Resistance Begins at Ohm!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thought about science and the IPCC (climate, again, sorry)

From New Scientist
The IPCC was tasked by the governments of the world to deliver an encyclopedic consensus on the state of knowledge about one of the most far-reaching yet divisive questions of our time. 

This is the issue with IPCC in a nutshell. Science is not about consensus. I commend New Scientist for recognizing it, although I am not sure it was their intent. The charter of the IPCC has nothing to do with science and everything to do with delivering the necessary propaganda for government policy. The IPCC charter was to arrive at the opinion that the UN wanted, not to formulate UN opinion. The IPCC strategy is to continue collecting opinions supporting a single viewpoint until the avalanche of paper smothers scientific debate. 

Consensus science is an oxymoron. Instead of killing more trees, IPCC and the UN need to stand down. I am not so naive to think that governments will quit pushing the agenda. But scientists need to leave the building on this or lose not only credibility but their pulpit and probably their estate as well. People do not want to give their hard earned tax dollars to something they no longer believe in. 

Vested Interest Scary Anne Hailes, Irish News
Beddington Calls for Engagement with Climate Sceptics Ben Webster, The Australian
Dr. Petr Chylek 
Dr. Bill Gray

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I'm just sayin' (political strategy)

A sequence of "ifs." I'm not sayin' this is what happened, but it is as good a fairy tale as "not spending more on 17% of the budget will save us $25 billion a year." Right. After increasing the budget by 27% in 2009. You have to love the pure flights of fancy in this 'burg. Spinning like a top.

After looking at the situation on the "ground" (meaning floors), I imagine a conversation something like this:
"A geez, Harry, is this the best you can do? This is poo!"
"Nancy, look what I had to do to get the votes. Heck, Nebraskans can't even stand the smell of their pork, and they raise hogs there. Hopefully, they will forgetr that deal, and he doesn't loose re-election."
"Harry, there is no way this pig is going to fly in the house. Even asking is going to cost me cred."
"Nancy, look, I may not get re-elected, this thing stinks so bad. What do expect me to do? You're just going to have to go build some consensus because it's all your getting. There is no way the house bill is even going to get 50, let alone 60."
Then some discussion of options a, b and c and some talking at the WH.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Oh no! Boo Boo Two! Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Catastrophic losses aren't increasing due to global warming? Damn, and it sounded so good, too...
Examiner article
Pielke article
Telegraph article

Will someone please explain to IPCC how to check assertions with Wikipedia? This mistake and the glacier mistake both might have been avoided that way.

A quick article regarding the Glacier mistake

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What I want in health care reform

1) Medical malpractice - which I call the malpractice lottery. Put a lid on it. Cut the lawyer compensation, not the providers.

2) Consumer involvement in comparing cost and value of specific services, not just insurance policies. Until consumers are active participants in questioning the cost and necessity of medical care through incentives such as tax free medical savings accounts, this is just more gaming between the government, insurance companies and big providers like Humana.

3) Transparency in the way that medical insurance plans are funded and details on where the money goes. If charities can reveal their administrative and lobbying costs versus direct benefits, we can require the same for hospitals, pharmacies, mega corps like Kaiser and Humana and for insurance companies as well. Insurance companies should publish their claims denial rates, time to pay, and average out-of-pocket costs per year.

4) Middlemen, like unions and AARP, need to be cut out of the cash flow. No more brokers and speculators.

5) Allow drug reimportation. Stop subsidizing all the other countries. Pharm. industry has been on a free ride way too long. It's not like the drugs they sell here are safe.

6) Make insurance companies accept people, but put a 5 year waiting period in there for most expensive treatments. We do it for long term care and life insurance. That is a motivator. $500 penalty is not. Make insurance portable beyond just one employer to another. Why can't I keep the policy I have and use a new employer's and my contribution to pay for it? Why does the price change for COBRA?

7) Set up bigger risk pools.

8) Allow interstate business.

9) You pay for insurance on your car in case of a collision. You don't expect your auto insurance to pay for your maintenance and mechanical repairs. Insurance should be for the unexpected. Instead, use savings accounts paid into monthly, and what's left over at the end of the year is added to a long term reserve account that can be used for copays for hospitalization and surgery or to pay premiums for medicare supplemental insurance or Advantage. Physician visits, routine lab tests, maintenance Rx bills are paid out of the account like FSA. But you don't loose it all at the end of the year. Employers can contribute to the savings account and get the same tax benefits as they do from providing insurance. Self-employed get the same tax benefits as those working for someone else. Make all this pre-tax payroll deduction for at least 5 years. This is a hybrid high deductible policy, short term prepayment account and long term savings account.

10) Since the idea is to broaden and flatten the risk pool, quit trying to create different risk pools for behavior management. Charging more for smoking, swimming, sitting, eating, etc., is just a gimmick to reduce costs for certain people, and discriminates against people who are poor and disabled. It's just wrong to be that intrusive and manipulative in people's lives. Don't let the insurance companies even think of going there.

11) Quit trying to manage health by the percentages. Health care is a matter between one person and their provider. If I want a mammogram every year starting when I am 40, it's none of your damn business. What works for 80% of people may not work for me. Would you say that 80% of abortions are ineffective so you won't allow them? Of course not. You can't have it both ways.

12) People should have the option to increase their lifetime cap (with a waiting period), if they choose to. Just like limits with auto insurance, you should be able to pick what you want to pay for.

13) Go learn a lot from veterinary medicine.

14) Incentivize a standardized claims process. Since you have about 50% of the population under medicare and medicaid, you can define that process. Make insurance companies reimburse physicians if they require using their proprietary processes and systems. Make insurance companies pay interest when they delay payment.

15) Keep any and all information about my medical treatment and condition out of government's grubby hands. Even anonymously. You do not need to know any individual's anything except to investigate illegal activities like fraudulent billing or fake prescriptions.

16) You took people's money (took it, didn't ask for it) to pay for medicare for them when they reached 62 (or whatever). That's a promise and a commitment. Do not break that promise and take the money back to pay for someone else's insurance.  In the private sector, that would land you in jail. Be honorable. Do not expect people who are paying for private insurance or paying out of pocket to cover your shortfalls and gaps. It's "hide the weenie" and it's dishonest.

17) Insurance for people who aren't supposed to be here - not gonna happen. Send their medical bills back to the country they came from. If Mexico and Canada have "free" medical care, let them pay for their own. Take it off their aid, import tax bills, border entry fees, whatever. Don't make me pay either by subsidizing premiums or by paying more for services.

18) Maybe if you didn't tax all the pieces and parts, the overall cost would be less? Think of that? Why does taxing insurance policies make insurance less expensive? Since people just won't buy those now unaffordable policies, where do you get the idea that there will be any revenue? Duh?

19) If you can manage bank salaries, you can manage health care executive salaries, too. How is it they are making salaries in the top 1% range you are always demonizing?

20) If it is good enough for us, it's good enough for you. Play by the same rules, no congressional exemptions.

Friday, January 22, 2010

After Tuesday, what next?

The challenge:
Real solutions for real problems.
It's about jobs, the economy, security.
Stop spending like it's not your money.

Works for me.

Lessons learned:
People have no more patience. Don't screw around. Don't waste CO2 gloating or projecting what it means for one party or another. We could not care less. It is really annoying.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back on the debt, stupid.

Congress is faced with raising the debt ceiling again. This is the total amount that the federal government is in the hole, but it reflects what is happening right now. The proposed increase is $1.9trillion, which they are hoping will tide them over through the November elections. Because they don't want to talk about it, or course. (This time last year, Obama said the deficit would decline in 2010 to $1.17trillion, so this is off the mark by - eh 50%. I guess the optimism about the return on TARP just wasn't justified.)

First, what's going on:
Revenue is down. If people aren't working and companies aren't selling, their isn't as much tax revenue coming in. In 2009, revenue was down by $400billion from 2008. Obama optimistically estimates revenue down even more - another 11% from 2009, which was a pretty bad year to begin with.

Now Congress is outsourcing its job.

Following are some extracts from an oped by Mark Warner, VA Senator.

"[T]he inability of the regular congressional process to act to put our nation's fiscal house in order couldn't be clearer. ...the longer Congress and the administration wait to act, the harder the choices become.
"We are calling for creation of a bipartisan task force that will make sweeping budget and revenue recommendations to be presented to Congress, with no amendments allowed, for a simple up-or-down vote.
"Everything would be on the table, including spending and revenues. We can't solve this challenge by looking at only one side of the ledger. The task force recommendations would be considered by Congress under expedited procedures with a "yes" or "no" vote required."
-------- end quotes

So, if Congress is going to farm out the hard work to a bipartisan (not non-partisan) commission, what the heck are we paying Congress to do? Let's just pay them the one day that they come in and vote on the bill. The other 364 days they can go work at Starbucks, or Bullfeathers, if they are lucky.

I know it's broke folks. But y'all broke it and if you can't fix it, then the least you could do is quit! Hiring more pols to do your work is a waste (although it probably will cut down on fraud and abuse).

You were elected to do a job. We could just elect the commission instead, who needs you?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

NOAA and NASA = Unethical, unscientific -- and illegal, too?

The current brouhaha which is also being referred to as climategate II concerns data collected and maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin.(NOAA), part of the Dept. of Commerce and by NASA. Seems that there are various unadjusted versions of temperature data (there should only be 1), missing or hidden original data, and many disappearing measurement stations. Furthermore, the rationale and methodology for adjusting it should be available, and probably opened to public comment in advance. (Check "watts up with that" and chiefio)

How can these agencies be held accountable? This is a public trust issue, not just a matter of professional integrity. Turns out that Congress passed a law that addresses this:

Information Quality Act, Pub. L. No. 106-554, section 515
see also, “Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies” (67 FR 8452) and your agency’s Information Quality Act guidelines. 4  
The Federal Government has defined quality and objectivity in, “Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies” (67 FR 8452). Quality is “…the encompassing term, of which ‘utility,’ ‘objectivity,’ and ‘integrity’ are the constituents.” “‘Objectivity’ focuses on whether the disseminated information is being presented in an accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased manner, and as a matter of substance, is accurate, reliable, and unbiased.” 
(From a December 8, 2009 OMB memo regarding open government directive)

There are also federal laws concerning official records. Ask Sandy Berger about this one:

Concealment, Removal, or Mutilation of Records

(18 U.S.C. § 2071)
(a) Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
(b) Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.

So, who's going to file a complaint? I would have to change my employment and maybe career, which I'm not in a good position to do at the moment.

Friday, January 15, 2010

When Politics, Religion and Science mix

Michael Crichton, you know Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park, was a physician, professor, and scientist. He wrote Andromeda Strain in medical school. His creds are quite impressive.

So, there is some reason in considering his speech on global warming. He doesn't much care about the state of the debate, his issue is with the complete lack of science upon which we are basing a completely disruptive public policy. I feel he sums things up pretty well with this statement:

"Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, 
because you're being had."

Here is the complete transcript. Definitely worth the read.
Aliens Cause Global Warming

And almost like an intentional follow-on, have a read at this:  Climategate - 30 years in the making

Then, back to Michael Crichton's speech on complexity theory - and why analysis that does not use methods for accounting for such systems (like Chaos Theory) are essentially bogus from the start.