Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Random pictures

Random picture

Source: Western graffiti with Putin

Random charts

Source: Moody's: Hospital Revenues In Critical Condition; Downgrades May Follow

Top-line revenue growth is falling at many not-for-profit hospitals, presenting hospital management teams with their most immediate challenge and supporting our negative outlook for the sector. Hospital downgrades will likely increase in the short term unless expense reductions and productivity gains compensate for stagnant or weak revenue growth. With hospitals facing reimbursement pressure from all payers – Medicare, Medicaid and commercial health insurers – and declining volumes given a persistently sluggish economy, numerous hospitals are reviewing every aspect of their operations to make fundamental changes to their business model. These efforts will stave off rating downgrades at better managed hospitals, but will likely prove insufficient at others to stave off credit deterioration over the longer-term.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Random charts

Source: Aspirin, Angioplastly, and Proton Beam Therapy: the Economics of Smarter Health Care Spending Paper by two economists.

Abstract: The growing share of the U.S. economy devoted to health care spending is cause for concern both because of the share that is publicly financed and because of the inefficiency with which those resources are used. Fueled in part by demographic transitions, unchecked increases in entitlement spending will necessitate some combination of tax increases, the elimination of other public spending, or public debt levels that far exceed those currently observed in Greece. Despite these spending levels, highly cost-effective treatments like aspirin and flu shots are underused, while angioplasty is used in both lifesaving and inappropriate cases and exorbitantly unproven procedures such as proton beam therapy are generously reimbursed by public programs. Driven by expenditures on such expensive care, public insurance spending is rising unsustainably at the same time that a fifth of the population goes uninsured. In an efficient system, more spending on health care would not be a cause for concern. Achieving this means improving the incentives and infrastructure for providers to deliver – and patients to consume – high-value care, as well as wrestling with the difficult question of whom to cover versus what to cover in public insurance programs. But the wide prevalence of inefficiencies also offers hope, for there is scope for fundamental reforms to improve the productivity of health care spending and the fiscal health of the U.S.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Much ink has been spilled in reaction to the announcement that Steve Jobs is stepping down as Apple CEO (while remaining on its Board as Chairman) for health reasons. Encomiums galore. most very well deserved....

However, some seem to believe that Jobs and Apple were all things computing, apparently crediting them with pretty much everything technological... A small example: In cnet this blogger saw this article: Friday Poll: What was Steve Jobs' greatest hit? OK, so what's the problem... Well the intro to the poll went as follows:

"Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple CEO this week, prompting a flood of retrospectives about the legendary businessman who rewrote the rules of the game for entire industries.

Many waxed nostalgic over the brilliant arc of Jobs' career, which has been brought low by health problems. Heck, it even made me want to dig out my Apple IIc, my first computer, and see if it can still boot Beyond Castle Wolfenstein.

From the co-founding of Apple in 1976 to the launch of the iPad in 2010, Jobs redefined our relationship to technology by introducing innovative products that have become intuitive and indispensable everyday tools.
Who would have thought that people actually wanted to own computers? And carry them around in their pockets, no less?

Apart from Apple, his achievements include the acquisition of what became Pixar, as well as the object-oriented software development model that changed the OS landscape."

Umm, so the writer doesn't explicitly credit Jobs and Apple for 'pocket computers', but it does seem to imply something along those lines! Well, HP's 95lx was being sold and bought by many starting in 1991, well before Apple's August 1993 entry in the PDA field, the Newton, which also was not particularly 'pocket-able.' And while Apple did introduce the Newton, it was championed by John Sculley and introduced when Michael Spindler was CEO... in the non-Steve Jobs era! And Steve Jobs supposedly said that Apple would never introduce a PDA while he was in charge! Aah!

QR/Tag roundup - III

Here are more QR code and Microsoft Tag news updates, uses, generators, etc:

Previous QR and Tag entries:

BB QR readers (28 links)
QR codes "in the wild" (13 links)
QR-and Tag-related entries (22 links)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Great quotes

"Le monde entier s'apprêtait à contempler à la télévision des massacres commis par le colonel Kadhafi, heureusement, le président a pris la tête de la croisade pour mobiliser le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies et puis la Ligue arabe et l'Union africaine".

- French Interior Minister Claude Guéant, see Libye : Guéant se félicite que Sarkozy ait "pris la tête de la croisade"

Friday, August 26, 2011

Great quotes

"We know, and it is not even classified for me to tell you today, that Iran will have the capability of delivering a weapon of mass destruction to western Europe and the eastern United States by 2015, I see that as the most imminent threat to this country right now. So that is a problem we are going to have deal with."

- Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), see Inhofe urges rebuilding of military.

The basis? From 'Iranian ICBM by 2015?':

"Section 1245 of the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act required the Department of Defense to submit a report to Congress on Iran’s military power, similar to the annual Report on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China.

The report is rather plain — here is the full text. The report looks rather more like the initial editions of Chinese Military Power in 1998 and 1999, before CMP evolved into the giant full-color extravaganza that evokes the old Soviet Military Power in its heyday.

Phil Stewart and Adam Entous of Reuters noticed this sentence stating that Iran could develop an ICBM by 2015 and made it their lede:

With sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States by 2015.

As you know, once a wire service spots a lede, the pack follows.

Unfortunately, this is just intelligence community boilerplate — the same sentence has appeared in every edition of Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat: 2009, 2006, 2003 and 2000. Seriously, you can look it up."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Random pictures

Source: Military Art: The Threat in the 1980's - Series I and Series II Various Soviet threats...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Random charts

Source: Discretionary Spending Under the Budget Control Act of 2011

Discretionary spending is the part of federal spending that lawmakers control through annual appropriation acts. Mandatory spending, in contrast, occurs each year without such legislation; spending for mandatory programs is generally determined by setting the programs’ parameters, such as eligibility rules and benefit formulas, rather than by appropriating specific amounts each year.

Discretionary spending totaled more than $1.3 trillion in 2010, or nearly 40 percent of federal outlays. Just over half of that discretionary spending ($689 billion) was for defense programs, mainly operation and maintenance, military personnel, and procurement. The rest ($660 billion in 2010) paid for an array of nondefense activities. Seven broad budget categories accounted for more than 75 percent of the spending for nondefense discretionary activities last year. The largest of those is the category covering education, training, employment, and social services; it is followed in size by the categories for transportation, income security programs (mostly housing), and health-related research and public health. Categories with smaller amounts of discretionary spending include administration of justice (mostly for law enforcement activities), veterans’ benefits and services (mostly for health care), and international affairs.

Follow the link for an explanation of the caps on discretionary spending (through 2021) established by the recently passed Budget Control Act of 2011.

Random charts

Source: U.S. Army Predator Drone Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Tactical Pocket Guide

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Additional BB QR readers - XXI

Mception is the maker of the Mception Scanner for the Blackberry, which was reviewed here with the conclusion: "The bottom line? It only functions as a QR code reader, but does that fairly impressively! Recommended"

It now appears to have two new (?) QR code scanners in the BlackBerry AppWorld - Arion QR Scanner and Carpet One QR Scanner (see below)... No indication is given regarding how these may be different from their previous application, this blogger may take a look when some spare time rolls around!

Previous QR and Tag entries:
BB QR readers (28 links)
QR codes "in the wild" (12 links)
QR-and Tag-related entries (22 links)

Additional BB QR readers - XX

Another QR code reader available for the BB is the simply-named Barcode, by an outfit named mappau OG. Barcode both reads and generates QR codes, and on installation it gives you two icons (one for each functionality).

As always the QR code read capabilities are tested using the QR Code Quality Standards Test v1.02 On launch, the application immediately scans for the QR code (i.e. this is not a "take a picture and decode' style reader). Overall the program did a pretty good job reading/decoding QR codes, e.g. see below:

So now for generating QR codes... As mentioned before, you have a separate icon/program and a "Show Barcode' menu entry in your Calendar, Contacts, Maps, and Browser allows you to generate QR codes. You can also generate email, phone number, and free text bar codes...

The bottom line? A very capable QR code reader and generator. However, with the integration to the native applications "not quite there" (e.g. you can call a phone number QR code but not save it, an email QR code does not start the Messages application - even if it does allow you to save the address to the Clipboard, etc.), and some 'missing' features (e.g. no history saved...), Barcode just falls short of the top tier...

Note: Tested on my current BB, a Torch.

Previous QR and Tag entries:
BB QR readers (27 links)
QR codes "in the wild" (12 links)
QR-and Tag-related entries (22 links)