Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Wow, the "... top ten toys requested by children for the 2010 holidays... are all Apple products..." Amazing.... Click through to the story and not quite (however top 3 is pretty good)! Fail!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Misc updates - MLR

The August 28th, 2009 blog entry Health care re-form VIII (More nonsense) introduced and discussed the "medical loss ratio." It also spoke to the use/misuse of this metric in the context of the health care reform (or more correctly, health insurance reform)... The June 27th, 2010 blog entry MLR update linked to articles discussing what insurance company expenditures should count towards the MLR calculation, while the August 24th, 2010 entry MLR Redux noted that the NAIC Executive Committee was putting together a recommended formula for calculating the MLR...

Some further developments:
  • In September "... More than 30 state insurance commissioners lobbied President Obama and his senior policy staff on Wednesday to slow down the phase-in of the medical-loss ratio rule or risk driving insurers out of the market... ", see States want slower Medical-loss ratio phase in.
  • On October the 21st, "... the Executive and Plenary committees of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) voted to adopt a model regulation containing the definitions and methodologies for calculating medical loss ratios as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The model will be delivered to Health and Human Services (HHS) for certification by the Secretary...", per the NAIC press release...
  • Some reaction to the proposed rules:

    • From the NAIC: "... “I commend the work of our regulators and staff as we considered a number of very challenging issues as it moved through the committee process. The committee model regulation on MLR passed with only technical amendments, which is a testament to our inclusive and transparent process ..."
    • From the insurers, via America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP, their industry group), "... "The current MLR proposal will reduce competition, disrupt coverage, and threaten patients' access to health plans' quality improvement services."
    • From observers, State Regulators Recommend New Health Insurance Rules
    • And from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius: "... We thank the NAIC for the recommendations, which the Commissioners finalized today on how best to implement the medical loss ratio policy, which will ensure consumers get the best value for their health care. We recognize that these recommendations are the result of many months of hard work by the Commissioners and their staff and we commend them for their open process and their responsible, thoughtful work.These recommendations are reasonable, achievable for insurers and will help to ensure insurance premiums are, for the most part, supporting health benefits for consumers. Not only do they ensure consumers receive better value for their health care dollar, they recognize special circumstances in different markets to preserve market stability and employee coverage as we transition to the new marketplace in 2014...."
HHS will soon be publishing the regulations to implement the recommendations. Stay tuned!

Random charts

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Random chart

Source: G-7 Share of World GDP Seen Below 50% by 2012 (Bloomberg Chart of the Day) "... tracks the declining share of nominal gross domestic product of the U.S., Japan, Germany, the U.K., France, Italy and Canada against the rest of the world, with forecasts through 2015, based on data compiled by Bloomberg from the International Monetary Fund. The seven economies will generate less than 50 percent of global GDP by 2012, from about 70 percent in the mid-1980s. China’s output may surpass 10 percent of the world’s within two years, compared with 2 percent in 1987..."

Mental health break

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Random chart

Source: Why Did 17 Million Students Go to College? "... Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants..."

Great quotes..

"... as First Lady, I may have been the first person ever associated with an American administration to call for a Palestinian state and the two-state solution. This goal is now the official policy of the United States...

... It is difficult to think of anyone who has worked harder or longer to realize the dreams of the Palestinian people than President Mahmoud Abbas... He is a champion for the people and he is a champion for peace...

... New businesses are opening. More than 100 new companies were registered in the West Bank in August alone – everything from venture capital funds to local hardware stores. As a result, more and more Palestinians are finding jobs. Tourists and business travelers are arriving every day to take advantage of the improved security and economic climate...

... Last week alone, consistent with the Palestinian Authority’s focus on addressing water and electricity needs, more than 1,000 truckloads entered Gaza with food and goods like steel bars and cement to modernize the Gaza City waste water treatment plant, and electricity poles to upgrade power distribution..

... I cannot stand here tonight and tell you there is some magic formula that I have discovered that will break through the current impasse. But I can tell you we are working every day, sometimes every hour, to create the conditions for negotiations to continue and succeed...

... But I do know also that the future holds the possibility of progress, if not in our lifetimes then certainly in our children’s...

- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Remarks To the American Task Force on Palestine

Ah, that hard working man of peace, Abu Mazen! A "champion" no less, who has revitalized the West Bank's tourism industry! Abu Mazen and the PA are also re-building Gaza, and recently a stupendous 1,000 trucks a week entered Gaza with needed goods. Gasp, one thousand trucks in just one week! Now it's true that this number is up about 80% since June of this year, but remember the level in June of 2007 was approximately 1,300 trucks a week, and in 2005 it was approximately 700 a day.... But, no worry, the administration is working very hard for peace, "sometimes every hour." At this rate peace will certainly arrive within our children's lifetimes, coincidentally along with the possible elimination of nuclear weapons....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Random chart

Source: Calculated Risk: Foreclosure and Delinquency Rates of Major Servicers

Random Picture

Meet the Crypto Kids -Crypto Cat, Decipher Dog, Rosetta Stone, T. Top, Joules, Slate, and CSS Sam (all ™ though I'm not sure that the language learning folks at RosettaStone would agree...

From the site: "We’re the CryptoKids and we love cryptology. What’s cryptology? Cryptology is making and breaking codes. It’s so cool. We make codes so we can send secret messages to our friends. And we try to figure out what other people are writing about by breaking their codes. It’s a lot of fun.On this site, you can learn all about codes and ciphers, play lots of games and activities, and get to know each of us..."

And you wonder why...

Hmm, comments on VisibleVote concerning Senator George Voinoivich, made by user "Ohio" worried about his/her bennefits... (sic)

E/J-GTRRA votes

The "Bush tax cuts"... surely no right-thinking Democrat would ever have voted 'yea'....

Senate roll-call votes on the 1) Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA; P.L. 107-16), and the 2) Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA; P.L. 108-27), collectively known as the Bush tax cuts...

The Bush Tax Cuts and the Economy

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ectaco jetBook Mini

Ectaco has come out with a smaller, more compact eReader, the Ectaco jetBook Mini in black or yellow... The specifications:
  • Multi-Language interface support for English, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Polish and Russian
  • Runs on 4 AAA batteries
  • Up to 90 hours of reading time, 2 year standby (!?)
  • Support for screen rotation - portrait & landscape modes (see pictures below)
  • 5" TFT screen
  • Adjustable font sizes; Text alignment, spacing, breaking, and encoding options
  • 5.8 ounces
  • Supports TXT and FB2 formats. A convertor can be used to convert LIT, MOBI, EPUB, HTML, PRC, RTF, PDB, and PDF files to TXT or FB2 for use on the eReader.
  • Bookmarks
  • SD slot (max 2 GB)
  • Keys:
    • Menu” key – Activate the context menu.
    • “Scroll Up” key – Scroll up / Go to the previous page / Select an item / Change a value.
    • “Enter” key – Execute / Go to the next page / Enter a value.
    • “Scroll Down” key – Scroll down / Go to the next page / Select an item / Change a value.
    • “Back (On/Off)” key – Close active window / Cancel / Turn the device on or off.
  • Two games - Brick Game and Sudoku
  • “Settings” menu with the following options: “Interface Language”, “Rotate”, “Sort”, “Font Size”, “Encoding”, “Alignment”, “Line Spacing”, “Line Break”, “Date Format”, “Time Format”, “Auto Power Off”, “Clock”, “Restore Defaults”, “Upgrade Patch”, and “About”.

With an Ectaco jetBook-Lite, a Sony PRS-300, and a Gemei GM 2000 and a Blackberry Torch (see below):

The bottom line: Recommended.While the plastic keys make it a little less solid than the metal Sony and Gemei, it is a handy, pocketable size, has a very readable screen, the AAA batteries and mini-USB port make it more "autonomous", and the battery "bump" makes it comfortable to hold in your hand (note: you can rotate the display to be able to use it left- or right-handed, as well as portrait and landscape)....

Jetbook Mini e-reader from Ectaco

Monday, October 18, 2010


Minimal posting over the next few days (October 6th through the 17th), will be busy... Tosk's daily tweets will continue to be posted...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Great quotes

“Somewhere in the West, some masterminds have planned to drown Muslims in total chaos to keep them busy and divert their attention from the main cause – Palestine. When everyone gets entangled in killing, slaughters and discord, the Israelis become satisfied”
- Walid Jumblatt, see here.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Great quotes

"... President George Bush passed tax cuts that will expire at the end of this year... Giving these big red eggs (ed note: the aforementioned tax cuts) to the very high-income people would cost seven hundred billion dollars that we would have to borrow to give it..."

- Austan Goolsbee, see White House White Board: CEA Chair Austan Goolsbee Explains the Tax Cut Fight Aha, so that is how a tax cut works... the government "borrows" money to give to the recipient of the tax cut. Who'da thunk it? Thank goodness we have "the smartest guy in the room" to set us straight!