Author Archives: admin

Against Alarmism

is called Alarmism, Your race is doing better than ever before, and you are looking for problems. That is fine, but every time your race finds clear and evident problems your race finds solutions as well. Polar bears? Wolves? Bees? And now you are crying about other insects. I like having less insects and I like warmer springs and falls. If this portends the future I am okay with that.
 
Population growth? Right now it is as about 1% per year. Sure it is exponential. It is growing slower than the economy. And the only solution would be to tell people which people are most valuable and cull the herd. No one wants to do that. But we are doing a good job of keeping things in check. Presumably with education and women’s empowerment we will only have those people who are valuable to us, If you know differently that would be a different discussion.
 
It is a disaster when power goes out and Florida doesn’t have A/C, people die. You should worry about that. People can’t come out of their caves and not because of climate change but because people don’t adapt to the climate they were born with.
 
People don’t find value in living within the natural system, so they change their climate in their caves and other living spaces and only have to go out briefly between one cave and the next. It doesn’t hurt the environment as much as it does your brethren. Inspire people to accept their climate. That is a calling for you, David.
 
Animal populations are higher than ever, none are going extinct. We are looking for problems but those problems are us. We are our problems. We don’t spread the problem, we clean up more than any human civilization ever did before, but we don’t surface. Like an ant cave the vast majority of us don’t surface.
 
It is only a problem if that is not how we want our lives to be.

Non-Partisan Views of Gun Control

I am Libertarian, so my interest in government is more about giving people freedom than taking away rights and freedoms we already have.

Left over from Prohibition are draconian and nonsensical laws against distilling alcohol completely out of whack with normalcy. You can make beer or wine very easily (people make it in jail from water, sugar, flour and yeast) and use it, even share it, of course you can’t sell it without licensing, government inspection and of course paying taxes.

But if you distill that is $10,000 plus ten years. Even just possessing distilled liquor is $5,000 plus five years. So if you want to talk about reasonable laws in the USA we need to first start with simplifying the existing ones or we continue a very bad trend

I have a pistol license but I do not own any guns. If I thought the laws were going to change, though, I just might buy some. I enjoy target shooting, and have hunted a few times, not much into fishing either.

My point is the judicial industry in the US sux and if you think prohibiting something will change people’s behavior, well, I have some pot right here and that is illegal in every state by Federal law. Speeding (every single person who has ever driven), prostitution (the offer of money), pirating music (Happy Birthday, the Macarena), copyright laws (don’t get me started), peeing outside, connecting to public wi-fi without permission, poker, and don’t even start examining building and fire codes and zoning and sewer use and environmental ….

Police have too much discretion as we see in the news every day. They could arrest anyone at any time if they name a law that might be broken. And there are lots of laws.  You must be very white to suggest a new law will help.  Most of us are now aware that if you want to make a bad situation worse call the police, or involve the government.

Suggesting we make things MORE restricted irks me. Things are restricted enough. Everyone is a criminal and we just exist at the generosity of cops who are either not aware of all the laws or don’t like to do a lot of paperwork.

And when we start talking about our prison system we have double the prisoners and double the costs to the taxpayer for them per capita than any other country. China has a few more prisoners than us, but China has three times the population.  We imprison five times more than the world average, about 0.01% while the world average is 0.002%.

So more laws will not help fix any problem. I think we should try education.  And we start by simplifying and repealing the STUPID laws we already have.

A Non-Partisan View: an ongoing discussion

A non-partisan reaction to the  essay by Speaker Arisimowicz which has been called a concise description why the Connecticut Republican budget which recently passed is a disaster. [Shown after the non-partisan reaction below]

Begins quite partisan saying the Republican budget is “severely flawed” and some who voted didn’t really mean it to pass, Looks like a stretch. The Republican budget looks to me like a serious offering.

Every Democrat claims UConn needs tax money to thrive. The Republicans would cut $200 million more than the Democrats, plus “Requires professors to teach an additional class …; eliminates free tuition for employees and families, requires UConn Health to enter into a public-private partnership.”

Aresimowicz complains the Republican budget eliminates $435 million for business development and job training programs. The bulk of those cuts comes from the State Departments “direct financial assistance to businesses” according to the Courant. But it also eliminates aid to small businesses for a voucher program, apprenticeships, worker training and energy efficiency incentives.

I think I can see why Democrats complain louder about the $200 million from UConn than the $435 million from financial assistance to businesses, and that looks partisan. We should look at both dollar amounts and what we expect to receive from that money.

He say Hartford would file bankruptcy and close the XL Center. All I see is not funding $115 million for renovations of the Center. Don’t know where he gets the bankruptcy from.

It may not be true that shutting funding for things will shut those things down. And the rest of his assertions are not easily found in any budget synopsis I have found.

The truth is the essay is quite partisan but calls for unity, rings hollow, disingenuous.

Democrats mainly point to UConn for why the budget is bad, but in reality education and health care are very, very expensive and perhaps if the people who received those services had to pay fairly for them we would then find more realistic pricing. And those providing education services competed fairly with other providers the quality would go up, but that might just be a pipe dream.

There is the other case, that if world class education is cheaper here than elsewhere then better people would come here. It is a decision beyond my pay grade, but I think everyone should see the clear choice instead of partisan posturing.

I would love to see some soul searching among some policy makers that truly look at the differences. Aresimowicz is right that the differences are not very large.

“As the Republican budget that narrowly passed the legislature last week awaits an assured, and deserved, veto from the Governor, a path must still be forged to a final budget that reflects the priorities of Connecticut’s residents.
“As it continues to be analyzed and assessed, clearly this Republican budget is severely flawed and not the answer to our fiscal challenges. There may even be some legislators who voted for it that never expected it to actually become law, and prefer that it doesn’t.

“There is general acknowledgment that it would decimate the University of Connecticut and threaten UConn’s place as a top public university in the country. It would also undercut the entire Connecticut State University system and potentially result in the closure of some community colleges.

“Eliminating business development and job training programs such as funding for the successful Small Business Express and evening hours at our Technical High Schools would stunt job creation efforts, while ending the Angel Investor Tax Credit would stifle entrepreneurship. Each of these would be counterproductive for our future economy.

“The Republican budget would also assure our Capital City of Hartford would have to file for bankruptcy, and likely cause the shutdown of the XL Center.

“The list goes on and on, including allowing unfettered corporate and special interests influence back into our elections with the elimination of the Citizens Election Program, and shutting down the public’s access to their government via television and online through the Connecticut Network (CTN).

“Though it is important for people to understand the negative impact of this budget, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that common ground does exist in many areas. These include changing the relationship between the state and the municipalities, reforming the state contracting system, and phasing out the income tax on Social Security payments.

“Yet, the fact remains that our state does need a final budget, and needs it soon. October is a particularly critical month for our cities and towns, with first quarter education aid and other upcoming municipal payments due.

“I’ve been saying all along that with a disastrous scenario for our schools on the horizon, it is critical that we work together and compromise with the Governor and Republicans to reach a bipartisan agreement on a final budget in short order that can become law.

“Bipartisanship is what the public wants, and with a split Senate and a slim House margin that is what is needed. That message rings truer and louder with every day that goes by. Every legislator hears it from their constituents at home in their districts.

“There is no more room or time for political posturing. The good news is that the two parties are not that far apart on the bottom line, including important areas such as funding for our schools and helping out our hospitals.

“Time is of the essence, so let’s all finally put our “D” and “R” labels aside, put up a “C” for Connecticut, and work together for the betterment of our state we all love.”

Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, is speaker of the House of Representatives.

 
 

Corrupt and Unethical, but not Illegal

This has NOTHING to do with Obamacare.

I have no idea why this is not screamed from the mountaintops:  Our Healthcare System is Corrupt!  Just because it is legal does not mean it isn’t unethical, anti-competitive, bad for the economy and the nation.

We complain about third world countries and bribes and corruption when our system is the most corrupt of all, but legal.  We pay our Congress $30,000,000 a day (salary, overhead, expenses) to literally do nothing.  Our system is designed to make lawyers, insurance companies and lawmakers rich.  We require those jobs, we practically require them to be rich, with laws and more laws.  We have to buy insurance, we have to hire lawyers, we have to pay our lawmakers. We make people immune from ethics and the harm that they do.

For the price of a colonoscopy in Torrington one can fly to Costa Rica, have your colonoscopy, stay three nights in a large beachside hotel, and return with $3000 in your pocket.  You can get health care that is as good or better from a neighboring country for a tenth the cost.  And we all scream free enterprise.  Why do we want no government oversight over the obscene prices of our health care?  And why do want the government in our homes when we install a light switch?  The disconnect is obvious.  We are brainwashed.

Why is that?  I wondered why people go to Mexico or Canada or the internet to buy their prescription drugs.  But now I know.  A drug I was prescribed that cost about $100 a dose I bought from China for $9 including shipping. Why?  Is there an answer beyond corruption?  Is there a better word?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/business/high-cost-of-medical-procedures-in-the-us/

The cost of corruption is that this will be an international world.  Fly to Mexico and stay in a hospital room for $50 a day, or in the US for $1000 – $2500 per night.  Routine procedures in the US cost more than double the amount they cost in the next highest country.  And there are two prices in the US, one when you have insurance and one when you don’t.  Does that make sense to anyone?

I run a computer repair company and I wish I could make people buy insurance for my services, and after they pay for the insurance I could charge them triple for my service.  But that is okay, for them the cost of coverage goes up, not my fault.

http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/lists/average-cost-per-inpatient-day-across-50-states-in-2010.html

I have been in hospitals in both countries and I believe the Mexican hospital treated me better.  But since I have the best insurance my government can give me as a retired State worker I should just shut up and let my insurance company and hospital post billion dollar profits every year.  If a doctor can’t make $1000 an hour the practice closes.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/06/daily-chart-18

Anthropogenic Climate Change: Trust is the issue

One side believes whatever government and big business says, the other believes government and big business says is a deliberate lie. Both are wrong, of course.

And that makes Anthropogenic Climate Change the classic example of ostensibly non-political partisanship. Of course it is political because government wants you to trust it, and they have the resources to scorn, degrade, belittle and shame you if you question it. The other side only has humor (mainly sarcasm).

The issue is NOT global warming, which is a scientific fact. The globe is warming about a degree per century. The issue is Climate Change and what part humanity plays.

Unless we are going to equate “warming” with “climate” we have to differentiate the two. In grade school I was taught climate was tropical, sub-tropical, temperate, sub-arctic and polar. Maybe there is a revised list, but to decide it there is climate change we need to cite examples, and those exampled cannot be tied directly to warming because warming is agreed.

So extended ranges in northern Canada and polar ice melting is warming temperature. Right? The only other example I know of, and please correct me if I am wrong, is the greening of the sub-sahara.

Which brings us to a trust issue mentioned in the first paragraph. If one side does not trust the other side where does one go for information? Luckily there are plenty of people who collect information and put it into a cogent form. The government web sites all average satellite and ground taken temperatures to make what they claim is the most accurate temperature average. But others don’t trust the government to average temperatures since the government no doubt has a vested interest in selling Climate Change to the public.

So here is a graph made with only satellite temperature data

2017 to 1979 Global Warming

 

There is no doubt that taking satellite data alone gives dramatically different data than the averages proposed by the Powers That Be, so there is a trust issue. Where do we go to resolve the trust issue? At that point I draw a blank. Any suggestions?

And then we get to the more complicated issue of precisely how CO2 drives Climate Change. The stock answer is The Greenhouse Effect, but that is a non-answer since it is like answering how humans got to dominate the earth by Evolution. It does not provide a precise enough answer.

I have investigated and found solid data that humanity is responsible for between 21% and 42% of the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere since the 1970s (from 0.032% to 0.040%). What I have not found is the formula or direct tie between that increase and the increase in temperature. Seems like it would be easy to do, but it is not. I can tell you why but I feel I am losing you already.

So let’s stop here for the day. Is warming the same thing as climate? And how does one know CO2 is the cause of warming? Can we believe whatever the government says? Can we accept that the other side of our partisan dichotomy has as good a reason for believing what they believe as we do for believing what we believe?

Does anyone really believe they are open minded about climate change? Really? I mean, I was just shown this article (below) that references real data, and look at the headline!

The article ostensibly debunks those of us who believe satellite data alone is a better measure of global warming since its availability in the 1970s. But, the article says, orbits deteriorate, the 6 or 8 satellites lose synch, on and on, and so they correct that data by 140% upward and that still doesn’t show such a large growth in warming as predicted. If you add thermometers and hot air balloons and average all the data you get much faster global warming.

And the “corrected data” shows “140% faster warming” than uncorrected data. But then read the data., How can you keep a straight face?

The computer models on average predicted 18% warming between 1979- 2016 the lowest computer model prediction was 6% the highest was 40%. The actual warming turned out to be 5% After correction. And the article says it was “a bit lower than expected”.

This article was written to de-bunk those who claim satellite data alone shows less global warming, that satellite data alone should be corrected by 140% higher. And if you do, then you will get 5% warming, which is still a hell of a lot less than predicted. But hey, no journalist wants to be called a Denier, but you have to be an Al Gore or a Bill Nye if you want to lie about scientific data. So you report the corrected data and write that it is still “a bit lower than expected”. 40% was predicted but it was really 5%, which is truly a bit lower than expected.

Here is what the article says for those of you too lazy to click it yourself:

“While the new RSS v4 records show more warming than surface records since 1979, this behavior would to some extent be expected. Climate models on average project around 18% amplification over the 1979-2016 period, though this value ranges from as low as 6% to as high as 40% in individual climate models. Even with these new corrections, there is evidence that the rate of warming of the troposphere is a bit lower than expected by climate models in recent years.”

A new paper published in the Journal of Climate reveals that the lower part of the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed much faster since 1979 than scientists relying on…
CARBONBRIEF.ORG

Immigration Ignorance

The immigration laws would be silly in many cases if it did not affect the lives of the equivalent of the entire populations of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago combined. But we all know these laws are not likely to change.

The U.S. Congress is frozen, unmovable. And until the laws change there will be no change in the situation undocumented residents find themselves.  And we continue to believe “they” can just apply for citizenship or “they” committed a crime or don’t pay taxes…  so many misconceptions.

About half of all the estimated 12 million undocumented or “illegal” immigrants who are living in the US entered the country legally but overstayed their Visas. The vast majority live with family, and many in the family are US citizens.

Remember our border is 2000 miles long and would take six months to walk, or if there were a super highway that ran the length of the border it would take several days to drive it at the speed limit.  A passenger airline would take about 4 hours if there were a direct flight.  The entire border is with Mexico and the border was fixed by treaty in 1963 to be mostly along lines of an 1889 treaty.  The US won nearly half of Mexico in a war, and the inhabitants had the choice of staying in the US or going to Mexico.  The overwhelming majority chose to stay in the US., but of course there were no border restrictions in those days.

Fifty eight percent of those living in the US without a visa are Mexican nationals and the new border security has made it much more difficult for people to cross our Mexican border. Ironically that has increased the likelihood that an undocumented resident of any nationality will remain in the US undocumented rather than return.

Undocumented children, when they reach age 16 or so feel as American as I am, having gone through our school system. But they are not eligible for loans or grants for College, or until this law is signed, in-state tuition in Connecticut. All of them know a lot more about this country and the English language than the country and language of their citizenship. But here they can’t work, drive, or enter our military. College is usually out of the question as well.
The Anchor Baby issue rears its head now and again.  After the Civil War the 14th Amendment to the Constitution made it very, very clear that people born in the US, like black people, are US citizens.  The belief is that people come to the US to have babies so that they can stay in the US.  Statistics does not back up this belief, and neither does the law.  People of whatever background have babies at numbers in accordance with that background, or fewer.  And although children born in the US can stay it would take about 30 years before a child could grow to adult and apply for citizenship for their parents and make their parents legal residents.  Hardly a reasonable investment of time.

The primary reason for coming to and living in the US is to live with family, to work in plentiful agricultural, food service and other low paying jobs, and because it is very difficult to visit here.  If you leave you will most likely never, ever be able to return.

I have lived and worked illegally in two countries, and my visa expired once in Mexico.  I did not know it, of course, when any of those events took place.  I was offered a job and I took it and the company that hired me never told me what I was doing was against local immigration law.  The first time I was a tour guide and the issue never came up.  The second time I didn’t realize I had been illegal until I investigated the laws from a computer years later.

Mexico does not require a visa to enter if you are a US citizen, unless you travel more than 30 miles from the border.  The visa is free, but if you do travel further than 30 miles and you don’t get the visa you, and you are caught, you will need to pay an fine of approximately $30 US.  Nearly every other country on earth except the US has provisions to pay a fine to come to terms with immigration violations, but the US requires those without a valid visa to leave the US in order to come to terms. If you do that you better have a very, very good US lawyer or you will not be allowed back.

The Vaccination Examination and Healthy Lies

Certain hot-button topics are just given and not open for examination.  Anthropogenic Climate Change, Vaccines, Chemtrails and Government Conspiracies  top the lists.  Whenever any of these subjects is broached all people who consider themselves reasonable just shut down, nothing could possibly be said to add to what they know about these subjects.

Therefore these are partisan issues.  No reason will be considered, well, unless it is to criticize the people who don’t believe reasonably.  Perhaps it all started like this: The people who don’t believe in (for example) vaccines are idiots because vaccines wiped out Small Pox.  Then all kinds of other jumped on with all the good things vaccines do and what idiots anyone who has a question about vaccines must be.

So it is difficult to be non-partisan.  You must be an idiot to even listen to any argument that doesn’t say All Vaccines Are Good.  You can just say Vaccines Save Lives and you are on the right side of the argument and never have to learn anything more about vaccines.

I can now tell you my personal experience about vaccination, but the only reason I would do that is to get you sympathy and break communications barriers to ask you to listen to an argument.  But why the fuck won’t you listen to the argument anyway?  Don’t you care about critical thinking?  Is your partisanship so strong that now you don’t care about arguments, only belittling people who don’t mindlessly believe as you do?

The misleading issue is Vaccine Effectiveness.  In fact my problem is larger, all across the health field, where people lie to you, misrepresent and change the meanings of common words, in order to help you.  Zostavax, the shingles vaccine, claims 51% effectiveness.  That would mean, if words are given their normal definition, that you have a 51% reduced risk of getting shingles if you take the vaccine.  I believe that is misleading, and intentionally so.

We all know that smoking causes lung cancer too.  And by the same token I think that statement is intentionally misleading.  If someone gets lung cancer we immediately think ***did they smoke***?

“As many as 20% of the people who die from lung cancer in the United States every year do not smoke or use any other form of tobacco” says the American Cancer Society in an article that attempts to justify the belief that smoking causes cancer.  If you search for your lifetime risk of getting lung cancer you will get all kinds of articles explaining how much MORE likely you are to get cancer if you smoke than if you don’t smoke.

So that is the issue with nearly all health care recommendations.  You cannot easily find your risk of getting cancer, but it is very easy to find your risk INCREASE with behavior or exposure. By this yardstick the primary cause of drowning is swimming.  Nearly everyone who drowns was swimming.

One’s lifetime risk overall of getting lung cancer is about 7% according to the  Lifetime Risk Chart of the American Cancer Society  whether you smoke or never smoked.  So your increased risk if you smoke is averaged over all other people.  If my math is correct 80% of that 7% chance are smokers, and 20% of them are never-smokers according to the site above.  Smoking causes cancer, therefore, in 5% of smokers.  And lung cancer kills 2% of neversmokers and has the ACS jumping through hoops to explain it.

Smoking increases your risk of dying from lung cancer in your lifetime from 2% to 5%.  I am not trying to justify smoking, it is dirty and unhealthy in many other ways besides your increased risk of lung cancer.  But what I am discussing here is the how the health care industry has brainwashed everyone by giving us statistics that mean very, very little.

Which is what happens with Zostavax.  Bringing this issue to many “skeptics” has gotten me banned from further discussions.  All a skeptic seems to care about is that vaccines are good and anyone who questions is therefore wrong.  There are huge studies, all orchestrated and quoted everywhere.  Here is a good example: Zostavax Study

The main thrust of their argument, why they recommend anyone over 60 take the vaccine, is that in a study of 38,000 people over 60, half vaccinate, half receive placebo.  The claim is 51% fewer people got shingles in the vaccinated group.  To confuse the issue a lot of time and space is devoted to how the symptoms of shingles (post herpetic neurolgia) were lessened in those who got shingles in the vaccinated group. It is not explained that one must be in the unlucky 49% in order to benefit from lesser symptoms.

So just like the smoking issue, what are the chances I would get shingles without the vaccine?  A difficult figure to find, but we can easily know it is less if I take the vaccine.  Over one’s life time one has a 33% chance of getting shingles, however the vaccine does not cover the lifetime.  It only works for a disputed amount of time.  Full strength for 3 years, then it is less effective for a few years, and whether or not one has taken the vaccine is statistically insignificant after 7 years.

The chances of getting shingles go up with age, but the best numbers available are the numbers of this study 38,000 people over 60 meticulously documented and tested.  So what are the figures?

Overall the chance of getting shingles in that age group is 7.8 per 1000 person-years.  So any given year a person over 60 has a 0.78% chance of getting shingles.  That risk is reduced by 51% for at least three years after taking the vaccine.  To a lesser extent one is protected for an additional couple years but no protection at all after 7 years.

The numbers work out to about 3.4% will get shingles in the over 60 group without the vaccine and 1.6% with the vaccine.  Another way to put it is the $250 vaccine will help about 1.8% of the people who buy it.  For every 120 people who buy the vaccine one is prevented from getting shingles.

Please check my figures, I would love to find out I am wrong.

The numbers are worse for the HPV vaccine.

The salient point is the Number Needed to Treat (NNT) in order to prevent one case of the disease. Presumably the disease in this case is Cervical Cancer, so the number to treat is somewhere between 324 and 9080. Estimating NNT for the HPV vaccine

The series of three shots costs about $500 in the US or Canada. 324 time $500 equals $162,000, and times 9080, my calculator must be broken…That how much it costs all of the customers of Merck who bought Guardasil9 for every case of cancer prevented.

And if your insurance covers the cost you can bet the insurance company did not lose money on the deal either.

Both Sides are Partisan

The name calling and the irrational speech is on both sides. Granted one side seems much more irrational than the other, but only by acceptance of principles of logic and critical thinking will we make any progress toward a non-partisan dialog in which we can address the real underlying social concerns.
 
Hate and name calling and mis-representing the issues of those with whom you disagree are the problems. Logic and critical thinking are the solutions. Well, and getting partisan groups to understand and accept logic and critical thinking as a viable alternative to “Free Speech” as they are calling it.
 
For example, who among us wants to address the real social issue of those who do not contribute to society? Who are they? How are they identified? Who is responsible for them? Why? And who has to care for them and how will they be cared for?
 
Obviously lumping all of “them” together without specifics as the ones who are causing problems for “us” is hate, name-calling, and mis-representation of the issues.
 
But if we were to address rationally the underlying social issue in direct and logical terms we would be addressing the rational problem.
 
Affirming the problem and looking for a solution will address the problems that have brought the undercurrent of the ultra-right movement who are named “fascists” by people in this conversation.

The Fairness Doctrine Is Gone Forever

People don’t want to be educated, they want their side to win.  Only a libertarian philosophy and a critical mind cares what other people think.  But without fairness nobody really wins.

According to a Facebook-spread meme the partisanship we see today is because Reagan vetoed a Democrat sponsored bill (not named in the meme) the 100th Congress in 1987,  Senate Bill 742 introduced by Ernest Hollings (Democrat from South Carolina):

“To clarify the congressional intent concerning, and to codify, certain requirements of the Communications Act of 1934 that ensure that broadcasters afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.”

According to this view the reason we are more partisan today is due to Reagan vetoing this bill which would have directed the FCC to require broadcast media to provide both sides of issues of public importance.

It used to be called “Equal Time” but it never required an equal amount of time.

In a free market, Republicans presumably presume, if there is a need for something it will appear.  Like if there is a need for a rebuttal to an argument someone will provide it.

So this is an epitome issue: Dems believe “Equal Time” should be regulated and enforced, Repubs think the market will provide “Equal Time” if it is worthy.

Vetoed on June 19, 1987. The veto message was laid
before the Senate and printed as S. Doc. 100-10. (133
Gong. Rec. 16989). The Senate agreed to a motion on
June 23, 1987, by a vote of 53 yeas to 45 nays to refer
the veto message to the Committee on Commerce,
Science, and Transportation. (133 Cong. Rec. 17002).
Veto unchallenged.  Continue reading