Contrasting attitudes

Decades ago, I was the only non-pot-smoker machinist on the crew of a high-precision machine shop that made aerospace parts, including pieces for the new project that would become the Space Shuttle. When I was moved to the big Brown and Sharpe vertical mill, I encountered a cartoon taped inside the lid of the day shift man’s tool box. It depicted two policemen on the beat, with one speaking: “I tried marijuana once. It made me want to rape and kill.”

I was wryly amused at the time, because I knew from the evidence of the smokers around me that it did not make people want to measure and cut accurate jet engine components. The cartoon, illustrated, however, that a person’s basic tendencies are brought into their future experiences.  I was reminded of this recently, seeing two articles from people about their experience carrying a handgun.  One of them, published in New Yorker Magazine, showed a man clearly frightened and more than a little intoxicated by the gun he was given. Some excerpts: Continue reading

Bad health Condition: Obamacare

I just saw an article reminding me that Obamacare authorizes a surcharge / penalty for up to 50% of the insurance premium for smokers.  When companies began doing this in 2011, the New York Times was unhappy: They rolled out an attack focusing on Walmart.  They were aghast, calling it “a shift toward penalizing employees with unhealthy lifestyles rather than rewarding good habits”:

When Wal-Mart Stores, the nation’s largest employer, recently sought the higher payments from some smokers, its decision was considered unusual, according to benefits experts. The amount, reaching $2,000 more than for nonsmokers, was much higher than surcharges of a few hundred dollars a year imposed by other employers on their smoking workers.

And the only way for Wal-Mart employees to avoid the surcharges was to attest that their doctor said it would be medically inadvisable or impossible to quit smoking. Other employers accept enrollment in tobacco cessation programs as an automatic waiver for surcharges.

“This is another example of where it’s not trying to create healthier options for people,” said Dan Schlademan, director of Making Change at Walmart, a union-backed campaign that is sharply critical of the company’s benefits. “It looks a lot more like cost-shifting.”

Yes, evil Walmart.  But when this article was written, Obamacare had already passed, and was already much worse: As of January, a 60-year-old smoker will be paying more than $5,000 per year more than a non-smoker.  This is, according to the Obama administration, because smokers cost so much more in medical interventions.

That struck me as odd, because I do medical cost research on a regular basis. That question is not at all “settled science,” and it took only seconds to turn up this research:

Lifetime Medical Costs of Obesity: Prevention No Cure for Increasing Health Expenditure

In sensitivity analyses the effects of epidemiologic parameters and cost definitions were assessed. Until age 56 y, annual health expenditure was highest for obese people. At older ages, smokers incurred higher costs.Because of differences in life expectancy, however, lifetime health expenditure was highest among healthy-living people and lowest for smokers. Obese individuals held an intermediate position. Alternative values of epidemiologic parameters and cost definitions did not alter these conclusions.

In other words, non-smoking, non-obese “healthy living” people had the highest medical care costs, because they lived longer. Obese people were less expensive, and smokers were the least costly in health care expenditures.

This was based on data from the Netherlands, but the general principles have applicability here.

But at least the Obama administration gets to apply a regressive health care tax on poor people — the ones most likely to be smokers and/or obese. This is the same sort of “regressive tax” punishment that the Obama-inflicted high energy costs do to poor people. The fact that assertions are made based upon poor science, or completely contrary to research, is hardly surprising from this administration. Here’s an encapsulation of their approach to behavior modification:

National obesity rates are essentially static, and public health campaigns that gently try to educate people about the benefits of exercise and healthy eating just aren’t working, Callahan argued. We need to get obese people to change their behavior. If they are angry or hurt by it, so be it, he said.

Notice that they would never take this approach with welfare — which has placed tens of millions of people in generations of poverty and crime.  It is sad — and it is expensive. When will the New York Times rage against the administration for yet another attack on the poor?

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

Assault Weapons Ban

Scary Weapons

What, exactly, does the Left mean by “assault weapons”?  Evidence is abundant that this expression means to them “anything that could hurt someone” (i.e., anything capable of self defense).

Senator Feinstein’s bill clearly denotes a raft of guns to be banned based upon their scary appearance, furthering the silly notion that a bullet fired from a black gun is inherently different from a bullet fired from a brown one. Or that a bullet fired from a rifle with a pistol grip will do something different from the same bullet coming from a gun with no such grip.  Stupid, isn’t it?  (Especially since they admit that it won’t likely help.)

It is just military style that seems to bother them.  “Who needs military weapons?”  she says.  Of course, a gun styled to look like one made for the military, painted black or camouflage, is still s civilian weapon, and is not of course an “automatic” weapon or machine gun. It’s just emotions.  But… Continue reading


Soft storage

This article caught my attention, and combines my interests in bioscience, computer science,  and Shakespeare:

London, January 24 (ANI): Researchers have downloaded all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets on to synthetic DNA in a breakthrough that could lead to major advances in computer storage.

Scientists were then able to decode the information and reproduce the words of the Bard with complete accuracy.

The same technique made it possible to store a 26 second excerpt from Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech and a photo of the Cambridgeshire laboratory where the work took place.

Researchers were also able to turn a copy of Watson and Crick’s paper describing the nature of DNA into genetic code.

This opens up possibilities for non-powered storage of extremely high density — “Library of Congress in a teaspoon”-type density.

Now, how small can the reading/writing apparatus be?  This sounds like a job for nanoengineering, and of course it has already been that.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

Sandy Hacks

I’m not one for conspiracy theories. I’m not much fun for those folks sending around the latest breathless email with “did you know that …?” nonsense. Most of it, at least, is nonsense, and I enjoy hunting down the answers when time permits. But this business of the CNN footage of Sandy Hook is odd, and I must grant that the conspiracists have a point. (DigitalJournal seems to be the original source for this info. Now that I’ve seen the DigitalJournal piece, I recognize that I’m simply confirming their story.)

Incidentally, this is my first experiment with Facebook and Twitter integration. Let’s see how it works, at least on the DeHavelle site.

Continue reading

CNN Uncertain about Terrorists

CNN just announced, 10 minutes ago as I write this, that the hostage crisis at the BP refinery in Algeria is over.

I was struck by their odd language:

At least 23 hostages and 32 “terrorists” were killed around the sprawling facility in eastern Algeria’s desert, Algerian state news said Saturday, citing the military. Some 685 Algerian workers and 107 foreigners have been freed, those reports said. It is not clear how many people, if any, are still unaccounted for.

CNN apparently is uncertain whether the murderous jihadists who attacked and killed so many at the plant are really terrorists.  Perhaps, in the collective mind of CNN’s editorial staff, they were simply protecting the Earth against this fossil fuel operation.  Media sympathies for eco0terrorism go back a long time, and I’ve written of them before, including CNN’s own Sanchez.  And academics like eco-terrorists, too. From a cover of Nature magazine:

Unwise Branding: Equating animal-rights activism with terrorism increases the penalties for offenders and will please many of their victims. But it is not in the interests of science.

In this case CNN actually quotes in the article others, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron, describing the jihadists as terrorists.  And they’ve already claimed to be part of a movement that just splintered off of an al Qaida group.  Still CNN is unsure…

But their minds are made up about the violent, radical Tea Party.  A curious dichotomy.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

Algerian Hostage Crisis

This isn’t being talked about much.  When it first occurred (Wednesday), the crisis was described as Islamists having “failed” in their attempt to commandeer two buses, and that some twenty people were held hostage including some Americans.

That should have gotten some action from President Obama and emergency task groups formed.  Perhaps it did, though he was seen golfing that day. But the situation is graver — and larger — than first talked about. Continue reading

Resource Officers

Two tidbits relating to the arms rights attacks by the Left:

  1. Wayne Pierre of the NRA suggested that schools should have arms guards, a notion that was instantly vilified and ridiculed by the Left.
  2. Obama adopts the NRA proposal for increased armed guards in schools, in a speech which was portrayed as “one of his greatest” by the same Left.

The language of double standards

Those two aspects seem a bit dissonant, but aren’t in their minds. It is a simple application of double standard. Obama, to make it less obvious that he was adopting the NRA guards proposal, used this language: Continue reading


Obama and the Ikhwan

“Ikhwan” is a word you will see more and more. This Arabic term “the Brothers” is the shorthand name for the Muslim Brotherhood.  I would expect that in the next few years, it may be almost as recognized as their word for conquering and killing all of us: “jihad.”

The word is certainly well known in the Obama administration.  So are other Arabic terms.  For example: Continue reading