Friday, December 19, 2014

My 15 Minutes (5 really) of Fame at the Warhol


I did a screen test at the Warhol Museum.  He said "everyone has their 15 minutes of Fame."  The screen test was five minutes with no sound.  There is no point to the video.  Just like the countless others who have posted.  He did make a point with this image of Nixon which got him audited by the IRS but that is as close to offering a solution in his work as he got.

Warhol's art pokes fun at our culture and it's obsession with stuff.  He offered no solutions which is why I present the video below which does.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Census State Level Estimates Are Out for 2013 (Cross Post with Healthcare for All PA)

US and PA Uninsured The Census Bureau has come out with estimates from the American Community Survey of national and state level uninsured rates for 2013. County level estimates are due out in early 2015. Pennsylvania's rate has decreased from 12.0% in 2012 to 9.7% in 2013 (when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) came into effect in October of 2013). The state and national rates are now comparable to pre-recession levels in 2008. Below is a table with the rates for all states plus DC in 2013 in order of highest to lowest rates. Pennsylvania ranks 42nd, Vermont (which is backtracking on it's commitment to single payer) ranks 48th with a rate of 7.2%. As in previous estimates, Texas leads the nation with a rate of 22.1% but it is down from a high of 25.5% 2009. 

State Percent of Uninsured 2013 Margin of Error State Rank in Uninsured
TEXAS 22.1 0.2 1
NEVADA 20.7 0.6 2
FLORIDA 20.0 0.2 3
GEORGIA 18.8 0.3 4
NEW MEXICO 18.6 0.6 5
ALASKA 18.5 1.0 6
OKLAHOMA 17.7 0.3 7
CALIFORNIA 17.2 0.2 8
ARIZONA 17.1 0.4 9
MISSISSIPPI 17.1 0.5 10
LOUISIANA 16.6 0.4 11
MONTANA 16.5 0.8 12
IDAHO 16.2 0.8 13
ARKANSAS 16.0 0.5 14
SOUTH CAROLINA 15.8 0.4 15
NORTH CAROLINA 15.6 0.3 16
OREGON 14.7 0.4 17
KENTUCKY 14.3 0.3 18
COLORADO 14.1 0.3 19
INDIANA 14.0 0.3 20
UTAH 14.0 0.5 21
WASHINGTON 14.0 0.3 22
WEST VIRGINIA 14.0 0.5 23
TENNESSEE 13.9 0.3 24
ALABAMA 13.6 0.4 25
WYOMING 13.4 0.9 26
NEW JERSEY 13.2 0.2 27
MISSOURI 13.0 0.3 28
ILLINOIS 12.7 0.2 29
KANSAS 12.3 0.4 30
VIRGINIA 12.3 0.3 31
RHODE ISLAND 11.6 0.7 32
NEBRASKA 11.3 0.5 33
SOUTH DAKOTA 11.3 0.7 34
MAINE 11.2 0.5 35
MICHIGAN 11.0 0.2 36
OHIO 11.0 0.2 37
NEW HAMPSHIRE 10.7 0.5 38
NEW YORK 10.7 0.2 39
NORTH DAKOTA 10.4 0.8 40
MARYLAND 10.2 0.3 41
CONNECTICUT 9.4 0.4 43
DELAWARE 9.1 0.7 44
WISCONSIN 9.1 0.2 45
MINNESOTA 8.2 0.3 46
IOWA 8.1 0.3 47
VERMONT 7.2 0.6 48
HAWAII 6.7 0.4 50

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gruber Healthcare Hearing: "Are You Stupid?"

Lost in the coverage of the Senate torture report and the demonstrations on the deaths Mike Brown and Eric Garner (which are important stories for a change) was the congressional testimony of MIT economist Jonathan Gruber.  He was caught on tape saying that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare or ACA) had to be sold as a non-tax because of the "stupidity" of the American voter. 

When he appeared before a congressional committee he was asked directly "Are you stupid?"  He politely apologized for his comments but is there really any doubt that he meant it at the time.  He was recorded on several occasions saying it.  Was he referring to his perceived stupidity of the Tea Party voter or the Single Payer voter?  Maybe both.  Gruber did work with Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts

I have cited many surveys which indicate the both the Tea Party voter and the rest of the electorate are not as stupid as Gruber believes.  The polls have consistently suggested that the individual mandate was the least popular part of the ACA.  The other provisions, expanding Medicaid, banning the denial of coverage for preexisting conditions and subsidies for low incomes to buy insurance are popular among all Democrats, Independents and Republican voters.  Pretty consistently, if one adds those who support a better bill (i.e. Single Payer) to those who support the ACA, one has a majority.

Of course Republicans are not above relying on the perceived stupidity of the voter to get things passed too such as pushing the imaginary Iraq-Al Qaeda-9/11 connection to the US public to sell a disastrous invasion in 2003.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

I Know I've Been Away

I've been busy with teaching and working.  There have been lots of things to blog about but a lot of these things, ISIS, health care, the election, and immigration are things I've written about before.  I haven't written as much on topics related to Ferguson, Missouri and racism.  I missed PodCamp this year because I was so busy.  I will to be back now that the semester is ending.  Those of you who follow the blog on Facebook and Twitter may have noticed me posting about my friend David Roberts who passed away from Brain Cancer and his family is now raising money to cover medical debts.  Happy Holidays to all!  I leave you all with a video of my recent trip to Maine of the oldest lighthouse in the US.


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Health Care and the 2014 Election in Pennsylvania

Gov. Corbett has conceded defeat in this years gubernatorial race with 55% of the vote as of this posting.  The NBC exit poll asked voters a variety of questions which showed Governor Elect Tom Wolf winning almost every demographic in the state: males, females, young, middle age.  Corbett and Wolf evenly split the 65+ age group.  Of most interest for Healthcare for All PA is the question on voters opinion of the Affordable Care Act as can be seen below.  47% thought it “went too far”, 23% thought it “Was about right”, and 27% thought it “did not go far enough”.  If you add the those who said “Did not go far enough” to those who thought it “Was about right” there is a 50% majority for universal health care with more than half of those wanting a better bill.

Did not go far enough27%82%18%
Was about right23%89%11%
Went too far47%27%73%

These results are consistent with the exit poll for Pennsylvania from 2012 as well as national polls on the Affordable Care Act as can be seen in the related posts below.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Am I being defrauded by Facebook? And Rothfus?

The Video Blog Veritasium has come up with a clever experiment to show how click factories in places like Bangladesh, Egypt, and China inflate web statistics for Facebook pages and how they defraud users and clients.  I have paid Facebook for advertising in the past with mixed results.  This  site often gets trolled from China but not so much from India, Bangladesh or Egypt.  The engagement on my Facebook page never reaches the level described in the above video.

I haven't posted a lot on this year's election because the race this year between Gov. Tom Corbett and Tom Wolf appears to be all but wrapped up.  Erin McClelland is a good candidate for Congress in the PA 12th district against world squinting champion and Tea Party yes man, Rep. Keith Rothfus (R). 

One wildcard in this election, as it was in the last election, is social media.  The social media giant Facebook has been known to manipulate their users' news feeds in order to produce a desired effect.  Micah Sifry of MotherJones magazine has written on the experimentation Facebook has done to boost turnout in the 2012 election.  They have produced data that shows a 3% increase in turnout in 2012.  It doesn't say if it influenced how they voted.  They haven't said what they are doing in this election but clearly they have been manipulating timelines to tell their users what they want to hear.  Like any tool there is potential for abuse here in misinforming the public but also potential for good in motivating people to take action as the ice bucket challenge shows.  The danger is in not informing their users that this is done.  

Dave Ninehouser at has been doing everything he can to encourage people to vote for Erin McClelland and banter Rothfus.  Is his message getting through?  I couldn't embed a youtube video of Ninehouser confronting Rothfus because it has been "Disabled by Request."  Was it Rothfus' or Ninehouser's request?  You can view the video here.


Dave Ninehouser sent me this video of him confronting Rothfus because I couldn't embed his other video.


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Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Sands of the Middle East are Changing once Again

The above video gives a good overview of how the sands of the Middle East have changed since the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632 AD.  Conquering powers come and go as can be seen (This happens in other places in the world as well of course).  Is ISIS the latest conqueror?  It now controls Eastern Syria and Western Iraq and has been engaged in a fierce battle in the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobane.  Kobane is just two miles from the Turkish border where the Turks have hesitated to intervene.  The Turks may not care for ISIS but they are also concerned about troubles with their own Kurdish population.  

The interests of all these groups, Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Turks, Arabs, Iranians, Israelis, Yazidis, and others are complex and cannot be resolved with bombs.  Outside military intervention by the US and other countries only makes matters worse.  

ISIS would not exist without the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. al Qaeda's roots go back to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  The Islamic Republic of Iran's roots date back to the CIA overthrow of the democratically elected government there in the 1950's and the subsequent support of the Shah who brutally suppressed his people.  The people of the Middle East have been better off when they were free of outside intervention. 


A Fox News poll has come out saying that a majority of the US Public now favors sending US troops into fight ISIS.  Polls can be used as propaganda tools as well as to inform the public.  A CBS/NYT Poll from Sept. 19 shows that a 62% of Republicans support sending ground troops into Iraq where 39% of the total population do (Kevin Drum from Mother Jones added the expletive).  Are Republicans itching for a new war in the Middle East, at least if Jeb Bush is elected in 2016?

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