Monday, September 24, 2012

Random animation - flu pandemic

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has a YouTube animation to demonstrate the emergence and potential spread of new influenza viruses...

Random picture - Geneva

Sunday, September 23, 2012

All you ever wanted to know about the MLR

Previous blog entries (listed below) introduced the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) and it's use (or abuse) in the Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148, as amended)... Medical Loss Ratio Requirements Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Issues for Congress (a 21-page CRS PDF) provides an updated and in-depth look look at the MLR - its various components and how they inter-relate; the calculation of the MLR; its reporting requirements; temporary waivers to the rules that have been approved for various states; the rebate requirement; and finally the issues of brokers' commissions, high deductible plans, and the MLR for non-profit insurers... In short, all you ever wanted to know about the MLR but were afraid to ask!

Some previous blog entries referencing the MLR:
Latest MLR updateDec 4th, 2011
The MLR saga continues - May 13th, 2011
Misc update (MLR) - Mar 26th, 2011
Misc update - V - Feb 13th, 2011
Misc updates - MLR - Oct 25th, 2010
MLR Redux - Aug 24th, 2010
MLR update - Jun 27th, 2010
Health care re-form VIII (More nonsense) - August 28th, 2009

Random pictures - My Omegas

Added a couple to my collection (although at least one of these looks to be a fake...)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

In search of a problem?

OK, to further its attempts to 'goose' the economy the Federal Reserve recently announced a third round of 'Quantitative Easing" (hereafter QE3). Going forward they will be purchasing approximately $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) per month for the foreseeable future. Apparently this is in an effort to keep mortgage interest rates low, which it is hoped will stimulate the housing sector's recovery (and thereby contribute to improving the general economy.) 

OK, but aren't mortgage interest rates already at historic lows? Well, er...  yes... Per Bloomberg: "... The average rate on a 30- year fixed mortgage held at 3.55 percent in the week ended Sept. 13, near a record-low of 3.49 reported July 26 in data dating to 1971, according to McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac.." So, is the Fed's move an answer in search of a problem?
Some links on QE3: 

Random pictures - Lausanne

Monday, September 3, 2012

Random charts - endangered species

Source: The world's extinct and endangered species – interactive map

"... Today, one in eight birds, one in four mammals, one in five invertebrates, one in three amphibians, and half of all turtles face extinction..."

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Random chart - nuclear stockpiles

Source: Worth the Wait "... Since the 1970s, Republican presidents have had a better track record than Democrats in decisively cutting nuclear deals as well as the size of the U.S. stockpile. Hans Kristensen at the Federation of American Scientists has blogged on this topic, and has kindly prepared the accompanying graphic..."

From the FAS link:

"... As it turns out, Republican presidents have been the biggest nuclear reducers in the post-Cold War era. Republican presidents seem to have a thing for 50 percent nuclear reductions. During the George H.W. Bush presidency from 1989-1993, the size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile was cut by nearly 50 percent from 22,217 to 11,511 warheads. The number of deployed strategic warheads dropped from 12,300 to 7,114, or 42 percent, during the same period.Likewise, during the George W. Bush presidency from 2001-2009, the stockpile was cut by nearly 50 percent from 10,526 to 5,113 warheads. The number of deployed strategic warheads was cut by 65 percent from 5,668 to 1,968 warheads..."

Random chart - Isaac rainfall

Source: Though Isaac Weakens, Rainfall Still Enormous

"Though Isaac’s winds have now weakened below Tropical Storm force, the rainfall generated from this storm continues to be enormous. The latest five day rainfall forecast from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center — the part of the National Weather Service that deals with big inland storms — has a big bulls-eye over some of the very same states that have been racked by record-setting drought so far this summer..."

Random chart - govt benefits

Source: American Character Is at Stake

Random charts - Steel consumption

Source: The ever-increasing hunger for steel