Coding issues continue to vex us. Sorry. Hopefully normal galleries will return soon.
Whoops (again.) Docs are resisting Obamacare. Is anyone (aside from Kathleen Sebelius, and maybe not even her) surprised? Excerpt:
New York doctors are treating ObamaCare like the plague, a new survey reveals.
A poll conducted by the New York State Medical Society finds that 44 percent of MDs said they are not participating in the nation’s new health-care plan.
Another 33 percent say they’re still not sure whether to become ObamaCare providers.
Only 23 percent of the 409 physicians queried said they’re taking patients who signed up through health exchanges.
“This is so poorly designed that a lot of doctors are afraid to participate,” said Dr. Sam Unterricht, president of the 29,000-member organization. “There’s a lot of resistance. Doctors don’t know what they’re going to get paid.”
This, True Believers, is what happens when you have a major project of this depth and breadth designed and implemented by people who have never made anything. President Obama is an archetype: The lifelong public “servant” with no real-world experience, who has never made a product, provided a service, met a payroll, or actually done… well, anything. Ever.
In this sense the President has plenty of company. A root cause? A system that has allowed the rise of a permanent political class, in some cases even political dynasties. Our Republic was founded by brilliant men who abhorred the idea of ruling dynasties, and yet today we have Kennedys, Gores and Bushes placing generation after generation in public office.
Fortunately there are scribes out there of rare and abiding talent and eloquence who likewise point out these issues, and one of them is Dr. Charles Krauthammer. This article, though, is not written by him, but rather about him. Excerpt:
For more than three decades, millions have looked forward to reading his authoritative words every Thursday morning in the Washington Post and other media outlets. For the past decade or so, millions more tune in every weeknight to hear his resonant voice on Special Report with Bret Baier on Fox News. And now his new book, Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics is now flying off bookshelves.
In short, Charles Krauthammer matters.
To begin with, Krauthammer matters because he is a master of his craft. Whenever I read his column or listen to him hold court, it is a constant reminder that I can do better as a writer and observer and that perhaps one day I will.
I’ve long been an admirer of Dr. Krauthammer, even on those occasions when I disagree with him. In fact it may be on those occasions that I admire him the most, because even when I do not find him persuasive, I always find him thought-provoking, and we should never be afraid to critically analyze our own opinions – a capacity few people seem to have these days.
Dr. Krauthammer’s book is now on my (extensive) reading list. Look for a review in due time.
Thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five link!
Let’s talk for a moment about root causes.
A discussion over the weekend had me, on the spot and in a group, deconstructing the premise that gun ownership – by implication, legal gun ownership – is a contributing factor to violent crime.
Here’s how I did it:
Three principles of cause analysis are involved. These are the three principles that, for years, I have taught corporate clients and used in failure and root cause analysis, in my 25-year career as a Quality professional:
- There are two types of causes. The first is qualitative; some person or group of persons made a mistake, error or omission. The second is quantitative; a process or specification was designed so as to allow too much variation.
- Contradictions do not exist. If you think you have found a contradiction, check your premises; one or more of them will be incorrect.
- Tools are never a cause. Only a person or group of people can be a cause; a cause has to have at its base a decision to act.
In the initial assertion – legal gun ownership has a causal effect on violent crime – we immediately find a contradiction. Violent crimes are overwhelmingly committed by a certain demographic; young, inner-city males. Legal gun ownership – note that qualifier, legal gun ownership – is all but non-existent in this demographic. There is one initial premise, that legal gun ownership has a causal effect on violent crime. The contradiction proves the premise incorrect.
Why is legal gun ownership the key term? Because, by definition, only legal gun ownership is effected by gun control laws. And, as supporting evidence, we can see our history – in which no gun control law has ever been shown to have the effect of reducing violent crime.
News and thoughts from the world of science: How The Burgess Shale Changed Our View of Evolution. Excerpt:
They are, in the opinion of no less an authority than the paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, “the world’s most important animal fossils”—not Tyrannosaurus rex, not Lucy, but a collection of marine invertebrates mostly a few inches in size, dating from the very dawn of complex life on earth more than 500 million years ago. Their very names—Hallucigenia, Anomalocaris—testify to their strangeness. For decades they have fired the passions of researchers, fueling one of the great scientific controversies of the 20th century, a debate about the nature of life itself.
The origins of life on Earth are a mystery. But the Burgess Shale gives us an invaluable glimpse of what the origins of complex, multi-cellular life was like, and by our standards, it was passing strange. Take Hallucigenia, for example: a tube-legged, spiked anomaly, so named because it first appeared to paleontologists as something that might have been the product of a fever dream. And Anomolocaris was strange and frightening, a six foot long, armored predator with grasping, crushing mouthparts. When most people think of the past, they think of dinosaurs, an impressive group of animals in their own right that were dominant for over a hundred million years. But life before the dinosaurs was even odder than the dinosaurs themselves, and the examples found in the Burgess Shale reveal just how odd.
Speaking of life beginning anew: Should We Remake Mars in Earth’s Image? A story of terraforming; excerpt:
But this presents a conundrum. McKay asks if a biologically rich and diverse Mars is more valuable than largely preserving the beautiful, but seemingly dead, world we are exploring today.
Regardless of the tenants, the first task at hand is to change the Martian atmosphere to make the Red Planet a warmer and wetter world. Mars’ large flood features indicate there is a lot of water locked in the planet; there was likely even an ocean 4 billion years ago. The world first needs to be thawed out.
Super greenhouse gasses — such as chlorofluorocarbons — could be introduced. This would warm the Red Planet and release frozen carbon dioxide for further warming. This would eventually allow for rivers and streams to again flow under a denser atmosphere. The Big Thaw would take a few centuries by McKay’s estimates.
Worth doing? Well, America can’t do it at the moment – as I grow weary of pointing out, we’re broke. But in a few more generations, things maybe different; and sooner or later, maybe in mere moments on a geological time scale, another K-T event will occur. Our only hope in that event may be human presence on another world.
Mars is the closest candidate.
Unfortunately I’m going to juxtapose today’s toothsome totty with bad news on the nation’s ongoing fiscal meltdown. Such is the wonderful world of blogging. Let’s begin:
AT ALMOST literally the eleventh hour, Congress has approved legislation that will end a costly 16-day partial government shutdown and avert the potentially greater disaster of a default on federal obligations.
Cobbled together by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the deal is minimalist: It funds the federal government through Jan. 15 and authorizes the Treasury to borrow through Feb. 7 — or longer, if the department makes use of “extraordinary measures.”
Let’s be real – there will be no fiscal fix, big, medium or small. The Imperial Federal government and its denizens are too hooked on excessive spending, too committed to careers built on selling votes. It won’t change unless voters change it – and almost half the voters in the country are on the Federal teat in one way or another.
Case in point: Mitch McConnel’s price for helping push this deal through the Senate? A $3 billion earmark for his home state. And somewhere along the way someone decided to drop a $174,000 payout to the widow of a millionaire Senator into the deal.
What the hell?
And this from the Chicago Tribune: At Last: A Focus on Debt. Who the fuck do they think they’re kidding? Excerpt:
Say what you will about conservative Republicans’ congressional tantrum of the past few weeks. It’s all true.
The GOP hard-liners look foolish for embarking on a crusade against the Affordable Care Act that they couldn’t win. They look foolish for allowing their intramural differences to split their caucus in the House. The party’s dirty laundry has been exposed in a way that makes Democrats, who last weekend tried to exploit the Republicans’ disarray and raise spending, look like crisp, clean models in a Tide ad.
Given these rival appearances, then, why can anyone possibly say that, a month or a year from now, Republicans of all shirt-stripes might wind up counting this episode as the time when their priorities became paramount?
Here’s why: Official Washington’s focus now is on our national debt. Not a focus in some longer range that treats our horrendous debt as a problem to be addressed, well, you know, someday. No, debt is the focus now.
No, it isn’t. There won’t be any focus on debt other than a lot of hot air emanating from Congressmen doing what they do best, working their blowholes. There has not been a Federal budget in years. There isn’t a serious budget on the table now. This current deal has blown through every spending limit. There isn’t even a pretense of debt-consciousness in Washington, and there isn’t going to be.
Politicians are going to continue to build careers by selling votes.
Low-information voters are going to continue to support the candidate that offers them the most of someone else’s stuff.
It’s going to get much worse before it gets any better, and it’s going to take a crash of Randian levels before we can actually address the root of the problem – the fact that we have a permanent political class whose vested interest is staying in power by handing out cash.
A few years before the fall of the Roman Republic, Senator, statesman and author Marcus Tullius Cicero observed:
“Six mistakes mankind keeps making century after century:
Believing that personal gain is made by crushing others;
Worrying about things that cannot be changed or corrected;
Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it;
Refusing to set aside trivial preferences;
Neglecting development and refinement of the mind;
Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.”
Two observations of my own: Mankind, two millennia later, is still making the same mistakes, and there isn’t a pol in Washington that is morally or ethically fit to scrape dog shit off of Cicero’s sandals.