Sunday, December 27, 2009

Oil-Sands Projects

While you are watching this, keep in mind also that glaciologists and climate scientists now believe that it is soot that has helped glaciers melt so quickly.

H2oil animated sequences from Dale Hayward on Vimeo.



More on oil sands from Wikipedia

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

An Uncle Again!

My brother and his wife just had their baby this morning. He is a cutie. :-)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Conflict of Interest

This just points out some of the conflict of interest concerning the Senate bill for health care reform (H.R.3962). So, you have Republicans being paid by the insurance industry to pander to their wants, and you have Democrats desperate to pass anything as to not commit political suicide over health care reform. Awesome. Which way do we go? NEITHER WAY. Kill the bill.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Be Informed with OpenCongress

This site tracks everything from changes in bills, to how your Senator or Representative votes, to where their money comes from. Be informed.

http://www.opencongress.org/

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What is wrong with HR-3590?

Former Governor Howard Dean explains what makes the Senate Health Care Reform bill, HR-3590, such a bad deal for the people of America.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Senate Bill Harmful to People, Good for Insurance Cos.

Looks like Howard Dean is correct. This bill is toxic to the American public, and through the feigned distress concerning government takeover of healthcare...the opposite will occur, and insurance companies will have all the concessions they want WITH the mandate to purchase their product.

There is no longer any reasons to vote for this bill. If the bill is going to be the way it is presently...write your Senators and tell them to vote against the Senate bill.

Please watch both of these videos.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Healthcare Debate Becomes a Joke of the Republicans

This whole healthcare debate has gotten ridiculous. The Republicans continuously get caught advocating false talking points from their party, and not even reading the bill in question. Hypocrisy and lack of care for their fellow man, while looking out for their wallets and big-business...seems to be the M.O. of the Republican party. Same goes for you 'blue-dogs'.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
For He's a Jowly Good Fellow
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Friday, December 11, 2009

Beck's Conflict of Interest

Apparently Glenn Beck advocates buying gold, and then promotes fear driving gold sales, all while working for a company that sells gold.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Beck - Not So Mellow Gold
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Yet" by Jon and Tim Foreman

I just picked up the new Switchfoot album "Hello Hurricane", and am listening through my third time already. This is a slightly different sound yet again for them. Quite a bit more raw sounding...less produced sound. This also returns to more of the heart-being-poured-out lyrical style that was on "Nothing Is Sound" and Jon Foreman's recent EPs "Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer". This is their first work away from Columbia/SonyBMG, as they have moved to their own production on "lower case people" records with distribution on Atlantic.

"Yet" by Jon and Tim Foreman

All attempts have failed
All my heads are tails
She's got teary eyes
I've got reasons why
I'm losing ground and gaining speed
I've lost myself or most of me
I'm headed for the final precipice

But you haven't lost me yet
No, you haven't lost me yet
I'll sing until my heart caves in
No, you haven't lost me

These days pass me by
I dream with open eyes
Nightmares haunt my days
Visions blur my nights
I'm so confused
What's true or false
What's fact or fiction after all
I feel like I'm an apparition's pet

But you haven't lost me yet
No, you haven't lost me yet
I'll run until my heart caves in
No, you haven't lost me yet

If it doesn't break
If it doesn't break
If it doesn't break
If it doesn't break your heart it isn't love
If it doesn't break your heart it's not enough
It's when you're breaking down with your insides coming out
It's when you find out what your heart is made of

And you haven't lost me yet
No, you haven't lost me yet
I'll sing until my heart caves in
No, you haven't lost me yet
'Cause you haven't lost me yet

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Generally the first 'Thanksgiving' is thought of being in 1621 by the Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation after their first successful harvest.  Squanto, a Patuxet Native America, taught them how to grow corn and catch eel.  He also served as an interpreter for them...having learned English while he was a slave in Europe.

And in 1622 the Patuxet Native Americans entered the Virginia Colony and Berkeley Plantation appearing to be bringing food and other goods to trade.  John Smith recounts that they were unarmed, but suddenly grabbed any tool or weapon they could and killed about a third of the Colony's population.  Only Jamestown was spared because of having warning from the other towns on the James River.

The interesting part of this is that the Pilgrims were very different from the Puritans in beliefs, as the Pilgrims didn't really share in their harvest because they were separatists.  Instead they celebrated a thanksgiving if they had a good harvest...and had a season of fasting if they didn't.  The Puritan Christians didn't have their first thanksgiving until 1630, and it was not consistent at that juncture either.

The first 'official' proclamation of Thanksgiving observance was June 29, 1671 in Charlestown, Massachusetts.  Obviously June is quite a distance of time from November when we celebrate now...as was the end of harvest around  the Virginia Colony and Plymouth.

After the United States was its own nation, a Thanksgiving was first proclaimed by President George Washington on October 3, 1789 for a service of thanksgiving to be on November 26th.  There were other Thanksgivings proclaimed in our nation by both the national and local governments of the time.

It wasn't until President Abraham Lincoln that a national Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed.  He was prompted by an influential writer, Sarah Josepha Hale (who authored "Mary Had a Little Lamb"), who had written a series of editorials campaigning the creation of a national holiday and letters to Lincoln about the holiday as well.  He declared that Thanksgiving be celebrated on the final Thursday of November.

But even with this declaration the date of celebration wandered anywhere around that time...though often on the final day of November...the 30th.  Many cities and states had their own traditions as to when exactly it was celebrated all the way until 1941.  President Franklin Roosevelt observed during the Great Depression that any date was difficult to keep, and with so many people's traditions falling very late in November.

Statistics at the  time showed that people also didn't do any Christmas shopping until after Thanksgiving.  in 1933 Businesses petitioned President Roosevelt to move the holiday up a week from the final Thursday of the month to the 2nd to the last Thursday.

This was met with a large amount of anger from a great number of citizens who claimed that Roosevelt was only bending because of his ties to those businesses, and also from others that didn't like the idea of their Lincoln established tradition being changed.  There was great outrage from many cities and governors in many of them proclaimed that November 30 was Thanksgiving, while still others disagreed with that proclamation as well.  But the controversy became so great that on December 26, 1941 the Congress pass legislation unifying the date on which Americans celebrated their Thanksgiving as a nation:   the fourth Thursday of November.

Happy Thanksgiving.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving_%28United_States%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Massacre_of_1622
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Josepha_Hale
http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/thanksg.html

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Senate health care reform plan

The vote is going to happen in just a few minutes from now, but I think Sen. Franken makes a number of good points about the Senate plan.

If you have been sick, AT ALL, insurance companies can refuse you coverage or charge you crazy prices to cover you. Those without health insurance DO NOT get preventive care. Instead they hit up an emergency room when they can't hold out any longer. This is the least efficient and most expensive way to deliver care. It cost every insured family more than $1100 more per year to pay for those that do not have insurance.

In 2000-2007 (8-year period):

  • Americans saw their premiums double

  • More than 6-million Americans lost their insurance (from 39-million to nearly 46-million)

  • Insurance company profits rose 428%


Opposition to the changes in this bill are about profits.

Changes from the way things are done today:

  • Preventive services will be covered 100% by ALL insurance plans. This will detect chronic diseases early, head off cancers early, and put prevention as a priority

  • Health insurance company will have to offer rebates if more than 20% of premiums go toward profits, marketing or administration.

  • Health insurance companies will have to offer clear reports of where premium dollars go. If health care premiums increase, insurance companies will have to justify the increase.

  • Makes small-businesses able to compete in health coverage pricing that large-businesses currently get.


Minnesota's people are covered primarily by non-profit insurance (90%), and $0.91 for every dollar goes to health care. Their for-profit analogues often have less than $0.60 per dollar actually going to health care.  Again...this plan will have companies offer rebates when less than $0.80 per dollar to to health care.



I had to add this also...because it underscores something that the GOP keeps claiming is false. And that is that this plan is indeed paid for. Despite all the parts of the plan that they were NOT given credit for that will save money, they still have it paid for. So, it is hard to believe that there will be hundreds of billions of dollars in extra costs per year, as the Republicans keep claiming.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Beck's Crazy Conspiracy Theories

Glenn Beck is making all sort of crazy claims about what the new health care bills will do, and also what the government controls. Apparently the government controls the temperature in your house. Did you know that? Crazy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ChromeOS

ChromeOS is in the works. I'm pretty excited about this rethinking of what a 'computer' needs to be.



Articles:


More about ChromeOS:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Anthony Weiner Calls Out GOP Opponents Using Medicare

This is a little old, but something I hadn't seen until now.

10.22.09
NEWS: New Weiner Study Shows 150 Members of House and Senate Get the “Public Option” Now
Weiner Calls on GOP Opponents of the Public Option to Give Up Their Medicare

http://weiner.house.gov/news_display.aspx?id=1364

WASHINGTON, DC—A new study by Representative Anthony Weiner (D – Queens & Brooklyn), member of the Health Subcommittee and Co-Chair of the Caucus on the Middle Class, revealed that 150 members of the House and Senate currently receive government-funded; government-administered single-payer health care - Medicare.

On the list of recipients are 54 Republicans who have steadfastly opposed other Americans getting the public option, like the one they have chosen.

Weiner said, “Even in a town known for hypocrisy, this list of 54 Members of Congress deserve some sort of prize. They apparently think the public option is ok for them, but not anyone else.”

The list of congressional recipients of Medicare who also oppose the public option is below:

Rep. Ralph M. Hall
Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett
Rep. Sam Johnson
Rep. C.W. Bill Young
Rep. Howard Coble
Sen. Jim Bunning
Sen. Richard G. Lugar
Rep. Don Young
Sen. Charles E. Grassley
Sen. Robert F. Bennett
Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch
Sen. Richard C. Shelby
Rep. Jerry Lewis
Sen. James M. Inhofe
Rep. Ron Paul
Rep. Henry E. Brown
Sen. Pat Roberts
Sen. George V. Voinovich
Sen. John McCain
Rep. Judy Biggert
Sen. Thad Cochran
Rep. Harold Rogers
Rep. Dan Burton
Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon
Rep. Frank R. Wolf
Rep. Michael N. Castle
Rep. Joe Pitts
Rep. Tom Petri
Sen. Lamar Alexander
Rep. Doc Hastings
Rep. Cliff Stearns
Rep. Sue Myrick
Rep. John Carter
Sen. Mitch McConnell
Sen. Jon Kyl
Rep. Phil Gingrey
Rep. Nathan Deal
Rep. John Linder
Rep. Kay Granger
Rep. John L. Mica
Rep. Walter B. Jones
Sen. Jim Risch
Rep. Ed Whitfield
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner
Rep. Virginia Foxx
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite
Sen. Saxby Chambliss
Sen. Michael B. Enzi
Rep. Elton Gallegly
Rep. Donald Manzullo
Rep. Peter T. King
Rep. Ander Crenshaw
###

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Object

This is a video of the Republicans in the House trying to disrupt all manner of business concerning health-care legislation by interrupting with objections and parliamentary inquiries, even when there is nothing yet being discussed and nothing to be inquired of. It is pretty ridiculous. All of you with Republican Representatives...this is what your tax dollars are paying for. Zero intelligent discussion...just interruptions.



It isn't just the Congressman from Georgia that was a problem.

The evils of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act

This is one of the blunders during the Clinton Administration that President Clinton didn't have any problem going along with. Don't focus on the Clinton thing though...it is the bill itself that is destructive, regardless of their being barely any resistance from Republicans or Democrats on the bill (the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act of 1999).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why Is Friendship On the Decline?

This is a repost from this blog:
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2008/02/why-is-friendship-on-decline.html

-------


Friendship is not yet an endangered species, but it is on the wane. Studies in the US and France both found that people are spending less time with friends, neighbors, and relatives.


The amount of hours worked, not surprisingly, seems to have to do something with this pattern, since a reduction in the workweek in France led to an uptick in social time.


But the researchers seem to miss another pattern: it isn’t just hours but priorities. At least in the US, for many people a job is not just a job, it’s a much more important part of their identity than it used to be, and perhaps than it is in other cultures.


One phenomenon that is very common in New York, and I assume in other large cities, is that people are very casual about canceling social engagements at the last minute for work-related reasons. I used to be good about sticking with my plans, but I felt like a chump (I cut way back on my entertaining when a number of people cancelled on a dinner party the same day. This was in the 1980s, and things have only gotten worse since then). Peoples’ actions said that seeing me wasn’t a high priority, so why should I treat them better than I was being treated?


That sort of casualness degrades social ties in ways that might not be easily captured but I have found are corrosive. And you can still have a competitive economy without having that degree of subservience to work. In Australia, “mateship” is valued very highly and people place much more emphasis on their social life. But Australia has tougher labor laws than the US; it’s harder to fire people. Might there be a connection between job security and emphasis on social interaction? Most Americans I know are afraid to say no to work demands.


The French example would seem to say dispute that since France has strong unions and are stereotyped as have strong boundaries between their work and personal lives. Have enough of them caught the Anglo-Saxon disease to shift the culture a bit?


From VoxEU:



People have fewer friends and visit them less often than in the past. A popular explanation suggests that we’re working longer and have less time for friends, but recent research finds little tradeoff between working hours and social hours. The relevant tradeoffs, this column suggests, are between types of social interaction.


Do you know who your friends are? Have you seen them lately? Data from both the United States and France show that some important forms of social interaction are on the decline (Putnam 1996; Blanpain and Pan Ké Shon 1998). While membership in social groups has remained relatively stable over time, there has been a decline in visiting friends, neighbours, and relatives. This decline in visiting is not simply due to friends switching to email communication and socializing at work. Evidence of a true decline in friendship is provided by McPherson, Smith-Lovin and Brashears (2006), who document a decline in the reported number of close friends over the past 20 years. Understanding the determinants of the decline in visiting has attracted interest in both the academic literature and in the popular press. It raises concerns on both sides of the Atlantic because social interaction is thought to have positive effects on the mental and physical health of individuals and the efficiency of economic institutions.


Are work and friends complements or substitutes?


An intuitively plausible reason offered for the recent decline in social interaction is growth in hours of work per capita. In particular, the increase in female labour force participation has increased hours of work per capita, which could result in less social interaction. However, it has also been argued that individuals who work longer hours are more inclined to both civic engagement and visiting with friends and neighbours. This could occur if there were an important unobserved third factor such as ambition that affects both working hours and social contacts. For example, an individual who is ambitious may choose to work long hours and to participate in civic organisations and meet with friends and neighbours more than a less ambitious individual. In this case, hours of work and social interaction would be positively related.


The theory of household production, developed by Gary Becker (1965), provides the basis for an empirical model of social interaction. Becker’s theory emphasises the role of time in consumption and that time is a limited resource. We (Saffer and Lamiraud, 2008) employ Becker’s theory to derive a demand for social interaction. This demand function, like any other demand function, shows that the quantity of social interaction demanded depends on its own price, the price of other goods, income and taste. The price of social interaction is positively related to the individual’s valuation of their non-working time.


This price is usually approximated by the individual’s wage. However, in our study, we assume that the price of non-working time is a function of the supply and demand for this type of time. As hours of work increase, the supply of non-working time decreases. This raises the price of non-working time. Education is also an empirical proxy for the price of time. Education is assumed, to varying degrees, to increase productivity. An increase in the productivity of time reduces the time cost of social interaction.


An empirical examination


Empirically isolating the effect of hours of work on social interaction requires an exogenous change in hours of work. Our research focuses on France’s enactment of a new employment law that mandated an exogenous decline in hours of work. The 1998 legislation reduced the legal number of hours worked per week from 39 to 35. The employment law consisted of three parts: the first part covered firms with more than 20 employees, the second part covered firms with 20 or fewer employees, and the third part covered civil servants. Firms of more than 20 employees were required to conform to the law by January 2000, while small firms and civil servants were covered by January 2002. The changes in hours of work resulting from this law are exogenous to individual characteristics.


The empirical results clearly show that the employment law reduced average hours of work by 1.5 to two hours per week. These results are consistent with findings of Estevao and Sa (2006). However, the results show no evidence that these extra hours went to increased social interaction. That is, hours of work are not found to be an important determinant of social interaction. This remains true for sub-samples defined by gender, marital status, and children.


What shapes social interaction?


Human capital, however, is found to be an important determinant of social interaction. The effect of human capital, as measured by education and age, is positive for membership activities but negative for visiting relatives and friends. This is not an intuitive result and requires some explanation. One possibility is that this effect results from the productivity-enhancing aspect of education. Membership activities, like employment, are goal-oriented. Education increases productivity both at work and in membership activities. However, education has little effect on the productivity of time spent visiting. Thus, an increase in education results in greater productivity in membership activities and greater utility for the individual. To put this more intuitively, education makes membership activities more interesting and visiting less interesting. This shifts social interaction to membership activities and away from visiting.


Other factors were also found to be important determinants of social interaction. Higher income increases memberships and decreases visiting, which seems consistent with the education effect. Marriage tends to reduce all social interactions, which suggests that a spouse is a substitute for other social interactions. Children have a positive effect of membership in school and church groups, which is probably the result of complementarity between these activities and child care. Males tend to have less of all social interactions, which is a familiar result.


Finally, a comparison between France and the United States shows that the response to human capital and other variables are much the same in both nations. Since the time data show that visiting has declined while education has increased, it is possible that the true cause of the decline in visiting is rising education. Trends in social interactions, it seems, are not driven by a simple trade-off between work and play but by education and choices in consuming different types of socializing.





Smith, Yves (2008, Feb 20). "Why Is Friendship On the Decline?" naked capitalism
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2008/02/why-is-friendship-on-decline.html

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

FoxNews and their Lying Liars

They were 'reporting' on the GOP health care bill rally at the Capitol. They estimated 20,000 - 45,000 people were there (Washington Post says 10,000 people). Then they used footage from the 9/12 Tea Party rally in September. Liars.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Could you pass a driving test?

Yes, I can. Got 100% on this one, because I'm a cautious driver, and kind of nut for traffic laws. Take the test and share your score.

Could you pass a driving test?

Created by Auto Insurance.org

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Indecision 2009: Vote or keep going about your day

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2009 - Reindecision 2008 And Beyond
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

U.S. Congressman from Missouri screws up the Pledge

After giving a little speech about the phrase "one nation, under God" being added to the Pledge of Allegiance, and stating that this affirmation drives liberals crazy (e.g. creating a division), U.S. Congressman Todd Akin messes up the Pledge by forgetting the part, "indivisible". Coincidence? I'm sure it is. But that sure is pretty ironic.



But the Congressman also has a number of his facts incorrect. The phrase in the Pledge, "one nation under God" was NOT first delivered publicly on the steps of the U.S. Capitol by President Eisenhower. It was first coined publicly by a Chicago area Chaplin, Louis A. Bowman, in a meeting of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution as the Pledge in 1948...six years before it was adopted nationally in 1954. And only "under God" was actually added to the previous revision.

In fact, the version with "under God" added is the FIFTH revision of the Pledge of Allegiance. The original version from 1892 by the Baptist minister Francis Bellamy, publishing it in a magazine called The Youth's Companion in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of America, is this:

"I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."



After four revisions, which you can read about below, the fifth version is, of course, this:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."



Sources:
Wikipedia. "Pledge of Allegiance" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pledge_of_Allegiance
Baer, Dr. John W. (1992). "The Pledge of Allegiance: A Short History" http://oldtimeislands.org/pledge/pledge.htm
USHistory.org. "The Pledge of Allegiance" http://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sen. Franken addresses Hudson Institute rep. over health care bankruptcies



It is pretty shocking. Switzerland, Germany, and France have roughly similar health care outcomes as the United States overall. The shocking part is that neither Switzerland, nor Germany, nor France have any cases of health care related bankruptcy. The United States has 140,000 EVERY YEAR (about 13% of the 1.1-Million that filed for bankruptcy indicate medical reasons).

Soon the robots will take over

This guy look like a cross between ED-209 from Robocop and Ultron from Marvel Comics.



But in reality the Titan 'robot' is actually more of a suit of armor that someone wears and performs in.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_the_Robot

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Republicans for Rape

I'm sure the Republicans are enjoying their new modus operandi after they decided to maintain that it wasn't their job to decide who the government contracts with for work...even if those contractors have legally binding rule saying that the employee can't take legal action if they are raped by another employee.

http://www.republicansforrape.org/legislators/

Monday, October 19, 2009

FoxNews isn't just bad -- it's un-American

The White House has chosen not to deal with FoxNews for the most part, and the reason should be clear: Fox doesn't deserve or need the attention. It won't help all the crazies that buy into Glenn Beck's world-o-conspiracies. It won't help with their delivering political talking-points to millions of Americans without ever actually explaining any issues to them. FoxNews is not a news station...they are an infotainment channel spouting conservative dogma. They really need to be ignored, as much as possible.

The O’Garbage Factor
Fox News isn't just bad. It's un-American.
Jacob Weisberg, Oct 17, 2009
http://www.newsweek.com/id/218192

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Canadian Doctor Assesses U.S. Health Care

A Canadian doctor diagnoses U.S. healthcare


The caricature of 'socialized medicine' is used by corporate interests to confuse Americans and maintain their bottom lines instead of patients' health.

By Michael M. Rachlis|August 03, 2009

Original article found at: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/03/opinion/oe-rachlis3
Please give this site a visit.


Universal health insurance is on the American policy agenda for the fifth time since World War II. In the 1960s, the U.S. chose public coverage for only the elderly and the very poor, while Canada opted for a universal program for hospitals and physicians' services. As a policy analyst, I know there are lessons to be learned from studying the effect of different approaches in similar jurisdictions. But, as a Canadian with lots of American friends and relatives, I am saddened that Americans seem incapable of learning them.

Our countries are joined at the hip. We peacefully share a continent, a British heritage of representative government and now ownership of GM. And, until 50 years ago, we had similar health systems, healthcare costs and vital statistics.

The U.S.' and Canada's different health insurance decisions make up the world's largest health policy experiment. And the results?

On coverage, all Canadians have insurance for hospital and physician services. There are no deductibles or co-pays. Most provinces also provide coverage for programs for home care, long-term care, pharmaceuticals and durable medical equipment, although there are co-pays.

On the U.S. side, 46 million people have no insurance, millions are underinsured and healthcare bills bankrupt more than 1 million Americans every year.

Lesson No. 1: A single-payer system would eliminate most U.S. coverage problems.

On costs, Canada spends 10% of its economy on healthcare; the U.S. spends 16%. The extra 6% of GDP amounts to more than $800 billion per year. The spending gap between the two nations is almost entirely because of higher overhead. Canadians don't need thousands of actuaries to set premiums or thousands of lawyers to deny care. Even the U.S. Medicare program has 80% to 90% lower administrative costs than private Medicare Advantage policies. And providers and suppliers can't charge as much when they have to deal with a single payer.

Lessons No. 2 and 3: Single-payer systems reduce duplicative administrative costs and can negotiate lower prices.

Because most of the difference in spending is for non-patient care, Canadians actually get more of most services. We see the doctor more often and take more drugs. We even have more lung transplant surgery. We do get less heart surgery, but not so much less that we are any more likely to die of heart attacks. And we now live nearly three years longer, and our infant mortality is 20% lower.

Lesson No. 4: Single-payer plans can deliver the goods because their funding goes to services, not overhead.

The Canadian system does have its problems, and these also provide important lessons. Notwithstanding a few well-publicized and misleading cases, Canadians needing urgent care get immediate treatment. But we do wait too long for much elective care, including appointments with family doctors and specialists and selected surgical procedures. We also do a poor job managing chronic disease.

However, according to the New York-based Commonwealth Fund, both the American and the Canadian systems fare badly in these areas. In fact, an April U.S. Government Accountability Office report noted that U.S. emergency room wait times have increased, and patients who should be seen immediately are now waiting an average of 28 minutes. The GAO has also raised concerns about two- to four-month waiting times for mammograms.

On closer examination, most of these problems have little to do with public insurance or even overall resources. Despite the delays, the GAO said there is enough mammogram capacity.

These problems are largely caused by our shared politico-cultural barriers to quality of care. In 19th century North America, doctors waged a campaign against quacks and snake-oil salesmen and attained a legislative monopoly on medical practice. In return, they promised to set and enforce standards of practice. By and large, it didn't happen. And perverse incentives like fee-for-service make things even worse.

Using techniques like those championed by the Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement, providers can eliminate most delays. In Hamilton, Ontario, 17 psychiatrists have linked up with 100 family doctors and 80 social workers to offer some of the world's best access to mental health services. And in Toronto, simple process improvements mean you can now get your hip assessed in one week and get a new one, if you need it, within a month.

Lesson No. 5: Canadian healthcare delivery problems have nothing to do with our single-payer system and can be fixed by re-engineering for quality.

U.S. health policy would be miles ahead if policymakers could learn these lessons. But they seem less interested in Canada's, or any other nation's, experience than ever. Why?

American democracy runs on money. Pharmaceutical and insurance companies have the fuel. Analysts see hundreds of billions of premiums wasted on overhead that could fund care for the uninsured. But industry executives and shareholders see bonuses and dividends.

Compounding the confusion is traditional American ignorance of what happens north of the border, which makes it easy to mislead people. Boilerplate anti-government rhetoric does the same. The U.S. media, legislators and even presidents have claimed that our "socialized" system doesn't let us choose our own doctors. In fact, Canadians have free choice of physicians. It's Americans these days who are restricted to "in-plan" doctors.

Unfortunately, many Americans won't get to hear the straight goods because vested interests are promoting a caricature of the Canadian experience.

Michael M. Rachlis is a physician, health policy analyst and author in Toronto.

Ólafur Arnalds - Ljósið

Ólafur Arnalds - Ljósið

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYIfiQlfaas

You'll definitely want to see this one. Beautiful music and very interesting iTunes-ish video using digitally rendered smoke trails for the instrument's sounds.

Too attached to the Dark Knight costume

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Libertarians and Conservatives Celebrate Loss of America's Olympic Bid

This is yet another spin by conservatives and libertarians to make America's bid for the Olympics to be in Chicago (thus in America) into something all about President Obama so they can direct their hatred of him at it.

As this video points out, President Bush also supported America and the city of Chicago in their bid for the 2016 Olympics. But now as President Obama went to Copenhagen to make their bid (as most country's leaders do) and Chicago received few votes, conservatives are framing this as being a rejection of Obama himself and celebrating the loss, which is really a loss for America.

This is yet another example of conservatives and libertarians showing their lack of concern for their fellow Americans and lack of desire for relief from the real problems in this country, and instead collectively mold themselves into a sick, nationalist version of Captain Ahab who will stop at nothing to get their whale (Obama), regardless of how obsessed, insane, or destructive they become.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Further Disappointment with Health Care Proposals

I was listening to the news this morning, and heard that the public option was defeated in the Senate Finance Committee, and discussion about insurance co-ops is the big deal now. This might seem encouraging to people at first...that there would still be an option to an expensive private insurance plan. But in reality there isn't and there won't be.

Insurance cooperatives have been around for years, and are in use by our elected officials as well. The big advantage of using them is that typically they present better quality of care options, and have a better satisfaction track-record than does the private insurance market. But cooperatives DO NOT lower the cost of insurance. In fact many are quite expensive.

This means that though rising costs of insurance and health care is THE biggest issue on the table, the legislation being presented does little or nothing to help this problem. Of course we'll still have to wait and see how the plans are reconciled together, but it seems to me that the things being discussed just barely meet President Obama's requirements and then will largely keep things exactly the same as they are today. Except, that should I have that pre-existing condition or lose my job, I can still get insurance I can't afford, and if I don't purchase the insurance I can't afford, I'll additionally be penalized for not getting it. Great, eh?

10 Myths About U.S. Health Care Reform Proposals
http://health.howstuffworks.com/10-myths-about-health-care-reform.htm

That article above discusses the myths being talked about with the health care proposals. They are really well addressed. The only one in question is #2: "The Public Plan is Dead; Long Live the Public Plan", as I think that co-op's possible effectiveness is being misrepresented, and ultimately people will be driven back to private plans (which the private insurers gotta love).

Sen. Conrad's Heath Insurance Co-Ops Won't Provide Affordable Care And Could Be Used By The Insurance Industry Against Americans, Says Consumer Watchdog
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/patients/articles/?storyId=28987

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hannity promotes unsustainable use of water

Sean Hannity is out protecting the little guy by deciding that the fish (including salmon and smelt) in the river need to be sacrificed so that the water can go to watering crops during a drought. Yeah...help people's crops too late, kill all the fish, and create an unsustainable water issue. Great way to look out for the little guy.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Where the Riled Things Are
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Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Glenn Beck Boils Frog

Even if he plays like he is grabbing one of the live frogs from the cage he shows, his possibly fake throwing a frog into boiling water doesn't really present a good argument against this quote from him:

"Forget about the Republicans because most of them are fake. Forget about the Democrats because most of them are fake."

And if he really did throw a live frog into boiling water...then he is just an idiot.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

To those who hate socialism: Sign this, please.

Print the pledge and ask all your teabagger/libertarian friends and family to sign it!
The Teabagger Socialist-Free Purity Pledge

I, ________________________________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2ndAmendment Rights in this country, while I am duly >being allowed to exercise my 2ndAmendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.

I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls. Also.

I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:

  • Social Security

  • Medicare/Medicaid

  • State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)

  • Police, Fire, and Emergency Services

  • US Postal Service

  • Roads and Highways

  • Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)

  • The US Railway System

  • Public Subways and Metro Systems

  • Public Bus and Lightrail Systems

  • Rest Areas on Highways

  • Sidewalks

  • All Government-Funded Local/State Projects (e.g., see Iowa 2009federal senate appropriations--http://grassley.senate.gov/issues/upload/Master-Approps-73109.pdf)

  • Public Water and Sewer Services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!)

  • Public and State Universities and Colleges

  • Public Primary and Secondary Schools

  • Sesame Street

  • Publicly Funded Anti-Drug Use Education for Children

  • Public Museums

  • Libraries

  • Public Parksand Beaches

  • State and National Parks

  • Public Zoos

  • Unemployment Insurance

  • Municipal Garbage and Recycling Services

  • Treatment at Any Hospital or Clinic That Ever Received Funding From Local, Stateor Federal Government (pretty much all of them)

  • Medical Services and Medications That Were Created or Derived From Any Government Grant or Research Funding (again, pretty much all of them)

  • Socialist Byproducts of Government Investment Such as Duct Tape and Velcro (Nazi-NASA Inventions)

  • Use of the Internets, email, and networked computers, as the DoD's ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking

  • Foodstuffs, Meats, Produce and Crops That Were Grown With, Fed With, Raised With or That Contain Inputs From Crops Grown With Government Subsidies

  • Clothing Made from Crops (e.g. cotton) That Were Grown With or That Contain Inputs From Government Subsidies

  • If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care


I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist

locations, including but not limited to:

  • Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History

  • The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments

  • The government-operated Statue of Liberty

  • The Grand Canyon

  • The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials

  • The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery

  • All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, DC


I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and government-provided healthcare.

I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America.

I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.

I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.

Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.

Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.

SWORN ON A BIBLE AND SIGNED THIS DAY OF ____________ IN THE YEAR ______________.

___________________________ ___________________________

Signed Printed Name/Town and State

Saturday, September 19, 2009

State of health insurance for myself, and for the U.S.

Only a few know about this, but recently the company I work for decided it would be a good idea to audit employee benefits to see how many illegitimate spouses or children were receiving benefits. This was conducted randomly, and not to the whole of the company. In June they claim they sent out a packet of information including the audit materials. In July they claim they sent a follow-up reminder postcard. They sent them via standard First-class bulk-rate mail. Well, I didn't receive these.

Once I didn't respond to the survey they claim they sent, they interpreted this to mean that I didn't want the dependents listed on my account to get benefits anymore. So, the company took it upon themselves to cancel their coverage, which includes health insurance, dental, vision, prescription medications, and life-insurance beneficiaries. The company didn't see any need to phone me at any of the phone numbers they have for me to see if something had been forgotten, or if there was a problem. They just canceled my family's coverage without my knowledge or consent.

Then after they had canceled my family's coverage, my wife needed medical attention. When she got to the hospital, our insurance was declined (as it had been canceled without our knowledge or consent). It was over the weekend, so of course every office was closed. When I called on Monday they informed me that their systems show it was mailed, along with the changes they decided to make to my insurance plans without my consent or knowledge. They continued to repeat over and over again that they mailed it, and that it had the information concerning the ramifications of not returning the audit. But of course, as I mentioned, I never got the forms.

Additionally they cannot prove receipt, since they refuse to use certified mail or any parcel service that requires signature on delivery. They claimed on the phone that they didn't have my phone numbers, which are on my profile on their system. They also claimed that my managers should have informed me of the audit, which in reality they didn't know about it since it was random for 1/40th of the number of employees that my company has. I asked them to reinstate my insurance since they dropped my dependents without my consent, to which they said they couldn't until I proved that I was indeed married and that I was indeed the father of my two children. I asked them to provide another audit materials packet, and asked that they ship it via certified mail with proof of delivery...to which they refused.

Basically the company is doing something that I believe is illegal. And this is not isolated to just me in this country. From denial of service to companies changing people's policies out from under them...this is the state of our private health system.

Most people don't understand how health insurance or the health care industry even works. Educate yourselves. We have the most expensive health care system in the world, but only the 37th-best in outcomes. I will quickly concede that the plans introduced by Congress by President Obama's request may not cut it in the long term. But right now we are in a system that has already demonstrated that it is a road that will end, and we already don't even bother to care for 18-20% of our people.

How does health care in the United States work?
http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?i=60310490&id=278981407

Stuff You Should Know Podcast - the above podcast is part of a 4-part series. Subscribe.
http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=278981407

10 Health Care Systems Around the World
http://health.howstuffworks.com/10-health-care-systems.htm

10 Myths About U.S. Health Care Reform Proposals
http://health.howstuffworks.com/10-myths-about-health-care-reform.htm

How Health Insurance Works
http://health.howstuffworks.com/health-insurance.htm

Friday, September 18, 2009

9/12 Tea Party

This is going to be a lengthy post because of all the video that I'm going to post. But I think that people should see this side of Americans. 9/12 Tea-Party attenders seem largely to firmly believe in specifics they cannot articulate, or are fanatically misinformed about

This first video is an excellent set of very calmly asked questions. Never does the interviewer antagonize or berate those he interviews. He just asks questions and lets them answer. But the answers reveal that the people there don't really seem to know what specifically they are outraged about, or where the specifics of the issues they are protesting originated from, or even if there is truth value to the specific they think they know.



This isn't pinning anyone down either. Here is much more crazy stuff that was recorded by the Associated Press.



It seems that even a person that has been very much on the far right, conservative side of the fence, Bill O'Reilly is interested in offering a public plan option. He seems to be interested in the well being of people who cannot otherwise afford health insurance. Keith Olbermann will have to take him off the "Worst Person in the World" list, at least for this comment.



More interviews. You can decide for yourself (talking like FoxNews here) if they know what they are talking about. The origin of this video is a conservative group, by the way.



One more...but this time for fun.

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