Mar 10

Print it out and Play Along!!!!1

Healthcare reform bingo!   Perfect for Facebook, Twitter, talk radio, and Glenn Beck’s chalkboard!



Created with the Custom Bingo Card Generator.

Nov 09

Daily Links for November 8th through November 10th

All excerpts are quoted from the respective link(s).

  • Top 50 US Craft Brewers by Sales (MAP) | Sloshspot Blog – You may have seen the map we created earlier this year using the data from 2007 sales, and we now present the updated version with figures for 2008 sales. Once again, to be very clear, the rankings are determined by sales of those breweries that fit the criteria: small, independent and traditional (see the Brewers Association definition of Craft Brewers here). This is not a list of the best beers, so you won't see your local monastery that receives 101 bottles from Heaven each year. We also included some interesting information regarding recent brewery openings and closings.
  • Interactive: State-by-state numbers for the’cash for clunkers’ program | detnews.com | The Detroit News – Interactive: State-by-state numbers for the'cash for clunkers' program
  • The 10 Most Obscene Cities In America – It's always obscene in Philadelphia [#3]! Philly only placed in the top ten for four of the seven bad words, but it ranked high for all of them.
  • Do or Die: The Six Senators Who Will Decide the Fate of Health Care Reform | TPMDC – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid faces a number of obstacles to passing health care reform but his main task is to keep his caucus united for not one, but two, supermajority votes, just to get the reform bill an up or down on the Senate floor. Failure to get 60 votes to push past either of those two procedural chokepoints could derail the reform bill. Here are the six key holdouts Reid must wrangle to reach the magic threshold.
  • House Democrats Who Voted Against the Health Care Bill – Interactive Graphic – NYTimes.com – Lawmakers in the House voted 220 to 215 on Saturday night to approve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system. Only one Republican voted for the bill, and 39 Democrats opposed it, including 24 members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition. An overwhelming majority of the Democratic lawmakers who opposed the bill — 31 of the 39 — represent districts that were won by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, in the 2008 presidential election, and a third of them were freshmen. Nearly all of the fourteen freshmen Democrats who voted “no” represent districts that were previously Republican and are considered vulnerable in 2010. Geographically, 22 lawmakers from southern states formed the largest opposition bloc. Below are details on the Democrats that opposed the health care legislation in the House.
  • Cloud of Atlases by The Editors – The Morning News – Maps without legends – what can you infer from the patterns and your existing knowledge?

Oct 09


If opting-out becomes a reality in the healthcare reform bill, it is almost certain to be a political wedge and a litmus test of Conservative Values for Republicans.   No GOP incumbent will stave off primary challenges without walking the coals and rejecting ‘socialized medicine’.

As a anecdote, consider this Wired magazine article about parents who opt-out of vaccination for their children (via kottke):

Today, because the looming risk of childhood death is out of sight, it is also largely out of mind, leading a growing number of Americans to worry about what is in fact a much lesser risk: the ill effects of vaccines. If your newborn gets pertussis, for example, there is a 1 percent chance that the baby will die of pulmonary hypertension or other complications. The risk of dying from the pertussis vaccine, by contrast, is practically nonexistent ” in fact, no study has linked DTaP (the three-in-one immunization that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) to death in children. Nobody in the pro-vaccine camp asserts that vaccines are risk-free, but the risks are minute in comparison to the alternative.

Still, despite peer-reviewed evidence, many parents ignore the math and agonize about whether to vaccinate. Why? For starters, the human brain has a natural tendency to pattern-match ” to ignore the old dictum “correlation does not imply causation  and stubbornly persist in associating proximate phenomena. If two things coexist, the brain often tells us, they must be related. Some parents of autistic children noticed that their child’s condition began to appear shortly after a vaccination. The conclusion: “The vaccine must have caused the autism.  Sounds reasonable, even though, as many scientists have noted, it has long been known that autism and other neurological impairments often become evident at or around the age of 18 to 24 months, which just happens to be the same time children receive multiple vaccinations. Correlation, perhaps. But not causation, as studies have shown.

And if you need a new factoid to support your belief system, it has never been easier to find one. The Internet offers a treasure trove of undifferentiated information, data, research, speculation, half-truths, anecdotes, and conjecture about health and medicine. It is also a democratizing force that tends to undermine authority, cut out the middleman, and empower individuals. In a world where anyone can attend what McCarthy calls the “University of Google,  boning up on immunology before getting your child vaccinated seems like good, responsible parenting. Thanks to the Internet, everyone can be their own medical investigator.

The stubborn irrationality of the opt-outters endangers us all:

Consider: In certain parts of the US, vaccination rates have dropped so low that occurrences of some children’s diseases are approaching pre-vaccine levels for the first time ever. And the number of people who choose not to vaccinate their children (so-called philosophical exemptions are available in about 20 states, including Pennsylvania, Texas, and much of the West) continues to rise. In states where such opting out is allowed, 2.6 percent of parents did so last year, up from 1 percent in 1991, according to the CDC. In some communities, like California’s affluent Marin County, just north of San Francisco, non-vaccination rates are approaching 6 percent (counterintuitively, higher rates of non-vaccination often correspond with higher levels of education and wealth).

That may not sound like much, but a recent study by the Los Angeles Times indicates that the impact can be devastating. The Times found that even though only about 2 percent of California’s kindergartners are unvaccinated (10,000 kids, or about twice the number as in 1997), they tend to be clustered, disproportionately increasing the risk of an outbreak of such largely eradicated diseases as measles, mumps, and pertussis (whooping cough). The clustering means almost 10 percent of elementary schools statewide may already be at risk.

If individual states are allowed to opt-out, it will most certainly be the red states – those with the lowest access to healthcare, most dissatisfaction, and most unhealthy lifestyles.   It is likewise reasonable to assume that rates in those states will rise faster still.

The parallels of healthcare reform and vaccination coincide here:

Ah, risk. It is the idea that fuels the anti-vaccine movement ” that parents should be allowed to opt out, because it is their right to evaluate risk for their own children. It is also the idea that underlies the CDC’s vaccination schedule ” that the risk to public health is too great to allow individuals, one by one, to make decisions that will impact their communities. (The concept of herd immunity is key here: It holds that, in diseases passed from person to person, it is more difficult to maintain a chain of infection when large numbers of a population are immune.)

Yet again, in yet another domain (just like the world of finance), irrationality and a failure to gauge risk may put us all in peril.

Sep 09

Daily Links for September 25th through September 26th

All excerpts are quoted from the respective link(s).

  • Visualizing the Flu : Visualizing Swine Flu – H1N1 ! « Goomedic.com – Visualization is a not that tricky , however in such viral news as H1N1 its badly needed , either to track the new cases or follow up the numbers of the cases around the world .
  • Emptywheel » Law & Order v. John Yoo – The Law & Order folks originally get the torture issue because the John Yoo figure (named Franklin in the show–he differs from Yoo in that he's white and he's still trying to get tenure) kills a former Abu Ghraib guard suffering from PTSD, Greg Tanner, who tried to get Franklin to help him get money and/or VA treatment for his PTSD. The implication, ultimately, is that the Franklin killed Tanner to try to prevent Tanner from revealing his role in torture. After Franklin escapes manslaughter charges through some cynical lawyering, the Law & Order team indict him for conspiracy to torture, based on his role in writing the torture memos.
  • Staturday: The Economic Costs of Divorce | GOOD – Divorced households annually consume 73 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and 627 billion gallons of water more than they would if both partners were still living under one roof, costing an additional $10.5 billion each year.
  • Pics Aplenty: IIHS reveals before and after of Malibu/Bel Air crash — Autoblog – In addition to the aforementioned video, the IIHS has also just released a gallery of images, before and after if you will, of the two cars involved in the celebratory crash. Note the passenger compartment of the '09 Malibu, which stays completely intact, versus the Bel Air that crumbles like a cereal box.
  • Health care around the globe – USATODAY.com – A look at how other developed countries provide and pay for health care compared with the U.S. system, based on the most recent information available

Sep 09

Something Old, Something New

As if you needed another reason to hate Walmart (all emphasis mine):

Around the time that the young Sam Walton opened his first stores, John Kennedy redeemed a presidential campaign promise by persuading Congress to extend the minimum wage to retail workers, who had until then not been covered by the law. Congress granted an exclusion, however, to small businesses with annual sales beneath $1 million — a figure that in 1965 it lowered to $250,000.

Walton was furious. The mechanization of agriculture had finally reached the backwaters of the Ozark Plateau, where he was opening one store after another. The men and women who had formerly worked on small farms suddenly found themselves redundant, and he could scoop them up for a song, as little as 50 cents an hour. Now the goddamn federal government was telling him he had to pay his workers the $1.15 hourly minimum. Walton’s response was to divide up his stores into individual companies whose revenues did not exceed the $250,000 threshold. Eventually, though, a federal court ruled that this was simply a scheme to avoid paying the minimum wage, and he was ordered to pay his workers the accumulated sums he owed them, plus a double-time penalty thrown in for good measure.

Wal-Mart cut the checks, but Walton also summoned the employees at a major cluster of his stores to a meeting. “I’ll fire anyone who cashes the check,” he told them.

Meanwhile, Max Baucus’ insurance-industry drafted bill includes the following loophole for corporations like Walmart:

So if Wal-Mart wanted to avoid paying anything for its employees under MaxTax, it could simply make sure that none of them made more than $14,403 a year (they’d have to do this by ensuring their employees worked fewer than 40 hours a week, since this works out to be slightly less than minimum wage). Or, a single mom with two kids could make $24,352–a whopping $11.71 an hour, working full time. That’s more than the average Wal-Mart employee made last year. So long as Wal-Mart made sure its employees applied for Medicaid (something it already does in states where its employees are eligible), it would pay nothing. Nada, zip. Nothing.

It would pay nothing while struggling middle class families would be forced to pay up to 31% of their incomes for health care.

Now obviously, it’s got to employ at least a few people who make more than poverty wages. But hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart employees would qualify for and be provided for by Medicaid. Assuming that just 500,000 qualified, it would save Wal-Mart $1.25 billon of that $3.5 billion.

A $1.25 billion reward to Wal-Mart–a competitive advantage it would have–for paying shit wages.

And who will be paying that reward to encourage Wal-Mart to continue to pay shit wages? Why, that’d be our taxes, yours and mine.

Got that?   They end up on Government-run, taxpayer funded healthcare anyway.   The asterisk in Walmarts new logo is clearly a sphincter.