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Tuesday, August 31, 2004



This is my Amazon.com wish list. Feel free to buy me gifts.

Monday, August 30, 2004

When they start in on Health Care

Daniel Weintraub: Is there a health crisis? Numbers tell another story

Interesting article in the Sacramento Bee. Some highlights include:

The first new car I ever bought was a 1981 Toyota Tercel that cost me less
than $6,000. My most recent vehicle purchase set me back more than $30,000. And
I'm not alone. Federal statistics show that Americans spent nearly three times
more buying cars and trucks in 2001 than they did 20 years ago.

Does this mean there is a crisis in the cost of cars? Of course not. We
have more people today than we did then, and more of us drive. We drive more
comfortable, safer, more reliable cars. Our cars are our homes away from home,
with music and video systems that rival what the wealthy put in their houses a
few years back.

Compare that to the way we think about health

Thus, the opening premise: The health care "crisis" is not so much a "crisis" as it is a natural phenomenon we all put up with in many many areas of our life.

Take your cable (or, satelite) TV bill...compare it to what it was 10 years ago. Why is it higher? (More channels! More things you DONT WATCH! Better technology!!! So I have to pay HOW MUCH for a TV that looks that good?)

Same with a gallon of gas? A gallon of milk?

But, do I want the government to socialize dairy products so that everyone has equal access to them?

But the cost of health care is rising at just about the same rate as the cost of
cars. And by coincidence, we spent about the same on our health - $628 billion -
as we did on personal transportation in 2000.

This is an interesting statistic...

More than half of the increase during that period, Thorpe found, could be
attributed to just 15 conditions. The top six - heart disease, lung disorders,
mental illness, cancer, hypertension and trauma - accounted for nearly one-third
of the increase by themselves.
And for many of these conditions, Thorpe
found, the number of people being treated, both in actual numbers and as a share
of the population, has increased dramatically.

Yes, when you treat more patients for more illnesses, the cost of the care will increase.

The treatment of mental illness has also exploded. Twice as many people, as
a share of the population, were treated for mental disorders in 2000 as were in
1987. Diabetes, back problems, arthritis and hypertension also are on the

I'm not sure why we feel so bad about spending more to improve and extend
our lives, while we take increased transportation costs in stride. One reason
may be that we have more control over our cars and their upkeep, while our
health care is managed by third parties. If our employers controlled our
vehicles, decided what we could drive and how far we could drive them, we - and
they - might be more uneasy about the economic trends in transportation.

Or, worse yet, replace "Federal and State Government" for the word "employer" above. What advocates of socialized health care are in favor of is similar to the Federal Government saying, "OK, now, since everyone gets a new car this year, and there are only so many dollars to go around, everyone will be given a 1998 Grand Am (red or white). It doesn't matter that YOU have enough to buy a BMW or that you actually need a pickup truck or that you'd rather save the money and walk to work. YOU are getting a 1998 Grand Am and you are going to like it.
It's tempting to blame insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms, hospitals
and other players in the health care system for the rising tab, and each of
these parties plays a role. But the biggest reason that health care costs
growing is that there are more of us, and we're getting more and better
treatment for what ails us.

Yes, it is tempting to blame some nameless, faceless corporation. There ARE some legitimate issues which should be addressed in the healthcare industry, but to believe further socialization will cure our problems (pun intended) seems short-sighted.

Ask our neighbors to the North: Waiting for health care in Canada.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Moneyball: Book Recommendation

My book recommendation for the day: Moneyball by Michael Lewis. This is one of those books that takes you by surprise. It is hard to put down, and takes a unique view of the game of baseball for small market clubs. An easy and interesting read. Excellent. 5 stars on my Amazon rating list. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

You, Too, Can Enjoy Office Supplies

This is my favorite writing tool of the moment. The Blueline NotePro note book. Nice construction with handy index and indexing stickers. A real gem. I'm using three of them right now. I'll soon be buying more. Perhaps by the case, because I'm sure they'll stop making them (because I LIKE them...). Posted by Hello

Found some photos I hadn't developed. More at my photo blog. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

That Horse is Dead, I Tell 'Ya

Under Eye of U.N., Billions for Hussein in Oil-for-Food Plan

Toward the end of 2000, when Saddam Hussein's skimming from the oil-for-food
program for Iraq kicked into high gear, reports spread quickly to the program's
supervisors at the United Nations.
Oil industry experts told Security Council
members and Secretary General Kofi Annan's staff that Iraq was demanding
under-the-table payoffs from its oil buyers. The British mission distributed a
background paper to Council members outlining what it called "the systematic
abuse of the program" and described how Iraq was shaking down its oil customers
and suppliers of goods for kickbacks.

When the report landed in the United Nations' Iraq
sanctions committee, the clearinghouse for all contracts with Iraq, it caused
only a few ripples of consternation. There was no action, diplomats said, not
even a formal meeting on the allegations.

I did three days worth of blogging on this already (here, here, and here) but, I figure it is worth a second look. If you got the point the first time, move on, there is nothing to see here.

Since the fall of Mr. Hussein, the oil-for-food program has received far more
scrutiny than it ever did during its six years of operation. Congress's
Government Accountability Office, formerly the General Accounting Office, has
estimated that the Iraqi leader siphoned at least $10 billion from the program
by illicitly trading in oil and collecting kickbacks from companies that had
United Nations approval to do business with Iraq. Multiple investigations now
under way in Washington and Iraq and at the United Nations all center on one
straightforward question: How did Mr. Hussein amass so much money while under
international sanctions? An examination of the program, the largest in the
United Nations' history, suggests an equally straightforward answer: The United
Nations let him do it.

No, not the UN, (cue celestial, new age music) bastion of all that is sacred and good in the world???!!!??


In blunt post-mortem assessments, they describe the program as a drifting ship -
poorly designed, leaking money and controlled by a Security Council that was
paralyzed by its own disputes over Iraq policy.

It goes on, but this, again, is old news, and can be read on the Times site.

Stop Using the Sun so Much, Dork...

Cosmic ray link to global warming boosted

That's right. There is growing evidence that the Sun may be causing Global Warming. Yes, the smart money was on Cow Farts, but instead, it may be the Sun that is warming up the planet.

(I would like to note here that it is August 17th, and the temperature here in Indiana this morning was like, 60 degrees, and only a little warmer than that by 10 a.m. But, as a friend pointed out, Alaska is having a heat wave...)

Anyway, the article says:

The controversial idea that cosmic rays could be driving global warming by
influencing cloud cover will get a boost at a conference next week. But some
scientists dismiss the idea and are worried that it will detract from efforts to
curb rising levels of greenhouse gases.
At issue is whether cosmic rays, the high-energy particles spat out by exploding stars elsewhere in the galaxy, can affect the temperature on Earth. The suggestion is that cosmic rays crashing into the atmosphere ionise the molecules they collide with, triggering cloud formation.

Interesting, to say the least.

If the flux of cosmic rays drops, fewer clouds will form and the planet will
warm up. No one yet understands the mechanism, which was first described in the
late 1990s. But what makes it controversial is that climate models used to
predict the consequences of rising levels of greenhouse gases do not allow for
the effect, and may be inaccurate.

So, this then, is really the "controversy"? That the sacred cow may be toppled or defaced? That the bloated emperor may not be sporting much more than a thong made of red Twizzlers?

They argued that changes in carbon dioxide levels over the same period had a
much smaller effect on temperature than previously assumed, suggesting that
today's soaring levels of the greenhouse gas may have less impact than
scientists anticipate. "It makes you think maybe it's a waste implementing the
Kyoto Protocol and losing all those trillions of dollars," says Shaviv.
Seems like maybe I read someone else saying something like that...hmmm...

Interesting stuff. Obviously this is new science, and new information. It doesn't invalidate the climate research, unless of course the climate researchers refuse to take the Sun into account. Why would they do that? Because we CAN NOT CONTROL THE SUN, and therefore, their research couldn't lead to the kinds of control and authority that research would lead to if we proved that you, dear consumer, were the one killing the Earth.

YOU, we can control. YOU will submit.

The more we know, the more we should realize how little we know.

Some Colorado pictures. More on my photo-blog. More to come. Posted by Hello

Big sky. Darkness in the valley. Posted by Hello

This little guy seemed out of place among the stallions in the background. I identified. Posted by Hello

Time, Time, Time

A month away from the blog...no big deal, though I did find myself, more than ever, thinking "hey that would go well in the blog" when I read a weird/funny/incredible article or saw something on the news.

So, do I go back to a lot of those stories, or just start back, from "scratch" as it is?

From scratch it is.

It seems as though Blogger has again chaned the interface, so I'll play with that some. I'll find some goofy stories to make snide comments on. I might even post an orignal piece or two, and a photo here or there. Life will be back to normal.