New York health insurance for the self-employed

Back in early December I asked readers for health insurance recommendations. I received the following:

I also called Empire Blue Cross for some quotes because I had a Blue Cross/Shield policy for a while in California. They were the most expensive quote by far ($450+ a month for individual coverage), though they also offered a sort-of "emergency only" policy for around $150/month. But it didn't cover doctor fees, so from what I could tell, if you got run over by the bus, it would cover the ambulance and hospital charges, but not the surgeon's fees for reassembling you.

I've decided to go with Working Today because it seemed to provide the most benefits for the price, offered a good website which explained what I needed to know, was recommended by many people, and provided (so far) a pretty painless sign-up process.

It's still insanely expensive compared to what I paid in California -- four times more a month -- but I haven't turned up anything else that meets my requirements (which were individual coverage, low monthly rate, protect me from bankruptcy if some disaster befalls me). What I've ended up with is far more comprehensive coverage at a much higher rate than I wanted to spend.

Groups Sue NYC Over Permit Refusal

According to this AP article, Groups Sue NYC Over Rally Permit Refusal, New York City has refused to issue a permit for the anti-war march United for Peace and Justice wants to hold on February 15, 2003.

Chris Dunn, a staff attorney for the New York Civil Liberties Union, who filed the lawsuit for the anti-war group, said the city had refused to permit a parade under any circumstances, citing concerns over congestion and related issues.

The court papers noted that the city routinely issues permits for large-scale marches in midtown Manhattan, including the St. Patrick's Day parade and the Thanksgiving Day parade.

Apparently the City wants a, "stationary rally on a plaza across the street from the United Nations."

The Man Who Ate Everything

Thanks to a recommendation from a friend, I started reading The Man Who Ate Everything: And Other Gastronomic Feats, Disputes, and Pleasurable Pursuits by Jeffrey Steingarten and it is hysterical, perhaps even the best thing I've ever read. I was laughing out loud as I read it last night, wondering why it had taken me all these years to discover him.

The Right to Peaceably Assemble

The organizers of the The World Says No to War march scheduled for February 15 in New York City say:

With less than two weeks left before Feb. 15, the City of New York has still not granted our request for a permit to march and rally.

Like Tom, I'm still unsure about the necessity of deposing Saddam Hussein right now without a more convincing argument from my government. What I am sure about is our constitutional right to peaceably assemble. Why the heck should a permit for a march even be required? And if it's just a formality, why hasn't it been granted? And if it's not a formality, and it in fact may not be granted, well then I think we have a lot more to be protesting than just the potential war with Iraq. [thanks Jason]

Amazon "issues"

Has anyone else been experiencing problems loading images over at Amazon? It's like their image server is seriously dying or under attack, and it's been this way for a few days. With many sites it's not such a big deal, but because Amazon relies on images for all their tabbed navigation, it makes the site nearly impossible to use when the images won't load.

Update: a megnut reader writes, "I live in Wisconsin and have had great difficulty using Amazon for about 6 weeks now. It has practically become useless to me.

I have a broadband connection, and I have not been able to load a page from Amazon since the holidays." Amazon, what gives?

Instant productivity increase

Outside my window, someone's got their car (?) radio blasting Bryan Adam's Summer of '69.

Standin' on your mama's porch
You told me that you'd wait forever
Oh and when you held my hand
I knew that it was now or never
Those were the best days of my life

A sci-fi weblog dream

I'm not one to post dreams on my weblog, but this one I had on Saturday night just seems appropriate. It's part mystery, part sci-fi adventure, where the year is 2049 and weblogs are a geographic construct. Huh?

The dream starts with me receiving an eight page letter (not email, an in the mail, handwritten, old-fashioned letter) from someone purporting to have attended summer camp with me in the 1980s. She writes for seven pages about our shared experiences, drops names of all sorts of people I know from camp, etc. But oddly, I don't remember the writer or recognize her name. On the last page, she gets to her point: she is writing to me in confidence, her father has been deposed and murdered in Nigeria. She has a large sum of money, which she'd like to entrust me with for safe-keeping, etc.

This is some sneaky spam I think -- she's established a very personal connection with me, making it hard for me to turn down her request. But how did she find out about my camp experience? I head to my camp's headquarters to find out. That's when I meet the protagonists in my dream, a man and a woman. The man explains to me that they're trying to, "craft a perfect 3." You see, weblogs are actual buildings in 2049, and we each have our own. The ground floor represents the present, and everyone has access to everyone else's blog/building/mind (the physical world is less physical in 2049) to a certain level/height.

To get more information about a person, you need to get access to the higher floors of their building/blog. To "craft a perfect 3" you needed access to three things: someone's present, something in the middle that was unclear, and "their ultimate personal past." Once you had this, you could craft the perfect 3, which was a type of person (the man and woman were doing it to create ideal mates) who would know everything there was to know about you. The man and I discussed how bot-like these 3s would be, how uninteresting they would be to interact with because they would know too much, be too similar to one's own interests. And then the dream ended.

It was a pretty scary dream because for part of it I was trying to illegally access someone's archives/top floors and had to climb along the outside of a building for many stories. But there was something wonderfully futuristic about the whole dream as well: weblogs as these physical systems by which we organize our lives, hyper-personalized spam, and the strange parallels between weblogs having the newest content at the top of the page (easiest access) and your "present" being on the ground floor of your blog building (again, easiest access). Or maybe it was only interesting to me, as is the case with 99.99% of dreams written about on weblogs.

Blogger's history re-imagined

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a weblog article with a seriously wrong fact. Author Chris Mooney writes:

Although scattered blogs existed during the late 1990s, it wasn't until 1999 that San Francisco's Pyra Labs created the free Web application Blogger. Originally, the hope was that the innovation would help those collaborating on business projects to coordinate and share information on an internal Web server, a kind of company bulletin board.

Perhaps there was a mis-reading of Pyra's history (we started the company to build project management software and Blogger was something extra we released) or maybe there's a misunderstanding of how Blogger came to be (we published an internal weblog and used that codebase as part of the original Blogger release). But Blogger was never released with business projects in mind, nor with a focus on internal Web server content. It was built to make it easier for people to publish online, no matter where one's content was hosted. Mr. Mooney continues by saying:

There seems to have been little thought about the central role blogging would play in the very external media world.

To which I have to respond: we had dreams about its potential, we just didn't know how it all would play out. I'm not sure how one could be certain of blogging's role when there were at most a few thousand people doing it at the time. To assume that it would play a central role in the media world is much easier in retrospect. At the time it seemed more than a little hubristic to me. [via Anil]

Introducing the Frog

There's a new sports weblog on the block called The Sports Frog, offering in-depth coverage of all sorts of sports stuff. Recent posts reflect strong interests in football, basketball, and gambling. But these guys know their stuff and have lots to say, always a good combination for a weblog. And as you know, I love a good vertically-focused blog. One disclaimer: my cousin is one of the contributors, but don't think that biases my review. He only posts about the gambling, and I don't have any idea what he's talking about.

In case you forgot...

where ham comes from, Bryan's picture from Mexico will remind you.

Are you an archeologist? Do you know an archeologist?

I've got a question for someone with some knowledge of pre-Columbian North American artifacts. If you fit the bill and could help me out, please drop me an email at meg at Thanks. Update: All set, thanks!

Columbia facts

Steve over at Saltire's got a comprehensive post about Columbia. Lots of interesting information there. [via Cory]

Columbia lost

It appears the space shuttle Columbia exploded or disintegrated upon re-entry this morning, over the state of Texas. NASA reports they lost contact around 9 AM EST. Dave's doing a superb job of collecting facts as the news comes in. It was January 28, 1986 that Challenger exploded 72 seconds after launch, with Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space, aboard. 17 years and 3 days later, Columbia explodes on return, with Col. Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut and Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-born woman, on board.

A cooking column

I'm going to be writing a cooking column for the "new Web magazine about enjoying new media and creating beautiful software," TEKKA. A cooking column in a software magazine? Well, there's an art to programming and to cooking. I'll write for people who code by day and cook by night, or as the publisher said, "Food hackers." Right-on! I can't wait. A TEKKA charter subscription is $50 a year.

The end of HTML?

Over at Boxes and Arrows, HTML's Time is Over. Let's Move On. by David Heller.

I don't see a long term future for HTML as an application development solution. It is a misapplied tool that was never meant to be used for anything other than distributed publishing.

Writing the fringe

Over at Write the Web, I answer the question, "Is the weblog community too introverted? Is that why you're having to stretch minds to get people thinking about the fringes [during your 'From the Margins of the Writable Web' presentation at the Emerging Technology Conferece]?"

Apache and OS X

Apache Web-Serving with Mac OS X, Part 1 is the first in a three-part six-part series over at O'Reilly that will help you get started serving Web pages. Part 2 helps you configure CGI access, Part 3 takes a look at PHP, Part 4 is reader-asked questions, Part 5 is Apache and MySQL, and Part 6 is Apache modules. Wow, that's some good stuff. (Thanks Jason!)

Bush II is really Reagan Jr.

Sunday's New York Times Magazine has a really interesting article, Reagan's Son, the Radical Presidency of George W. Bush. The premise? Bush is no centrist and certainly no idiot. Author Bill Keller draws interesting comparisons between the two presidents. I hope this doesn't portend a 49 state sweep for Bush in 2004...

Taking choice too far?

An article in Fox News a few days ago by David Boaz, Democrats and the Right to Choose - What?, criticizes Democrats for not supporting "choice" more broadly, as if it's hypocritical to support individual freedoms in one instance and support the broader interests of society in the next. Boaz writes,

Whether or not you support the right to choose abortion, surely that is a more difficult issue, involving more lives and more complexities than the right to choose a school for your child, to use marijuana, or to own a gun. And yet many of the supporters of "a woman's right to choose" don't support a woman's right to make those choices.

While we're at it, I'd like the choice to yield to pedestrians when I'm driving and to pay for purchases at the store. Oh what? You say that I can't drive all high on marijuana, shooting off my gun, running down children (on their way to voucher schools of their mother's choosing) in the crosswalk? Drat. I was beginning to like libertarianism. [via Glenn]

Tripod launches weblogs

You can now create your very own blog at Tripod. Too bad the, "ERROR: You must be a paid subscriber to access this feature." message only appears after you go through the account creation process and then click on the "blog builder" tool. Of course, if you read "Learn More" before starting -- which I didn't do because I was too curious to read and wanted to get started blogging right away -- you find out blogs are only available to paid subscribers. I wonder how it compares to Blog*Spot? [via Anil's links]

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