Monday, August 31, 2009

more fun with healthcare!

It's hubris for a president to attempt to rebuild a middle eastern country as a democracy... but it's not for a president to attempt to rebuild the some 1/3 of our economy devoted to health care via government fiat?

I had this odd discussion with a girl who thought that obamacare was necessary because it is 'just sad' that the world's most successful country "can't provide basic health care to its people". After it blew my crazy-fuse, I asked "so you don't think capitalism is a good way to run the health care industry?"... "Oh gosh, no I don't!"... "Well this is something we will not agree upon obviously."

This whole discussion is silly... the goal of socialized health care is *not* to provide better health care to the poor... it's to prevent rich people from getting *better* health care than poor people by account simply of their being rich. I guess this isn't really obvious, but it becomes pretty obvious once you start asking people to provide a definition for 'basic health care'.

I wonder if the only difference between the US military and the military forces of Europe is *exactly* socialized medicine.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

tips for housebreaking puppies

1) punishment has unpredictable results... even if you catch them in the act.
2) corrective actions work *very* well... for example, puppy looks like it will need to pee... take it outside or put it on pee pad.
3) crate crate crate - for the first 3-5 months.. puppies need to *always* be in crates unless it's been less than about 20 minutes since they last did the full double potty duty.... that's *zero* minutes if they've recently eaten. Puppies don't want to pee in their crates (provided the crates are small enough that they can only turn around).
4) puppies have to go *constantly*... and the trick is to always anticipate when they will need to pee and *always* get them where they need to be to pee by the time they need to...

the rest is just magic... consistently getting them to where they need to potty shows them how to do it.. and once they learn to do it.. they don't want to do it any other way.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The infamous XML attribute

Rules for using attributes in XML:
- never use an attribute for anything but a terminal leaf data node in a tree structure
- never use an attribute if you may require multiple nodes with the same name
- never use an attribute for any indistinct data which may require a context markup or status flag
- never use an attribute for string data requiring a lot of escaping <>" etc..
- always use an attribute instead of a text node!

why the focus on exact correctness in computing?

I think a lot of people are missing the point on correct vs. probably correct computing.
In an interview with Google, I was asked to compile a 'top-1-million' most frequently found strings from terabytes of data.
I really wanted to poll the data at random until I had a sufficient accuracy to say that I knew what the top 1-million strings were. There was an obsession on counting each and every string, beyond mathematical necessity.
Really we should be looking for an accuracy on the order of the probability of computation error.

A probabilistic method could be both faster *and* more accurate. Try telling that to a brick wall called Google.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Health care too important to have 'cost control'

I'm getting tired of this stupid point:

"I don't want my health care rationed... and that's what will come of this plan."

"This plan will not ration health care.."

"Let's not play games... the government will have to choose allocation schemes for limited health care funds."

"Okay fine... but we're already doing that... it's just up to private insurers right now!"

I've heard this refrain many times now... but currently our health care is only 'rationed' in the same sense that food or housing are rationed. Yes.. you pay for it. If this isn't the opposite of 'rationing', then I really don't know what is.

I was ambivalent about the proffered massive health care reorganization before.. but now I'm back to square one with "show me it's broke before you tell me yer gonna fix it."

I now believe this is an attempt at a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem. Health care is now closing in on *the* top priority of Americans. Most people have housing and food... and with those factors above subsistence levels for most people, our health now becomes a priority. Unfortunately we currently spend a very small fraction of our income on health care, and people are already whining about it.

Sell your house.. or your extra house... or your weekend boat... to pay for that operation... the housing market will go down, the health care market will go up... and before long, the markets will reflect where the priorities of Americans truly lie.

"But I don't want to have to sell my boat or move in with my children just because I got sick and need an expensive treatment."

... then don't get the treatment... reduce the value of health care by sapping demand... and increase the value of houses and boats by opting for these things in preference to life extending health care treatments.

The point of "health care costs are causing bankruptcies" should be answered with "What is more important than health care such that bankruptcies should be caused by something else? Why is housing allowed to be a leading cause of bankruptcies without nationalization but not health care?"

The crux of the matter is that our society is beyond the basic needs of food and shelter... we can get it for really cheap... it just might not taste too good as food or be really cramped as housing. This rearranges our priorities, as before, who really cared about their health care when a) doctors couldn't really do much anyways, and b) extending life through medicine doesn't make sense when the next war or famine will likely kill you anyways.

People now place much more emphasis on health care, and as a result, anybody attempting or expecting 'cost control' while we're spending more on housing, cars, food, and leisure items, is just deluding themselves.... and that's really the scariest point of this movement.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

no more LGF

This LGF post is causing me to no longer frequent the site.

It's been trending this way for some time. I'm not a die-hard conservative, but I feel there's a lot of room out there for compassion that the site has been missing. I'm not sure whether there's something about the author's personal life that's pushing things in this way, but I guess it doesn't matter.

I don't think it's appropriate to criticize someone for talking about their child who grew up with cerebral palsy. I don't think it matters what the context is, even if there are suspicions that the timing of it is a ploy. People with a strong sense of empathy, who can really put themselves into the shoes of someone who struggled to raise a child with CP, would know that it's not appropriate the criticize those comments, even if it means letting the parent 'get away with' a massive distraction. Refocusing on the issue at hand, and not commenting on the issue of a person's CP child (explicitly if necessary), is the appropriate and compassionate course of action.

There has been this slight, consistent drift going on within LGF tilting towards less useful and more acerbic commentary. Gone are the days of identifying the problems extremist islam is causing for the world, and in its place is the elevation of 'creationists', 'creationist agendas', 'abortion killers' and 'right wing extremists' to the 'big boogeyman status'. It rings hollow for me, as I see the threat of right wing extremism in america absolutely dwarfed by more important problems both domestic and foreign.

Which is the greater problem:
1) Whether Sarah Palin's characterization of Obama's health care reform is accurate, or
2) Whether Obama's health care reform is something we should endorse or oppose?

I'll opt for #2 time and again, and #1 is just a distraction.

Monday, August 10, 2009

maybe it's time to post some more

... since nobody noticed a few years of hiatus.

Recently S. Palin made a comment about "Obama death panels" in reference to her son Trig who has Down Syndrome.
My experience is limited. I grew up with a handicapped sibling and observed the parents of many other handicapped children who were much worse off. It does not surprise me at all that a mother would take very negatively to the imposition of a nationalized health care system. Many of these parents have had to fight insurers for benefits. While that is a reasonable task against a private insurance company, fighting a government bureaucracy for those same benefits would be daunting to most people.
While fighting insurance companies can end up in some cases with going to the press and shaming an insurance company into following through on their obligations, no amount of public shaming should influence the decisions of a government panel. Nationalizing the health insurance economy we currently have will effectively remove one step of possible appeal against the decision of a bureaucracy... which certainly may eventually end up looking like a 'death panel', even if it isn't intended that way.
I'm not characterizing what the final status of a government run health industry would look like in America, I'm just suggesting that the parent of a handicapped child would very reasonably see it as ominous as a 'death panel'.