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Exactly what did happen?




Exactly what did happen?

As some of you may have noticed, the November issue is rather late. Those who care might be wondering what happened. Or not, as the case may be. Still, I feel the need to explain what happened, or at least I feel the need to provide some filler for my editorial.

It is really very simple. I have fallen into a black hole of time sinks. The largest is this transit thing. During October and November I have made numerous trips to Sioux Falls (190 miles), Miller (25 miles), Pierre (50 miles), and Huron (70 miles). Oh yes, throw in a trip to Faulkton (50 miles) and Pompadour Hills Ranch (30 miles). Those are one way mileages, by the way.

These are trips in the transit vans driving people. Mostly they are going to and from medical appointments. So it isn't just the time spent driving; I usually spend time at the destination waiting for people to complete their business. All of this consumes a surprising amount of time. What is more it tires one out.

Then there is that san engine code. That's a time sink in its own right. You might well ask, how can any one spend a year working on a couple thousand lines of code. I ask myself that from time to time. The short answer is that I bit off more than I could easily chew. From time to time I would say to myself, it's working rather nicely now, and then I would discover that there were still more issues to deal with. Some day I will write an article about it all - I will call it "The long and winding road". The truth is that it has been on the shelf for a month - still it ate up some time.

A certain amount of time has been eaten up by things like lawn mowing, cleaning garages, taking large black dogs for walks, that sort of thing.

The story, The Face In The Mirror, took a fair amount of time to write. It started out as an idea and a page of notes. The root idea was to do a mirror image of "The picture of Dorian Gray". Instead of the protagonist doing evil and looking good, my thought was to have him do good and look evil. It took some thinking and I'm not sure how well I pulled it off.

Etc. I promise to do better in the future. (I didn't say when in the future.)

A Penny for your thoughts

"Ever notice how it's a penny for your thoughts, yet you put in your two-cents? Seems to me there must be a greedy politician somewhere collecting all those extra pennies."
- Anon.

If you must cheat, do it competently.

"I once had a situation where the two worst (by far) students were sitting in the back of the exam room copying answers back and forth.

I pointed it out to my proctors but told them to leave the guys alone. When the papers were graded the *sum* of their two scores didn't reach the passing level.

Too stupid to copy from somebody who knew what they were doing."

--- Paul J. Gans

What they do in school

http://www.mathstat.uottawa.ca/~rsmith/Zombies.pdf

WHEN ZOMBIES ATTACK!: MATHEMATICAL MODELLING OF AN OUTBREAK OF ZOMBIE INFECTION

Giant Jelly Fish

"The Telegraph reports that the Japanese trawler Diasan Shinsho-maru has capsized off the coast of China, as its three-man crew dragged their net through a swarm of giant jellyfish (which can grow up to six feet in diameter and travel in packs) and tried to haul up a net that was too heavy. The crew was thrown into the sea when the vessel capsized, but the three men were rescued by another trawler."

Health Care: The book you should read

One of the things that you do when you live in the country is that you get your boob toob fix from the satellite providers. There may be others but the big two are Dish network and Direct TV. I was on Dish network for several years and then tried Direct TV for a while. Recently I switched back to Dish.

Dish Network is a little cheaper than Direct TV but that wasn't the big deciding factor. Dish carries a number of university channels and a couple of independent news channels. The university channels offer material that is several cuts above the cable channels in terms of intellectual content. I happen to like watching university level lectures, but, then, I'm like that.

More to the point, Dish carries FSTV (Free Speech TV) and Link. Both are left wing, sometimes way left wing, and they carry news and commentary that doesn't make it into the mainstream media. I may snort indignantly at some of the stuff I hear on these channels, but I appreciate the level of content. Let me illustrate why.

Recently Link TV was doing their donations solicitations week. Link is much like PBS in that regard with one significant difference - they don't take money from the government and big corporations. Like PBS they do specials during solicitation week. One of their specials was a lecture given by journalist T.R. Reid about his book "Healing America". It was illuminating.

Observing the great health care reform fiasco has been discouraging. Perhaps the really discouraging thing is that the liberal (for lack of a better term) sid blathers on about how wonderful the reform is, or at least how it is the best thing we can do at present. I suppose it is the best thing we can do, if our best is failure. The thinking seems to be,"Something must be done. This is something. Therefore we must do this."

Reid did a survey of the health care systems around the world. According to him most countries use one of four systems. These are "socialized medicine" on the British model, "medicare" on the Canadian model, "private insurance" on the Continental model, and "pay out of your pocket" used by the third world. Despite the blathering of the know nothing right the first three all work, and they work rather better than what we do in this country. There is one country that uses all four and that is us. Thus we have a subsystem for the military that is essentially socialized medicine. Seniors get to use the medicare system. The employed get employer paid private insurance. And a large number of people get whatever care they can afford, which mostly is not much. Oh, yes, there is the emergency room scam.

So that is the first thing that is wrong with the American health care system and it is a big one. We have a whole bunch of systems. It's very expensive. Most of the paper work arises because there are all of these parties involved, each with their own set of byzantine regulations. In the rest of the world (dare I say the civilized world) they settle on one system.

But what system should we choose? Clearly not socialized medicine. The brain cells of good red blooded Americans explode when they are confronted with the word, "socialism". Medicare would work - we would just expand it to cover everybody. Private Insurance would work - if we would do the one thing that must be done.

What is that one thing? Meaningful regulation. In his talk, Reid gave an enlightening example. In Switzerland, an insurance company has five days to pay a medical pay. If they don't pay it on time the next month's premium is free. In the continental model people generally have the same insurance company for life - there is none of these riders for pre-existing conditions rubbish. Administrative costs for the insurance companies run about 4% instead of the American 20%. The administrative costs in hospitals are similarly lower.

The American problem is that the behaviour of the insurance companies is not strictly regulated. Doesn't the reform bill take care of that? Don't be silly. It has some pious gestures. The essence is that the "reformers" are in bed with the corporations. It is a simple cycle. Corporations give money to the politicians who give government money to the corporations. The upshot is that we are likely to replace the current mess by a much larger one.

Forgive me Lord, for I have ranted.

In the too stupid for words department

In Danvers HighSchool they won't the little kiddies meep. What is meeping, you ask? I certainly did. It seems that "meep" is a meaningless word used on Sesame street. The younger set has picked it up as a useful meaningless verbal noise, e.g., "ouch" or "Oh oh" or the F word or the S word or the P word.

Apparently the school administration believes that it is a part of a vast secret plot to disrupt the school. According to the article:

Principal Thomas Murray banned the word after school officials learned of a student plan brewing on Facebook to stage a major disruption on school grounds using the “meep,” the Salem News reported.
Myself, I think the students knew what an utter dweeb and control freak their principal was and set him to do something ridiculous. They needn't have bothered. He obviously is quite capable of doing it on his own.

As a followup note, Gary Farber sent the school an email telling them how ridiculous they were being. They replied with an email saying that his email was being forwarded to the Danvers police department. I suggested that he should reply to them that their email was being forwarded to the MA Dept of Education and to the local lunatic asylum.


This page was last updated November 14, 2009.

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