Despair, grace, new rockets, problem for Einsteinians, and other matters of interest


Mail 756 Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year.


Still more ‘fun’ with deciphering the ACA


I trust you and yours have been enjoying the most delightful of holiday seasons (or more politically incorrectly: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!)

I am a disabled Vietnam Vet and, as such, am eligible for medical coverage from both the Veteran’s Administration and from Medicare. I presumed that these coverages would insolate me from the requirements of the Individual Mandate of the ACA.

I noticed however, that there was never a direct statement that Medicare and VA Medical coverage made one immune to the requirements of Obamacare. From what I was able to discern, it is clear that neither of these government programs cover ALL of the 10 areas required as "essential health benefits" under Obamacare. I became concerned and attempted to find an official statement on this subject.

When I failed to find such a statement….lord knows it may well be hidden within the thousands of pages of the ACA….I decided to go to the source and called the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). I waded through their phone tree and eventually was placed on hold in queue waiting for a real live person. Eventually I got to speak with a real live person….but was unable to make them understand my question (disappointing!)

My next attempt was to call the office of US Senator Charles Schumer (known locally as "the Hon. Chucky Cheese Schumer". In spite of many attempts to both his D.C. office and to his local offices, I was never able to reach any of his staff nor even voice mail. Eventually, I sent email expressing my concerns. I have now been waiting a month for a response.

Next I attempted to contact my US Representative, Mr. Peter King. I succeeded in reaching one of his local staff to sent me to the voice mail of the DC staffer responsible for health care. Astonishingly, she called me back within the hour! She assured me that I WAS acceptably covered by Medicare and the VA. When I requested that she send me a clear statement of that coverage on the Representatives letter head, she said she would have to do some research but would get back to me shortly.

The following week I received a letter from Mr. King’s office which reiterated the fact I was covered. The relevant paragraph, however, reads a bit like it was taken from a draft of Through the Looking Glass!

It is a long paragraph so I will extract the relevant text:

"The Affordable Care Act requires that…policies….and plans cover a comprehensive package of 10 categories of items and services known as ‘essential health benefits.’ You expressed concern that certain government-sponsored programs…do not cover services in all ten specified catagories. This is correct; <emphasis added>…However, I can assure you that beneficiaries of these…plans will still meet the ‘minimum essential coverage’ requirement."

Hmmmm, sez I, plans that both do not meet the requirements and "…still meet the…requirement." and all at the same time! Mebbe the Red Queen can make sense of that, but not me!

Quite unsurprisingly, my follow-up request for clarification has gone unanswered!

I rather expect to have find the funds to purchase insurance from one of the ‘exchanges’!

Despair may be a sin, but are not all men sinners?

Warm and Holiday Regards,

Larry Cunningham

Welcome to the brave new world. Despair is a sin, but anyone can ask for grace.



Is this a surprise?


Clemson University student Nathan Weaver just wanted to put together a project to help figure out the best way to assist turtles in crossing the road. But he also ended up with a peek into the dark souls of some human beings. Weaver put realistic-looking rubber turtles, no bigger than a saucer, in the middle of a lane on a busy road near campus. Then he got out of the way and watched as over the next hour, seven drivers intentionally ran over the turtle, and several more appeared to try to hit the defenseless animal, but missed.


If the penalties weren’t so stiff, I’ll bet people would run over other people rather than slow down..


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

Not really. Of course I am from an older tradition, which accepted that mankind is in a fallen state and requires both effort and grace. Obligations are not a popular topic for thought and attention now.


I’ve got a little list

Dear Jerry,

To the list of folks to fire (like "bunny inspectors") I propose we add "undercover kitty photographers".


Calvin Dodge

Cutting government

Hello Jerry,

Maybe we should be careful what we wish for:

Bob Ludwick

A guy stopped at a local gas station & after filling his tank, he paid the bill and bought a soft drink. He stood by his car to drink his cola and watched a couple of men working along the roadside. One man would dig a hole two or three feet deep and then move on. The other man came along behind him and filled in the hole. While one was digging a new hole, the other was 25 feet behind filling in the hole. The men worked right past the guy with the soft drink and went on down the road.

"I can’t stand this," said the man tossing the can into a trash container and heading down the road toward the men. "Hold it, hold it," he said to the men. "Can you tell me what’s going on here with all this digging and refilling?"

"Well, we work for the government and we’re just doing our job," one of the men said.

"But one of you is digging a hole and the other fills it up. You’re not accomplishing anything. Aren’t you wasting the taxpayers’ money?"

"You don’t understand, mister," one of the men said, leaning on his shovel and wiping his brow. "Normally there’s three of us: Me, Elmer and Leroy. I dig the hole, Elmer sticks in the tree, and Leroy here puts the dirt back. Elmer’s job has been cut… so now it’s just me an’ Leroy. We’re saving the taxpayers money because now there’s only two people doing the job of three.”

Efficiency is important.

‘The Alabama prison system’s policy of segregating HIV-positive prisoners from other inmates violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. District Court Judge Myron Thompson ruled this morning.’


Roland Dobbins

Clearly we have too many people working the judicial system.


Bill Whittle doffs his suit and gets down to work spending an hour with a speech that sort of grew on him as he went on with it.

Bill Whittle "Where do we go now?"

He explores options, even some ugly ones. He does not want to "Never Surrender" because it’s a slogan. He spends time to show WHY this is not a case to surrender even though times for surrender do exist, as General Lee understood at the end of the Civil War.

He explores the problem Romney had selling himself when he clearly had let the left set his definitions for him.

He explores the likely future starting with an explanation for why our revolution and the resulting Constitution reflected societal reality of the time. He explains that, yes, big monolithic government is the model for the industrial age with its big monolithic industries. The model for government follows, with a lag, the model for society as a whole.

Society has changed. It’s no longer monolithic when Fred can sit down to dinner, have an idea, pick up his smart phone, order 50,000 widgets from wherever, and resume eating all in the comfort of the new "Be Our Guest" restaurant/experience at Disney World. (Recommended for this who can make it there.)

The form of government will have to change to adapt to this ultimate decentralization. But it will take time. We’re now a minority. The last election proved that. We must do what minorities have always done in the past, look out for your own. Italians hired Italians.

Jews hired Jews. And so forth.

The video is long. It’s not fine tuned as most of his videos are. It is, I feel, worth the hour I spent watching it and the time I have spent since then thinking about it.

I am not sure he’s entirely correct. There are aspects of the Information Age he has not well considered. (One such is the utter lack of personal privacy that will exist shortly. The only privacy will be in being lost in the multitudes.) These may make his vision not work and the future different from what he’s expecting. BUT, the huge monolithic government model is, as he asserts, already DOA.

{^_^} Joanne

But smart people are not allowed to hire only smart people. What we need is equality. You must hire two incompetents for each competent, and you must pay them all the same. That is called fairness. Then you pay more taxes than those who hire no one. That is called your fair share.


China’s Buying of U.S. Securities

As I may have mentioned, I’m studying for a couple FINRA exams.  During the course of my study, a thought occurred to me.  U.S. government securities are traded on the faith and credit of the United States government, which takes real power from the U.S. government’s ability to tax. 

Why would China buy U.S. securities in such great amounts?  Would it be to put pressure on government to raise taxes; thereby, reducing revenues and productivity as we experienced, historically?  I believe JFK lowered tax rates and found that revenue viz collected taxes and productivity both increased.  Certainly, economic policies in the United States proved this point again and again. 

If China continues to buy U.S. government securities based on the pressures created then China plays a shrewd game.  The hypothesis makes sense, in some sense.  It also, poetically, reminds me of the Opium Wars.  We get them addicted to opium and now they get us addicted to debt…  The more I think about it, the more I think I might be on to something. 


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

An interesting interpretation. Of course the US can simply devalue the currency for paying debts abroad, while allowing inflation as a means of taxing those foolish enough to save money.


Hm, nice idea that. But somebody’s already doing it less well,


Here is a piece on “the increasing difficulty of actually deploying a new invention or innovation:”

The title is “Hm, nice idea that. But somebody’s already doing it less well,” and it is a discourse on why when we have innovation we are seeing a slowing of economic growth around the world. He explores the hypothesis that the answer lies in “the increasing difficulty of actually deploying a new invention or innovation.”


Or “Better is the enemy of good enough”, and maybe even of not quite good enough.


Be Careful Of That For Which You Wish

"Of course what most people want is another law. Once guns are banned, I presume we will have to worry about regulating hatchets and machetes."

Brits have been calling for a ban on pointed kitchen knives for years:

They’re hell-bent on turning the U.K. into the world’s largest group home for the developmentally disabled.

There is no shortage of people here with the same goal.

Chris Morton

Rocky River, Ohio

And when we disarmed they sold us,

And delivered us bound to our foes…


SUBJ: TSA: They Steal Anything

Now who would ever have suspected that?


"Although we cannot rule out the possibility that our results are driven by misreporting, our results imply that over the very short run, the death rate may be highly elastic with respect to the inheritance tax rate."


Roland Dobbins

For some reason, revenues are almost always lower than those who want to raise taxes to get more money predict they will be. One might think this a complicated affair given that legislatures never seem to know it.


Life in the ‘world’s largest democracy’.


Roland Dobbins

The framers never thought that democracy was a desirable form of government. We seem to be expierimenting with it now.


“We should be upset. This is a terrible blow to general relativity.”

“In the absence of data, theorists thrive on paradox.”


Roland Dobbins


Better Than Human


This guy is looking ahead to robots replacing most people’s jobs:

“To train the bot you simply grab its arms and guide them in the correct motions and sequence. It’s a kind of “watch me do this” routine.” Sound like the robots Robert predicted in Door Into Summer, long ago.

If the main prediction is correct, then shall we end up like the people in Fred Pohl’s “The Midas Plague?”


There are two aspects to economics, production and distribution. Distribution through sheer entitlement has plenty of problems, but if production is simple and efficient — of course so far it never is. But it’s a lot easier to distribute a big pie than a small one.


‘Global warming’ strikes again.


Roland Dobbins

I believe that despite the warnings about how hot it was, the actual temperature in 2012 was about the same as the previous year, and the long flat to cooling trend continues. Probably not for all that long. But the models won’t tell us. Russell Seitz points out that we are getting more reliable data as time goes by.


SpaceX’s reusable rocket lifts cowboy into the air and lands back on its feet,


Private industry in the guise of SpaceX has reinvented the reusable rocket hopper:

I liked your DC-X better, though. This one looks awfully tippy.


Dr Pournelle

DCX reborn. <>

Merry Christmas.

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith


Nine Carriers at Norfolk


Nine Carriers are at Norfolk. All I can say is wow!


Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE




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