Friday, July 31, 2009
Fast forward to July 2009, and both these predictions have come true. FINA finally decided to ban some of the newer, more advanced suits, effective April 2010. At a recent meet Phelps was beaten in the 200 meter freestyle by German Paul Biedermann. Biedermann was wearing one of those (to be banned) suits, a 100 percent polyurethane swimsuit made by the company Arena. Phelps, possibly due to contract obligations, was still using last year's wondersuit, the from Speedo.Phelp's coach, Bob Bowman, threatened to withdraw Phelps from all international competition unless the suits were banned immediately. Apparently he is upset that things are getting out of hand, and that the technology is diminishing the value of world records! Curiously, he was not concerned on these counts this time last year, when his swimmer was one of those that were advantaged. What a wanker!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Walid Joumblatt : Je ne sais plus qui a tué Rafic Hariri
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Apparently we are supposed to be appalled by this... Usually this blogger can be counted on to reflexively 'tut, tut' about the money spent to buy access and influence, and to sway legislation. However, this time not so much, and for multiple reasons:
- First, this blogger is unsure about the numbers. The earlier articles had "the health care industry" (or "major health interests" per another article) spending $1.4 million a day. This more recent article states that "the health insurance industry" spent $35 million in 1993 and in 1994, and that "health care reform advertising" spend this year (which appears to encompass all the players in health care reform plus the political parties as well) has been $45 million and is "approaching $2 million per day." . OK, so these numbers don't add up... two million dollars a day sounds outrageous, but how does that square with $45 million so far this year?? Was that amount spent over a 20-day stretch even though we are approximately 200 days into the calendar year? Was nothing spent on the other 180 or so days? Or is it actually per day i.e. at least approximately $300 million so far this year?
- Second, all of these articles are remarkably lax regarding who is spending the money. Reading them and much of the accompanying commentary one could be forgiven for concluding that "health insurance industry" and "health care industry" are one and the same. In matter of fact they are not. The health care industry comprises a number of different groups, with differing interests, including the health insurers, the pharmaceutical and other medical/surgical supply companies, the provider organizations (i.e. hospitals, nursing homes, etc.), and the health professionals (i.e. the physicians, etc.). and, very importantly, in many ways their interests are often opposed. For example, the hospitals often find themselves playing a zero sum game with the insurers; ditto the health professionals and the insurers; and sometimes even the health professionals and the hospitals. So, go ahead, add up the sums these various groups are spending, to get a big number that sells stories... while ignoring the fact that many if not most of these expenditures cancel each other out!
- But it's a lot of money you splutter! Hell, yes, it is... However, given the stakes involved is this any surprise? And, despite what some might have you believe, not all of this is done for base motives! A lot of this spending is defensive in nature, as none of the groups can afford to leave the field of battle open to the other groups without paying a heavy price, and finding that the system has been reformed on their backs! The main villains here are the politicians, who have set up the rules of the "game" by which all parties are playing! Sure, every so often a politician will decry the influence of money, but who exactly is it all aimed at? Yup, them, and they have their hands in every pocket... And, if you look closely, often the ones fussing are the ones most 'on the take.'
Legislating under the influence
Familiar Players in Health Bill Lobbying
About $2 Million Daily Spent on Health Care Ads
Health Care Battle Takes to the Airwaves
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Needed: new legislation...
Needed: outrage leading to action... (and a sense of perspective)
Mr. Bobo, please read this article, "Katrina's Hidden Race War', find a true sense of outrage, write opeds, and petition the administration to do something to have this seriously investigated! Skip Gates is an erudite and well-spoken person, who is listened to and who has a friend in the White House. Please also get him engaged in this effort. Oh, and bye the bye, how about an explanation re why this does not outrage you as much as your friend's minor (in comparison) inconvenience...
Friday, July 24, 2009
"In general, the Syrian regime does everything it can to prevent the reduction of tensions and greater stability between Israel and Lebanon. It's a matter of stirring the pot whenever they can," said Gerald Steinberg, head of the political science department at Bar-Ilan University. ...
"The Syrians use the issue of the Shaba Farms because they want the international community to think that Israel is a border violator, so they'll do everything to reenergize the issue," said Dan Diker, senior foreign policy analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Diker believes that viewing the conflict as a matter of borders is a misconception, and that it should be approached as a matter of Israel's right to exist...
... it is believed that Syria's goal in attempting to reclaim the Golan Heights, including Mount Dov, is to enhance its own image among other Middle Eastern nations and to set an example regarding what can be obtained in negotiations with Israel...
There is an Israeli interest in reducing the level of tension with Lebanon and removing as many sources of conflict from the table as possible without sacrificing its vital interests. The Israeli government will carefully calculate the cost benefits on a number of different issues, but it's not in the Israeli interest to have the Shaba Farms become part of Syria," said Steinberg..."From: Syria won't redraw border with Lebanon
Israel Warships Cross Suez In Possible Iran Signal
Tough words, but Israel-Hezbollah fight unlikely to happen soon
Israeli warplanes Renew Violation of Lebanese Airspace
Israel enters Lebanese airspace
LAF: Two Israeli fighter jets violate Lebanese airspace
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
This will probably date this blogger, but he remembers when he purchased his first CF card, at over $900 for an 8MB card. Yes, that's flash rather than disk drive, but at the time the thought of being able to get one terabyte of storage for under a hundred dollars (including shipping costs!!) was about as likely as tourists in space!! And now we have both...
Note: Per the sticker on the box, the hard drive is a Hitachi (have not opened to confirm...)
Features & Specifications:
- 1TB 16mb cache 3.5" hard disk drive
- Plug and play for Windows 2000 and newer (pre-formatted to NTFS)
- USB 2.0 (USB 1.1 backwards compatible) interface
- Transfer rate of 480Mbps (USB 2.0)
- LED-illuminated front bezel
- Aluminum case with exceptional heat dissipation
- Friendly, unlimited, domestic, and free customer/tech support beyond limited warranty
- Dimensions: 7.8” x 5” x 1.3”
- Weight: 3.5 lbs
- Exceptional heat dissipation without a fan for near-silent operation. Durable, with state-of-the art shock absorption. Stylish enclosure features an illuminated face, constructed of solid aluminum, keeping the hard drive operating at a safe and cool temperature while protecting the data within. Its stackable design ensures a clean and uncluttered workplace.
- 1TB 3.5" 16MB cache hard drive inside an aluminum USB 2.0 enclosure
- USB 2.0 cable
- Power adaptor
- Quick start guide
- One (1) year manufacturer’s warranty
- Available USB port
- Mac OS 9.x or newer, Windows 98SE / Me / 2000 / XP / Vista or newer
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Good magazine has a nice infographic (small extract above) showing the amount of HMO contributions to U.S. senators here... A must see.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Europe: A Year On, Sarkozy's Euromed Struggles
3-Person Commission Of Inquiry Into Assassination Of Former Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto To Begin 6-Month Mandate 1st July 2009
UN probe team calls on Zardari
Sunday, July 12, 2009
"Senators working on health-care legislation are considering provisions to pare back the billions of dollars in tax breaks enjoyed by U.S. hospitals. More than half of the 5,482 hospitals in the U.S. are nonprofits that don't pay federal, state or local taxes..." Read the rest here.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
The US is criticized for coercing other nations with its superior power (15 of 19 nations), failing to abide by international law (17 of 19 nations), and for how it is dealing with climate change (11 of 18 nations). Overall, views are mixed on whether the US is playing a mainly positive or mainly negative role in the world"
Source: Though Obama Viewed Positively, Still Much Criticism of US Foreign Policy: Global Poll
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
(French: Smoking kills. German: Smoking can be deadly)