT day’s paper. Who keeps
the paper from one day to the next? Norma Yvonne would kill me. And if
you can’t wait, you can get the answers over the phone, for 3 bucks a
pop.

Now, we know the newspaper business in the United States has been waning
for years, and we are sure they are searching for additional revenue
streams, but was it really necessary to turn one of life’s little pleasures
into yet another reminder of the crass commercialism which is the hallmark
of our Times?

How rare it is to have a wish granted, without even filing a formal
request! Today, we were delighted to see that the puzzle is back where
it belongs, with the answers as well, back on the comics page.  For
free!

In addition, there is an excellent, on-line
Shockwave version of the puzzles
available on the web site, so
we can continue to enjoy this diversion next month while we sip our
morning coffee and stare out
at the endless breakers caressing the pristine Pacific beach in Manta,
Ecuador. (All our non-Boston readers can see it there as well).

Enlightened by elation, we finished today’s puzzle in a near record
14 minutes, and without looking at the answers once!