For the week of 2009-08-30 in Tweets

  • when is a nda a pia? #fb #
  • coffee's ability to make everything okay never ceases to amaze me. #fb #
  • A fire alarm really? What time is it? WTF?! #fb #
  • RT @rebekkaanne: … I-5 closed at northgate due to a sniper! #
  • is downloading Windows 7 Pro x64. Thx to @audreyln for the MSDN heads up. #fb #
  • is working on a Saturday. At least I can do it from home. #fb #
  • Delphi MyFi XM2Go Satellie Radio – $30/OBO #fb #
  • …burning Windows 7 to DVD! #

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Reasonable Objections to Public Health care insurance

Note: Updated to clarify that I mean health insurance, not health care.

I’ve been chatting with a friend, Caitlin, I met on my Europe about all things political. I’m not really into politics, but I do enjoy informative arguments. Caitlin’s a PoliSci/Environmental Studies major in Canada. So, of course, questions turned to health care. In light of Sarah Palin’s rather ridiculous remark1, Caitlin was hoping I could provide “some more reasonable objections to public healthcare.” Here goes.

So, let’s get the ball rolling on this.

A) Sarah Palin is nuts. All you need to do is watch/read her resignation from a couple months ago.

As for more reasonable objections, here’s what I don’t like about the idea of public health care:

1) How do you provide health care insurance for 300+ millions people? The idea is that by putting everyone under a single health care insurance system, the people as a whole save money. Now, it is a known fact that there are definitive cost advantages to expanding a business; this is called “Economy of Scale.” However, what a lot of people don’t realize (I think) is that Economy of Scales can’t (and don’t) continue to reduce costs. When it starts to cost *more* to provide something (either a service or a good), it’s called Diseconomy of Scale. There are a variety of reasons it starts to cost more, including cost of communication, cost of optimization, slow response times, etc. The point is, there is a magic number where it starts to be detrimental to expand the business. My belief is that having 300+ million people on single health care insurance system would be an administrative nightmare that would cost too much money to manage and would be ineffective.

2) In order for health insurance to work, it has to be positive sum…or at the very least, zero sum. Positive sum means that the aggregate (i.e. everyone covered) gains (money paid into the plan, most likely via taxes) and losses (money paid to the health providers) must be a number greater than zero. Zero sum simply means that gains are exactly equal to the losses. This should probably come as a “no-duh,” but it essentially means that the public health care system needs to be “profitable” (the government would not actually pocket the money, so the profits would most likely be rolled over to the next year or returned to the people in the form of a tax break) or at least break even.

So, under the public health care insurance system, everyone pays a flat rate of X dollars and gets health care insurance. Great. Except for one thing: that’s not the way health care insurance works. Remember, we need at the very least a zero sum system. And if everyone pays in X, they must take out (on average) X (well, actually less than X, but of administrative fees and whatnot). But if that were the case, then why would I bother with health insurance? And that’s the genius of it. Not everyone should pay X. Myself, be a fit young male who doesn’t smoke, eats reasonably well, and works out (on occasion) should probably pay a little bit less than X, perhaps X-1. You, being a fit young female who does smoke should probably pay a little bit more than X, perhaps X+1.

We do this because, on average, you’re statistically more likely to need more medical care than me (due to the smoking). We both get the same access to care, you just have to pay a bit more. And I like this, because I get to pay less.

And this brings me to my third point…

3) Aligning interests. If everyone pays X, no matter what, there is no incentive for people to be healthy! Why would you stop smoking if you know that you can get the same access to care insurance as someone who doesn’t smoke for the same price? Unless you’re super altruistic (which you may be), you probably wouldn’t. Let’s extend this to the rather unfortunate issue of obesity. If I can eat all the junk food I want and in general not take care of my body, but still get the same access to health care insurance and pay the same amount as someone who eats well and exercises often, what incentive is there for me to be healthy (other than my own self interest to be healthy)? There is none.

So what happens? Well, since all the fat people are getting sick and everyone has to pay the same amount, everyone has to put more money into public heath care insurance. In a worse case scenario, this would lead to a positive feedback loop where the healthy people want to “get more for their money” and start using the medical facilities more often. This, of course, throws the system even more out of whack and prices go up even more and the entire universe collapses in on it self….in theory. Not really, but you get the idea.


So, do you think those are reasonable objections to public health care insurance?

  1. “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.” 

Engineers Explained

In my never ending quest to accurately describe who engineers – and by association, myself – are, I happened to stumble upon this great explanation, attributed to Scott Adams (a.k.a. The guy who writes Dilbert):


People who work in the fields of science and technology are not like other people. This can be frustrating to the nontechnical people who have to deal with them. The secret to coping with technology-oriented people is to understand their motivations. This chapter will teach you everything you need to know. I learned their customs and mannerisms by observing them, much the way Jane Goodall learned about the great apes, but without the hassle of grooming.

Engineering is so trendy these days that everybody wants to be one. The word “engineer” is greatly overused. If there’s somebody in your life who you think is trying to pass as an engineer, give him this test to discern the truth.

More after the break…
Continue reading “Engineers Explained”

What I’m Not Doing Today

For the first time in, well, 17 years or so, I’m not going to school.

Sometimes, it seemed like I’d never get from here:

135.0 mm || 1/640 || f/11.0 || ISO400 || NIKON D70

to here:

18.0 mm || 1/100 || f/3.5 || ISO500 || NIKON D70

It still hasn’t quite set in yet, maybe by lunch time it will.

And if you thought the last five years were awesome? I can’t even begin to image what God has in store for the next five.


One of the great things about my new place is how close I am to Green Lake. One of my goals for coming back to Seattle and being in The Real World™ is to exercise. I tried it a year ago with CrossFit, and had mixed success. I was able to find the time to do it, but I didn’t have any idea of what I was doing. This may have contributed to my numb hand incident last year, which I eventually was resolved with a little bit of PT, however I had lost my exercise momentum.

But, this is a new year! And it would be a shame to waste Green Lake’s paths at 5am in the morning. Running seems like a pretty easy thing that I already know how to do (no special training required, although I did run track for a season back In The Day™). So I get up, drag my self out of bed (sometimes with the assistance of Ben or Quinn, who have each run with me once – although Quinn did it with me on a mid-Sunday morning), and run.

I ran two days last week and did not get around the lake either time. I ran yesterday with Quinn and today by myself and managed to get around both times1! The sun has barely started to rise and the air is nice and cool, making for ideal running conditions (for me at least).

run_ready20080909 If I can keep this up for the rest of the week, I’m planning on getting a Nike + iPod gadget that links my shoe to my iPod. My iPod will then be able to give me real time feedback on how far I’ve run, my pace, time elapsed, calories burned, etc…all to music! Anyone have any experience using the Nike + iPod and want to weigh in on it’s effectiveness?

Anyway, most mornings I’m out the door by 5:05am. If anyone wants to run with me, meet me in front of my building. If you know for sure that you want to run, try to give me a heads up the day before so I can let you know if I’m running or not the next morning.

Hopefully I can stick with this.

  1. getting around is not the problem, getting around in time to get ready for work so I can catch the carpool is the problem 

Starting on a Friday

I started work this past Friday. People have been asking why start on a Friday? The short answer is: because I want to. The longer answer is steeped in tradition.

The work week starts on a Friday and goes to the following Thursday. I have no idea why this is, it just is. Also, the first day of my internship, which I started over three years ago, was a Friday (due to training). Finally, it’s Friday, which means the next day is the weekend. What a perfect way to start the week…by ending it.

Anyway, I arrive at work, called my boss, and was on my way. Having done this three time previously, I’m a little bit of an expert at first days. Getting accounts activated, phones requested, training assigned, and the such. Typically it takes forever a few days to get it all setup, so I brought a book in case I had to wait for things to propagate.

As it turned out, I would not need my book. I was able to get my accounted activated in short order, and email was enabled by time lunch finished. In fact, it seems as there was a list of things for me to do that’ve been piling up since the beginning of the month. I had to quickly play catch up – remembering what the state of things were when I left and then figuring out what had changed since I’d been gone. So I had a pretty full day.

It wasn’t all good news though as the Howard Hanson Dam has decided to start leaking. And if the dam were to fail, the Green River Valley (which is where I work) could be under several feet of water….like over 6 feet. Great. I’m thinking about getting one of these Auto Hydrostatic Inflatable Personal Flotation Devices to wear around just in case.

Working should be good though and I’m definitely excited to be back. I have a great job, at a great company, with people who are awesome.

When I got back to the car, I had a gazillion missed text messages. So I should probably make an administrative note here and say that I will not have my cellphone on me at work. Thus I will not be able to receive text messages. However, if you call me on either my cell phone or Google Voice number, it will ring through to my office and you can get a hold of me that way if you must.

Catch Me If You Can

I went to see Catch Me If You Can on Thursday with a friend from school, Kate Reinking, who was in Seattle for part of this week. I have to say, it was a pretty amazing musical.

First things first though; if you are even thinking about seeing it, you need to go right now. Stop reading this blog and get your tickets ASAP because it closes on Sunday…which is in just over 24 hours.

No really…get your tickets now.

The cast is amazing, especially Norbert Leo Butz as Carl Hanratty (see video clip below – RSS/email readers may need to click through to see the video).

Also quite outstanding are Aaron Tveit as Frank Abagnale, Jr. and Kerry Butler as Brenda Strong. This is not to say that everyone else sucks, quite the contrary, it’s a stellar cast that is downright fantastic.

The show is a bit on the meta side, acknowledging the orchestra, the set, and the crowd at various points. I’m not usually a fan of such meta realizations, but it works pretty effectively in this case.

I do have one question though, is FBI Agent Johnny Dollar (played by Brandon Wardell) a nod to freelance insurance investigator Johnny Dollar?

Also, now that I’m back in Seattle, one thing I would like to do more is catch more of local theater scene – Seattle has had some pretty amazing musical come here before they hit Broadway. So if anyone wants to go…let me know. And really, I’d go to Mariner games, and Sounders FC games, and perhaps even Seahawk games. I guess it’s really just the Seattle cultural scene that I’d like to enjoy now that I’m actually here.

Catch Me If You Can logo © 5th Avenue Theater

The Apartment

As I suspected, we were approved without issue and will be moving in on Monday! As in two days! Both rooms are about the same size. Room A is slight smaller, has less closet space, but has two windows. Room B is slightly bigger, has more closet space, but only one window. Jeff and I flipped for rooms, and I got room A, leaving Room B to Jeff.

As I was leaving, I took a quick glance at the mailboxes to find where our would be. I recognized one of the names: “Jalbert/Skilling.” As it turns out, one of my friends from high school, Celeste, lives in the apartment right above us. How amazing? Unfortunately, they’ll be moving out at the end of the month, so our co-tenancy will be short lived.

Anyway, I’ll probably start moving in Monday after work. Jeff will start moving in Tuesday morning. I’m sure we’ll have some sort of housewarming party in the near future.

The Molehills are Still Real

The other day we were discussing a talk given by Naomi Wolf about her book The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot where she lays out what she sees happening in America and a fascist America in 10 steps.

The question at hand was, more or less: are the arguments that Naomi Wolf presenting accurate?

Without going into too much detail about our discussion, I want to reiterate a great point that Mark made. To paraphrase Mark, “She’s definitely making mountains out of molehills. But the molehills are still real.”

So often we, the people, are so caught up in disproving the mountain that we forget the molehill still exists. People, for whatever reason, tend to blow things way out of proportion and instead of saying, “You may be right, but you’re blowing it out of proportion,” we say, “No, you’re wrong,” without ever stopping to question if there may be truth to their fundamental argument.

And this isn’t limited to one particular party or ideology either. Conservatives, Liberals, Libertarians, and even those without a side…everyone is doing it. So please stop. Your real message was lost long ago.