Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wendy Davis, Classic Texas Four-Flusher | RealClearPolitics

This woman should be a politician, no doubt about it.  She's perhaps the perfect example of what politicians need to be good at.

These days, The Texan doesn't need a man to come to the little lady's rescue or lead her out of the wilderness. Today, The Texan is a woman herself. In Wendy Davis's case, it's men that got her in this fix. She was a single mother, born into poverty to another single mom, this one with a sixth-grade education. Like her own mother, Wendy was abandoned as a teenager. But she aimed to overcome all that. On the strength of academic scholarships and student loans—and her own brains and grit—she traded the trailer park for Texas Christian University and Harvard Law School. Next stop: the governor's mansion in Austin.  That's the story line, anyway, and it's real bootstraps stuff. But is it true?

I Got Those Old Beat-Up Orion Blues | Military Aviation | Air & Space Magazine

This was a fun read, reminds me of my time flying the mighty Orion.  Very forgiving and versatile, the P-3 became sexier as you put it through its paces chasing subs, and with the other missions the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance community picked up over the years.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

George Will: Doubts over Common Core won’t be easily dismissed - The Washington Post

Many proponents seem to deem it beneath their dignity to engage opponents' arguments, preferring to caricature opponents as political primitives and to dismiss them with flippancies such as this from Bill Gates: "It's ludicrous to think that multiplication in Alabama and multiplication in New York are really different." What is ludicrous is Common Core proponents disdaining concerns related to this fact: Fifty years of increasing Washington input into K-12 education has coincided with disappointing cognitive outputs from schools. Is it eccentric that it is imprudent to apply to K-12 education the federal touch that has given us HealthCare.gov?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Where Have All the Uninsured Gone? - Bloomberg

You all those uninsured who were going to be saved by this enormous intervention into liberty?  Where the heck are they ...

Resolved: Obamacare Is Now Beyond Rescue - Bloomberg

"In a nutshell, Obamacare has so far fallen dramatically short of what was expected -- technically, and in almost every other way. Enrollment is below expectations: According to the data we have so far, more than half of the much-touted Medicaid expansion came from people who were already eligible before the health-care law passed, and this weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that the overwhelming majority of people buying insurance through the exchanges seem to be folks who already had insurance. Coverage is less generous than many people expected, with narrower provider networks and higher deductibles. The promised $2,500 that the average family was told they could save on premiums has predictably failed to materialize. And of course, we now know that if you like your doctor and plan, there is no reason to think you can keep them. Which is one reason the law has not gotten any more popular since it passed."
Do you get the feeling that most of those who were i support of the ACA will still be saying "Yes but" to most of these objections?  IOW, because they were personally invested in the meaning of the law - government will help people who need help, damn the costs and loss of liberty! - they will view the law's deep flaws as cosmetic issues that hardly matter in the context of all the good that is surely to come from this political triumph.

George Will: Illinois home-care workers should not be forced into unions - The Washington Post

The Democratic Party is the party of government because it embraces a proposition it has done much to refute — that government is a nimble, skillful social engineer — and because government employees are a significant component of the party's base and of its financial support through government employees unions. Franklin Roosevelt, architect of the modern party, believed unionization would be inappropriate in the public sector. Today's party, however, aggressively uses government coercion to create supposed "government employees" from whom unions can extract money, some of it for the party.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether the Illinois government's policy of herding home-care workers into unions violates the workers' First Amendment rights. It does.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fascinating Concept

-The modern agricultural system is responsible for putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the actual burning of fossil fuels
-Herds raised according to modern, conventional practices contribute to desertification—turning land into desert—which does not support plant life and photosynthesis, thereby worsening atmospheric CO2 levels
-According to an African ecologist, dramatically increasing the number of grazing livestock is the only thing that can reverse both desertification and climate change
-According to estimates, grazing large herds of livestock on half of the world’s barren or semi-barren grasslands could take enough carbon from the atmosphere to bring us back to preindustrial levels

Integrating biological farming principles can increase plant performance by 200-400 percent. What’s more, not only does it improve the quantity, it also improves the quality of the food you’re growing.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How to get the most out of Apple’s Siri on your iPhone or iPad

Correct pronunciations - Siri does not always get things right when it comes to the pronunciation of certain names. But that's ok, you can always teach Siri how best to enunciate each name. All you need to do is simply tell Siri to "Pronounce Geoffrey Goetz" and you will be guided through a series of tuning settings that will help get the pronunciation just right. This is much better than trying to manually enter a phonetic spelling of a name in the nickname field of your contacts.

A health industry expert on ‘the fundamental problem with Obamacare’

Having said that I do have a concern that people are looking at these plans and not finding value. Some people are looking at paying 10 percent of their income for plans with huge deductibles, and then you have politics of Obamacare and the bad press of the launch and if you put all those things in a bag and mix them up, I am really concerned that the uninsured who are healthy are not finding Obamacare the value they hoped it will be. That's the real risk for Obamacare.
EK: Do you think there's anything the Obama administration can do about that? Or is it just a question of the marketplace at work now?
RL: I don't think there's anything they can do for March 31. But as we move to 2015 open enrollment, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has some power to reshape the plans. The mandated benefits are so high they've driven costs up and created narrower networks. The statute talks about actuarial levels so the Secretary can't just do anything she wants. But given a combination of regulatory authority and what the Obama administration has been willing to do already in overriding statute, I think they could do some pretty significant things.
If an entrepreneur had crafted Obamacare he would've gone to a middle class family. A family of four make $54,000 a year has to pay $400 in premiums net of subsidy and for that the standard silver plan has an average deductible around $2,500 and a narrow network. They're going to pay almost $5,000 for that?

So the entrepreneur would say I’ve got $5,000 in premium and all this deductible, what do they want for that? And they probably would’ve said we want office visits and lab tests because the kids need to go in occasionally and then we want catastrophic care. The problem with Obamacare is it’s product driven and not market driven. They didn’t ask the customer what they wanted. And I think that’s the fundamental problem with Obamacare. It meets the needs of very poor people because you’re giving them health insurance for free. But it doesn’t really meet the needs of healthy people and middle-class people.

Ari Fleischer: How to Fight Income Inequality: Get Married - WSJ.com

"Marriage inequality" should be at the center of any discussion of why some Americans prosper and others don't. According to Census Bureau information analyzed by the Beverly LaHaye Institute, among families headed by two married parents in 2012, just 7.5% lived in poverty. By contrast, when families are headed by a single mother the poverty level jumps to 33.9%.
And the number of children raised in female-headed families is growing throughout America. A 2012 study by the Heritage Foundation found that 28.6% of children born to a white mother were out of wedlock. For Hispanics, the figure was 52.5% and for African-Americans 72.3%. In 1964, when the war on poverty began, almost everyone was born in a family with two married parents: only 7% were not.
Attitudes toward marriage and having children have changed in America over the past 50 years, and low-income children and their mothers are the ones who are paying the price. The statistics make clear what common sense tells us: Children who grow up in a home with married parents have an easier time becoming educated, wealthy and successful than children reared by one parent. As the Heritage study states: "The U.S. is steadily separating into a two-caste system with marriage and education as the dividing line. In the high-income third of the population, children are raised by married parents with a college education; in the bottom-income third, children are raised by single parents with a high-school diploma or less."


Marriage inequality is a substantial reason why income inequality exists. For children, the problem begins the day they are born, and no government can redistribute enough money to fix it. If redistributing money could solve the problem, the $20.7 trillion in 2011 dollars the government has spent on welfare programs since 1964—when President Johnson declared the "war on poverty"—would have eliminated income inequality a long time ago.

Good luck with that. The tax code is already extremely progressive, as a December study by the Congressional Budget Office makes clear, yet poverty remains a significant problem. According to CBO, the top 40% of wage earners, those who make more than $51,100 a year, paid 86.4% of all federal taxes in 2010, the most recent data available. The bottom 40% of earners paid just 4.2% of all taxes. The top 40% paid virtually all of the income tax collected, while the bottom 40% paid a negative 9.1% of all income taxes. Paying "negative" taxes is possible because of the earned-income tax credit and other public-assistance measures that give the bottom 40% refunds for taxes they didn't pay.