January 30, 2014

"The U.S. has become the preferred target for criminal hackers"

If you were one of the 40 million Target customers whose credit or debit card  may have been hacked just before Christmas, Target Offers Free Experian Credit Monitoring for One Year.    Head over to creditmonitoring.target.com

Target has revealed that a sales assistant's stolen credentials helped cyber criminals pull off a massive theft of customer data during the Christmas shopping season last year.

Around 40 million credit and debit card details and 70 million other private records were stolen by hackers accessing the US retailers' payment system using an unidentified vendor's details.
The disclosure of how the criminals were able to pull off the crime comes as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that the Department of Justice was investigating the massive hacking at Target.
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On January 23 it was reported that the FBI also warned U.S. retailers to prepare for more cyber attacks after discovering about 20 hacking cases over the past year that involved the same kind of malicious software used against Target during the holiday shopping season

Target Tried Antitheft Cards  Years Ago Retailer Halted Rollout of Chip-Based Payment System

Chip-based credit cards—in which a smart chip in the card works with special readers installed at stores—are widely used in Europe and Canada, making it more difficult for thieves to profit from the sort of massive data breach that hit Target over the holidays.

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel is calling on retailers and banks to adopt chip-based credit-card technology to better protect shoppers. But a decade ago, Target pulled the plug on a $40 million, three-year program that did just that. Paul Ziobro reports. Photo: Getty Images.  But the technology has yet to be embraced in the U.S., and as a result, the U.S. has become the preferred target for criminal hackers.
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"A lot of the fraud has migrated from international markets to the U.S. because the U.S. is the weakest link," said Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst at Aite Group LLC, a Boston consulting firm that specializes in the payments industry.
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Of the 5.6 billion credit and debit cards in circulation in the U.S., only an estimated 15 million to 20 million are chip cards--issued mainly to people who travel overseas frequently.

Magnetic stripes have been used on plastic since the 1970s. Hackers find it increasingly easy to copy the data on them because the information in the magnetic stripe doesn't change, and criminals can easily produce fake cards, because the technology is readily available.

Chip cards, on the other hand, take the cardholder information and turn it into a unique code for each transaction. They also often require additional authentication, such a personal identification number, or PIN. Payment and security experts say the technology wouldn't have prevented the attack at Target, but it would have made it more difficult for thieves to counterfeit the cards and make fraudulent purchases.

Adoption of the cards in Britain has helped reduce fraud from counterfeit cards by 70% from 2007 to 2012, according to the U.K. Card Association. By contrast, breaches have more than doubled since 2007 at U.S. retailers, affecting more than 5,000 records, according to a survey by the Ponemon Institute, a Traverse City, Mich., research firm.

A typical large issuer will spend about $1.30 to buy a chip card, compared with 10 cents for a traditional magnetic-stripe card, according to Aite Group. But if the chip cards were used in the U.S., fraud losses could be halved, Aite Group estimates. U.S. merchants and banks had 2012 losses of $11.3 billion due to credit-card fraud, or 5 cents on every $100 spent, according to the Nilson Report, a payment-industry newsletter based in Carpinteria, Calif.

The economics of credit card security.  Who bears the cost of more secure, chip-based credit cards?  The government made it harder for companies to recoup costs of added card security .

Moreover, even if investments in card security are recoverable, they are capped under the Durbin Amendment at one cent per transaction under 12 CFR 235.4(a). Indeed, I argued some time ago that one unintended consequence of the Durbin Amendment became effective that it would likely discourage investments in card security and other features (such as processing speed) by making it more difficult for issuers to recoup those costs.

Security Expert Hacks Obamacare Website In 4 Minutes; Accesses 70,000 Records with nothing more than a standard browser. “You can literally just open up your browser, go to this, and extract all this information without actually having to hack the website itself,” he said.  Mr. Kennedy testified before Congress Thursday that HealthCare.gov was “100 percent” insecure, Washington Free Beacon reported.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:46 PM | Permalink

The California Drought

The drought in California is so bad that some Bay Area communities could run out of water within 4 months.

In some districts, the wells are running dry while other reservoirs are nearly empty.
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Some districts have long-running problems that began before the drought. Larger communities like Santa Clara Valley however, have fared better because of long-running conservation programs.

Springs that supply the state historical monument are running at just one-sixth normal and as a result Hearst Castle's fountains and pool are drying up

A powerful ridge of high pressure parked over Northern California has been responsible for a record 52 days of no precipitation in Sacramento.

The State Drought is called a  Disaster In Slow Motion With Wildfires, Dry Wells

So far this year, Cal Fire has responded to more than 400 wildfires that have burned more than 1,000 acres. The five-year average for this time of year is 70 fires and 130 acres.

California  is the nation’s leader in dairy cows, and fourth overall in the U.S. for total number of cattle, trailing Texas, Nebraska and Kansas,  Now ranchers are selling their cattle because there's no grass and little water.

Governor Jerry Brown says he’s prepared to move water from Southern California to drier areas of the state as conditions worsen.

“The president called me today. He offered to do whatever he can do. He obviously can’t make it rain,” he said. “But there are some parts of California that are more privileged from the point of view of water availability than others. So we have systems. We can transfer it. But there are a lot of water rights, a lot of rules, so we’ve got to cut through that and make sure that those who need it most get the water to the extent we have it available.”

This map shows just how bad the drought is today and how badly the Central Valley has been impacted.

 Drought Central Valley

The water shortage like so many other crises in California has been exacerbated by government. Californians are getting another first-hand lesson in the high costs of green regulation.

Local water districts that supply southern California, the Bay Area and the southern San Joaquin Valley may receive only 5% of their contractual allocations this year while growers in the heart of the valley might be cut off completely. Supplies for residents north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta could be sharply restricted for the first time.
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Suffering the most are farmers south of the delta whose water allocations have plunged over the last two decades due to endangered-species protections. According to the Western Growers Association, up to 4.4 million acre-feet of water is diverted annually to environmental uses like wildlife refuges and salmon restoration. That's enough to sustain 4.4 million families, irrigate 1.1 million acres of land and grow more than 100 million tons of grapes.

Farmers are having to fallow hundreds of thousands of acres and pump groundwater, which depletes aquifers and can cause land subsidence. One irony here is that environmentalists are destroying one of FDR's great public-works programs—irrigating the naturally arid San Joaquin Valley.
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California's biggest water hog is the three-inch smelt, which can divert up to one million acre-feet in a wet year. In 2008, federal regulators at the prodding of green groups restricted water exports south to protect the smelt, which have a suicidal tendency to swim into the delta's pumps. While wildlife refuges have continued to receive all 400,000 acre-feet of water they're entitled to under environmental regulations, farmers haven't gotten 100% of their water allocations since 2006. Even during years of heavy precipitation, federal regulators have supplied growers with 45% to 80% of their contractual deliveries.

More on the Green Drought  For the sake of the smelt, California farmland lies fallow.

“Factory” is a good word to describe California’s San Joaquin Valley. But “laboratory” might be a little better, for the region is an agri-tinkerer’s delight. The soil being uncharacteristically fertile and the summers being long and dry, growers are afforded that most valuable of things: control. Emancipated from Gaia’s caprice, farmers here can determine precisely not only how much water they wish to provide to their crops but when to add it, too. Which is to say that, in the Central Valley, irrigation is achieved not by the whimsy of the sky but by deliberately placed pipes, pumps, and microprocessors. It is here that the ancient earth meets the best of technology; where Silicon Valley meshes with the baser elements and, together, they yield life. …. This place is a miracle — a vast greenhouse in which, unmolested by the elements and provided with incomparably fecund terrain, farmers can do their thing as never before.

Just under 13 percent of all agricultural production in the United States takes place in the region, which the locals refer to proudly as “the Food Basket of the World”
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Suddenly, as if crossing a line of demarcation — I am reminded of Checkpoint Charlie, the gate that linked West and East Berlin — we leave healthy fields bursting with life, and we arrive at . . . well, we arrive at nothing: just dust, quiet, and a few pieces of unused farming equipment. It’s quite the shift: a real-life Before and After comparison. And sadly, most of the farm looks like this. Some 9,000 of Harris’s 15,000 acres are fallow — devoid of water and therefore of crops and of workers and of attention. “Uncertainty is the new normal,” CEO John Harris sighs from the driver’s seat, his smile disappearing. “This is no way to run anything.
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That the drought is making planning all but impossible is a refrain I hear all across the region.
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The Central Valley’s woes began in earnest in 2007, when the hardline Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) won a lawsuit against California’s intricate water-delivery system, sending farmers like John Harris into a tailspin. In court, the NRDC’s lawyers contended that the vast pumps that help to funnel water from the reservoirs up in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta down to the Central Valley, to Southern California, and to the Bay Area were sucking in and shredding an unacceptable number of smelt — and, the smelt being protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 1994, that this was illegal.
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In 2007, the pumps were turned down; the Delta’s water output was lowered dramatically, contingent now upon the interests of a fish; and the farms that rely on the system in order to grow their crops were thrown into veritable chaos. Predictably, a man-made drought began.

This is a classic tale of activist government run amok — and, too, of the peculiarly suicidal instincts that rich and educated societies exhibit when they reach maturity.
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Driving out of Harris Ranch after my tour, I am met by a string of protest signs that have been erected by a neighboring farmer. “STOP THE CONGRESS CREATED DUST BOWL!” one reads. “NO WATER = NO JOBS!” says another. A third has some choice words for Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer. The farmers here are frustrated, of course. But their unease is nothing compared with that of their workers….

“Seeing what having no water in this valley did to our communities in 2009,” Gutierrez tells me, “I had to get involved. It was devastating: The unemployment rate was 45 percent; people were standing in food lines. It had a terrifying impact…..“People think of rich farmers,” Gutierrez continues, “but they don’t think about the people who actually work on these farms.”
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It is a choice that will be difficult to unmake. Suing is futile. … Because the ESA holds that researchers can declare their work private property, scientists must release only their findings and may keep their data and methods secret. Even when the work has been made public, the government’s case has been flimsy at best.
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Of all our present troubles, California’s farming woes are perhaps the most inexplicably sourced and the most easily fixed. Complacently convinced of their infallibility, legislators in the nation’s richest state have prostrated themselves at the feet of many silly ideas in recent years. But for authorities to have put the livelihood of millions of citizens at the mercy of a tiny little fish is almost too much to bear.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:26 PM | Permalink

January 29, 2014

"It's a no brainer. … All you are doing is abandoning rules"

School ditches rules and loses bullies

Ripping up the playground rulebook is having incredible effects on children at an Auckland school.

Chaos may reign at Swanson Primary School with children climbing trees, riding skateboards and playing bullrush during playtime, but surprisingly the students don't cause bedlam, the principal says.

The school is actually seeing a drop in bullying, serious injuries and vandalism, while concentration levels in class are increasing.

Principal Bruce McLachlan rid the school of playtime rules as part of a successful university experiment.

"We want kids to be safe and to look after them, but we end up wrapping them in cotton wool when in fact they should be able to fall over."

Letting children test themselves on a scooter during playtime could make them more aware of the dangers when getting behind the wheel of a car in high school, he said.

"When you look at our playground it looks chaotic. From an adult's perspective, it looks like kids might get hurt, but they don't."
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Mudslides, skateboarding, bullrush and tree climbing kept the children so occupied the school no longer needed a timeout area or as many teachers on patrol.

Instead of a playground, children used their imagination to play in a "loose parts pit" which contained junk such as wood, tyres and an old fire hose.

"The kids were motivated, busy and engaged. In my experience, the time children get into trouble is when they are not busy, motivated and engaged. It's during that time they bully other kids, graffiti or wreck things around the school."

Parents were happy too because their children were happy, he said.

But this wasn't a playtime revolution, it was just a return to the days before health and safety policies came to rule---
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Schofield urged other schools to embrace risk-taking. "It's a no brainer. As far as implementation, it's a zero-cost game in most cases. All you are doing is abandoning rules," he said.

This is so much better than the "no winners, no losers " rule now being applied to rugby games in the U.K. and drawing widespread condemnation and ridicule.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:12 AM | Permalink

January 28, 2014

Health Roundup: Blindness, pancreatic cancer, fish oil for Alzheimers, exercise for cancer patients and singing exercises for snorers

Gene breakthrough restores the sight of people with inherited eye disease and could save thousands from blindness

Single injection treatment helps restore sight of those with eye disease.  The procedure appears to have halted progression of choroideremia, a disease caused by a gene defect that destroys light-sensing cells.  Treatment may now be rolled out to help hundreds of thousands of people.

Professor Robert MacLaren, who led the operations at Oxford Eye Hospital, said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ with the results so far.
‘It is still too early to know if the gene therapy treatment will last indefinitely, but we can say that the vision improvements have been maintained for as long as we have been following up the patients, which is two years in one case.  In truth, we did not expect to see such dramatic improvements."

Blood Test Has Potential to Catch Pancreatic Cancer Early

Pancreatic cancer could be identified in its early stages with a test that looks for genetic material in the blood, according to preliminary research from Denmark….Researchers found that certain combinations of microRNAs, or microRNA "signatures," could somewhat distinguish between people with and without the cancer. However, many more studies are needed to determine if the test could really be useful for the early detection of pancreatic cancer, the researchers said.

Fish oil could help prevent Alzheimer's and also give you a bigger brain

Eating more fish could give you a bigger brain - and greater protection against diseases such as Alzheimer’s, claim researchers.
They found people with higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may also have larger brain volumes in old age.
This would be the equivalent to preserving one to two years of brain health, says a new study published in the journal Neurology.

The Cure For Snoring Is…Singing?  Choir director Alise Ojay's vocal exercises have been shown to work throat muscles that help silence the snorer within.

That's because these "singing exercises," she says, were formulated specifically to work out throat muscles that have weakened over time. The approach is based on the premise that firming up these muscles would allow air to pass in and out with less obstruction.

Shock Study: Some Soft Drinks Contain Cancer-Causing Chemical

Carcinogen Known As 4-MEI Has Been Found In Caramel Coloring In Colas, Others

“Coke came in at a negligible cancer level at one can of Coke. That said, we found other manufacturers — like Pepsi — really quite a lot higher than Coke,”….drinks labeled “natural” also contained caramel coloring. So make sure to read the ingredients.

Could asthma be treated with PROBIOTICS? Bug that mimics salmonella could reduce airway inflammation

Asthma could be treated with probiotics that mimic the salmonella bug, new research suggests.  A study has identified a mechanism through which the food poisoning bug reduces the lung disease in mice.  Earlier research has suggested children who have been infected with salmonella are less likely to get asthma.

A leading theory is the 'hygiene hypothesis' that reasons the surge in asthma cases has resulted from the modern world's obsession with cleanliness, which is leaving immune systems undeveloped. Dr Venkateswaran Ganesh, of Hanover Medical School in Germany, said the latest study found salmonella infection was linked with reduced airway inflammation.
The findings, published in the journal Infection and Immunity, open up new avenues of research that could lead to treatments.

Cancer patients who exercise could HALVE their risk of death, claims study

We all know exercise is good for us but now scientists have found that physical exercise significantly increases the life expectancy of cancer survivors.

Men who beat cancer and who burned more than 12,600 calories a week exercising, almost halved their risk of death, a new study found. The research supports a previous study that found the most physically active cancer survivors are much less likely to die of cancer and heart disease.

Scientists from the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine studied 1,021 men with an average age of 71 who had been previously diagnosed with cancer. They found that men who burned more than 12,600 calories per week by exercising, were 48 per cent less likely to die than those that did little exercise and expended less than 2,100 calories a week, Medical Express reported.

How yoga helps breast cancer patients: Exercise shown to help reduce inflammation

Yoga can re-energise women who have battled breast cancer.
Just three months of practising postures, breathing and meditation cut fatigue in cancer survivors by more than half.
Inflammation, which is linked to health problems from heart disease to frailty, and increases the odds of cancer coming back, was also eased.

The large, U.S. based study suggests that something as cheap and gentle as yoga could be of huge benefit to breast cancer patients.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:34 AM | Permalink

January 24, 2014

Where's the outrage at the near-annihilation of the world's most ancient communities of Christians.

Michael Brendan Dougherty  writes The world's most ancient Christian communities are being destroyed — and no one cares.  Christians in the Middle East have been the victims of pogroms and persecution. Where's the outrage in the West?

Like many Coptic Christians in Egypt, Ayman Nabil Labib had a tattoo of the cross on his wrist. ….Ayman's Arabic-language teacher told him to cover his tattoo in class. Instead of complying, the young man defiantly pulled out the cross that hung around his neck, making it visible. His teacher flew into a rage and began choking him, goading the young man's Muslim classmates by saying, "What are you going to do with him?"

Ayman's classmates then beat him to death.
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The Arab Spring, and to a lesser extent the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, were touted as the catalysts for a major historic shift in the region. From Egypt to Syria to Iraq, the Middle East's dictatorships would be succeeded by liberal, democratic regimes. Years later, however, there is very little liberality or democracy to show. Indeed, what these upheavals have bequeathed to history is a baleful, and barely noticed legacy: The near-annihilation of the world's most ancient communities of Christians.
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And yet the Western world is largely ignorant of or untroubled by programmatic violence against Christians. Ed West, citing the French philosopher Regis Debray, distils the problem thusly: "The victims are 'too Christian' to excite the Left, and 'too foreign' to excite the Right."

William Oddie writes, The growing worldwide persecution of Christians shows that Samuel Huntingdon was right: if he was wrong, where are the protests from moderate Muslim opinion? Predictions that after the end of the Cold War we would see a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West have been borne out by events

Two Christians, Firas Nader, 29, and Fadi Matanius Mattah, 34, were traveling by car from Homs to the Christian village of Marmarita. A group of five armed jihadists intercepted the vehicle and opened fire on it. On reaching the car, militiamen, noting that Fadi was wearing a cross around his neck, beheaded him. They then took money and documents, leaving Firas on the ground wounded, taking him for dead. He escaped to safety. And he then gave one more testimony to what we already knew.
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That silence of moderate Muslim opinion on all this really does pose the serious question as to whether or not moderate Muslim opinion actually exists
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There is another question, though. Why are our own politicians also so absolutely silent about Islamist atrocities against Christians? Why do we hear nothing from Obama about it? Why do we hear nothing from Cameron? Is it perhaps because they are terrified to say anything which might offend the Muslim vote in their own countries?  Prince Charles, at least, has now spoken out, and in no uncertain tones: and it’s interesting that when he did, he made the headlines not just in the UK but in America too.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:03 PM | Permalink

In Other Beer News

Tomb of Ancient Egyptian beer brewer is opened by archaeologists for the first time in 3,200 years

Archaeologists have discovered the tomb of a leading Ancient Egyptian beer brewer.  The tomb of Khonso Em Heb, who lived 3,200 years ago, was discovered by a Japanese team and has been described as 'one of the most important discoveries' made at the Thebes necropolic site in the city of Luxor.  Egypt's antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim described Khonso Em Heb as the chief ‘maker of beer for gods of the dead’ who was also the head of a warehouse.

Firefighter Puts Out Fire with Beer

Capt. Craig Moreau, a firefighter in Houston, Texas, was driving from Austin to Houston on Highway 71 when he spotted a tractor trailer by the side of the road. One of its wheels was on fire. He stopped and found that the brakes had caught on fire. He and the driver fought the fire with a small fire extinguisher that Capt. Moreau kept in his car, but it wasn't enough:

"I crawled underneath and thought we'd got it out but it flared back up," said Moreau, who was off duty at the time. "So I said to the driver, 'what have you got in here?'"

"It's beer!  It's all beer," the driver said of his cargo of Coor Banquet beer.

So the two men opened up the trailer. They shook cans of beer and sprayed them at the fire. It worked! They put out the fire. But their victory came at a heavy cost.

College offers a degree in beer

Blue Ridge Community College in North Carolina will instead teach people how to make alcoholic beverages at a professional level. The college anticipates that the state government will approve of its associate of applied science degree in brewing, distillation and fermenting before the program launches this fall.

Just a reminder:  Beer Is a Rich Source of Silicon and May Help Prevent Osteoporosis

The upside of the snow and the cold.

 Big Chill Beer-1

 Beer-On-Sale

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:10 PM | Permalink

A Lake of Beer for God

Beers brewed by Trappist monks are regularly on lists of the world's, yet, there are only 10 official Trappist breweries in the world.  The only one outside Europe is, thank God, at St Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Mass, which will begin to sell its beer this week, but only in Massachusetts.

According to the official website of the brewery, “Our recipe was inspired by the traditional refectory ales known as patersbier (“fathers’ beer” in Flemish). These seasonable beers are brewed by the monks for their dinner table and are typically only available at the monastery. Spencer is a full-bodied, golden-hued ale with fruity accents, a dry finish and light hop bitterness. The beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized, preserving live yeast that naturally carbonates the beer in the bottle and keg, and contributes to the beer flavor and aroma.” The beer will sit at 6.5% Alc.10


 Spencer Trappist-Ale-Label

NPR in American Beer Fans, Praise the Heavens tells the backstory.

For more than 60 years, the monks at St. Joseph's have supported themselves by making religious garments and preserves, including jams and jellies.  Still, that wasn't enough, so several years ago, they started looking into brewing.

But there was a problem: The monks knew nothing about brewing — or even drinking — beer. So, one of the monks called up Martha Paquette, the co-founder of Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project in Sommerville, Mass., for help.

"They'd maybe drunk some Budweiser," Paquette says. "So, we had a lot of fun with the monks introducing them to hops, dark beers, richer, stronger beers."

Learning to drink beer was the easy part. To learn to brew it, the abbey sent two of its monks to train at Belgian monasteries and hired a professional Belgian brewer.  The monastery also received some major financing — the monks wouldn't say how much — for a sleek, state-of-the-art brew house. Now, the 36,000-square-foot, stainless steel building sits behind the stone abbey and is mostly automated…..

The brew has already passed one major taste test: To get the official "Authentic product label," Spencer Trappist Ale's first had to win approval from the International Trappist Association.

"We tasted the beer the day we gave the approval," says ITA spokesman Francois de Harenne, and it was considered a good product — deserving to bear the logo."

 Brother Isaac Keeley Brother Isaac Keeley is director of the Trappists’ brewery in Spencer.  At the Spencer Brewery website, you can learn about the beer, the monks and even watch a beautiful video of a day in the life of a Trappist monk in Spencer.

I have been on retreat several times to the Abbey and can attest to the beauty and the peace that can be found there.  Now with beer, it will be heavenly. 

In the tenth century, Saint Brigid wrote a prayer that begins

I'd like to give a lake of beer to God. I'd love the heavenly Host to be tippling there For all eternity.

And ends

I'd sit with the men, the women and God There by the lake of beer. We'd be drinking good health forever And every drop would be a prayer.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

“I intend to hang around for a while longer, to love and bother you.”

Born in 1923 Arnold Relman is a professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine who has written extensively on reform of the U.S. medical system.  Then, at age 90, he broke his neck.

On Breaking One's Neck

I am a senior physician with over six decades of experience who has observed his share of critical illness—but only from the doctor’s perspective. That changed suddenly and disastrously on the morning of June 27, 2013, ten days after my ninetieth birthday, when I fell down the stairs in my home, broke my neck, and very nearly died. Since then, I have made an astonishing recovery, in the course of which I learned how it feels to be a helpless patient close to death. I also learned some things about the US medical care system that I had never fully appreciated, even though this is a subject that I have studied and written about for many years.

He concludes:

Just a few months after very nearly dying, I am beginning to resume my previous activities and enjoy my life again. However, I walk slowly with a cane, and my movements are deliberate and more cautious to avoid any more falls. My astonishing recovery would never have happened without the superb emergency treatment I received at the MGH and the rehabilitative care that followed. But I am also convinced that other factors contributed to my survival: my family’s support (particularly that of my wife), a strong body, an intact brain, and very good luck all were important. I also believe my medical training helped. It made me aware of the dangers of pneumonia and other infections from contamination of catheters and tubes, so I pushed to have the latter removed as soon as possible and I took as few sedatives and painkillers as possible.

However, there was something else that helped to sustain me. I wanted to stay around as long as possible to see what was going to happen to my family, to the country, and to the health system I was studying so closely. Perhaps I was too engaged in life to allow death to intrude right then. As I wrote to my wife in one of my myriad scrawled notes the first week in the ICU, “I intend to hang around for a while longer, to love and bother you.”

Consider how his strong engagement with life is focused outside of his self.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 AM | Permalink

January 23, 2014

Administration fears part of Obamacare so flawed, it could bankrupt insurance companies

Well, the Administration has finally admitted it fears part of health care system so flawed it could bankrupt insurance companies, Jim Angle reports:

To justify a no-bid contract with Accenture after firing CGI as the lead contractor, the administration released documents from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services that offered a rare glimpse of its worst fears, saying the problems with the website puts "the entire health insurance industry at risk" … "potentially leading to their default and disrupting continued services and coverage to consumers."

Then it went even further, saying if the problems were not fixed by mid-March, "they will result in financial harm to the government."

It even added that without the fixes "the entire health care reform program is jeopardized."
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But the back end still hasn't been built, so insurers are dealing with massive confusion, missing information on who's signed up and what subsidies they get.
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The administration emphasizes that fixing the site by mid-March is urgent. Otherwise the system could descend into chaos and threaten the future of ObamaCare.

Today, Moody's slashes outlook on insurers, cites Obamacare 'uncertainty

Credit ratings firm Moody's Investors Service on Thursday lowered its outlook for health insurers to "negative" from "stable," citing "uncertainty" swirling around the rollout of President Obama's health care law.

In a new report, the agency said that the outlook for insurance companies is no longer clear because the law's insurance exchanges haven't been attracting enough younger individuals. In addition, Moody's analysts were concerned that the Obama administration has been changing regulations after insurers had already set prices for the year.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:28 PM | Permalink

Hunky-dory

 Japan-Sun 10 everyday English words that were originally Japanese.  Words such as sushi, karate, manga, futon, tsunami and karaoke are obviously Japanese, but would you have guessed that honcho, tycoon and hunky-dory also come from Japan?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:16 PM | Permalink

January 22, 2014

"A relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics"

Heather MacDonald, The Humanities and Us in City Journal
Don’t listen to today’s narcissistic academics—the West’s cultural inheritance is indispensable.

In 2011, the University of California at Los Angeles decimated its English major……Until 2011, students majoring in English at UCLA had to take one course in Chaucer, two in Shakespeare, and one in Milton—the cornerstones of English literature. Following a revolt of the junior faculty, however, during which it was announced that Shakespeare was part of the “Empire,” UCLA junked these individual author requirements and replaced them with a mandate that all English majors take a total of three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability, and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing. In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent as to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton, or Shakespeare, but was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”
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The UCLA coup represents the characteristic academic traits of our time: narcissism, an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics. Sitting atop an entire civilization of aesthetic wonders, the contemporary academic wants only to study oppression, preferably his own, defined reductively according to gonads and melanin.
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It was not always so. The humanist tradition was founded not on narcissism but on the all-consuming desire to engage with the genius and radical difference of the past. The fourteenth-century Florentine poet Francesco Petrarch triggered the explosion of knowledge known today as Renaissance humanism with his discovery of Livy’s monumental history of Rome and the letters of Cicero, the Roman statesman whose orations, with their crystalline Latin style, would inspire such philosophers of republicanism as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
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This constant, sophisticated dialogue between past and present would become a defining feature of Western civilization, prompting the evolution of such radical ideas as constitutional government and giving birth to arts and architecture of polyphonic complexity. And it became the primary mission of the universities to transmit knowledge of the past, as well as—eventually—to serve as seedbeds for new knowledge.

What college students today would understand The dreams of readers?

In an essay published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1858, the poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson chose the adjective to describe the experience of reading: “I find certain books vital and spermatic, not leaving the reader what he was.” For Emerson, the best books — the “true ones” — “take rank in our life with parents and lovers and passionate experiences, so medicinal, so stringent, so revolutionary, so authoritative.” Books are not only alive; they give life, or at least give it a new twist.
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Psychologists and neurobiologists have begun studying what goes on in our minds as we read literature, and what they’re discovering lends scientific weight to Emerson’s observation…..A work of literature, particularly narrative literature, takes hold of the brain in curious and powerful ways…Making sense of what transpires in a book’s imagined reality appears to depend on “making a version of the action ourselves, inwardly.”

One intriguing study, conducted a few years ago by research psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis, illuminates Oatley’s point. The scholars used brain scans to examine the cellular activity that occurs inside people’s heads as they read stories. They found that “readers mentally simulate each new situation encountered in a narrative.” The groups of nerve cells, or neurons, activated in readers’  brains “closely mirror those involved when [they] perform, imagine, or observe similar real-world activities.”…

The reader’s brain is not just a mirror. The actions and sensations portrayed in a story, the researchers wrote, are woven together with “with personal knowledge from [each reader’s] past experiences.” Every reader of a book creates, in Oatley’s terms, his own dream of the work — and he inhabits that dream as if it were an actual place.

We gain a special trance-like state of mind in which we become unaware of our bodies and our environment,” explains Holland. “We are ‘transported.’” It is only when we leave behind the incessant busyness of our lives in society that we open ourselves to literature’s regenerative power. That doesn’t mean that reading is anti-social. The central subject of literature is society, and when we lose ourselves in a book we often receive an education in the subtleties and vagaries of human relations
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 PM | Permalink

The Rockabilly culture

The people who are STILL living like it's 1951: Captivating portraits take a look inside America's Rockabilly community

Photographer Jennifer Greenburg, an assistant professor of photography at Indiana University, has been photographing the Rockabilly culture for 10 years.

People that not only dress like it’s the Fifties, but also drive perfectly preserved Cadillacs and decorate their homes with furniture to rival the retro sets of Mad Men.

'At first I thought the culture was about fashion,' the 36-year-old photographer told MailOnline. 'Then I realized it was much, much, more than that. I realized that this was a culture of people who functioned as a community.'

 Young Rockabilly -Cowboy

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The community of people Ms Greenburg has documented, she believes, usually have a desire for this kind of joyousness that was lost in the 21st Century. 'Happiness, I believe, is everyone’s primary full-time job. And living a life that resembles, visually, the 1950’s helps make that just a little easier,' she said.

From re-wiring a lamp, to re-sewing the seams of a Fifties cocktail dress, Ms Greenburg added that most true participants of the culture are skilled at repairing and restoring most of their possessions.
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'I realized what a special and lovely thing I found myself a part of,' she said. 'I have a friend in every city in America that I can call today and go visit tomorrow. That friend will open up his door to me,  and, help me with anything that I need -- a laugh, a drink of water, a shoulder to cry on -- just like only the best of friends do.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 PM | Permalink

"He lived inside the cave of his breath"

The remarkable story of "Peter Freuchen, six foot seven, lived inside the cave of his breath. "

 Peter-Freuchen
"That's Peter Freuchen and his wife Dagmar Freuchen-Gale, in a photo taken by Irving Penn. Freuchen is a top candidate for the Most Interesting Man in the World.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:11 PM | Permalink

Obamacare now beyond rescue

Megan McArdle, Resolved: Obamacare Is Now Beyond Rescue

By “beyond rescue,” I mean that the original vision of the law will not be fulfilled -- the cost-controlling, delivery-system-improving, health-enhancing, deficit-reducing, highly popular, tightly integrated (and smoothly functioning) system for ensuring that everyone who wants coverage can get it.

The law still lacks the political legitimacy to survive in the long term. And in a bid to increase that legitimacy, the administration has set two very dangerous precedents: It has convinced voters that no unpopular provisions should ever be allowed to take effect, and it has asserted an executive right to rewrite the law, which Republicans can just as easily use to unravel this tangled web altogether.

Many of the commentators I’ve read seem to think that the worst is over, as far as unpopular surprises. In fact, the worst is yet to come. Here’s what’s ahead:

She and Scott Gottlieb debated Jonathan Chait and Douglas Kamerow on the Upper West Side in NYC and won!

Scott spoke eloquently about the ways in which narrow networks and the focus on Medicaid are going to deliver an unacceptable quality of care. I talked about why this, among other things, makes the system so unstable.

In a nutshell, Obamacare has so far fallen dramatically short of what was expected -- technically, and in almost every other way. …The administration and its supporters have been counting on the coverage expansion to put Obamacare beyond repeal. So what if the coverage expansion is anemic, the plans bare-bones, the website sort of a disaster?…

…..The Barack Obama administration is in emergency mode, pasting over political problems with administrative fixes of dubious legality, just to ensure the law’s bare survival -- which is now their incredibly low bar for “success.”

Although the fixes may solve the short-term political problems, however, they destabilize the markets, which also need to work to ensure the law’s survival. The president is destroying his own law in order to save it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:49 PM | Permalink

"The undeniable fact is that nearly a third of my generation is missing."

Politico, Snow doesn’t hinder March for Life

Every January for the past 40 years, a large group of anti-abortion advocates has gathered on the National Mall and then marched to the Supreme Court to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Organizers say their participants in the past few years have numbered from 200,000 to 400,000, a large part of whom are young people, and yet they remain perplexed why one of the largest demonstrations in Washington, D.C., gets little of the attention they feel it is due.

“It is sort of frustrating when you’re downtown freezing your tail off with hundreds of thousands of people, it’s the biggest you can imagine you’ve ever taken part in, and you go home and you watch the news or you pick up the paper and … you’re lucky if you get on the news 20 seconds of coverage,” said Kevin Bohli, director of youth outreach for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. “You might have 10 people camped out in a park for Occupy getting news for weeks on end, but hundreds of thousands of people from all of the nation coming together and almost nothing.

Despite cancelled flights and stopped D.C. bound tour buses, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.  will trudge through the snow in D.C. to March for Life.

The theme this year is adoption. …."We want to encourage women facing the option of abortion to choose adoption," said Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund. "Adoption is at the center of motherhood. Motherhood is all about sacrifices. This is an ultimate sacrifice for the good of the baby."

 55Million Abortions Since Roe V.Wade

I Am Overwhelmed by 55 Million Babies Killed Since Roe v. Wade, Kristan Hawkins

The undeniable fact is that nearly a third of my generation is missing. We are missing brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, husbands and wives…….

You see, Miss Weddington’s generation got it wrong. In attempting to correct gender inequality in the workplace and in our society, they set into motion the ultimate act of discrimination – abortion. Instead of glorifying motherhood, they pitted the mother against her child, creating an endless cycle of selfishness, pain, and deceit.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker on Child Sacrifice.

We are a people who sacrifice babies.  The logic of child sacrifice in primitive societies was simple: the gods provided the peace, prosperity and power you wanted, and to please them you gave them the most valuable thing: a human life. Likewise we offer  the products of our unrestrained pleasure–sacrificing them to provide prosperity and a peaceful life.

The entire interview with Cardinal Sean O'Malley on abortion, buffer zones, Project Rachel, Pope Francis and adoptions. is worth reading

“The normal Catholic in the parish might hear a sermon on abortion once a year. They’ll never hear a sermon on homosexuality or gay marriage. They’ll never hear a sermon about contraception. But if you look at the New York Times, in the course of a week, there will be 20 articles on those topics. So who is obsessed? Now, the Church’s positions are very clear and very consistent. For us, life is at the very center of our social teachings. Life is precious. It is a mystery. It must be nurtured, protected, the transmission of life is sacred. And our defense of human life is a great service to society. When the state begins to decide who is worthy of living and who isn’t, all human rights are put in jeopardy, but the voice of the church is very clear. And we’re not just saying that life is precious in the womb but life is precious when someone has Alzheimer’s when someone has AIDS when someone is poor when someone has mental illness. Their humanity is not diminished – and they have a claim on our love and on our services. So the church’s position is a very consistent one. It is a consistent life ethic.

The good news. Report: Abortions Drop 32 Percent From All-Time High as Roe Turns 41

National Right to Life President Carol Tobias, “Abortion remains widely available. But after years of being told that abortion was ‘the best choice’ or ‘their only choice,’ women are learning that there are alternatives to abortion that affirm their lives and the lives of their children,” added Tobias. “The bottom line is simple: the right-to-life movement is succeeding because even after 41 years and more than 56 million abortions, the conscience of our nation knows that killing unborn children is wrong.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:33 PM | Permalink

'Once I started, I thought to myself, ‘Well, gee, why not?"

Why you should heed the tips of a 94-year-old athlete in a new book What Makes Olga Run?  Olga Kotelko from Vancouver, Canada,  took up athletics at the age of 77 and has since scored 26 world records and more than 750 gold medals.

She reveals how she likes to exercise daily, gets eight hours of sleep, keep her brain active with Sudoku puzzles and eat unprocessed foods - with pickled herring, Greek yogurt and the occasional dram of Scotch among her favorite delicacies.

Author Bruce Grierson, spent months meticulously examining Ms Kotelko's lifestyle and told Today.com of the nonagenarian: 'She's having a ball, she's having the best time of her life . . . She thinks of herself as still growing.'

One of the athlete's more bizarre habits is setting her alarm to 2am every morning for stretching and meditation sessions.
After bending, flexing and clearing her mind she then goes back to sleep.
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Everything else aside, one necessity Ms Kotelko considers 'a must', is maintaining a positive frame of mind….'Be optimistic and face every day with a smile,' she said.  'Praying, having faith and a good relationship with your family. Friends, a lot of friends.'

She was always active, but didn’t take up track and field until age 77. Her sporting career has seen her travel all over the world.

'Once I started, I thought to myself, ‘Well, gee, why not?"' the grandmother-pf-two recalled.  'I chose to be a young-at-heart athlete rather than an old woman.'  She says that out of the 11 field and track sports she practices, hammer throw is her favorite.

 Olga Kotelko Hammer Throwing

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 AM | Permalink

How The New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression

This will upset a lot of people. 

FDR's policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate

Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years….

In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933.

"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."
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"High wages and high prices in an economic slump run contrary to everything we know about market forces in economic downturns," Ohanian said. "As we've seen in the past several years, salaries and prices fall when unemployment is high. By artificially inflating both, the New Deal policies short-circuited the market's self-correcting forces."
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Cole and Ohanian calculate that NIRA and its aftermath account for 60 percent of the weak recovery. Without the policies, they contend that the Depression would have ended in 1936 instead of the year when they believe the slump actually ended: 1943.
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Recovery came only after the Department of Justice dramatically stepped up enforcement of antitrust cases nearly four-fold and organized labor suffered a string of setbacks, the economists found.

"The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes," Cole said. "Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 AM | Permalink

January 18, 2014

Worthwhile Links for the Weekend

The fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwards was based on  a cause célèbre that took place in royal circles. It involves star-crossed lovers, child labor and death by poison.

Winston Churchill had a tattoo and so did his wife.  Just some of the 14 historical figures who you would never guess had tattoos

20 Kids Who Are Totally Winning at the Game Of Hide And Seek

Spectacular Norway Northern Lights - watch it on YouTube

Stay-at-Home Dad Depicts His Life with Hysterical Post-It Notes Left Around the House

Jonathan Rauch, a self-confessed introvert, discusses the habits and needs of a little-understood group in  Caring for Your Introvert

Rino Stefano Taglaferro brings classic paintings to life in Beauty at Vimeo

Heather MacDonald The Humanities and Us  Don’t listen to today’s narcissistic academics—the West’s cultural inheritance is indispensable.

Steve Jobs’ Doctor Wants to Teach You the Formula for Long Life

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:21 AM | Permalink

January 17, 2014

Health Roundup: Vitamins E and D, probiotics, coffee and memory, exercise

The health news that caught my eye this past week.

A megadose of vitamin E 'slows down' Alzheimer's: Patients able to cook, wash and stay independent for six months longer

High doses of vitamin E could help people with Alzheimer’s retain their independence for longer, claim researchers.
A new trial showed that daily supplements slowed the functional decline of patients by around six months.
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Professor Kenneth Davis, a US expert on brain disease who was involved in the study, said the trial showed that vitamin E should be offered to patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s…..Over a period of 2.3 years, patients who took the supplements alone had an annual 19 per cent reduction in the extent to which Alzheimer’s affected their daily lives compared with the placebo group.

Vitamin D Reduces Pain in People with Fibromyalgia

Taking vitamin D supplements may alleviate chronic pain in people with fibromyalgia who have low levels of the vitamin, according to a new study from Austria.

This pill could give your brain the learning powers of a 7-year-old

Your brain is like a sponge when it is young. Studies have shown that kids pick up up foreign languages faster than adults (though that is up for debate), and that some skills — like "perfect pitch," which allows gifted vocalists to sing notes with unerring precision — are best nurtured from a young age….. Takao Hensch, a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard, who is studying a drug that may make it dramatically easier for grown-ups to absorb new skills and information — almost as if they were seven years old or younger.

The key ingredient here is valproic acid. Normally, it's used to treat neurological disorders like seizures and epilepsy, and various other mood disorders. But Hensch claims it may help restore plasticity in the adult brain.  In a new experiment, Hensch used valproic acid to bestow the gift of perfect pitch to a group of adult males between the ages of 18 to 27.

Will taking a probiotic pill make you feel less anxious? Scientists suggest that the bacteria in our guts may affect our brains and mood

Now, increasingly, studies are providing evidence that the bacteria in the gut may 'communicate' with the brain, improving mental health and behavior in conditions such as anxiety, and possibly even autism and Asperger's syndrome.

Is gut bacteria the secret to a LONG LIFE? Friendly flora reduces inflammation and prevents disease, claims study

Having the right balance of gut bacteria could be the secret to a long life, new research suggests.  U.S. researchers say age-related changes to gut bacteria, that result in an imbalance between 'friendly' and 'unfriendly' bacteria, are associated with cancer, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.

Coffee perks up your memory: Drinking a strong mug after a learning session can improve recall

Dr Michael Yassa, of the University of California, Irvine, said: ‘Caffeine enhanced consolidation of long-term memories. ‘We have always known caffeine has cognitive enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans. We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours.’

Exercise works. People with MS can improve their energy levels with short bursts of walking or cycling

Short bouts of moderate exercise improve quality of life and reduce fatigue.  Even just three five-minute bouts of exercise is enough to improve energy

Want to avoid diabetes? Take up yoga or weight lifting: Study finds 3.5 hours of exercise a week nearly HALVES the risk

This amount of exercise can reduce risk of Type 2 diabetes by 40%. Even just an hour's workout every seven days can cut the risk by 13%

The Blood Type Diet debunked: Study confirms that fad regime has no scientific evidence behind it

  ‘The way an individual responds to any one of these diets has absolutely nothing to do with their blood type and has everything to do with their ability to stick to a sensible vegetarian or low-carbohydrate diet,’

Alzheimer's Self Test Works Surprisingly Well

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:59 PM | Permalink

January 14, 2014

Crony capitalism is why we can't buy 100, 60 or 40 watt incandescent lightbulbs.

Crony capitalism isn't just a catch phrase.  It effects all of us and not for the better.  The best example is the ordinary light bulb, the incandescent light bulb that we've all used for years.  On Jan 1, 60 and 40 watt bulbs were banned.

The Washington Examiner discusses how Industry, not environmentalists, killed traditional bulbs.. The competition among  Industry giants life GE, Phillips and Sylvania kept the cost of light bulbs low and the profits as well.  But they couldn't get consumers to buy their fancy halogen, LED and fluorescent bulbs which were more expensive and delivered much higher profits.    People preferred the far cheaper light bulbs that worked perfectly well, that delivered a warm, more aesthetically pleasing light and that didn't have mercury in them which in the new bulbs practically required a haz mat team if a bulb broke so extensive were the precautions that had to be taken.

So the industry giants got behind

The 2007 Energy Bill, a stew of regulations and subsidies, set mandatory efficiency standards for most light bulbs. Any bulbs that couldn't produce a given brightness at the specified energy input would be illegal. That meant the 25-cent bulbs most Americans used in nearly every socket of their home would be outlawed.
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Light bulb manufacturers whole-heartedly supported the efficiency standards. General Electric, Sylvania and Philips — the three companies that dominated the bulb industry — all backed the 2007 rule, while opposing proposals to explicitly outlaw incandescent technology (thus leaving the door open for high-efficiency incandescents).

This wasn't a case of an industry getting on board with an inevitable regulation in order to tweak it. The lighting industry was the main reason the legislation was moving.

So, simply the threat of competition kept profit margins low on the traditional light bulb — that's the magic of capitalism. GE and Sylvania searched for higher profits by improving the bulb — think of the GE Soft White bulb. These companies, with their giant research budgets, made advances with halogen, LED and fluorescent technologies, and even high-efficiency incandescents. They sold these bulbs at a much higher prices — but they couldn’t get many customers to buy them for those high prices. That's the hard part about capitalism — consumers, not manufacturers, get to demand what something is worth.

Capitalism ruining their party, the bulb-makers turned to government. Philips teamed up with NRDC. GE leaned on its huge lobbying army — the largest in the nation — and soon they were able to ban the low-profit-margin bulbs.

Kimberly Strassel  The Year of the Washington Power Grab  It's corporate cronyism.

In ObamaWorld, winners and losers are chosen by the federal government.

This past year will be remembered for many things, but let 2013 be hailed mainly for this: It was the year that the genius of George Orwell's "Animal Farm" became clear in America. Efforts to centralize control in the name of "fairness" have led to a society that is ever more at the mercy of a federal power—one that decides who does and does not succeed. The winners are favored special interests, political cronies and wealthy lobbyists. The losers are everyone else.
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Indeed, in ObamaWorld, many millionaires, health-care buyers, energy companies, subprime dealers, political groups, and bird killers are more equal than others. Our new elite is ever more defined by who has the best pull with the administration. So long as government grows, so too will this government-created inequality.  They didn't like the 'efficient' bulbs which were far more expensive, sometimes 20x as expensive that were slow to warm up, cast a cold light and contained a small amount of mercury,

60% Still Oppose Government's Light Bulb Ban

Only one-in-four Americans support the ban on conventional 40- and 60-watt light bulbs in the United States that went into effect January 1, and the same number say they or someone they know stocked up on the old bulbs beforehand.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 PM | Permalink

Why the government should not be running health care

Obama Care This Is What Government-Run Health Care Looks Like

More than two-thirds of the public don't think the government can be trusted to run the nation's health care system successfully. ObamaCare is proving these skeptics right.

The public might not agree on much these days, but one thing it overwhelmingly believes is that government is ill-equipped to manage one-sixth of the economy — 67% said so in the January IBD/TIPP poll.
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Many plans say only 60% of signees have paid their first premium so far. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield reports that as of Jan. 3 just 8% of those who signed up with Connecticut's exchange had done so.  As a result, even though insurers pushed back payment deadlines that they'd already extended once, many of the 2 million who signed up for ObamaCare will end up disenrolled — creating yet another crisis.
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Confusion, bureaucracy, delays, crony capitalism, taxpayer bailouts. This is what health care under government control looks like. And this is just the beginning.

Obamacare's Spanish-Language Site Written Not In Spanish but… Spanglish

[T]he translations were so clunky and full of grammatical mistakes that critics say they must have been computer-generated — the name of the site itself can literally be read "for the caution of health."

"When you get into the details of the plans, it's not all written in Spanish. It's written in Spanglish, so we end up having to translate it for them," said Adrian Madriz, a health care navigator who helps with enrollment in Miami.

This inspirational, disabled family lost its health coverage, and it’s Obamacare’s fault.  Their twin children both with brittle bone disease were denied coverage.  The father has cerebral palsy, the mother has brittle bone disease.

It’s hard to see the Daverts’ situation as anything other than a stinging rebuke of the president’s signature healthcare reform, according to Anne Schieber, senior investigative analyst at the Mackinac Center.

“It’s hard to believe that Obamacare is hurting the very families it was suppose to help,” Schieber told The Daily Caller. “Imagine a family with significant disabilities now thinking about taking out loans and re-entering the workforce just to pay for health insurance.  This is what happens when government meddles with a critical segment of the economy instead of allowing the free market to do its magic.”

An Obamacare supporter recounts his misadventures dealing with HealthCare.gov

We struggled with the healthcare.gov website for months. Every so often, we’d return to find Miles’ application for eligibility stuck in some “pending” netherworld. The Phone People said to wait a few weeks and try again. Nothing ever happened, except that the site said at varying times the application was “in progress” or “incomplete.” I lost count of how many times I re-entered the same information because some Phone Person told me to try that.

The deadline to sign up was Dec. 23, so by Dec. 20 we were frantic. I finally broke down and called the Obamacare navigators in our region, the folks supposedly deputized to guide helpless souls to the finish line. Only two of the five I reached out to even responded, one to say she’d be on vacation for the rest of the year (?!?) and the other to say she was booked solid with other desperate customers. I guess we were supposed to know that the website would never, ever work and plan ahead for that.
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Three days into 2014, Miles took his Obamacare out for its maiden drive. His stop at the doctor went fine. At the pharmacy, it crashed.  His medication — which has cost us a co-pay of between $10 and $30 under every other plan he’s had since 2004 including one under Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan — would not be covered. At all.  That’s $438 out of pocket. Every month. And it won’t even go against the plan deductible.
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Much more troubling than the fact that we received so much worthless and conflicting information was that there was nobody to appeal to, nobody to trust.

USA Today editorializes Obamacare overreach tramples Little Sisters

The administration is now stuck arguing that it is justified in compelling nuns who care for the elderly poor to assist in offering health insurance that they say conflicts with their religious beliefs. Talk about a political loser.
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From a health care standpoint, the Affordable Care Act's mandate that all employers provide coverage, without co-pays, for contraceptives is sound. It is important preventive care. So says the prestigious Institute of Medicine, arbiter of such things.

Wisely, churches and other houses of worship are exempt from the requirement, but the administration wrote rules so narrowly that they failed to exempt Catholic and other religiously affiliated hospitals, colleges and charities. Its position was constitutionally suspect, politically foolish and ultimately unproductive. The number of women affected is likely so small that the administration could find some less divisive way to provide the coverage.

Instead, the administration is battling Catholic bishops and nuns, Southern Baptists, Christ-centered colleges and assorted religious non-profits that filed challenges across the country.
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The lawsuits stem from an "accommodation" President Obama offered after his too-narrow religious exemption caused an uproar in 2012.  The accommodation is more of a fig leaf than a fix: Although religiously affiliated non-profits do not have to supply birth control coverage themselves, they must sign a certification that allows their insurance companies to provide it instead. Some non-profits have acquiesced, but not the Little Sisters and others who argue that this makes them complicit in an act that violates a tenet of their faith. If the non-profits refuse to sign, they face ruinous fines — $4.5 million a year for just two of the Little Sisters' 30 homes.

Federal Government Spends $175 Million on Penis Pumps, Paying More Than Double the Actual Price for the Devices

“Medicare currently pays suppliers more than twice as much for VES as the Department of Veterans Affairs and consumers over the Internet pay for these types of devices,” the IG found.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 PM | Permalink

Burying the IRS Scandal

No one's to blame.  Nothing to see here, move along.

The Fix Is In in the IRS Abuse Scandal

President Obama himself at least set the tone that led to the abuse of conservative, Christian and Tea Party groups by calling for them to be investigated in several of his public comments. He may have done a whole lot more than just set the tone. Obama placed William Wilkins into the IRS counsel’s office, and that office was responsible for developing the IRS guidelines that led to the targeting of the president’s opponents. IRS chief counsel Wilkins met with President Obama just two days before his office handed out the guidelines that agents used to target the president’s opponents. A day after that, the head of the IRS workers union also met with President Obama. Either of these meetings looks bad, but both together look terrible. Also, then IRS commissioner Doug Shulman attended 118 meetings in the White House across the time of the abuse.

The IRS targeted more than just groups formed to oppose the president. It went after individuals, too, including Christine O’Donnell and Catherine Engelbrecht.    Engelbrecht, founder of the election integrity King Street Patriots group, has had to fend off an alphabet soup of federal executive branch agencies. Who has the power to coordinate the activities of all those agencies, and send them after someone doing something that the president, by suing states that enact voter ID, has made clear that he does not like? The power to make all those agencies jump rests in the White House. Nowhere else.

Holder Will File No Charges In IRS Harassment of Tea Partiers Matter;

Tea Party Lawyer: “This has been a big, bureaucratic, former-Soviet-Union-type investigation, which means that there was no investigation”

As you know, Barack Obama, who heard about this when you did, was "outraged" by it all.

Obama admin’s IRS investigation appears to be a sham

The federal government’s criminal investigation of the IRS targeting scandal, spearheaded by the FBI and Holder’s Department of Justice, has long been considered a joke by insiders. DOJ civil rights lawyer Barbara Bosserman, who contributed $6,100 to Obama’s political campaigns between 2008 and 2012, was secretly chosen to lead the DOJ’s investigation, Issa’s oversight committee recently discovered.

FBI investigators went more than half a year without contacting any of the 41 victimized conservative groups represented in an American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) lawsuit against the IRS, even though White House press secretary Jay Carney was able to conclude that the IRS matter was just one of a number of “phony scandals” surrounding the Obama administration.

Wall Street Journal editorial:  The IRS Gets a Pass:'

Not every scandal is a crime, but if the report is right it means no one will be held accountable in any meaningful way for the misuse of the taxing power of the state. This is why Americans don't trust government.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:57 PM | Permalink

January 9, 2014

Religion as a buffer against the strains of modern life

Religion forms buffer against work stress

Having a religion could be the key to avoiding work stress as a study found those with a faith are less anxious in the work place, healthier and less likely to take sick days.

Religion is the answer to combating work stress because it provides a "buffer against strains" of modern life, research has claimed.  Dr Roxane Gervais, a senior psychologist at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Stockport, surveyed employees to find out how content they were with their working lives.

The study concluded that employees who are more actively religious are more likely to report low levels of anxiety, depression and fatigue and also higher presence of meaning in life, that is feeling that their lives have meaning. Workers said that attending religious services connects them to a higher being as well as makes them feel better about themselves.

Dr Gervais said: “As the pace of work and life accelerates, people long for meaning, and the younger generation in particular is looking for more than just a big pay cheque at the end of the month.
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“We should hence encourage employers to accommodate, where possible, employees’ religious beliefs while at work, and not shy away from the issue.”

These findings are being presented today (THURS) at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology’s in Brighton. Previous studies have shown that companies who accommodated workers beliefs improved morale, staff retention and loyalty.

The report also found that those who regularly practiced religion were more likely to have healthier lifestyles and so took fewer sick days.  Dr Gervais added: “Religiosity seemed to assist individuals in gaining better well-being and using more appropriate coping mechanisms.”

This story reminded me of what Mother Theresa said when she visited the United States,  "The spiritual poverty of the West is greater than ours… You, in the West, have millions of people who suffer such terrible loneliness and emptiness…They feel unloved and unwanted. These people are not hungry in the physical sense, but they are in another way. They know they need something more than money, yet they don’t know what it is. What they are missing, really, is a living relationship with God.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:05 PM | Permalink

"His code name was T5"

From Reflections of a Paralytic » Sperm Donor Recalls Meeting His Donor-Daughter Decades Later

All Narelle Grech from Australia knew of her father was that his code name was T5, he was brown-haired and brown-eyed with O-positive blood type. “When I was a teenager, I carried that information around with me on a scrap of paper, the way other kids carried a photograph of their dad,” she said. “It was my way of keeping a link to him because I had nothing else.”

Born in 1983, Narelle started searching for her biological father fifteen years ago. That search became even more urgent when she was diagnosed her with advanced bowel cancer in 2011, a disease which doctors said might kill her within the next five years. The disease is genetic and she didn’t get it from her mother’s side. Shortly after her diagnosis, Grech has also discovered that she has eight half-siblings created with her biological father’s sperm: “Each one may be a genetic time bomb waiting to go off and it’s probable that they don’t know anything about it.”

Narelle was finally united with her biological father in February of 2013, she passed away just one month later at the age of 30. Last October Ray Tonna was a guest on an Australian talk show to discuss his experience with anonymous sperm donation. In this teaser video for the episode, he recalls what it was like meeting his daughter for the first time:
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:17 AM | Permalink

January 8, 2014

A Cheaper and Superior Health Plan --at Walmart

Walmart Health Plan More Affordable and Superior to Obamacare

A Washington Examiner evaluation of Walmart's employee healthcare plan rated it superior to and more affordable than Obamacare. Over the years, Walmart has been undermined by unions and liberal activists, who claim that the retail giant is “notorious” for providing “substandard” healthcare plans.

The former president of the Illinois State Association of Health Underwriters, Robert Slayton, said that in Chicago, Obamacare offers a restricted list of hospital participation. Walmart, on the other hand, belongs to a national healthcare network that provides almost twice as many participating hospitals. What's more, Walmart's network of doctors dwarfs Obamacare's. “You will notice there are 9,837 doctors [under Obamacare]. But the larger network is 24,904 doctors. Huge, huge difference,” Slayton said.
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Unfortunately, many top-rated hospitals included in the Walmart plan – such as the Mayo and Cleveland Clinics – are left out of most Obamacare exchange plans. Astonishingly, McCaughey cautions, “People who are seriously ill need to stay away from these exchange plans."

In addition to better care, the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that unsubsidized Obamacare enrollees will incur monthly premiums up to nine times higher than Walmart premiums. JAMA indicated that the unsubsidized premium for a nonsmoking couple age 60 can cost $1,365 per month, while the Walmart monthly premium for the same couple would be $134 per month.

 Chart Walmart-V-Obamacare

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 AM | Permalink

Entanglement of Technology

It’s complicated  Human ingenuity has created a world that the mind cannot master. Have we finally reached our limits?

We are now living with the unintended consequences: a world we have created for ourselves that is too complicated for our humble human brains to handle….a world where nearly self-contained technological ecosystems operate outside of human knowledge and understanding. As a scientific paper in Nature in September 2013 put it, there is a complete ‘machine ecology beyond human response time’ in the financial world, where stocks are traded in an eyeblink, and mini-crashes and spikes can occur on the order of a second or less. When we try to push our financial trades to the limits of the speed of light, it is time to recognize that machines are interacting with each other in rich ways, essentially as algorithms trading among themselves, with humans on the sidelines.
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ever since the Enlightenment, we have moved steadily toward the ‘Entanglement’, a term coined by the American computer scientist Danny Hillis. The Entanglement is the trend towards more interconnected and less comprehensible technological surroundings. Hillis argues that our machines, while subject to rational rules, are now too complicated to understand. Whether it’s the entirety of the internet or other large pieces of our infrastructure, understanding the whole — keeping it in your head — is no longer even close to possible.
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Intellectual surrender in the face of increasing complexity seems too extreme and even a bit cowardly, but what should we replace it with if we can’t understand our creations any more?

The examples Samuel Arbesman uses include:  the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), financial trading, software, our legal system which includes the tax code and Obamacare and  evolutionary programming.

In Wired, How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and the other tech titans have had to fight for their lives against their own government. An exclusive look inside their year from hell—and why the Internet will never be the same.
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The hard-earned trust that the tech giants had spent years building was in danger of evaporating—and they seemed powerless to do anything about it. Legally gagged, they weren’t free to provide the full context of their cooperation or resistance. Even the most emphatic denial—a blog post by Google CEO Larry Page and chief legal officer David Drummond headlined, “What the …”—did not quell suspicions. How could it, when an NSA slide indicated that anyone’s personal information was just one click away? When Drummond took questions on the Guardian website later in the month, his interlocutors were hostile:

“Isn’t this whole show not just a face-saving exercise … after you have been found to be in cahoots with the NSA?”

“How can we tell if Google is lying to us?”

“We lost a decade-long trust in you, Google.”

“I will cease using Google mail.”
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“The fact is, the government can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” says Face­book’s global communications head, Michael Buckley. “We can put out any statement or statistics, but in the wake of what feels like weekly disclosures of other government activity, the question is, will anyone believe us?”
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At an appearance at a tech conference last September, Facebook’s Zuckerberg expressed his disgust. “The government blew it,” he said. But the consequences of the government’s actions—and the spectacular leak that informed the world about it—was now plopped into the problem set of Zuckerberg, Page, Tim Cook, Marissa Mayer, Steve Ballmer, and anyone else who worked for or invested in a company that held customer data on its servers.
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“At first we were in an arms race with sophisticated criminals,” says Eric Grosse, Google’s head of security. “Then we found ourselves in an arms race with certain nation-state actors [with a reputation for cyberattacks]. And now we’re in an arms race with the best nation-state actors.” Primarily, the US government.
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Research estimates that as much as $180 billion could be lost due in large part to overseas companies choosing not to patronize the American-based cloud. “American companies are feeling shellacked by overeager surveillance,” says US senator Wyden. “It reduces our competitiveness in a tough global economy.”
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“I was naive,” says Ray Ozzie, who as the inventor of Lotus Notes was an early industry advocate of strong encryption. “I always felt that the US was a little more pure. Our processes of getting information were upfront. There were requests, and they were narrow. But then came the awakening,” he says. “We’re just like everybody else.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:15 AM | Permalink

January 3, 2014

The real gender war is against boys and men

'What you're seeing is how a civilization commits suicide," said Camille Paglia who wrote A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues. in the Wall St Journal's interview of her last weekend that everyone is talking about and with which I couldn't agree more.

The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that's just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation….But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society's attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.  She starts with military service ……

"The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster," she says. "These people don't think in military ways, so there's this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we're just nice and benevolent to everyone they'll be nice too. They literally don't have any sense of evil or criminality."

The results, she says, can be seen in everything from the dysfunction in Washington (where politicians "lack practical skills of analysis and construction") to what women wear. "So many women don't realize how vulnerable they are by what they're doing on the street," she says, referring to women who wear sexy clothes.
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Ms. Paglia argues that the softening of modern American society begins as early as kindergarten. "Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It's oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys," she says, pointing to the most obvious example: the way many schools have cut recess. "They're making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters."
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She sees the tacit elevation of "female values"—such as sensitivity, socialization and cooperation—as the main aim of teachers, rather than fostering creative energy and teaching hard geographical and historical facts. By her lights, things only get worse in higher education. "This PC gender politics thing—the way gender is being taught in the universities—in a very anti-male way, it's all about neutralization of maleness." The result: Upper-middle-class men who are "intimidated" and "can't say anything. . . . They understand the agenda."
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Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America's brawny industrial base, leaves many men with "no models of manhood," she says. "Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There's nothing left. There's no room for anything manly right now." The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener. The energy and enthusiasm "inspires me as a writer," she says, adding: "If we had to go to war," the callers "are the men that would save the nation."

…. Women, particularly elite upper-middle-class women, have become "clones" condemned to "Pilates for the next 30 years," Ms. Paglia says. "Our culture doesn't allow women to know how to be womanly,"

She noted several years ago what we all observe

Visually, American men remain perpetual boys, as shown by the bulky T-shirts, loose shorts and sneakers they wear from preschool through midlife. The sexes, which used to occupy intriguingly separate worlds, are suffering from over-familiarity, a curse of the mundane. There’s no mystery left.

Who else but the lesbian feminist Paglia would dare to say It’s a Man’s World, and It Always Will Be

A peevish, grudging rancor against men has been one of the most unpalatable and unjust features of second- and third-wave feminism. Men’s faults, failings and foibles have been seized on and magnified into gruesome bills of indictment.

Or

After the next inevitable apocalypse, men will be desperately needed again! Oh, sure, there will be the odd gun-toting Amazonian survivalist gal, who can rustle game out of the bush and feed her flock, but most women and children will be expecting men to scrounge for food and water and to defend the home turf. Indeed, men are absolutely indispensable right now, invisible as it is to most feminists, who seem blind to the infrastructure that makes their own work lives possible. It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments. It is men who heft and weld the giant steel beams that frame our office buildings, and it is men who do the hair-raising work of insetting and sealing the finely tempered plate-glass windows of skyscrapers 50 stories tall.

Legal Insurrection applauds Paglia for pointing out  “it’s all about neutralization of maleness” 

We have noted here many times the war on little boys in elementary school through the absurd application of “zero tolerance” rules, When do we finally stop the harassment of little boys by school administrators? 

Punishing boys for kissing a girl on the cheek,  eating a poptart so it looks like a gun, imaginary arrows, pointing a pencil like a gun

We also have noted Dr. Helen Smith’s book Men on Strike regarding how similar policies through college and beyond have had a negative impact………

Dr. Helen rightly points out that when you reward the “Uncle Tims” at the expense of the “White Knights”, and decry masculinity as evil, then self-serving behavior will be the result. She notes, “as you sow, so shall you reap.”

So we watch reality shows to see what real men are like.  Victor Davis Hansen  Good Ol’ Boy, Inc.

The hysteria over Duck Dynasty reminds us that cable TV is currently inundated with working-class, white-guy reality shows. Top-drawing, relatively low-cost realities showcase gold miners, oil drillers, hunters, locomotive drivers, off-the-grid backwoods eccentrics, fishermen, crabmen, truck drivers, ax men, moonshiners, or the new generation of Beverly Hillbillies. The list of the particular subspecies of the muscular classes is endless.

So good-ol’-boy reality offers glimpses, premodern though they may be, of unrestrained freedom. ….The crabmen and lumberjacks don’t seem to worry about what they say or whom they offend — to the degree that such screw-it attitudes can be hinted about on politically correct camera. They are not fellow subjects who live among us in our kingdom of lies, in which you both dare not confess to profiling and dare not walk in a particular Philadelphia neighborhood.

The Washington Examiner Editorial: The real gender war is against boys

A recent study by two MIT economists found that men, not women, are less likely to graduate from high school and finish college. As a result, the study said, "over the last three decades, the labor market trajectory of males in the U.S. has turned downward along four dimensions: skills acquisition, employment rates, occupational stature and real wage levels."

Men can't even get together on their own anymore.  Is There A Male Friendship Crisis?

Men have always felt comfortable in clubs, fraternities, and other exclusive groups. Membership implies discretion: What happens at the Rotary Club stays at the Rotary Club, enabling men to open up and speak frankly. While men enjoy access to these types of bonds in, say, college fraternities, these places vanish in adulthood.

The erosion of “male space,” as psychologist Helen Smith convincingly argued in her otherwise problematic book, “Men on Strike,” has played a key role in the social isolation of men. “Our culture has steadily made it almost obscene for men to congregate on their own together,” Smith writes. “Men are discouraged and actively made fun of or denied the ability to be in all-male groups by the law and by the disapproval of certain segments of the culture.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:03 PM | Permalink

Graphic reveals how emotions cause real physical symptoms

Love DOES make us warm inside while disgust turns our stomach:

A study found that different emotions affect the body in different ways yet these effects are the same across cultures.
Love is felt right down to the toes and happiness suffuses the whole body
Angry people are more aware of their head and arms - this could be because they are subconsciously preparing for a fight
Sadness leaves the limbs feeling weak and disgust is primarily felt in the throat and digestive system

 Graphic Emotions

The findings come from Finnish researchers who showed 700 volunteers films and read them stories designed to evoke particular emotions.
The men and women were then given outlines of bodies and asked to colour in the parts they felt became more active or less active.
The results were the same across cultures, with love ‘felt’ right down to people’s toes and happiness suffusing the whole body with feeling.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 AM | Permalink

The Continuing Trainwreck

The latest on the continuing train wreck of Obamacare.

Novitas Solutions, the company hired to build the back-end payment systems of Healthcare.gov which is still not built is notorious in Dallas anyway for paying out Medicare claims to hospitals late and not at all to one Dallas hospital forcing employees to go without pay for weeks.

Only half of the two million people claimed to have enrolled in Obamacare have paid their premium. Murphy's law

Not only has Obamacare not yet delivered a fully functional front end, it’s backend does not seem to have been built.  The insurance companies who have signed on to it are finding themselves stuck with an army of uninsurables and avoided by the young and healthy who alone can make the risk pool viable. This creates a drought of receivables that in turn disrupts payments to providers who “can’t make payroll”.

It’s a shambles. Unless its fixed hospitals will drop out, patients will go untreated, people will lose coverage and people will go broke. Thomas Sowell asks “what kind of man would blithely disrupt the medical care of millions of Americans, and then repeatedly lie to them with glib assurances that they could keep their doctors or health insurance if they wanted to?”

Hospitals in Northern Virginia are turning away sick people because they can't determine whether their Obamacare plans are in effect. 'They had no idea if my insurance was active or not!': Obamacare confusion reigns as frustrated patients walk out of hospitals without treatment.

APNewsBreak: Adding a new baby to plan not easy

Obamacare  lacks a way for consumers to quickly and easily update their coverage for the birth of a baby and other common life changes such as marriage and divorce, a death in the family, a new job or a change in income, even moving to a different community.

Utter Chaos: White House Exempts Millions From Obamacare's Insurance Mandate, 'Unaffordable' Exchanges  Avik Roy

It’s hard to come up with new ways to describe the Obama administration’s improvisational approach to the Affordable Care Act’s troubled health insurance exchanges. But last night, the White House made its most consequential announcement yet. The administration will grant a “hardship exemption” from the law’s individual mandate, requiring the purchase of health insurance, to anyone who has had their prior coverage canceled and who “believes” that Obamacare’s offerings “are unaffordable.” These exemptions will substantially alter the architecture of the law’s insurance marketplaces. Insurers are at their wits’ end, trying to make sense of what to do next.

Charles Krauthammer.  Stop the upcoming bailout of insurance companies,  How soon before insurance companies start going bankrupt and ask for….

A huge government bailout. It’s Obamacare’s escape hatch. And — surprise, surprise — it’s already baked into the law.

Which is why the GOP needs to act. Obamacare is a Rube Goldberg machine with hundreds of moving parts. Without viable insurance companies doing the work, it falls apart. No bailout, no Obamacare.

CBS: Top ObamaCare official wanted site shut down over security risks — and was overruled

Remember.Hiding the Hacking at HealthCare.gov  If your personal info is filched from the site, the government doesn’t have to tell you.

But at least Target informed its customers of the security breach, as it is required by federal law to do. HealthCare.gov faces no such requirement; it need never notify customers that their personal information has been hacked or possibly compromised. The Department of Health and Human Services was specifically asked to include a notification requirement in the rules it designed for the health-care exchanges, but HHS declined.

Obama Dooms Seniors to Ravages of Aging

On Oct. 1, 2012 the Obama administration started awarding bonus points to hospitals that spend the least on elderly patients. It will result in fewer knee replacements, hip replacements, angioplasty, bypass surgery and cataract operations.  These are the five procedures that have transformed aging for older Americans. They used to languish in wheelchairs and nursing homes due to arthritis, cataracts and heart disease. Now they lead active lives.

But the Obama administration is undoing that progress. By cutting $716 billion from future Medicare funding over the next decade and rewarding the hospitals that spend the least on seniors, the Obama health law will make these procedures hard to get and less safe.

The Obama health law creates two new entitlements for people under age 65 – subsidies to buy private health plans and a vast expansion of Medicaid. More than half the cost of these entitlements is paid for by cutting what hospitals, doctors, hospice care, home care and Advantage plans are paid to care for seniors.  Astoundingly, doctors will be paid less to treat a senior than to treat someone on Medicaid, and only about one-third of what a doctor will be paid to treat a patient with private insurance.

ObamaCare forcing 14 percent cut in Medicare’s home health program.

An estimated 3.5 million poor and ill homebound senior citizens will wake up on New Year’s Day to discover ObamaCare has slashed funding for their home health care program.”
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Totaling a whopping 14 percent between 2014 and 2017, this cut is the maximum allowable under the ObamaCare law.  The Administration had the discretion to cut less, or even to make no cuts at all.  But they decided to impose the deepest cut made possible by the Affordable Care Act (shouldn’t we be calling this the “Horrible Care Act”?) legislation.  And in doing so, they will shift billions of dollars from Medicare to ObamaCare.
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The Medicare home health benefit is also of critical importance to younger Americans.  Families across America depend on home health services to help them care for their aging parents.  Having a skilled nurse come to their homes to deliver needed treatment not only means that Mom and Dad don’t have to go into a nursing home – it also means their adult daughters and sons can balance caring for their parents with raising a family and earning a living.

Obamacare so sloppily drafted that US Territories may be unable to have health insurance

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:12 AM | Permalink

January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

 Champagne

Thank Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk, who reportedly said, "Come quickly, I'm drinking stars."  As cellarmaster at  the Abbey of Hautvillers, he was charged by his superiors to get rid of the bubbles in the wine because they caused the bottles to explode.  Instead he perfected the method of creating champagne.   

Thank the Champagne Widows (veuves) who founded Veuve Clicquot, Bollinger, Laurent-Perrier, Pommery, Veuve Fourny and Veuve Doussot

From its bottle shape to its taste, color, labeling and even marketing, Champagne owes its uniqueness to a series of widows from the early 19th century who used the sometimes mysterious deaths of their husbands to enter the male-dominated business world.

The widows became so successful that dozens of Champagnes added 'Veuve' to their names even though no widow ran the house - just for its mystique and marketing value. …

'Champagne is the story of widows,' said Francois Godard, scion of Veuve Godard et Fils Champagne house. 'Women who lost their husbands, and then outshone the men.'  Widowhood gave these figures an independent social status in France. Unlike other women - who were the property of a father or a husband - only a widow could become a CEO…..Experts say that Champagne was one of the first industries in the modern world that women shaped and in which they enjoyed a prominent role.

Gigi (Leslie Caron) sings The Night They Invented Champagne.

Why We Sing Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve    Thank Guy Lombardo, Mr. New Year's Eve.

This tradition is mostly thanks to Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadian Band…..It was in 1929 that Guy Lombardo and his band took the stage at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City on New Year’s Eve. Their performance that night was being broadcast on the radio, before midnight Eastern-time on CBS, then after on NBC radio.

At midnight, as a transition between the broadcasts, the song they chose to play was an old Scottish folk song Lombardo had first heard from Scottish immigrants in Ontario. The song was Auld Lang Syne. ….

The next year, and every year thereafter, all the way to 1976, with Lombardo dying at the age of 75 in 1977, they played it at midnight on New Year’s Eve, at first broadcast out on the radio and later on TV. Thanks to “Mr. New Year’s Eve” and his band, it’s still tradition to this day.
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It is often said that the song, Auld Lang Syne, was written by famed eighteenth century poet/songwriter, “Scotland’s Favorite Son” -Robert Burns. However, Burns never claimed to have written the song -in fact, quite the opposite. When he submitted it to the Scots Musical Museum, he included a note stating: “The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man's singing, is enough to recommend any air.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:34 AM | Permalink