Friday, September 21, 2007

limits of intuition - mosquitos

There are books out lauding intuition. But while intuition is a factor we should be aware of, it can also be misleading.

Eg., I expect that many people's intuition would tell them the same as mine - drought will decrease mosquitos, abundant rain will increase them. But not so.

I live in the Atlanta, Georgia metro area. A few years ago, one month in the spring it rained almost every day. At first I expected that would result in a heavy mosquito population. But the scientists foretold that we would have a lighter than usual mosquito problem, because the heavy rains would wash away the mosquitos, and that's what happened. And not just to mosquitos. I control fleas on my cats with a flea comb. With the combination of heavy rains one month washing away fleas and their eggs, followed by (?four) months of almost no rain, there was a period of more than a year where I did not find a single flea on any of my four cats! Unfortunately, the flea population seems to be back to normal.

Atlanta has been experiencing drought since last year. One would hope that it would have at least a positive side effect of fewer mosquitos. But alas, no.

into next month, public health experts said Tuesday.

Experts said the persistently dry weather, favored by these bugs that breed in stagnant water, may extend an already active peak season of West Nile.

"It may drag on a little bit into the fall, because there have not been significant rains," said Elmer Gray, a University of Georgia Extension Service public health specialist.

Heavy rains, he said, flush out the stagnant water in storm drains, ponds and bird baths.

The peak transmission period typically lasts from mid-August to mid-September, but Gray said he expects the peak to continue until as late as mid-October.

good links

On-going coverage of how the media misreports political news.

Paul Krugman's blog. Krugman is a columnist for the NY Times.

Map of most of the world, showing tropical storm activity, with Dr. Jeff Master's commentary about what to expect next.

On-line book of studies of authoritarian personalities, and how it relates to recent U.S. government doings

great screen savers :

Author of "Nickel and Dimed" and other books and commentary on the reality of life in the U.S. for many people

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cancer kills uninsured

When Fannie Geiger's sore throat wouldn't heal last year, she had a feeling it was a sign of something serious. Fannie says learning the news was hard. She had stage four throat cancer, the most advanced. Even worse, her free county health insurance did not cover treatment. "I've worked all my life and now, when I need help, it didn't seem to be there,” she tells Like Fannie, an estimated 57,000 uninsured Americans are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year, faced with the prospect that they will not get better because they cannot afford treatment.

By the time an uninsured cancer patient reaches the hospital, it's often by way of an emergency room where they cannot be denied care. As CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports, many times their cancer is so advanced, the cost of treatment can top $200,000 and the chances of survival are much lower. If Fannie’s cancer had been caught earlier, at stage one instead of stage four, the cost to treat her would have dropped by about $50,000.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Media Double Standard

Every day, the "mainstream" press gives us another long story about what is happening with the big donor to the Democrats who turned out to have been accused of fraud, and reminding us of which Democratic candidates received money form him.

But they ignore the equivalent problems with big donors to the Republicans.
For details. see:

NEW YORK TIMES (8/12/07):
Indicted Fund-Raiser Resigns

AMES, Iowa, Aug. 11—A top fund-raiser for Mitt Romney who was indicted this week in Maryland over a $32 million fraud scheme has resigned from the campaign, a Romney spokesman said Saturday.A federal grand jury in Maryland unsealed a 23-count indictment of the fund-raiser, Alan B. Fabian, 43, on Thursday on charges of money laundering, mail fraud, bankruptcy fraud, perjury and obstruction of justice. Mr. Fabian, who was one of 35 co-chairmen on Mr. Romney's national finance committee, ran up $32 million in fake purchases with his consulting company, Maximus Inc., based in Northern Virginia, and pocketed the money, according to the indictment.

This was the complete report! And where have been followup reports? Not to be seen.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

National Debt
for the first time in U.S. history last Friday, the national debt hit an all-time high of $9 trillion. To be exact, the total liabilities of the U.S. Government hit $9,005,648,561,262.70, according to the Bureau of the Public Debt at the Treasury Department.
Mr. Bush often boasts about his commitment to fiscal restraint, and trumpets his efforts to bring down the annual federal deficit from its all-time high of $413 billion in 2004. The Administration forecasts a deficit this year of $205 billion. The forecast from the Congressional Budget Office is lower still at $158 billion.
But Mr. Bush almost never mentions the national debt. On the day he took office, the debt stood at $5.727 trillion. That means it has increased by 57 percent on his watch. So far.
And it’s not just the size of the debt that’s historic. So too is the amount taxpayers must pay annually in interest payments on $9 trillion in borrowed funds. Last year, the interest on the debt exceeded $405 billion dollars. This year’s interest payments will be even greater.

Since there are about 300,000,000 (300 million) people in the U.S., per person that comes to about
$30,000 for the national debt
$ 683 for the expected deficit
$ 1350 for the interest last year