Archive for September, 2009

 

Patches Math

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

More crap from Patches [emphasis mine]:

Drawing on his family’s violent past, the Democratic congressman told roughly 75 people gathered at a private health-care forum Saturday morning that opponents of Democrat-backed health-care legislation had gone too far. He cited, as an example, 10,000 signs distributed at a recent Washington protest that read, “Bury ObamaCare with Kennedy.”

Hmmm… I thought that there were only 60,000 people at that protest. Surely, if 10,000 such signs were distributed, then it’d be noticeable that one our of every six signs were the same. Sure didn’t look that way to me. Somebody is wrong here… [hint: Patches and those claiming 60k people are both wrong]

Read more Patches Kennedy.

 
 

CENTRALIZED Medical Records???

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Somehow, I’d missed that all this talk about electronic medical records included a MANDATE that they be centralized by the Federal Government [emphasis mine]:

The law specifically says that this “means an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that — (A) includes patient demographic and clinical health information, such as medical history and problems lists; and (B) has the capacity — (i) to provide clinical decision support; (ii) to support physician order entry; (iii) to capture and query information relevant to health care quality; and (iv) to exchange electronic health information with, and integrate such information from other sources.”

These records–including a person’s “medical history and problems list”–must be put into a national system that allows for “the electronic linkage of health care providers, health plans, the government and other interested parties to enable electronic exchange and use of health information among all the components in the health care infrastructure in accordance with applicable law,” says the law.

I wonder who qualifies as an “other interested party”.

Oh, but not to worry. STD’s won’t have to go into the database, at least according to Patches. Which is smart, because communicable diseases are the one thing that ought to be kept secret, right?

 
 

RIP Bill Safire

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Bill Safire has died. He wrote what is in my opinion the best op-ed column ever.

Read Bill Safire on Bagels and Doughnuts.

 
 

Massachusetts Craps On Its Own Constitution

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

So being from Massachusetts, I feel I should comment on the upcoming appointment of a new interim senator. First, a brief background:

Prior to 2004, Massachusetts law stated that any vacated senate seat would be filled by an appointment by the governor pending the next election. But in 2004, John Kerry, Senator from Massachusetts, was running for President. Polls showed he may win, and were this to happen he would vacate his seat. The problem for the hoodlums in the state legislature was that they had a Republican Governor, who presumably would appoint a Republican to the seat. The legislature could not abide that possibility, and so they changed the law, to state that an election must be held following a vacated senate seat. Republicans in the legislature objected that this would leave Massachusetts without a senator for a period of time, but Democrats in charge would rather go without than let then Governor Romney appoint someone, even temporarily. And so the law was changed.

Fast-forward to 2009 and Ted Kennedy is dead and suddenly, the Democrats who previously rejected the Republicans amendment to allow the governor to make a temporary appointment now want to change course and revise the law. It’s hypocritical and baldly partisan, but fine. They can do what they please.

Now as per the 2004 law that was passed, the special election is to be held in early January. This being late September, there is about 4 months time for an interim senator to serve. Except for one thing: the constitution of the State of Massachusetts requires any law passed by the legislature take effect 90 days from such passage. That means that an interim senator would only have one month to serve, basically right in the middle of the holiday season. This is a sub-optimal situation for those who wish to Rahm some health-care related legislation through on a party line vote.

Luckily for all involved, the Massachusetts Constitution provides an out: any legislation that is declared an “emergency” by the legislature (“such law is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety or convenience.”) can take effect immediately, so long as such law is passed by a 2/3 majority in both the house and senate. Easy, right? And crystal clear.

Except that the new law passed by less than 2/3 in both houses.

So per a plain reading of the state constitution, the bill is not an emergency, and it will take 90 days to take effect, right? Well, no. Because Governor Deval Patrick plans on just “declaring” an emergency and appointing a senator anyway, constitution be damned.

I would presume that a lawsuit will follow. The Republicans may hold their fire until a vote on some sort of bill seems imminent, and save their money in the event that it doesn’t happen (which is entirely possible if the rumors of Robert Byrd being on his death bed are true). Nonetheless, it is sad to see the rule of law being so shamefully thrown away in our state. One day Democrats in this state will elect a leader they regret, and when that happens, their actions here will seem short sighted indeed.

 
 

Net Neutrality

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

The WSJ continues unabated in its campaign against net neutrality [emphasis mine]:

The new policy is a big political victory for Google and other Web content providers whose business model depends on free-loading off the huge capital investments in broadband made by others. Telecom has been one of the bright spots during this recession. Phone companies like Verizon and AT&T have spent tens of billions of dollars on broadband pipe in the past two years. To pick one example: AT&T’s capital investments in the U.S. totaled some $18 billion in 2008, the highest of any company. By threatening to limit what telecom companies can charge and to whom, net neutrality rules will discourage such investment.

The first point is completely nonsensical. Google doesn’t freeload one iota. They offer up websites on the Internet, and people paying for access to the Internet choose to access what Google offers. To characterize such a relationship as “freeloading” ignores the fact that Google pays for their connections, and consumers pay for theirs. There’s no “freeloading” whatsoever.

Net neutrality says nothing about what companies can charge. It only says that you must handle bits according to the rules that the Internet operates by. Again, back to my original example, if your house association started charging food delivery services surcharges for bringing pizza to your door, you’d object, and rightly so. Same with the telcoms. If the telcoms aren’t making enough, then charge more for greater bandwidth. Just don’t mess with the bits, holding up Dominos but letting Pizza Hut sail through.

To continue:

Net neutrality mandates also risk turning broadband service into a commodity and making it much more difficult for potential new entrants to differentiate their offerings. An Internet operator hoping to specialize in video or peer-to-peer file-sharing would be prevented from doing so. It’s as if the government were saying that if you want to start a supermarket, it has to be a Kroger or Safeway because Trader Joe’s discriminates.

Again, beyond dumb. Broadband IS a commodity!!!!! Broadband providers are bit schleppers, whose means of distinguishing themselves is by offering more bits at a higher quality of service at a lower price. That’s it. And there’s NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Lots of businesses distinguish themselves similarly, whether it be Dell, or FedEx or Walmart. But value adders they are not. Broadband providers need to lose the star struck attitude and stop thinking of themselves as selling entertainment. Because their customers sure don’t think of them that way.

And the analogy to supermarkets is stupefying. Broadband providers don’t carry inventory. In fact, that’s the whole point. The better analogy would be to FedEx demanding ransom for packages from the intended recipient. If FedEx started threatening to do that, then they would lose customers. Of course, FedEx has competitors. Which brings be straight to this asshat [emphasis mine]:

Net-neutrality supporters claim that if ISPs are free to give preferential treatment to certain websites’ data, they might drastically slow down un-favored or less-wealthy websites, diminishing their ability to offer content and make innovations. A prominent net-neutrality coalition cautions: “If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, you may be impeded from providing the ‘next big thing’ on the Internet.”

But such scenarios are nonsensical. For any of the nation’s competing ISPs to offer customers slow, patchy, let alone nonexistent access to the websites they seek to visit, would be commercial suicide. As for innovation, websites are free to continue using standard, non-prioritized Internet service. The fact that this would be slower than premium service does not mean that it would be slow, just as UPS’s decision to offer overnight delivery did not lead them to suddenly degrade their Ground shipping. Premium Internet services would enable, not stifle, innovation, by giving websites creative options they did not have before.

Commercial suicide, eh? I don’t know what country Alex Epstein lives in, but in the United States, the number of cable companies most citizens have to choose broadband service from is less than two (i.e. one). I am one such American. So what is my choice should Comcast (my provider) choose to degrade the packets I receive from Google, favoring the ones from say, Bing? Is there any? I suppose I could try and move to another town, but the costs of switching are astronomically high.

Again, imagine if the doorman in your building or gated community started harassing certain visitors, demanding tribute before letting them through. Would you stand for it? And that is exactly what the telcos are proposing:

Verizon Communications Inc. Chief Executive Ivan Seidenberg yesterday said he might favor reaching deals with companies to do the same. “We have to make sure they don’t sit on our network and chew up our capacity,” Mr. Seidenberg told reporters.

This mirrors the “freeloading” comment above. It’d be beyond obnoxious in a free market, but at least in a free market consumers would punish ISPs who behaved in such a way.

But let’s face it, there is no free market in consumer broadband. Cable companies are monopolies, and they didn’t gain their monopoly positions by offering better service. They bribed local town officials and cooperated with each other so as to not compete. So for them to now scream that their free market rights are being violated is beyond rich. Let the telcos do what they want once there’s real competition in the broadband marketplace. But until that time, they’re monopoly utilities and need to be strictly regulated as such.

 
 

Equinox

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

The autumnal equinox happens at 5:27 pm EDT, at least according to Wolfram Alpha. I suppose I should have something to say about it, but I just don’t.

Sorry.

 
 

Hawai’i

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

That spelling has always bugged the crap out of me. At first I thought that it was that it seemed politically correct to throw an apostrophe in the middle of the word like that, but then again it’s been spelled that way periodically for long before political correctness came into vogue.

No, the reason why it bugs me so damn much is because we abuse the use of apostrophes in the English language. In fact, we ought to eliminate their use altogether.

Think about it.

Does the apostrophe in the word “don’t” serve any real purpose? Does the apostrophe in the name “O’Malley” really add anything? Do we even need apostrophes to designate possessives? I say NO!

If we really needed apostrophes, then we would be confused when speaking, because apostrophes don’t change pronunciation one bit. But we are not confused when we speak, because between context and pronunciation, we understand each other perfectly well without using them. So why do we feel the need to use them in our writing?

It’s just an English language affectation, and it needs to stop. So here and now, on this day in the year 2009, I hereby call for the abolition of all apostrophes. So while the rest of you go out abbreviating your words and overusing apostrophes in celebration of “Talk Like A Pirate Day,” I will be setting our to rid our language of apostrophes. Just think of all the bits that would be saved in databases around the world if here were no apostrophes! That alone should make the effort worth it.

So, whos with me?

 
 

Music Reviews

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Friends of mine has a music review blog up called Hi-Fi And Low Expectations. You should check it out and put it in your RSS reader. I’m putting them in my blogroll.

 
 

Obama Campaign Flyer

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

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Worth noting he was nominated to NOT propose the very plan he’s now proposing.

From the WSJ.

 
 

Storm Truthers

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

via Veeshir