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.

 

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.

alien world with possiblity of life, secede and show us mortals how it is done

Electrotower, Coney Island. c.1903.

Electrotower, Coney Island. c.1903.

An alien world dripping with water? Scientists see possibility of life

Scientists have found the shredded remains of a large, water-rich asteroid raining down on the embers of a dead star, 170 light-years from Earth.

It is the first time that scientists have found a mix of rock and water in a solar system that is not our own. The discovery also suggests that hundreds of millions of years ago, this distant solar system could have been conducive to life as we know it.

“What we know is that this system had the main ingredients to build planets like the Earth,” said Boris Gänsicke of the University of Warwick in England, who coauthored a paper about the discovery.

Finding life, especially something advanced as say a plant, would be a starling discovery just in terms of pure science. Though it would also create, not some theological and philosophical problems, but even more than we already have. While Wikipedia is not the last word on every detail of a subject, they do a fair job of introducing one into the shear number of creation myths that exists, without taking extraterrestrial life into account. Just a sample: Creation from chaos: Sumerian creation myth,  Greek cosmogonical myth; Emergence myths: Hopi creation myth; Ex nihilo (out of nothing):  Islamic creation myth, Genesis creation myth (Christianity and Judaism); World Parent: Heliopolis creation myth, Hiranyagarbha creation myth; Central Asian: Mongolian creation myth.

For Every Fighter a Woman Worker

For Every Fighter a Woman Worker/ United War Work Campaign/ Care for Her through the YWCA. Designed by Adolph Treidler, 1918.

Pat Buchanan: Is Red State America Seceding?

In the last decade of the 20th century, as the Soviet Empire disintegrated, so, too, did that prison house of nations, the USSR.

Out of the decomposing carcass came Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Moldova, all in Europe; Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus; and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

The spirit of secession, the desire of peoples to sever ties to nations to which they have belonged for generations, sometimes for centuries, and to seek out their own kind, is a spreading phenomenon.

What are the forces pulling nations apart? Ethnicity, culture, history and language – but now also economics. And separatist and secessionist movements are cropping up here in the United States.

Conservatives have been flirting with secession as far back as i can remember – certainly during the Clinton administration and have read stuff from the 1950s by the old John Birch Society conservatives advocating secession. While some libertarians have also joined in, they generally stick with some nebulous ideas about creating some utopian state of their own. There are many decent, moderate minded Americans living in every state where these secessionist’s yearnings are loudest ( Texas, Arizona, Alaska and North Carolina come to mind) so I’m not in favor of punishing those moderate Americans with the spiteful cravings of a vocal minority. Though I do wonder about what seems to be holding up the secessionist and the utopian crowd. Where are the candidates  running on a secession platform. Why haven’t the conservatives and libertarians who have all the answers and are more perfect than the rest of us used their fortunes and skills to create a new nation. They’d finally be able to have some solid proof, a living example of how anything and everything should be done in their pure societies. Back in middle-school we had a saying, put up or shut-up.