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Comment Kill Political Discourse, Undermine Democracy (Score 1) 276 276

This makes a lot of sense. Think of a site like Politico. You would think the country is filled with people who think that either Obama is a Muslim communist, or that George W was a warmongering moron trying to bring about the second coming. Most discussion boards end up devolving into a giant troll pit almost immediately. No matter what the topic, the Fox News and John Stewart crowds go for each others' jugulars, very often with no context to the article they are "commenting" upon.

One of the promises of the Internet was that it could be a town hall, a place where people from a broad swath of geographies and backgrounds could hold discourse in a public forum. Clearly, it hasn't worked out as well as it should have. We have a bunch of morons who aren't looking to debate, but to diatribe. A little nudge here, a little nudge there, and a clever trolling operative could make sure that any serious venue for political discourse quickly descends into rubbish. Troll-fed apathy develops, informed democratic involvement nosedives, which contributes to grid-locked government and a country in decline.

Are all, or even most, of the USA's problems because of foreign trolls? Of course not (plenty of home-grown corruption, poor education, etc.). Nonetheless, it seems like a cost-effective way to undermine democracy, taking advantage of free speech to encourage peoples' worse tendencies.

Comment The Business Model is a Big Problem (Score 5, Interesting) 532 532

The complexity of medical bills is only part of the story. Hospitals and surgical centers pretty much have to do this based upon the way insurance companies and Medicare allow or disallow coverage in a very granular manner. Just as big of a problem, at least from my experience over the last few months of having to get my wife through three surgeries, is that what you see on your initial bill you get can be very different than you actually owe, especially from surgery centers. And everybody bills separately -- the facility, the doctors and anesthesiologists, radiologists, pathology labs, etc. all send separate bills at different times.

Calls about details often went to outsourced billing providers, who immediately send you an invoice so they can begin collections. Numerous times this happened before the insurance company fully reviewed and paid on the bill. And even afterward, there were a few instances where the bill I received was hundreds of dollars more than what was submitted to the insurance company. Most of these billing providers have websites that you can use to pay a bill, but they are little more than credit merchant portals, they are not a view for billing details or any submitted payment. Any communication of documents with these billing providers often times had to happen via FAX because they did not have a secure mechanism to send information back and forth. It's like being trapped in the '80's.

This could all be much simpler.

  • For a surgery, everybody involved should bill the hospital or surgical center, and then the hospital should send me a single bill. When I get a car serviced, I don't get a bill from the car shop, the parts manufacturer and any mechanic that touched my car.
  • Any bill should not be sent to me until fully reviewed from the insurance company
  • When getting ten+ unreviewed bills for a single surgery, all of which demand payment pretty much immediately, I am not going rush to run up my credit cards. I am pretty sure hospitals do not pay their suppliers on a COD or Net 14 basis, I can't either. Give me at least thirty days to set up financing, extract retirement money, sell a kidney, whatever, to pay for $50 ibuprofen.

None of these changes involve socialism, single-payer, etc. However, the complexity of our billing, and the administrative costs associated with it, compared to other industrial countries, leads ammo to those that want to get rid of the kludge that is "Obamacare" (which really was "Baucascare") and just go to single-payer.

Comment Re:Depressing Shill (Score 2) 553 553

Totally agree. For better or for worse, the horrible business model you describe was not uncommon for Bain. I'm not saying Bain was not a company based upon evil, it is just that Romney happened to be good at it. In contrast, during Fiorina tenure at HP, about her only success was to maintain her own brand.

Comment Depressing Shill (Score 4, Interesting) 553 553

She was a regular on Meet the Press for a while, and she could always be counted on to parrot whatever talking points the American Enterprise Institute was distributing at the time. She always came across as an opportunist, trying to build her brand, with nary a thought of her own construction.

People criticized Romney because he ran on his business record, and that record included the elimination of many American job. In fairness to Romney, though, his job at Bain was to save companies, not jobs, and in this he was successful. In Fiorina's case, she presided over a disastrous merger of Compaq, basically destroying that brand, as well as seriously damaging HP's; and in the process, opened the door for lesser players, like Dell, to successfully infiltrate the enterprise. Her utter failure as a business leader, coupled with a near lack of independent political philosophy, are easy pickings for her primary competitors. If she somehow does make it to a VP candidate, she will serve only to galvanize the liberal voting base to organize against a failed corporate wolf in false feminist sheep's clothing.

Comment Replacing Language? How about UOMs in US? (Score 1) 626 626

We are unable to convince citizens in the USA to convert from imperial to metric measurements, despite the numerous benefits including easier conversion, scalability, etc. If you cannot convince a populace that it's easier to divide by 10 than 12, then there is little hope you can convince them to switch languages so they can avoid using irregular verbs.

Comment Re:So when's the first scrum? (Score 1) 140 140

Yeah, that was my first thought, followed by involuntary cringing. It's sad how something that was supposed to bring hope to developers buckling under the yoke of waterfall development has instead become associated with every unreasonable request made by every airline-magazine reading executive.

Comment "Science" is often wrong, and that's ok (Score 1) 320 320

one could claim that science is by nature self-correcting

That is rather the point, isn't it? Take gravity, for example. From Galileo's models of uniform acceleration, to Newton's Universal Gravitation, to Einstein's Relativity theories, etc. each of these guys knew that their models for gravity were incomplete. Yet, each of them served as increasingly accurate tools to observe the universe and make predictions about its behavior. Someday, somebody will figure out how to make a model that ties gravity out between quantum and classical mechanics, which will be more accurate still, but almost certainly will not be absolutely complete.

When you say "science" do you mean the Scientific Method? The scientific method remains one of the most reliable methods for verifying truth. Intelligent design, astrology and alchemy may have adherents that consider them "science" but that doesn't mean they are. Science is the Scientific Method. Period. Full Stop.

You brought up the example of cholesterol. Based upon the science of the time, an increase of LDL cholesterol corresponded with an increased risk of heart problems. That is still true. They simply said "eat less of this bad stuff" which seems intuitive. If science research mirrored religion, that would be the end of it, and maybe the rest of western civilization would have followed the Jewish and Islamic faiths into the abyss of bacon deprivation. Thankfully, that is not the end of the story, scientific work continued (yes, that science) and now we know that dietary consumption of cholesterol is not the primary contributor to LDL levels. Will there be another study that shows that eating certain foods, perhaps in combination, do, in fact, contribute to high LDL levels? It wouldn't surprise or distress me if there was. I would not want to wait until there could be absolute certainty that eating mayonnaise in combination with french fries somehow appeared to skyrocket LDL levels. I would like to know soon enough that I can do something about it, even if that information gets refined later on.

You could make an argument that there is a "scientific community" that is increasingly accommodating shoddy science. But that isn't a failure of science, any more than a nut job driving a car bomb screaming "Allahu Akbar" is a failure of religion.

Comment Re:The allergy may not be to the peanuts themselve (Score 2) 243 243

My parents found out I was allergic to peanuts when I was a little over one year old, I had some peanuts and I almost croaked (anaphylaxis). I'm still allergic to them today; eating anything with peanuts means an epi-pen, a few Benadryl and a trip to the emergency room for high-octane versions of the same.

I lived over in the Philippines for a few years and came into some contact with peanuts there. The interesting thing is that my reactions were nowhere near as severe as they are at home in the US, almost to the point where I believed I could have shaken them off without a trip to the emergency room (still went though). It may have been my imagination, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was something with the nuts themselves.

Anecdotally, I heard from people there that Australians and Americans were the people they countered most with peanut allergies.

Comment Ban censorship, except the stuff that offends me (Score 3, Interesting) 228 228

This idea that all speech must be viewed by all people is a little odd. When I go onto Facebook once in a blue boon to check on friends I used to work with in the Philippines, I am not bombarded by explicit sexual content. No, nobody in my group of friends are going to post about a rimjob, but given the random crap that does come up, I'm pretty sure there is a lot of energy at Facebook to keep the pr0n noise down.

There are Muslims who consider pictures of their prophet as offensive as a picture of bukkake. The vast majority of them are not crazy Islamists that like to blow things up and slaughter innocent people (which is good for the rest of us non-Muslims). Rather than centralized, blanket, censorship, though, I'd rather see something like this...

1. Facebook and other social networking services put their resources into tagging content (religiously offensive, sexually explicit, drug use and other types of content that users often find unpleasant)

When a user registers for these services, a default list of tagged content to block is set up, based upon their region, gender, religious affiliation, etc. which the user can modify

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