Friday, January 3, 2014

Health Care Dollars Keep Luxury Car Market Upticking and From iPhone to Cisco Routers - NSA Hacks It All (Heritage Scrubs Up) New Paradigm Arising? (2014's Promises)

And you thought no one had made any money since the Financial Crash (2008)?

You probably won't be surprised at who did (and still does).

It appears that some have gotten fabulously wealthy since the devastation to so many millions' portfolios.

Time to reformat that resume!

From "Your Health Care Dollars At Work":

Outside of Minneapolis, for example, Morrie's Luxury Auto received 16 of Maserati's Ghibli sedans two days before Christmas and had two left on Dec. 26.
Morrie's Luxury Auto, we learn from a photo caption, is located in Minnetonka, Minnesota, where the largest employer is UnitedHealthcare.

And we're told this:

A dealer near Cleveland, the Collection Auto Group, which owns 28 dealerships, including Porsche, Lotus, Maserati and Aston Martin, added Rolls-Royce last month, becoming the automaker's 35th dealership in the United States.
"Cleveland is in a renaissance," said Bernie Moreno, president of the dealership. "We call it the three M's: medical, manufacturing and media."
"Medical" again. Yeah, yeah, I know: that Cleveland Clinic is really innovative, and was the medical facility Lou Reed chose to treat his liver cancer.

And Matt Hlavin? He isn't a bad guy, really -- hell, here he is retweeting a Van Jones article about the burdens of student loan debt.

But, um, I thought Obamacare was a ruthless destroyer of the dynamic spirit of capitalism in medicine. So why are all these medicine-affiliated folks -- buying Maseratis?

Good question, Sir.

I guess the new health care program is enriching those at the top rungs of it even more than they can spend well.

Those at the bottom? Not really getting the hot rides.

And speaking of hot (hack) rides . . .

From iPhone to Cisco Routers - NSA Hacks It All

Everyone should read the SPIEGEL story and check the graphics and docs about the NSA's Tailored Access Operation. They describe the hardware and software tools the NSA uses to break into every level of computing - from your cellphone up to carrier class internet routers. The Apple iPhone for example is, as was to be expected, one of the devices the NSA can crack and silently control anytime it tries.
Jacob Appelbaum, who helped reporting the story, yesterday gave an hour-long talk about these NSA abilities. I recommend to listen to it. He rightly points out one of the main issues that even supporters of the NSA spying should have serious headaches about. If the NSA can use the software and hardware bugs in various devices to take control over them then others can do this too. I bet that there are criminals out there who use exactly the same problematic holes the NSA uses for its spying. Such holes should be fixed and not abused.
One aspect that may help rein in the NSA's totally overdone "collect it all" and "hack it all" attitude is the extreme damage this report will do to the U.S. computer and internet companies. Why would I buy Cisco routers or an iPhone when it is publicly known that these are extremely unsafe devices?
The NSA hacking and spying was the biggest story of 2013. It is also quite likely that further reporting on and the fallout from it will be the biggest story of 2014. Some media try to propagandize that people are okay with this NSA business and that no actions need to follow. Don't let them fool you. People do care and many are already changing some of their online habits. But there has to build even more pressure for real change to come.
Posted by b at | Comments

I can't believe any of these below-mentioned "MBA's" have actually studied in an accredited program. It's rather reminiscent of George W. Bush and his MBA/PHD/DOG minions who knew nothing about the history, geography, religion, politics, anthropology, sociology, etc., (you know, the things that well-educated people have to know before passing their exams for higher-level degrees) of Iraq in particular, and the Middle East in general, who were given a free hand by the Cheney/Bush Dynamic Duo to restructure that country's infrastructure in any way their little neoliberal hearts desired (leading to the bleeding Iraq of today).

If we were to check the grads who attended Jerry Falwell's Liberty University or Oral Robert's/Pat Robertson's Regent University (like Monica Goodling*), I think we would get a better idea of what type of Master of BS Administration (or Law) they had actually obtained. Or I could be wrong and all those constitutional law scholars serving under Bush Jr. who seemed to have no idea of what the Constitution actually said were just a slightly amusing joke on us - and they really do know the law and not just what it's convenient for them to believe is the law.

Will Heritage Scrub Its Obamacare History?

Kenneth Thomas

January 2, 2014

Mike the Mad Biologist leads me to a host of articles on the crazy things going on at Heritage Foundation, especially since former Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina took over as president of the organization. Mike quotes Alex Pareene at length on how the rise of MBAs running both the Foundation (DeMint) and Heritage Action (Michael Needham) has turned Heritage from a respected think tank into a mainly political organization of the hard right. Pareene, in turn, leads to a good analysis by Julia Ioffe in The New Republic.

As regular readers know, Heritage is an organization that I’ve already lost most respect for, it being famous both for proposing Obamacare’s main components and denying that it is responsible for the individual mandate. This has been well-debunked in both Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, by Avik Roy and James Taranto respectively.

My modest contribution was to note that the January 1989 research report Taranto found in the Heritage archives was actually noted on its cover, “Revised Edition.” This pushes the original research back into 1988 at least and clearly refutes Stuart Butler’s claim that the individual mandate was a response to Hillarycare. In fact, it was a response to the considerable political groundswell for single payer in the 1980s.

The question is how far the deterioration of the Heritage research mandate will go. I think one clear indicator would be if Heritage decides to take the 1984 “Ministry of Truth” route and delete the research from its website. So far, it has yet to stoop that low. But when “A National Health System for America, Revised Edition,” can no longer be downloaded, we will know another big step in the hyper-politicization of Heritage has taken place. Should it happen, and you need a copy, email me and I will send you a copy of the pdf document on a “fair use” basis.

You will know it has happened when you can no longer download the report from here

Continuing on a more pleasant note, we learn from the Dredd Blog that we'll be enjoying a paradigm shift from here on out.

It's got to be better than now, right?

We'll reserve judgment.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The New Paradigm: The Physical Universe Is Mostly Machine

Why not start the new year out with a shock, or at least an update, to our scientific understanding?

Or at least update ourselves about a new paradigm that scientists are warming up to?

The 17th century view of cognition a la Descartes (Cartesianism) was challenged by an entirely new view of cognition by Lakoff (e.g. Embodied Mind).

This paradigm shift I am thinking of is more Earth shaking than that paradigm shift and many others like it, so, hang on, here is the paradigm shift for your close perusal:

A new paradigm exists for understanding how cells function. Scientists are recognizing that the cell is a highly integrated biological factory with a modular architecture. Each modular unit acts as a molecular machine. These machines have highly specialized functions and are large assemblies of proteins and nucleic acids. They range in size from about 10 - 150 nanometers (10-9 m) and provide environments in which chemical species can interact in a highly specific fashion. Molecular machines also function as mechano-chemical energy transducers, converting chemical free energy into mechanical energy for cellular processes. They operate cyclically, and can reset themselves.

With the genetic information gained from the U.S. Human Genome Project and DOE's Microbial Genome Program, scientists now have the raw information with which to observe, manipulate, characterize and, ultimately, replicate these large protein assemblies. Using conventional and newly developed microscopy techniques, PBD researchers, through an initiative called Microscopies of Molecular Machines (M3), are creating a toolkit for probing the inner workings of these molecular machines.
(Molecular Machines, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, emphasis added). Regular readers know that I have been advocating the acknowledgement that machines make up the largest percentage of the known universe, and machine evolution has taken up most of evolution as scientists know it.

Cells make up a large part of organic life, including microbial cells which outnumber "purely human" cells in our bodies.

Microbes are the most prolific life form on Earth, especially when we remember that viruses and virions are also microbes.

Cells are made of molecular machines, as are planets, stars, and interstellar dust.

The following is a sample sequence of Dredd Blog System posts discussing, among other things, the machine nature of the cosmos, microbes, and humans - including the cyborg-nature of all carbon-based organic life forms:

2009: Putting A Face on Machine Mutation Which Came First - Cyborg Or Robot? Putting A Face on Machine Mutation Will Humans Evolve Into Machines?
2010: The Tiniest Scientists Are Very Old
2011: Which Came First - Cyborg Or Robot? - 2 Are Toxins of Power Machines or Organisms?
2012: Putting A Face On Machine Mutation - 2 Do Molecular Machines Deliver Toxins of Power? Did Abiotic Intelligence Precede Biotic Intelligence? Putting A Face On Machine Mutation - 3 The Life and Death of Bright Things
2013: Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 17 The Uncertain Gene (a series about how machines can genetically evolve)
If Cosmology Is "Off," How Can Biology Be "On?" Putting A Face On Machine Mutation - 4

Today's post is the first of this type of material of the new year, but in light of the new paradigm, there will be more.

In a lovely end-of-year post, my favorite blog reporter, Karen, at Sardonicky, sees the new year (in her drollest image-making linguistics) as "ripping" a "new annus."

I'm with her.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Promises To Be a Ripping New Annus

While it may stay horribilis before it gets any better, there is reason to hope:

A leading IT research firm is predicting the resurgence of the Occupy movement on an even larger scale, the beginnings of a barter economy in the wake of mass boycotts, and a movement toward nonprofit-driven medical care instigated by activist volunteers. 

The information technology research firm, Gartner, which describes itself as “the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company" warns its clients not to be seen as culprits in the inevitable labor unrest, consumer boycotts, and mass social upheaval. CEOs had better get ready for some heavy-duty backlash and enhanced public scrutiny of their greed. They had better get their PR asses in gear, in other words.

Of course, the ultra-rich are paying no heed. One tycoon named Ken Langone is so pissed off by the sudden unwarranted attention being paid to the poor that he is petulantly threatening to cut off the cash for the refurbishment of St. Pat's Cathedral in NYC. He's warning Pope Francis, through his pal Tim Cardinal Dolan, to tone down that inequality rhetoric - or else. Dolan was forced to go on the Plutocrat Channel to do damage control, simultaneously pushing back against this trendy new demonization of The Obscene Rich and insisting no such demonization is even taking place. I guess that makes him an ecclesiastical centrist.

 Langone,  billionaire founder of Home Depot, funder of both Republicans and Wall Street Democrats, had approached Dolan and complained that another  billionaire who of course is not named Ken Langone got his feelings hurt by the Pope. From the CNBC transcript:

So, he says to me (Dolan) - "Pope Francis is helping us big time. Because there's such an enthusiasm and a love - for him and for the church that he said, "People are more interested in our project of Saint Patrick's Cathedral." He did pass on to me.
He said, "Now, one person said, 'You know, you come to us who have been-- blessed, who are wealthy. And, yet, we sense that, perhaps, the Pope is less than enthusiastic about us.'" And he said, "We need to correct that."
And I said, "Well - Ken, that would be a misunderstanding of the Holy Father's - message. The Pope loves poor people. He also loves rich people. He loves people, all right. He's - and he - and he's not into the condemning game for anybody." His famous, renowned statement now, "Who am I to judge?" So, I said, "Ken, thanks for bringing it to my attention. We've got to correct to make sure this gentleman, who's the only one I've heard, understands the Holy Father's message properly. And then, I think he's going to say, 'Oh, okay. If that's the case, count me in for Saint Patrick's Cathedral,' so.
So, yeah. But I trust Ken's judgment so much that if he tells me, "This is a potential donor who's a little confused and perhaps irritated about the Pope's message. Can you help me out here?" So, I think we have. Yeah.
If anybody can put the extreme back in unctuousness it is Tim Dolan.

Langone, for his part, recently went on another plutocrat channel to deliver his own pro-rich people anti-Paul Krugman rant, urging that Social Security be cut. Along with the other CEOs of the Fix the Debt austerian crowd, he falsely claims that poverty-stricken old geezers are stealing pensions and healthcare from the unborn. But since he also spends part of his billions glorifying the house of the Lord(s), he also passed on to his pal the Card the message that obscenely wealthy Americans are preferable to obscenely wealthy foreign people.

So there's that for a final "Happy Holidays" message.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

* Documents show that Goodling, who has asserted her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before Congress, was one of a handful of officials overseeing the firings. She helped install Timothy Griffin , the Karl Rove aide and her former boss at the Republican National Committee, as a replacement US attorney in Arkansas.

Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, asked at a hearing: “Should we be concerned with the experience level of the people who are making these highly significant decisions?”

And across the political blogosphere, critics have held up Goodling, who declined to be interviewed, as a prime example of the Bush administration subordinating ability to politics in hiring decisions.

Not long ago, it was rare for Regent graduates to join the federal government. But in 2001, the Bush administration picked the dean of Regent’s government school, Kay Coles James , to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management — essentially the head of Human Resources for the executive branch. The doors of opportunity for government jobs were thrown open to Regent alumni.

Many of those who have Regent law degrees, including Goodling, joined the Department of Justice. Their path to employment was further eased in late 2002, when John Ashcroft , then Attorney General, changed longstanding rules for hiring lawyers to fill vacancies in the career ranks.

Previously, veteran civil servants screened applicants and recommended whom to hire, usually picking top students from elite schools.

No comments: