2009-06-29

Scary Chart of the Day

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2009-06-26

Top 10 Michael Jackson Moments

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(R.I.P.)



10. We Are the World




9. Captain EO (Disney 3-D Video)

Personal note, I saw this video for the first time on a family trip to Disney at the age of 5. I'm pretty sure I spent the next few months of my life learning to moonwalk and do that leg kick thing.




8. Moonwalker (for the SEGA Genesis)




7. Don't Stop Till You Get Enough


MICHAEL JACKSON - DON'T STOP TIL YOU GET ENOUGH
Uploaded by hushhush112. - Explore more music videos.


6. Michael Jackson meets Michael Jordan (causing 10 year old Michael Ivey's head to explode)


Michael Jackson - Jam
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Bonus video - Black or White


Michael Jackson - Black Or White
Uploaded by hushhush112. - Explore more music videos.


5. Bad

Michael Jackson Bad



4. Smooth Criminal




3. The Jackson Five


The Jackson 5 - I Want You Back
Uploaded by hushhush112. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.


2. The Debut of the Moon Walk




and finally...

1. The "Thriller" Album


Michael Jackson - Thriller
Uploaded by GGG40. - Click for more funny videos.



Michael Jackson - Billie Jean
Uploaded by hushhush112. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.



Michael Jackson - Beat It
Uploaded by sofresh305. - Explore more music videos.



UPDATE I: Music is Art has a great compilation of Michael Jackson cover songs for you to enjoy.


UPDATE II: Andrew Sullivan manages to uncover a Bollywood knock-off of Thriller that must be linked to.

2009-06-22

Harvard Economist Greg Mankiw Is Not Helping

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As a tenured Harvard professor with a PhD in economics it should come as no surprise that I am willing to concede that Greg Mankiw is a much smarter man than I. And it is under that pretense that I am left befuddled at the huge whole in his argument from last week's post where he attempts to debunk the international comparison "canard" for healthcare reform. Dr. Mankiw makes his point by quoting Dr. Gary Becker as follows:

the American system has sometimes been found wanting simply because life expectancies in the United States are at best no better than those in France, Sweden, Japan, Germany, and other countries that spend considerably less on health care, both absolutely and relative to their GDPs....

[However], national differences in life expectancies are a highly imperfect indicator of the effectiveness of health delivery systems.for example, life styles are important contributors to health, and the US fares poorly on many life style indicators, such as incidence of overweight and obese men, women, and teenagers. To get around such problems, some analysts compare not life expectancies but survival rates from different diseases. The US health system tends to look pretty good on these comparisons.



He then concludes with the following statement:
The next time you hear someone cavalierly point to international comparisons in life expectancy as evidence against the U.S. healthcare system, you should be ready to explain how schlocky that argument really is.

And he does make a compelling case against international comparisons, doesn't he? Good thing that is NOT the argument for healthcare reform. Case in point:





Conclusion


Let me start by saying that with a wife whose family has a history of breast cancer I am extremely grateful to live in a country with such a high breast cancer survival rate (amongst other reasons). But then again, no one is really arguing that the US Healthcare system is ineffective. The argument is that it is grossly inefficient, leaves millions uninsured, and delivers essentially the same quality of care at roughly twice the cost of our western counterparts.

Dr. Mankiw may be right to point out that life expectancy is not the best indicator of a country's health care system, but the chart above does a pretty decent job of illustrating that we may not be getting the best deal on an international basis either. The good professor should at least be willing to concede that point.

2009-06-19

The Meaning of Success

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Something to consider over the weekend:

Success

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

--Ralph Waldo Emmerson
via No Impact Man

2009-06-17

The Public vs. The Experts

2 comments

Some interesting findings from a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report on how the public differs with the medical community regarding health care reform:

2009-06-15

Is Tehran Burning?

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(Tehranlive.org was banned by the Iranian government yesterday)

Before the Supreme Leader was for an election prope, he was against it by twice announcing his approval of the results. The Iranian government now faces the realization that the voice of the people can no longer be silenced through sheer force or the threat of violence.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." Friday's election and alleged voter fraud may have finally tipped the scales to the latter.


One Stop Shop: Iran News Coverage

1. Incredible photo-blog over at The Big Picture.

2. Great live-blog over at the Huffington Post


3. The National Iranian American Council's blog is an invaluable source straight from the streets:
2:45 pm: Basij base attacked

“Reliable news from Iran has arrived that after the death of one person by Basij, the Basij base in Azadi Sq. has been burned down and the commander in that base has been killed.” [The fire is being confirmed by an eye-witness.]
1:56 pm: New statement issued by Mousavi:

“I have submitted my request for canceling the elections to the Guardian Council.”

“I am certain recent reactions are not for me, but it is out of concern for the new political order that is being imposed on our country.”

12:48 pm: More on today’s rally from eyewitnesses we trust:

The rally was scheduled to be from 4-6 pm... By 4 pm, there were 100,000-200,000 people ready to attend the rally, and Mousavi, Karroubi, Khatami, Khatami’s brother, and Karbassji (former mayor of Tehran and affiliate of Rafsanjani) all showed up.

The armed forces did not engage the crowd and the crowd started to chant “arm forces, support support” i.e “nuroyeh entzammy: hemayat hemayat”. According to the source, there will be a rally tomorrow for Mousvi tomorrow at 5 pm in Vali Asr Sq. and there will be a national strike by all of Mousavi’s supporters.

4. Non-violent resistance for the 21st century:



5. How Iran is Ruled:



6. Comprehensive and real-time updates via Twitter.

7. Riots on the streets the Daily Dish


8. The Sounds of Liberty


9. 119 faculty members have resigned as a result of the police attack on Tehran University students.

2009-06-12

If God Owned a Small Business

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(Something to consider over the weekend)

What type of business structure would he choose? I think SAME Cafe of Denver, CO comes pretty close to finally answering this question, and at the same time hopefully enlightening all of us about the role that for-profit philanthropy can play (see the Acumen Fund):

It is the intent of SAME Cafe to build a healthy community by providing a basic need of food in a respectful and dignified manner to anyone who walks through the door.

SAME Cafe is unique in the lack of a set menu as well as set prices. Daily selections are made using fresh, organic ingredients, and funded by the donations of patrons. Instead of a cash register, a donation box is available for one to pay what they felt their meal was worth, or to leave a little more and help out someone less fortunate. If a diner does not have sufficient money to leave, they are encouraged to exchange an hour of service. Our philosophy is that everyone, regardless of economic status, deserves the chance to eat healthy food while being treated with dignity.

2009-06-11

What's the Deal with Israeli Settlements?

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In light of the current administration's new found hardliner stance on Israeli Settlements, I thought it might be worthwhile to actually try and understand what it is their talking about. The CBS report embedded below is a few months old, but I found it to be such an enlightening video that I thought it would be worth linking to here. Enjoy:

Part 1:



Part 2:



UPDATE #1

- Just in case you needed some pundit commentary on this issue, I've attempted to use my free time for the betterment of my readers. Here's Charles Krauthammer
Obama says he came to Cairo to tell the truth. But he uttered not a word of that. Instead, among all the bromides and lofty sentiments, he issued but one concrete declaration of new American policy: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," thus reinforcing the myth that Palestinian misery and statelessness are the fault of Israel and the settlements.

Blaming Israel and picking a fight over "natural growth" may curry favor with the Muslim "street." But it will only induce the Arab states to do like Abbas: sit and wait for America to deliver Israel on a platter. Which makes the Obama strategy not just dishonorable but self-defeating.


- Joe Klein doesn't buy what Krauthammer is cooking:
Charles Krauthammer has a misleading and evasive column about the Israeli settlements issue. He does not deal with the legality of these towns--he can't, of course, because they are illegal under the fourth Geneva Convention, which provides rules for occupying powers...
He rants, instead, about the inhumanity of denying "natural growth" in the settlements close to Jerusalem, which will undoubtedly be incorporated into Israel in the land swap that will accompany the two-state solution (a pact that he doesn't believe will ever happen). No babies will be allowed to be born in these settlements, he says--as if that were even a remote possibility. The truth is, "natural growth" is a loophole, a purposely imprecise term that would allow untrammeled growth everywhere. If the Israelis were serious about this, they would propose a list of specific exceptions--some of the Israeli towns near Jerusalem--where growth would be permitted and promise an absolute end to settlement activity, roads and wall-building elsewhere, pending negotiations with the Palestinians.


- Gershom Gorenberg thinks the "natural growth" argument is factually incorrect:
Barack Obama has not demanded that women in settlements stop having babies. Rather, he has insisted that Israel stop construction in settlements, in line with its commitments under the 2003 road map for peace -- in line, in fact, with American opposition to settlement building since 1967. Consistent with the road map, and with the 2001 report written by George Mitchell, now Obama's Middle East envoy, the president has rejected Israeli insistence that construction continue to allow for "natural growth" of the settler population.


- Jeffrey Goldberg (a Jew) has a provocative post up titled "The Unbearable Narcissim of the Settlers:"
I don't have any problem with the American demand for a settlement freeze; the settlements are an impediment to peace, they are a security burden, and they are petri dishes for the worst sort of fundamentalist messianism (and therefore profoundly anti-Zionist, at least according to the Zionist vision of men like Herzl and Ben-Gurion).
Now, of course, there should be some delineating going on here -- everyone knows that most settlements would actually become part of Israel in a final peace deal. So these settlements should probably be allowed natural growth. But only if the settlements beyond the security barrier, the settlements in the heart of the Arab West Bank that everyone and his rabbi knows will soon dissapear, are frozen in place, and only if Israel acknowledges that the security fence marks the de facto border of the state of Palestine.


- Joel Rosenberg (h/t
Leah):
President Obama did defend Israel’s right to exist, but then proceeded to create a moral equivalence between the Israelis and the Palestinians with regards to the peace process. Let’s be clear: the Palestinians are souls made in God’s image. They deserve dignity and respect and the freedom to govern their daily lives free from Israeli interference. But if they had wanted a sovereign state they could have accepted the U.N. Partition Plan in 1947, like the Jews did. They didn’t, and they lost. They could have accepted any one of the numerous deals Israel has offered over the past six decades, including then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer at Camp David in 2000 for the Palestinians to have a sovereign state, half the city of Jerusalem, all of Gaza and about 93% of the West Bank. But they didn’t.


2009-06-09

From the U.S. Department of Oops I Crapped My Pants

2 comments












I largely supported the 2009 fiscal stimulus package for reasons outlined elsewhere, but felt that the whole conversation was a non-starter as it largely boiled down to which narrative you chose to believe.

That being said, the revelation in last week's USA Today that the leap in U.S. debt hits taxpayers with 12% more red ink forced one blogger (who shall remain nameless) to make a quick run to Walgreen's for some TUMS. But not for the reason you might think:

Taxpayers are on the hook for an extra $55,000 a household to cover rising federal commitments made just in the past year for retirement benefits, the national debt and other government promises, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The 12% rise in red ink in 2008 stems from an explosion of federal borrowing during the recession, plus an aging population driving up the costs of Medicare and Social Security...

Ha ha USA Today, you got me. 2008, that's crazy. Wait you're serious? But that means...


Now in all seriousness, I get the basic argument that during a time of intensely depressed demand, some form of fiscal stimulus (be it tax breaks or increased government spending) is needed, and that now may not be the best time to discuss cutting the budget. But I also understand that $547k per household is absolutely ridiculous. And with the bulk of the $787b stimulus plan still waiting to be spent and politicians of all stripes unwilling to seriously discuss budget cuts, I shudder to think about what this graphic will look like in the very near future.

My two cents, here's a great place to start.


UPDATE #1:

Turns out things may be worse than I originally thought.


2009-06-04

Inspired by the Scripps Spelling Bee

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OSS: Spell Sophism.

Reader: What is the definition, please?

OSS: From Your Dictionary:

soph·ism (säfiz′əm); noun

a clever and plausible but fallacious argument or form of reasoning, whether or not intended to deceive; fallacy

Reader: What is this post’s origin? (emphasis mine)

Then-Vice President Dick Cheney, defending the invasion of Iraq, asserted in 2004 that detainees interrogated at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp had revealed that Iraq had trained Al Qaeda operatives in chemical and biological warfare…

…an assertion that wasn't true.
Cheney's 2004 comments (or sophism) to the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News were largely overlooked at the time. However, they appear to substantiate recent reports that interrogators at Guantanamo and other prison camps were ordered to find evidence of alleged cooperation between Al Qaeda and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein…

Reader: Can you use the word in a sentence? (again emphasis mine)

OSS:
An internal Justice Department inquiry has concluded that Bush administration lawyers committed serious lapses of judgment (or sophism) in writing secret memorandums authorizing brutal interrogations but that they should not be prosecuted, according to government officials briefed on its findings.

Reader
: Can you use the word in a video?



Reader: Sophism. S-O-P-H-I-S-M. Sophism.

RELATED:

2009-06-03

Attention One Stop Schoppers

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You might recognize the picture to the left as the former layout for the One Stop Schop. If that's the case then you're probably wondering what the heck happened to it. Well, after many moons and a lot of hard work little bit of freetime, the site has a new look that we can finally be proud of. To show your love for the new look, or to express your feelings that this is not change you can believe in, I strongly encourage you to check it out (that means click through to the site from your email or RSS reader) and let us know what you think.

If you're still not convinced this is worth your time, let me further entice you to leave your thoughts, by providing the 5 reasons how the new layout benefits you the reader, fan, troll, or random visitor:


  1. Easier navigation to our most popular posts (determined by what you the reader decides was worth commenting on)
  2. Your comments are now directly contributing to the success of any post. So in other words, if you're reading this in an RSS reader, click through to the site for a change and let us know what's on your mind.
  3. Easier navigation amongst all each contributor.
  4. Slightly more professional look and feel (emphasis on slightly
  5. New layout makes old content feel fresh!

2009-06-01

If You Read Only One Thing This Week

7 comments

It Should Be This

In it, Dr. Atul Gawande of The New Yorker pens possibly one of the most informative articles on healthcare this year. It’s quite lengthy, but if you’re even remotely interested in universal healthcare (either for or against)then this will probably become required reading as it addresses some of the inherent problems in the US model of healthcare delivery. Problems that must be addressed regardless of whether healthcare reform is passed later this year.

Full article is here, and is well worth your time. My quick synopsis is below the fold:



Summary


Dr. Gawande’s focus throughout the article is on McAllen, TX, which apparently is the 2nd most expensive city in America for healthcare (Miami is 1st), and the factors that led to this distinction. I can’t say this immediately surprised me however, due to the often cited loophole in our current system being that illegal immigrants and the uninsured receive “free” healthcare by frequenting the ER. This argument is quickly debunked however when the author compares McAllen to El Paso, demographically identical cities except that El Paso’s Medicare cost/enrollee is roughly half that of McAllen.

The author later asks the $1 trillion question to a local physician about whether switching to a single-payer government model would work. Here’s his response

“I don’t have a problem with it,” he said. “But it won’t make a difference.” In McAllen, government payers already predominate—not many people have jobs with private insurance.

So it seems, as Dr. Gawande’s opus describes, that one of the key problems in our current healthcare system is yet another example of a misalignment of incentives (something we've all seen play out in the financial world over the past nine months):

When you look across the spectrum from Grand Junction to McAllen—and the almost threefold difference in the costs of care—you come to realize that we are witnessing a battle for the soul of American medicine. Somewhere in the United States at this moment, a patient with chest pain, or a tumor, or a cough is seeing a doctor. And the damning question we have to ask is whether the doctor is set up to meet the needs of the patient, first and foremost, or to maximize revenue.

There is no insurance system that will make the two aims match perfectly. But having a system that does so much to misalign them has proved disastrous. As economists have often pointed out, we pay doctors for quantity, not quality. As they point out less often, we also pay them as individuals, rather than as members of a team working together for their patients. Both practices have made for serious problems.

If you’re interested in learning why patients in Grand Junction receive higher quality care at less than half the cost, or why there is an inverse relationship between cost and quality of care across the board then click here to get your learn on (as the kids like to say). Personally, as many universal healthcare advocates smarter and more informed than I am often cite the cost savings inherent in a European style system, the section of the article describing how the Mayo Clinic already manages to accomplish this is more than enough of a reason to do so.

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