Monday, December 28, 2009

Scientists Perfect Thought-to-Speech Algorithm

Scientists implanted electrodes inside the speech motor cortex of a paralyzed 26 year old's brain, allowing him to speak via electronic assistance.

Previous direct brain communication technology has focused on typing individual letters. The new technique translates the sounds of speech directly, allowing patients to merely think of saying the word and the computer translating it with a latency of 50ms, a speed on par with a healthy human being.

Signals collected from an electrode in the speech motor cortex are amplified and sent wirelessly across the scalp as FM radio signals. The Neuralynx System amplifies, converts, and sorts the signals. The neural decoder then translates the signals into speech commands for the speech synthesizer. Credit: Guenther, et al.

This technology is being developed by Frank Guenther of the Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems and the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Boston University, as well as many more academics and firms

[PhysOrg via Gizmodo]

Iran: The Camera Phone is Mightier than the Sword

Iran is hurtling toward civil war, with the general populace finally fed up with the incompetent and often violent leadership. During the many protests, dissidents are being imprisoned, beaten, and tortured.

In the past, we would likely not learn of the government putting down the uprisings until months or years after the fact. However, in today's constantly connected world, we are learning about these events as they happen, through picture messaging and services like Twitter.

Watching your continuing coverage of the people of Iran continuing their fight for freedom I was struck, and touched, by the presence, in every picture, in every piece of footage, by the universal presence of cellphones and cameras. No matter how chaotic, no matter how frightened they may be, the protesters held their phones high. Not a brave few but a brave many pressed into the violence, stood right next to the regimes thugs and pointed their cameras. It seems like the ultimate act of defiance; no matter how you try to shut us down or shut us up, we will expose you. You can kill us, but the world will know that we never stopped fighting.

I urge you to continue to use your platform to show us this incredible fight. Before this started, the people of Iran seemed alien and vaguely threatening. Now, I see a young woman, veil shoved back and cellphone in the air, and this lefty atheist woman sees a sister clear across the world.

The government of Iran cannot brutalize its citizens without the entire world knowing about it in real time, thanks to information technology. I always knew the Internet was a game-changer, but I had no idea it could actually save lives.

The Web empowers people in a way never possible before. Keep snapping those pictures, people of Iran, we are behind you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We Want These Guys Running Health Care?

Veterans still waiting for GI Bill payments

WASHINGTON - Universities and colleges are still waiting for tuition payments for thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who attended school last fall under the new GI Bill, leaving the veterans panicked that they'll be unable to return to class in January.

Veterans Affairs Department officials promise to get them back into the classroom. The VA says the number of veterans with claims unprocessed is now fewer than 5,000 — down from tens of thousands — and the goal is to have them all processed by the end of the year.

"We continue to work on a daily basis with schools to make sure that no student is denied attending class as a result of delayed tuition payments," Katie Roberts, a VA spokeswoman, said Tuesday. "It's a top priority for VA to make sure that students can focus on their studies rather than their bank accounts."

And that's just a small part of the VA. Wait till the government is running the entire health care system.

[via evil muppet]

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Senate Health Care Bill Will Bankrupt the US

This bill is a disaster of epic proportions, and will quickly bankrupt the United States.

Our current annual deficit is $1.4 trillion. The latest Health Bill is estimated to cost $871 billion over ten years. However, this hides the true cost as many of the bill's measures do not go into effect until 2014. If one calculates the ten year costs from 2014-2023, the bill's price tag jumps dramatically to $2.5 trillion.

Liberals would like you to believe that the bill will actually reduce the deficit. This relies on nearly half a trillion in Medicare cuts, which even honest liberals will tell you will never happen. Medicare is already underfunded, paying about 80% of what a private insurer will pay, and any further cuts to Medicare will certainly put thousands of doctors out of business.

And what about the ever spiraling cost of health care and insurance premiums? The CBO estimates that individual insurance plans will increase 10-13% over what they would be if we simply did nothing. The bill attempts to cover up these costs with subsidies for around half of those subscribers, which avoids the root problem altogether, and the other half of the individual market will just be stuck with massive, unsubsidized increases.

Prices for health care itself will also skyrocket. Massachusetts has already implemented similar reforms and has seen its health care costs increase much faster than the national average. I don't know if the CBO is even accounting for this form of accelerated inflation, but we will all be paying for it soon.

If you need more proof that costs will rise faster, you need look no further than Econ 101: Supply and Demand. With 31 million new people gaining or being forced to buy insurance, the demand for health care will drastically increase. The supply, however, will not. Any freshman economics major can tell you that when demand increases faster than supply, price goes up.

The brilliant lawmakers in Washington have decided to pay for some of this reform with new taxes in the middle of the worst recession in decades. I do not need to explain how billions in new taxes will hurt our economy, especially those at the bottom. Luckily, we won't have to pay for all of it as much of it will be paid for by borrowing.

China is already asking questions about the solvency of our reform plans, as they will be the ones paying for it. Not only will this bill bankrupt us, it will put us further under China's thumb.

Some of those dollars will not even go to reform. Billions in spending were written in for no other reason than political bribery. Ben Nelson's home state, Nebraska, will get $45 million. For Louisiana, another $100-300 million. For Florida, $5 billion. These votes have been bought and paid for, by which I mean bought by Democratic power players and paid for by you and me, bi-partisanship be damned.

Not only will this health bill bankrupt our nation, it will also trample our rights. Many states are challenging the constitutionality of an insurance mandate, and they are making a strong case.

It's probably why a majority of Americans do not want this reform.

Merry Christmas, America, you're about to get the worst health care reform in history.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Blizzard Dumps Snow on Copenhagen as Leaders Battle Warming

This year, give the gift of Irony.

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- World leaders flying into Copenhagen today to discuss a solution to global warming will first face freezing weather as a blizzard dumped 10 centimeters (4 inches) of snow on the Danish capital overnight.

“Temperatures will stay low at least the next three days,” Henning Gisseloe, an official at Denmark’s Meteorological Institute, said today by telephone, forecasting more snow in coming days. “There’s a good chance of a white Christmas.”

Delegates from 193 countries have been in Copenhagen since Dec. 7 to discuss how to fund global greenhouse gas emission cuts. U.S. President Barack Obama will arrive before the summit is scheduled to end tomorrow.

Denmark has a maritime climate and milder winters than its Scandinavian neighbors. It hasn’t had a white Christmas for 14 years, under the DMI’s definition, and only had seven last century. Temperatures today fell as low as minus 4 Celsius (25 Fahrenheit).

DMI defines a white Christmas as 90 percent of the country being covered by at least 2 centimeters of snow on the afternoon of Dec. 24.

[Bloomberg via Pat Brown]

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How the Constitution Took Our Freedom

In the 18th century, many felt the Constitution was a massive expansion of government power. They may have been right.

When viewed objectively, the very words of the Constitution reveal its true purpose. Constitutionalists often cite Article I Section 8 as proof of the limits on the powers granted to the federal government, but let’s not forget what that section actually says. It begins,

“The Congress shall have the power to…”

What follows is a long list of powers that the central government did not previously have. Each subsequent section of the Constitution invests power in the one of the three branches of government. Nowhere in the document are these powers limited, except for the short (but nevertheless important) list of exceptions contained in Section 9.
The expansion of power provided by the Constitution is one I had never considered, but one we should take a hard look at considering the runaway growth of everybody's favorite federal government.

[via Matt Hoagland]

Energy-efficient Traffic Lights Can't Melt Snow

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again!

MILWAUKEE – Cities around the country that have installed energy-efficient traffic lights are discovering a hazardous downside: The bulbs don't burn hot enough to melt snow and can become crusted over in a storm — a problem blamed for dozens of accidents and at least one death.

"I've never had to put up with this in the past," said Duane Kassens, a driver from West Bend who got into a fender-bender recently because he couldn't see the lights. "The police officer told me the new lights weren't melting the snow. How is that safe?"

Many communities have switched to LED bulbs in their traffic lights because they use 90 percent less energy than the old incandescent variety, last far longer and save money. Their great advantage is also their drawback: They do not waste energy by producing heat.

Authorities in several states are testing possible solutions, including installing weather shields, adding heating elements like those used in airport runway lights, or coating the lights with water-repellent substances.

Short of some kind of technological fix, "as far as I'm aware, all that can be done is to have crews clean off the snow by hand," said Green Bay, Wis., police Lt. Jim Runge. "It's a bit labor-intensive."

This is mainly for the Global Warming folks who want to reform our vast energy economy using the power of the government. In this example, changing something as small as the type of light bulb in our traffic lights can cause headaches and, in limited cases, injury and death. All from our choice in lightbulbs.

[via Instapundit]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Disgusting Amount of Wealth Launches Mankind into Space

Recently, Sir Richard Branson has put his ridiculous wealth to a most laudable goal: space travel. His latest company, Virgin Galactic, plans to fly people into space and back again for a paltry 122,000 British pounds, or approximately $200,000. He unveiled his spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, last week.

SpaceShipTwo, the descendant of 2004's SpaceShipOne which won the X-Prize for the first private human space flight, flies to 52,000 ft (16 km) while strapped to an airplane, then releases and uses rockets to zoom out of the atmosphere to an altitude of 110km.

SpaceShipTwo can hold 2 pilots and 6 passengers, and its trajectory allows for about 6 minutes of weightlessness for those onboard before returning to Earth.

Though the flight is short, 300 passengers have already bought their tickets, while thousands more have expressed their interest.

Many of my friends on the Left seem to believe that the uber rich should be taxed at a far higher rate than your average person. While such a system may take the tax burden off of the working man, it must be weighed against the opportunity cost of lost investment. Wealthy people often make their wealth by investing wisely in things other people want, thereby using their obscene amount of money to provide for the needs and wants of their fellow man, at a small profit of course.

Branson's Virgin Galactic is a great example of how wealthy private citizens can use their ridiculous wealth to benefit mankind by pushing the boundaries of science and technology. If a person like Branson is taxed too heavily by his government, then he will not be able to make the $400 million investment needed to get a project like this off the ground, and humanity will have to wait until the government deems it feasible to take on space travel again, which considering our budget problems will not happen any time soon.

But this brings me to my next point, the point at which I must applaud our government's decision to practically starve NASA for funding. Initially, I was for increasing funding for space projects, but upon reflection I see the change I want happening before my eyes. When the government fails, the private market comes in to give people what they want. And people want space travel.

The government space program peaked in the late-60s, early-70s with the Apollo Program and the moon landings. Since then, there has been very little progress in this domain by NASA. Sure, we have the ISS, but we've stopped moving the ball forward.

While SpaceShipTwo is still early in the testing phase, SpaceShipOne stands as a proof of concept, that private entrepreneurs can and will take humanity into space, assuming they aren't taxed out of trying.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Something Wrong with Islam

After the bombings in Baghdad on Tuesday, I placed the blame at the feet of Islam. Many find this distasteful, as there are many Muslims who are good, peace loving people. However, I believe there is something distinctly different about the Muslim religion that is creating a very violent sub-culture.

I can't put it any better than Dr. Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-American ex-Muslim:

"We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people."

She concluded, "Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them."

After her interview on Al Jazeera, Dr. Sultan was excoriated by Syrian clerics, who called her a "heretic and infidel who deserves to die," and she has since received numerous death threats.

You cannot look at me with a straight face and tell me there is not a deep and widespread problem with Islam. I know there are many great people who follow the teachings of Mohammed, but there are plenty, including those in high positions of power in the mosque, that are poisoning their people with violent rhetoric.

There can be no progress if we accept this kind of behavior as the norm. Most of what I do with my writing is call people out when they do something wrong, and this is no different.

There is no excuse for killing innocent civilians. It's time to grow up.

Lawyers, Judges, and Facebook

The Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee is discouraging judges from being Facebook friends with lawyers.

When judges “friend” lawyers who may appear before them, the committee said, it creates the appearance of a conflict of interest, since it “reasonably conveys to others the impression that these lawyer ‘friends’ are in a special position to influence the judge.”

This seems a little overblown to me, I have hundreds of Facebook friends, yet only a handful I would consider real friends.

Luckily, the opinion of this committee is only advisory, and not legally binding.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Problem is Teacher's Unions

Despite measurable success, a federally funded school voucher program in Washington D.C. is about to die.

"Effectively, Congress's failure to act to reauthorize this program will send well over 1,000 children to failing and, too often, unsafe schools," the letter states. "That result would, in our view, constitute a moral failing of the highest order on all of our parts."

Children in the short lived program are more advanced in reading than their public school peers by an average of 3 months, according to the Department of Education. Yet this program is being cut. Who could possibly be against a program that increases student achievement? It could only be a teacher's union.

"The National Education Association strongly opposes any extension of the District of Columbia private school voucher ('DC Opportunity Scholarship') program," Van Roekel wrote in a March 5, 2009 letter. "We expect that Members of Congress who support public education, and whom we have supported, will stand firm against any proposal to extend the pilot program. Actions associated with these issues WILL be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 111th Congress."

The Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics recently released data showing that the NEA topped the chart as the number one national donor during the 2007-08 election cycle, shelling out $57.6 million in combined federal and state contributions. The American Federation of Teachers was number 25, with more than $13 million in contributions.

Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency put this in perspective, writing that the NEA's and AFT's 2007-08 contributions meant that "America's two teachers' unions outspent AT&T, Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, General Electric, Chevron, Pfizer, Morgan Stanley, Lockheed Martin, FedEx, Boeing, Merrill Lynch, Exxon Mobil, Lehman Brothers, and the Walt Disney Corporation, combined."

Vouchers are the best things going in public education, yet the teachers unions oppose them. Sorry kids, we failed you.

[thanks Pat]

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Comcast Buys NBC from GE

The future of television content distribution is happening inside Comcast. They know that owning the content they broadcast is good business, as it cuts out several layers between production and broadcast. That's why they bought a struggling NBC.

In a joint statement announcing the agreement, Brian L. Roberts, the chief executive of Comcast, said the deal was “a perfect fit for Comcast and will allow us to become a leader in the development and distribution of multiplatform ‘anytime, anywhere’ media that American consumers are demanding.” The deal’s genesis lies in frequent flirtations over the last several years between Comcast and General Electric, although serious talks began in March. For Comcast, the purchase is the realization of its long-held ambition to be a major producer of television shows and movies.

Key words: anytime, anywhere. This is the future of television, where having TV means being to watch a show anytime, and anywhere, and this acquisition brings us one step closer.

This announcement comes in the wake of Comcast's recent PR problems, where they have been repudiated for data caps and prejudicial traffic shaping.

We shall see if the Net Neutrality proponents' doomsday scenario comes true, and Comcast begins slowing competitor traffic to boost the ratings for NBC. Something tells me they're smarter than than to attempt maneuver like that, as the public eye is squarely focused on their ethics, as well as their network.

Peace in the Middle East

More violence in Baghdad, a big one this time. In an effort to lighten the mood, a joke:

In Jerusalem, a CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Wailing Wall to pray, twice a day, everyday, for a long, long time. So she went to check it out. She went to the Wailing Wall and there he was!

She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, she approached him for an interview.

"I'm Rebecca Smith from CNN. Sir, how long have you been coming to the Wall and praying?"

"For about 60 years."

"60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"

"I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims. I pray for all the hatred to stop and I pray for all our children to grow up in safety and friendship."

"How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"

"Like I'm talking to a fuckin' wall."

[Thanks Glas]

The Buck Stops Here

I'm done beating around the bush. The reason health care is so expensive is because of our government subsidized employer based insurance. This is the root of the problem and must be attacked if we wish to see any real change.

Some history first: during WWII, wages across America were frozen, forcing businesses to get creative in luring the best talent. Many opted to offer health care insurance in lieu of a higher salary, and people for the most part liked it. Soon, a great number of people were insured through their job, and the government, seeing the people cared for, cemented the system into our society with a tax exemption on insurance premiums for those who got insurance through their job.

This system worked for a while, and many Americans were able to get health care when they needed it. However, the problems of such a system soon became apparent.

Due to a lack of incentive to find a less expensive doctor (hey, insurance is paying the bill so who cares?), price inflation in the health sector exploded. Now, costs are prohibitive to anyone who doesn't have insurance. So uninsured should just buy insurance, right?

Strangely, the government tax exemption applies only to insurance through an employer, not individual policies. So those people who don't get insurance through work are at an immediate disadvantage.

Further, the employer based system has segmented the market and created small, disconnected risk pools that exclude individual policy holders. This means individual policy holders, in addition to paying taxes on their premiums, must also pay a higher premium from the beginning.

The problem only goes deeper from there. Our current insurance model is severely disjointed; insurers may only compete in one state, and in many cases, this has created state monopolies. In NC, for instance, Blue Cross/Blue Shield owns 73% of the health insurance market. Insurers like BC/BS can use their monopoly position to squeeze hospitals for lower prices. Hospitals then pass this cost to the smaller insurers, hurting their ability to compete. Hospitals also pass the cost to the uninsured, making already expensive care even more unaffordable.

Liberals will often tell you that to bring costs down we must give people preventative care, that we can stave off expensive procedures with preventative measures. While partly true, this only treats a symptom of a very sick system where costs are still out of control

Don't get me wrong, preventative care is important, but the best preventative care anyone can do is to get exercise and not smoke. If we allow the market to work (and it does work, just look at the rapid decrease in prices of procedures not covered by insurance), then going to the doctor and getting medicine when you're sick will be cheap for everyone, or better yet, you can get a checkup before you get sick.

We cannot continue this game of "pass the buck" forever. Middle class Americans pass the buck to insurance companies who pass it to health care providers who pass it to small insurers, or to uninsured Americans. And now Americans, via the government, are trying to pass it to wealthier Americans through higher taxes. But we all know what happens when you try to pass the buck to the rich and powerful: they pass it right back to you and me.

So how about we stop thinking about ways to bandaid our horribly broken system and instead reform it from the beginning, where it all started: employer based insurance.

After that, we need only allow nation wide competition, you know, what we have for virtually every other business, and it seems to be working.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Public Enemy Number One: The Federal Reserve

If we were in 1792, we would be calling for Ben Bernanke's head.

Ben S. Bernanke doesn't know how lucky he is. Tongue-lashings from Bernie Sanders, the populist senator from Vermont, are one thing. The hangman's noose is another. Section 19 of this country's founding monetary legislation, the Coinage Act of 1792, prescribed the death penalty for any official who fraudulently debased the people's money.

The article goes pretty deep into the history and machinations of our monetary system.

It's time to audit the Fed. Why is this even up for discussion? It is Congress's duty to coin money, but that job has been passed to the Fed, and our money supply is essentially controlled by a presidential appointment and his banker cronies.

Even Woodrow Wilson, who signed the 1913 Federal Reserve Act into law, later regretted his decision:

I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.

The real tragedy is that so many Cassandras have tried to warn us, but have been ignored. Now we're paying the price for the hubris of 1913.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Congress Rips Bernanke a New One

Ben Bernanke, Fed Chief, is up for confirmation again. Most believe he will be reconfirmed, but members of Congress are taking this opportunity to verbally tear him apart before they give him a pass.

Members of the Senate Banking Committee signaled at a hearing that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is likely to be confirmed for a second term as head of the central bank. But that may come at a steep cost -- lawmakers said the Fed had "failed" or done a "horrible job" as a regulator and suggested they would push ahead with a proposal that would strip much of its regulatory authority.


Mr. Dodd's Republican counterpart, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, said he has traditionally held the Fed in "very high regard" but that the central bank's actions over the last year has eroded his view.

"I fear now, however, that our trust and confidence were misplaced," Mr. Shelby said.


"You are the definition of a moral hazard," said Sen. Jim Bunning (R, Ky.), a long-time Fed critic. "I will do everything I can to stop your nomination and drag out this process as long as I can."

Under Bernanke's watch we have not only seen the collapse of our entire banking and financial markets, taking us to the brink of full economic depression, but we have also seen the coffers of America pillaged to save greedy bankers from their own mistakes. And he is likely to keep his job.

I'm wondering exactly what it takes to get fired over at the Fed.

Men, the Gender Wars Are Over — We Won

Confidential Memo

To: All Men

Re: Operation “Feminist Movement”

Men, our long twilight struggle with the opposite sex is over. Our victory is total.

Can you believe the way things used to be? Remember when our fathers and grandfathers would drag themselves to mind-numbing jobs every day, having the sole responsibility for the feeding, clothing, and housing of their entire family?

And things were no easier before marriage, when men’s quest for sexual satisfaction was all too often hampered by the widespread moral code which taught women not to give out the “milk” for “free.”

Well, that state of affairs just wouldn’t do. So we men came together and did what we do best — formulate and implement a plan. First step, design the perfect world, the perfect male world. We decided such a world would consist of two things: less responsibility and more — and no-strings — sex.

Brothers, have we succeeded.

Rove Supports Obama

Karl Rove writes in support of Obama's Afghanistan surge. In other news, a freak blizzard in hell has caused numerous delays and power outages.

President Barack Obama's speech on Tuesday night deserves to be cheered. Over the objections of his vice president and despite opposition from his political base, the president is sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to fight terrorists.


Only a failure of presidential nerve or an unwillingness to make further midcourse corrections as the need arises will keep Mr. Obama from achieving the goals he has spelled out.

Victory can still be won. It won't be quick and it won't be easy, and it will take active leadership from Mr. Obama. But it is now within his grasp.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Not to Belabor the Point...

But this Senate Health bill is just godawful.

CBO found that premiums in the individual market will rise by 10% to 13% more than if Congress did nothing. Family policies under the status quo are projected to cost $13,100 on average, but under ObamaCare will jump to $15,200.


So the bill will increase costs but it will then disguise those costs by transferring them to taxpayers from individuals. Higher costs can be conjured away because they're suddenly on the government balance sheet. The Reid bill's $371.9 billion in new health taxes are also apparently not a new cost because they can be passed along to consumers, or perhaps will be hidden in lost wages.


Moreover, CBO is almost certainly underestimating the cost increases. Based on its county-by-county actuarial data, the insurer WellPoint has calculated that Mr. Baucus's bill would cause some premiums to triple in the individual market. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association came to similar conclusions.

One reason is community rating, which forces insurers to charge nearly uniform rates regardless of customer health status or habits


In a 2008 paper in the peer-reviewed Forum for Health Economics and Policy, [economists] found that state community rating laws raise premiums in the individual market by 20.9% to 33.1% for families and 10.2% to 17.1% for singles. In New Jersey, which also requires insurers to accept all comers (so-called guaranteed issue), premiums increased by as much as 227%.

If only we could come up with a real plan that actually reduces costs!

According to CBO, the relatively modest House GOP bill would actually reduce premiums by 5% to 8% in the individual market in 2016, and by 7% to 10% for small businesses. The GOP reforms would also do so without imposing huge new taxes.


How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect?

-Milton Friedman

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.

-Likely more than one author

Not To Mince Words

But a government takeover of health care will make health care worse. A recent survey of cardiologists and cardiovascular ultrasound technicians found that if Medicare payments are cut to pay for the Health Care Bill, 87 percent may stop accepting Medicare patients, reduce staff or shut down their practices completely.

The survey showed that for the echocardiography service providers affected most directly by the PFS payment cuts, the actions currently being considered most often are:

  • 64% would delay the purchase of echo equipment;
  • 56% would lay off sonographers or other staff;
  • 53% would reduce staff salaries;
  • 47% might reduce staff benefits, such as 401K programs or healthcare;
  • 23% would refrain from accepting Medicare patients for any services;
  • 19% are considering closing a satellite office(s) or have already closed a satellite office(s); 60% of these are located in rural areas.

For those echocardiography service providers who will be indirectly affected by the payment cuts (those who receive payment through the Hospital Outpatient Payment System), the survey showed anticipated outcomes would include:

  • Increased workload (74%)
  • Longer wait times for patients (67%)
  • Lengthened turnaround time for reports (44%)
  • Increased overtime for staff or the need to hire additional cardiac sonographers (43%)

Echocardiography is but one of the countless components of our health care system that will be negatively impacted by the current health care legislation up for debate.

Billboard Fail

The live Twitter feed on the billboard seemed like such a good idea. The general manager and news director of WPMI, the NBC affiliate, have been suspended.

The Best Laid Plans

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes even in a tropical paradise:

The island of Kiribati began to subsidize coconut harvesting in the hopes of encouraging fishermen to switch to the coconut trade and thereby help preserve Kiribati’s reefs from the ravages of overfishing. But as NPR reports, the plan backfired: with more money coming in, coconut harvesters worked fewer hours, which left more time for their favorite leisure activities — including fishing, which increased 33 percent since the start of the program. Says one researcher who studied the unintended consequences of the subsidies: “It hit us like a bumper sticker saying — a bad day fishing is better than a good day working.”

Fishermen 1, Government 0, Tax Payers lose