chris_gerrib: (Default)
I've been away from this blog for a while. Once you get out of the habit of posting, you're out of the habit. Herewith, various thoughts.

1) Writing: I have committed writing again, adding nearly 4,000 words to the mystery novel. Based on the comments at my critique session, they were generally good words. More (hopefully) to follow.

2) Marching Morons, Gun Division: Comes news that a Minneapolis cop shot a crime victim through the car door of his squad car. Moreover, the cop was in the passenger side and the victim was talking to his partner through the driver's side window. It seems like the cop had his gun out and finger on the trigger way too soon. Unfortunately, that's called "involuntary manslaughter."

3) Marching Morons, Politics Division: After months of assurances by Donald Trump that nobody from his campaign met with the Russians, we hear that his son, son-in-law and then campaign manager took a meeting with the Russians. Words fail me.

4) Marching Morons, health care division: the wealthy comedian Scott Adams has, in the wake of the failure of the Republican party to repeal Obamacare, been pedaling various solutions to American health care. Conspicuously they all seem to have been conceived in a vacuum, and are completely unaware of the fact that the rest of the world cracked this code a long time ago.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Posted elsewhere, in response to a question on how America can "fix healthcare."

This really isn't rocket science. Most of the rest of the world has figured it out years ago. The solution, in broad strokes, is:

1) Get everybody to pay into the healthcare system, whether via taxes or private insurance. Actually, taxes are cheaper because private insurance has marketing and profit overheads. But everybody is important, in that you don't want some freeloader rolling into an emergency room, especially for something that could have been managed cheaply had they been able to see a doctor sooner.

1a) Everybody in is also important in that, just like auto insurance or homeowner insurance, those that don't file a claim subsidize those that do.

2) Allow the large payers (in our case Medicare / Medicaid) to negotiate pricing. In every other country, they do so, and get meds and equipment at a fraction of the cost. For example, in Belgium, if you need an artificial hip joint, you get the same one you do in the US (both made in a factory in Indiana) but the Belgium one cost $800 and the US one costs $20,000.

3) Pay doctors on performance, not activity. Right now, my doc has every financial incentive to order every test I'll take. Penalize hospitals for things like hospital-based infections. Again, the financial incentive of a hospital is to keep you in. These changes will force the health-care system to get more efficient.

Most of the rest of the world accomplishes this by having a government paid-for (Canada) or government-ran (UK) system that relies on private insurance for supplementary things, like private rooms or other upgrades. In fact, in Canada, they call it Medicare and it works like US medicare except you buy in at birth. I'll say it because somebody will comment on it, but even when Canada has to ship somebody to the US (which they do, at government cost, because it's cheaper than having Canadian specialists) they deliver quality health care at a fraction of the cost.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Three things make a post, or so they say.

Thing #1

An interesting story - American man goes to German hospital for possible heart attack, and is told "no insurance accepted." He's concerned, until he's give the all-clear and the bill - $180.

Thing #2

A long and sad article about child endangerment. The tl;dr version? Bible-thumping State representative uses clout to adopt three troubled kids, despite being told repeatedly that he's not capable of handling them. His exorcism doesn't work (surprise, surprise, says Gomer Pyle) so he pawns the kids off to another family. One of the kids gets raped (again) by the pawn-ee. A man has got to know his limitations.

Thing #3

On a more positive note, my Rotary club is running a raffle to raise funds to feed kids here in Darien. Tickets can be purchased online here.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Some of the melting snow has turned to fog, but personally that's a small price to pay for 24 hours of melting. Here, have a few scattered thoughts.

Hilary Clinton

As you may have heard, Hilary decided she needed a private email server in her house to do official business with. It is exactly these sorts of shenanigans that make me hope she doesn't run for President.


I was reading an article in the dead-tree version of the Chicago Tribune about how working with animals seems to help autistic people. So, I was wondering - is some of the apparent increase in autism due to the lack of interaction modern humans have with animals? I mean, up to the 20th century, everybody "worked" with animals like horses. Now we don't.

Good Old Fashioned SF

The various puppy-flavored SF movements and my friend [ profile] jeff_duntemann have expressed distaste for modern SF, and think various "gatekeepers" are holding the good stuff back. Well, from Tor, a big New York publisher, comes the heavily-marketed Unbreakable: A Novel. Written by Mr. W. C. Bauers, it's a straight-up space opera with starship battles, ground actions and libertarian colonists.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
It's Friday, so let's ease on out the week with some links and pictures.

A) Here's an audio recording of one of my Capricon panels.

B) Helpful advice on how to survive a disaster. Basically, people freeze and don't react. The recommendation - think about what you'd do in an emergency.

C) A demonstration of the problems of banning guns - people will just make them at home.

D) A twitter rant about female characters. Tl;dr - Nothing needs changing about her. THE PLOT needs changing so that her coolness and strongness have an actual effect on things.

E) 9 American habits I lost when I moved to Germany - including fear of public nudity.

F) Finally, in the "one picture is worth a thousand words department:"

chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Like the label on the tin says:

A) A depressing article on the sickest town in America.

B) An interesting old picture - Ladies of the Revolution!

C) A pilot and his co-pilot, the cat.

D) Here's a detailed breakdown of male and female Hugo award winners by year.

E) From IO9, a visual illustration on the amount of meat we eat. The amount has doubled from 1960 to now.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I'm going to Rotary, so have some links in lieu of content.

A) The other government revolving door - sheriffs departments and state troopers providing new homes for bad cops. Note: although this article is safe, the full site is full of not-safe-for-work "good shit."

B) Regarding the mess in Ferguson, this guy sums up my views perfectly.

C) An interesting article on the American way of dying. Having seen this with a number of aging relatives, the article makes good points.

D) The US Navy has deployed a 30 KW laser as a weapon.

E) An interesting article on the guy who refloated the Costa Concordia.

F) Space geeks really need to drop whatever they are doing and watch this movie.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
A late post today, because this morning I was conducting disaster recovery testing for my bank. I find that very ironic, considering the current flap over Ebola. I also find myself in deep agreement with the comment that resiliency and the ability to handle outlier events is not efficient from a bottom line perspective of a single entity with profit as its primary focus.

In the case of my bank (the entity I'm responsible for) disaster recovery training means maintaining 40 or so computers and phones in various back rooms, waiting for a once-a-year test. Although these spare machines aren't primo, they are (and have to be) serviceable, as do the spaces we're reserving. But we do it, in large part because our regulators insist that we have a DR plan and that we test it.

Apparently regulators are not making sure hospitals are testing their plans, as evidenced by the Charlie Foxtrot in Texas.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Thought #1 - Ebola

The writer Elizabeth Moon is dead-on (pardon the pun) about Ebola and the US response thereto. Her six lessons are:

1) A stitch in time saves nine. the time to prepare is before the excrement hits the air-moving unit.
2) Hubris kills. Incorrectly thinking you're ready can be worse then not being ready.
3) Privatisation is no guarantee of quality performance. In this case, the fragmented US system means some hospitals are good to go and others are clueless.
4) Fear is faster than facts.
5) Change takes time. People need training and gear, both of which need time to develop.
6) Everything is connected to everything else. As she says, "There is no bunker deep enough, no ivory tower high enough, no wall stout enough, or weapons system powerful enough to keep what happens "there" from affecting life "here."

Thought #2 - Gamergate and Subtractive Masculinity

Over on Obsidian Wings, Doctor Science talks about subtractive masculinity. This is the idea that one defines a characteristic (masculine, in this case) by the actions of some other group. For example, saying "girls don't shoot guns, I do, therefore I'm a man." There's an obvious problem with that, namely that the guys have no control over what the girls do.

The tie-in to gamergate is this - a certain subset of gamers define their masculinity by what women don't do. Except women do play (and develop and review) video games. This threatens them, and since they are powerless to actually stop women from being involved in games, they react by making threats.

Threatening somebody is a sign of inherent weakness, which makes those issuing threats even madder. (Something I noticed in the Navy - Admirals don't yell. They don't have to - because of their power, people make an effort to listen to admirals.) To be clear, threats followed by action can have some power, but it's not nearly as powerful as just doing something.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
We had a good gully-washer of a storm last night, and it apparently blew in some links.

A) an American tradition is anything that happened to a babyboomer twice.

B) Occasionally, I worry that the loud and militant right wing in America will go from yelling to action. Then, I stop worrying when A ten-million-man march comes up 9,999,900 men short.

C) On "free" health care: then clearly if chemotherapy is free, people will get as much as they can. It’s just simple logic once you “think like a freak” and see that the market for health care is just like the market for cars, with similar elasticity of demand and ability to do comparison shopping. (sarcasm alert, for those so impaired)

D) One of the received truths of gun people is that the M-1 carbine lacked stopping power. Well, this guy fired carbine, rifle and pistol rounds at an aluminum plate with some surprising results.

E) Some wise words on diversity in storytelling.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Thanks to President's day, I am not at work, but thanks to a snowstorm I'm limiting my outside activities. Herewith, some random thoughts:

1) Various Neanderthals in science fiction continue to shoot themselves in the feet (Mary's "critics," not Mary, are doing the shooting). In other news, water is wet and it's cold in Chicago in February.

2) A fascinating short film - how wolves change rivers. If a wolf can change a river, a man can change the climate.

3) From Jay Lake, who's become (not by choice) a connoisseur of cancer treatment: The French way of cancer treatments.

4) Over the weekend, I went to see the new movie The Monuments Men. It was very well done and quite moving. I highly recommend it.

5) Speaking of things highly-recommended, I picked up a new reviewing gig at Heroines of Fantasy. (Alas, it pays the same as my other gig.) My first review, of the very entertaining book The Shifter's Trail, is up on the site.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
So postings will be brief.

On guns: Dick Metcalf, the guy who got fired from a gun magazine for saying reasonable things, commits reasonableness again.

On business: "Booth babes" actually hurt sales at conventions.

On health care: Most emergency room visits aren't needed, but going to the ER can reduce costs overall.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I have heard told that the current snafu with the Obamacare website is “Obama’s Katrina.” I remember Katrina, and I don’t recall the government getting shut down to defund FEMA or 30+ states refusing to cooperate with FEMA, nor do I see people stranded on rooftops yelling for help health insurance.

On the other hand, it’s definitely a screw-up, and it’s on Obama. Now, it’s mostly a computer screw-up, and the list of large organizations that botched a computer roll-out is, well, large. But that’s an excuse, not a fix, and the Obama administration needs to get it fixed.

Yet somehow I doubt this will have the impact on Obama or politics in general that Katrina did. As I recall things, Katrina was the latest in a string of screw-ups. There were two wars both of which were going to hell in hand basket, and Bush came back from vacation to insert himself and his party in the Terry Schiavo mess. Like I said, Bush was developing a reputation for screw-ups, which Obama has not.

I’m also not sure about the impact of this on the 2014 elections. As an IT guy, it’s impossible for me to believe that the web site won’t be operational by the spring if not sooner, and we won’t vote until November. That’s an eternity in politics. I would also note that cuts both ways – last month the progressive types were banking on winning back the House on the back of the government shutdown.

In short, this too will pass.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
So, from my pile to yours:

A) Back in the day, computing power was measured in kilo-girls! ;-)

B) An interesting article making the rounds about the 11 Nations Of America and how they affect our politics. Like most classification schemes, this one paints with a very broad brush, but it has some interesting uses.

C) is it an asteroid or a comet? Or, the case of the rock with six tails.

D) For much of history, physicians learned by doing on people. (How scary is that - somebody learning how to operate by cutting on you!) This doctor has a better idea.

E) A case of Obama channeling his inner Lincoln or just enough is enough?

F) An interesting article about a Maritime Academy. One of my COs was a US Maritime Academy grad.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Various links with some commentary:

1) Back in the heady days of the Space Race, there was an idea to send people into space by riding a wave of nuclear explosions. Supposedly, design work got serious enough that engineers from the Coca-Cola company were brought in to design "vending machines" to pop out nuclear bombs once-a-second.

2) From the same blog, Obamacare as a corporate pizza party.

3) An interesting memorial visible on Google Maps.

4) My publisher, Hadley Rille Books, has a new website.

5) One of the arguments against space colonization is that "we haven't colonized the Gobi Desert." Well, actually we have, but as this article points out, were it not for a lot of the type of engineering you'd need for a space colony, America's second largest city would not exist.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Yesterday I was supposed to get a new refrigerator. It didn't make it off the truck due to dents. We are trying again today. In the meantime and due to lack of other ideas, have a few links.

A) Many women who express an opinion online get harassed with rape and/or death threats. This woman explains why calling the cops doesn't help.

B) Here's a stuffed toy made in space!

C) I've talked about the new research which shows that much of our digestive health is due to bacteria in our gut. Well, here's a better way to get a good balance of bacteria.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Before I get to the two pernicious arguments against Obamacare that drive me nuts, have this: Meet Butch Matthews, A Republican Who Came To Love Obamacare After Realizing It Will Save Him $13,000 per year. No matter what anybody tells you, this is why the Republicans are fighting Obamacare. Once people start saving money via the law, it will be difficult if not impossible to repeal.

Argument #1 - Not Enough Doctors

This argument says that if we give everybody insurance coverage, there won't be enough doctors / hospital beds / whatever to provide treatment. There are two problems with the argument. First, we already provide treatment to the uninsured - it's just provided by the most costly and manpower-intensive mode, namely the ER. Getting people to manage their care without visiting the ER will reduce the manpower needs. Second, there's an obvious fix to the "not enough" problem, namely make / train / import more.

Argument #2 - Why Don't You Help?

Whenever I post about a problem caused by lack of insurance, some wiseass asks "why don't you write a check?" (I'll let the informed reader guess where I get asked this.) Here's the thing - I don't want to help. I want the person with the medical issue to help themselves. In yesterday's post about the woman with late-onset diabetes, she was always employed. If she had been able to obtain non-shitty insurance, she might have been able to find out about her diabetes before spending 2 days in a diabetic coma.

Because she had shitty insurance, we (you and me) ended up paying for that diabetic coma. She couldn't pay, and the hospital factored her costs into our (yours and mine) bills. It's also important to note that subsidized insurance is not free insurance. The insured person pays something - that's the definition of "subsidy."
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Since the Republicans are trying to shut down Obamacare, here are a few thoughts about what it is and why it's worth fighting for.

1) From John Scalzi - there are millions of Americans for whom, without Obamacare, the most rational option is to hope they don't get sick. He further adds that America "still has a thick layer of angry Calvinism to it, the sort that suggests that if you are poor, or sick, that you did something to deserve it and that you should just have to deal with it because after all it is your fault."

2) From Tobias Buckell, the reminder that America really has had socialized medicine since 1986. That's the year Ronald Reagan (PBUH) passed the EMTALA law, which required emergency rooms to treat any medical emergency regardless of the patient's ability to pay. It was an unfunded mandate, brought to you by Saint Reagan himself.

3) For small business owners, most common Obamacare myths.

4) From Ms. Kameron Hurley, The Horror Novel You’ll Never Have to Live: Surviving Without Health Insurance. In it, a 25-year old with crappy insurance comes down with Type 1 diabetes and nearly dies, then goes broke.


Sep. 25th, 2013 09:35 am
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Recycled from my Facebook page:

Since I opened this can of worms on somebody else's page, I'll say it here. There is no "Obamacare" plan that we all have to sign up for. Demanding that so-and-so "sign up for Obamacare" is like demanding that they go to the edge of the Earth and jump off.

What Obamacare does do is:
1) Require large employers to offer health insurance to their full-time employees
2) Prevent insurance companies from denying coverage
3) Saying that if your employer doesn't provide coverage, you have to purchase your choice of private plans
4) Offers subsidies for those that can't afford coverage

That's it. There will be no "government spy" in your doctor's office, nor will your doctor have to send your medical data to the government. There are no death panels, there will be no rationing, and doctors won't be working for or getting money from the government. (Insurance companies may get money via subsidies.)

Mitt Romney did this in Massachusetts, and you know what happened? 98% of state residents got insurance coverage. That's it. The world did not end, and the Communists did not win.

Thank you, that is all, and I am now resuming normal programming.

/End recycling/

Comes news today that health insurance premiums nationwide are expected to be around 16 percent lower than originally predicted, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department said in a new report released Wednesday. They were expected to be lower, and now they will be lower than expected.


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