the old parachute ride, complainer becomes an obamacare supporter

Coney Island (Parachute Jump)

Coney Island (Parachute Jump). Gelatin silver photograph, 1969.  By  Stephen Salmieri. Like some of the other steel structures that made their way to Coney Island, the Parachute Jump originated begin life as a ride at a fair, in this case, the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

Obamacare “victim” now says loss of previous health plan may be “a blessing in disguise”

Because her $54 per month plan was cancelled due to Obamacare’s new higher requirements — and because her insurance company’s recommended replacement would cost her nearly 10 times as much — Dianne Barrette became the face of Obamacare’s so-called victims.

But in a new report from the New Republic, Barrette, after factoring in her tax credits and going through her options with reporter Jonathan Cohn, is now singing Obamacare’s praises, even going so far as to say her previous plan’s cancellation was “maybe” a “blessing in disguise.”

Like many people M’s Barrette was living in an information bubble. A friend or some on TV or AM radio  told her that the changes in health care insurance were bad. She believed it without looking at the numbers. Like many people in the individual insurance market – those who buy their health insurance on their own instead of getting it through their employer, did not realize how awful her insurance was. She had a high up front deductible, and after the deductible she had to pay a high percentage of the costs and the total payout by her insurance company was capped at a certain amount. She, like many other would have been liable for everything over their cap – frequently $15k to $20k. In other words if she had a heart attack, she would have had some real financial hardship. Now, once she and similar policy holders have no cap and with many of them qualifying for tax credits, she will pay about the same for much better coverage. Insurance is not that complicated so I’m assuming that reading and making comparisons is like high school homework, these people just don’t want to do it. And since there is no parents or teachers to force them to do their homework now, they just go by bits of misinformation floating around the bubble.

The thirteenth labor of Hercules

The thirteenth labor of Hercules. Poster created 1914. Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915 : opens February 20, closes December 4.  The Exposition of 1915 was both a celebration of the completion of the Panama Canal and an opportunity for San Francisco to show it had recovered from the Great Earthquake of 1906. In the legend, Hercules had only 12 labours. Building the Canala was probably more difficult than Labour 9, to ‘Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons’.

the storm, an emily dickinson manuscript, six ways conservatives just don’t get it

The Storm, 1946. By Grace Arnold Albee, American, 1890-1995. Wood engraving on paper.

Ghost-Hunters and Psychical Research in Interwar England. It sounds quaint, but they took it rather seriously for a number of years. Science or something resembling science was going to break through to the ethereal  plain.

The hand written manuscript of the Emily Dickinson poem that begins “HOPE is the thing with feathers” and the seldom cited “To die – takes just a little while”

HOPE is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I ’ve heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

———————————————————

To die – takes just a

little while -

They say it does’nt hurt -

It’s only fainter – by degrees -

And then – it’s out of sight -

A darker Ribbon – for a Day -

A Crape opon the Hat -

And then the pretty sun – sunshine

shine comes -

And helps us to forget -

The absent – mystic – creature -

That but for love of us -

Had gone to sleep – that

soundest time -

Without the weariness -

Emily Dickinson (1830–86).  “HOPE” from the Complete Poems.1924. “To die ” from Franklin Variorum, 1998.

6 Ways the GOP Congress Is Out of Step With the American People. From drug policy to fiscal policy to gay marriage, a profound disconnect. Have you noticed that most of the world’s wackiest people have one  – or maybe more things in common. The one that constantly arise is the desire to live in another century. The Republican Party wants to put the country in a time machine and take it back to the Antebellum South of 1850. Fundamentalists Muslims want to take the Middle-East back to the 17th century.

winged griffin sculpture, spanking and impact on vocabulary

Winged Griffin Nibbling on Sacred Tree, 8th-7th century BC (Neo-Assyrian). Levantine origins. Ivory & Bone.

 

If you’re a blogger, especially one with comments and you do not want to piss off your regular visitors, you do not write about two things, religion or how to raise children. Since I have been blogging long enough to have pissed off just about everyone I have nothing to lose, Spanking your kids could affect their vocabulary down the road

To spank or not to spank: For most American parents, it isn’t a question.

The majority of U.S. children have been spanked at some time in their life, despite a robust body of evidence that suggests spanking a child leads to problems in the future.

The latest evidence of the negative effects of spanking comes from researchers at Columbia University. After analyzing data from more than 1,500 families, they found that children who are spanked in early childhood are not only more likely to be aggressive as older children, they are also more likely to do worse on vocabulary tests than their peers who had not been spanked.

I have heard parents make good, if problematic arguments for at least a little corporeal punishment – much of it based on the parents being at a loss as to how to stop some bad behaviors. Though corporeal punishment may work to some extent, there also seems to be a price to pay. Perhaps some parents know that spanking produces resentment and hostility in their children, but see that as a good thing.

 

the mouse gnaws the net imprisoning the doves

“The Mouse Gnaws the Net Imprisoning the Doves”, Folio from a Kalila wa Dimna. 18th century. Origins of this version: Egypt or Syria culture. Ink and opaque watercolor on paper. This is part of an allegorical fable.

Climate change increased the number of deaths

The increased temperatures caused by ongoing climate change in Stockholm, Sweden between 1980 and 2009 caused 300 more premature deaths than if the temperature increase did not take place. In Sweden as a whole, it would mean about 1,500 more premature deaths, according to a study from researchers at Umeå University published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Global warming does not only give a general increase in temperature, but it also increases the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves.

I don’t do many of these kinds of stories, but it is getting to be a crowded field of products, Apple iPad Air and 11 other tablets compared: which is best? While Apple products are still looking good, the competition has gotten much better. Those who like Android will especially like the new Samsung Galaxy Note. Sorry to say something good about Microsoft, but the Surface 2 looks good and runs traditional Office apps – which some of us still have to work with.

when free enterprise becomes socially acceptable corruption

coast of finland wallpaper

coast of finland wallpaper 1728×1080

 

Paul Buchheit covers some of the same ground he has covered previously in this essay, though this disparity in costs stood out, Public Beats Private: Six Reasons Why

1. The Profit Motive Moves Most of the Money to the Top

The federal Medicare Administrator made $170,000 in 2010. The president of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas made over ten times as much in 2012. Stephen J. Hemsley, the CEO of United Health Group, made almost 300 times as much in one year, $48 million, most of it from company stock.

In part because of such inequities in compensation, our private health care system is the most expensive system in the developed world. The price of common surgeries is anywhere from three to ten times higher in the U.S. than in Great Britain, Canada, France, or Germany. Two of the documented examples: an $8,000 special stress test for which Medicare would have paid $554; and a $60,000 gall bladder operation, for which a private insurance company was willing to pay $2,000.

Medicare, on the other hand, which is largely without the profit motive and the competing sources of billing, is efficiently run, for all eligible Americans. According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance and other sources, medical administrative costs are much higher for private insurance than for Medicare.

But the privatizers keep encroaching on the public sector. Our government reimburses the CEOs of private contractors at a rate approximately double what we pay the President. Overall, we pay the corporate bosses over $7 billion a year.

Back in high school we learned the basics about free enterprise. If Jane makes great Widgets, she goes out and buys good components and pays employees a fair wage to make them. She takes a nice cut of the profits. That is the pie in the sky version in text books. In the real world John, who went to Yale on his parents dime, makes Widgets, pays employees a sub-living wage, over charges consumers for the Widgets. All the top executives at John’s company take the lion’s share of the revenue and pay it to themselves. Then they hire lobbyists who make it easier to escape liability for any harm their product does, escape responsibility for the toxic pollution they put in their worker’s drinking water and air, and escape paying their fair share of taxes – and just to make sure, John offshores a good chunk of the company’s money. That is not free enterprise, that is ongoing corruption.

the automat, obamacare versus the private sector

Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue, Manhattan, 1936. Gelatin silver print. Berenice Abbott  (American, Springfield, Ohio 1898–1991 Monson, Maine).

A nice history of the Automat from The Smithsonian here.

The Truth About the Obamacare Rollout The feds botched the website. But the states are doing much better. It has not been a smooth roll-out. Though it has not been a disaster either. Many of the problems is just less than great programming. On the people side, clearly people are interested. Jonathan Cohn is a great source for the facts about the ACA or Obamacare. So those interested in an unbiased account of how things are going might want to give it a read or pass it on to those who swear the ACA is a complete failure. One of the fundamentally dishonest criticisms is the lack of comparison to the real world. Anyone ever been cheated by a business, bought an inferior product or service that the business touted as great, ever received shoddy service from private business, ever been billed in error and it has been a headache to get someone to straighten out the error, ever been to a private web site that was dysfunctional? Of course. We all have. Private enterprise is run by humans, frequently not the brightest people around, who employ a lot of underpaid and overworked employees to sell products and take care of complaints.

Internationale Hygiene-Ausstellung Dresden (International Health Exposition, Dresden), 1911. Designed by Franz von Stuck.

 

the economic superiority complex, wealth is considerably more heritable than genes

Police Dogs Attack Demonstrators, Birmingham, Alabama Protests]

Police Dogs Attack Demonstrators, Birmingham, Alabama Protests, 1963. Charles Moore, photographer.

Nozick: Libertarians are “filled…with resentment at other freer ways of being”

The Reactionary Mind:

Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force—the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere. Such a view might seem miles away from the libertarian defense of the free market, with its celebration of the atomistic and autonomous individual. But it is not.

One of the most insightful and concise definitions I’ve read of of what conservatism and con-libertarians are about. Things like religion do play a role. Regardless of what else it says in the Christian Bible about business and taxes, certainly Jesus Sermon on the Mount would take precedence. So conservative leaders twist what is in the Bible and deflect form the issue by claiming to know that their invisible friend really likes that Wal-mart pays less than a living wage and it is his will that business be run this way. Those conservatives that see any for’ners as a threat, are always inventing new threats and making existing ones much larger than they are. The far Right interpretation of religion and the pandering to paranoid minds both coalesce under what they see as their rightful place as everyone’s superior. The far Right has had this tendency in culture and economics since before the Civil War – Slave Capitalism.

Bread line at kitchen

Bread line at kitchen, 4th and Jefferson [streets], Feb. 1934. And related – Low Wages Cost Taxpayers A Quarter-Trillion Dollars Every Year.

Over the last couple years research suggests that genes alone are not destiny. How one – thus their genes interacts with the environment tends to have a large role. So may be it should not be that be a surprise that one’s economic status has much more to do with how well one’s life goes than genes, Wealth is considerably more heritable than genes. Policymakers who misuse genetics to argue a child’s fate is preordained are deliberately ignoring the effects of inequality

In his latest book, The Serpent’s Promise, Jones examines how nurture and nature are inseparably intertwined. The human genome project was for a while the modern version of eugenics, but Jones says it has disappointed those who thought it would reveal the destiny of physical traits, let alone psychological ones. “The more we learn about genes, the more important the environment appears to be.” Plomin spent years scanning top children for success genes, but never found them, says Jones. In life, “success and failure depend far more on the economic than the genetic accidents of birth”. Wealth is considerably more heritable than genes. The most equal nations with the best Gini ratings score the highest average intelligence.

Milburn’s report will pull no punches about unequal Britain. With destiny all but set by five years old, he wants redoubled investment in early years, targeting extra money at low-earning families: 500 Sure Starts have closed, many more are hollowed out, and a third of nurseries in poor areas are low quality….

…Teacher quality and status matter: in Finland, the leader of international league tables, teaching is first choice for the top 10% of graduates. Our top 20% of pupils do well, but our bottom 20% drag down UK results, as the shocking OECD report on basic literacy and numeracy shows.

If someone is lucky enough to be born into an upper middle-class family, even if they have slight below medium level intelligence, there is a built in safety net that makes sure they do not fail  – or at least not pay the way others do for failing. I remember a lot of the discussion about George W. Bush’s record in 1999. His supporters claimed he was a successful businessman. Not true in the least. He lead three business ventures into the ground. His family and their connections rescued him every time. yet many of these lucky people believe they are entitled to what they have regardless of the great advantages they started with. That lack of humility might be one of the biggest personality factors in public policy right now certainly, but for the last fifty years.