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Obama's Immigration Order To Give Tech Industry Some, Leave 'Em Wanting More

nbauman Re:I bet Infosys and Tata are dancing in the stree (179 comments)

Eventually Obama is going to be a civilian again. If he pleases the right people, he (or his immediate family) can make tremendous amounts of money as a lobbyist, consultant, guest speaker, etc...

Just look at the money that Chelsey Clinton earns from her array of jobs at various consulting, investment, educational, media and humanitarian companies and organizations. Her success was handed to her on a diamond platter as political thanks to her parents.

I don't know if Chelsea Clinton's employers are getting anything, but there's some truth to that.

For example, Billy Tauzin, the Republican representative from Louisiana, made sure that the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill would prohibit Medicare from negotiating cheaper prices with the drug companies, the way the health care systems do in every other country. After he left Congress, he went to work for the drug industry lobbying organization, PhRMA, for $2 million a year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... Pretty good investment. PhRMA paid a few million dollars, and got back billions in higher drug prices. That's why all those new drugs cost $100,000 and more a year.

2 days ago
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Will Lyft and Uber's Shared-Ride Service Hurt Public Transit?

nbauman Re:should be banned or regulated (237 comments)

The reason we require insurance coverage for cabs is that we had many accidents in which people were severely injured, including pedestrians who never contracted with the cab driver, and it turned out that the cab driver didn't have enough insurance to cover them.

Which is why Uber now provides a $1M policy covering all of their drivers. Does that address that issue?

Not quite. Cities have established local insurance requirements, and they require cab drivers to provide certain standards of proof that they meet the requirements. For example, NYC has a certain standard policy that all cab drivers have to buy. They get a certificate, with an expiration date, to demonstrate that they've bought that policy.

In NYC Uber could meet that requirement by hiring only licensed cab drivers with that insurance certificate, which I think they do. Otherwise, there's no assurance that they have equivalent coverage, and they probably don't. They could say they have equivalent coverage, but how do we know?

For example, as I recall the case, an Uber driver in California killed a child, and Uber said they had no liability because the driver wasn't carrying a passenger or picking up a passenger, he was waiting for a call. Company lawyers always come up with things like that. Then, as a result of the bad publicity, Uber decided to cover it after all.

The purpose of auto liability insurance is to make sure injured people are compensated under all reasonably forseeable circumstances, and one of the reasons we have insurance regulators is to examine those policies and make sure they do cover them.

New York City personal injury lawyers can tell you of lots of cases in which a taxi horribly injured a passenger or a pedestrian, the cost of medical expenses alone exceeded its $100,000 liability policy, the driver didn't have assets to cover it, and went bankrupt, or went back to Pakistan or the Dominican Republic. They can tell you about insurance companies where somebody committed fraud and they didn't have enough assets to cover their claims. The reason we have regulations is to make sure that people who are injured by others will get compensation.

In the U.S., insurance is complicated, because every state, and every jurisdiction, has its own requirements. That's the price we pay for local choice. (The alternative is a national dictator.) Uber probably can't come up with one national insurance policy that will satisfy the requirements of every jurisdiction. (Hertz has a large insurance department, and a large litigation department.) Uber can't just say, "Oh, we're transformational, we'll just ignore local laws and do it our own way." Driving people from A to B is easy. Convincing local jurisdictions that you meet their insurance and other requirements is the hard part.

The reason we require a hack license is that, among other things, we want cab drivers to go through a police check to make sure they haven't committed crimes in the past.

Okay, but is there any evidence that actually accomplishes anything? Assuming that there is, and that it's useful, then why not just require a background check?

Evidence, in the way that in medicine we have randomized controlled trials to prove that lowering blood pressure saves lives? No, but we seldom have that kind of evidence in public policy. (Or even in medicine.) It seems reasonable that if we put people in jail for robbing grocery stores, they'll be less likely to rob grocery stores, but there's no randomized trials to prove it. It isn't perfect, but it seems reasonable, and we have to do something to keep crime as low as possible, so we do it.

I am often reminded of the way women are concerned about safety. There are several cases in the newspapers which a woman took a cab (or an unlicensed ride) home from a bar because she was drunk, and was sexually assaulted. I guarantee you that women overwhelmingly don't want to take a chance on getting a driver who served time in jail for a violent crime, and women want their drivers to have criminal background checks. Their everyday experience is enough evidence for them. Lawmakers know it, and they provide regulations to accommodate them.

Uber claims they screen their drivers but it's up to them to convince us that they screen them as well as the hack bureau does.

Is there any evidence their screening is inadequate?

A quick Google search for "uber drivers criminal" will turn up evidence. http://www.nbclosangeles.com/n... http://pando.com/2014/01/06/ex...

But that's not the point. Who has the burden of proof? Do I as a passenger have to prove that when Uber takes over the market, they won't be as safe? Or does Uber have to prove that they're as safe before they take over the market? There's a principle in science that the burden of proof is on the innovator. I think that applies here. At any rate, that's what most legislatures are going to say.

And what about a medallion? Bonding? And is race discrimination a problem at Uber or Lyft (or in any cab company these days)?

Bonding is part of insurance. There's a good reason for it.

There is a good reason and a bad reason for a medallion. The experience is that when anybody can set himself up as a cab driver, the streets become blocked with traffic (like India), and no one can get through the traffic jams. The streets are built by the government, and whether they like it or not, governments have to regulate traffic. So good reason is that they have a right to restrict the number of medallions to keep the streets usable. The bad reason is that cab drivers, like barbers, want to limit competition. But is it a good public policy to throw open the cab driving business to any anyone in the world who can buy a plane ticket to New York and is willing to work for $4 an hour? I'm not prepared to say yes.

One of the ongoing problems with street cabs is that they often don't pick up black passengers. (Although I know a black woman who always takes a cab home to Brooklyn in the evening.) Uber may have an advantage there. They may have an advantage in making it more difficult for an anonymous passenger to rob them. I'd be interested in any evidence.

I do have to give you that you're the first to even attempt to dig into the underlying issues, though. Kudos for that.

Well thank you. One can sometimes find a rational discussion on the Internet, although it takes some searching.

I'm trying to make a more rational world, although most of the time it seems like an impossible task.

about a week ago
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Will Lyft and Uber's Shared-Ride Service Hurt Public Transit?

nbauman Re:should be banned or regulated (237 comments)

I'm not arguing that there shouldn't be regulations. I'm arguing that the regulations should exist for actual, important reasons not "just because that's they way we've always done it", which is essentially what people arguing that Lyft and Uber should have to follow the taxi regs are saying.

Step back a moment and think. What are the regs supposed to accomplish? Do they solve actual problems in the new context?

I notice that no one who has responded to my questions actually even tried to answer them.

You are creating a straw man. Who says, regulations should exist "just because that's the way we've always done it"? I don't say that. Nobody here said that. I don't know of anybody who said that. I challenge you to find someone who did. Atlas Shrugged doesn't count.

The parent gave you the regulations that Uber should follow: "displaying a hack lic, certification of insurance or bonding, and penalties for systematic race discrimination."

The reason we require insurance coverage for cabs is that we had many accidents in which people were severely injured, including pedestrians who never contracted with the cab driver, and it turned out that the cab driver didn't have enough insurance to cover them. If a pedestrian loses a leg, $100,000 insurance won't even cover the medical and rehabilitation costs. So the regulations required them to have a larger amount of insurance. There were stories about that in the New York Times in the last few years. An underinsured Uber driver had a major accident already.

The reason we require a hack license is that, among other things, we want cab drivers to go through a police check to make sure they haven't committed crimes in the past. Customers don't want to be alone in a cab and dependent on drivers who have been convicted of violent crimes. Many women want to take a cab home from a bar after they've had too much to drink. They don't want to be raped by the driver. Maybe you think they're wrong, but that's the decision they make in the free market and through the democratic process. Uber claims they screen their drivers but it's up to them to convince us that they screen them as well as the hack bureau does.

That's what the regulations are supposed to accomplish.

about a week ago
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Machine Learning Used To Predict Military Suicides

nbauman At least they won't take away our guns (74 comments)

Or alcohol.

Thank you, NRA and Congress, for giving our brave service men and women the freedom and personal responsibility to kill themselves when things get too tough.

http://touch.latimes.com/#sect...
Programs to prevent psychological problems in troops questioned
By Alan Zarembo
February 20, 2014, 7:34 p.m.

Many federal programs aimed at preventing psychological problems in military service members and their families have not been evaluated correctly to determine whether they are working and are not supported by science, says a new report commissioned by the Defense Department.

"A lot of their programs don’t have any good data behind them," said Kenneth Warner, a professor of public health at the University of Michigan who led the Institute of Medicine committee that produced the report. "We remain uncertain about which approaches work and which ones are ineffective."

At the same time, some proven interventions are not being used, the committee found. Researchers said there was ample evidence to suggest that limiting access to personal firearms on military bases would reduce suicides. About 60% of service members who take their own lives do it with guns — usually their own.

"Means restriction has been demonstrated to work," said David Rudd, a psychologist and suicide expert at the University of Memphis who served on the committee.

But in 2011, Congress prohibited the Defense Department from regulating legally owned personal firearms and ammunition on military bases.

http://iom.edu/Reports/2014/Pr...
Preventing Psychological Disorders in Service Members and Their Families: An Assessment of Programs
February 20, 2014

Among the small number of DOD-sponsored reintegration programs that exist, none appears to be based on scientific evidence. The committee was unable to identify any DOD evidence-based programs addressing the prevention of domestic abuse. More recently, the services have implemented a number of prevention interventions to address military sexual assault, yet a DOD review found that critical evaluation components needed to measure their effectiveness are missing.

The committee also found that environmental strategies with strong evidence of effectiveness are underutilized, such as restricting access to lethal means such as personal firearms to prevent suicide or homicide in domestic violence cases or placing restrictions on the sale of alcohol to reduce substance misuse.

In place of these proven approaches, the committee typically found interventions such as campaigns, Internet tools, or in-person events with no evidence for their effectiveness at preventing the targeted problem.

about a week ago
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Former Police Officer Indicted For Teaching How To Pass a Polygraph Test

nbauman Re: First Post (328 comments)

In this instance it appears that greed got the better of Mr. Williams. If you look at his website he's not doing anything wrong; he may be peddling snake oil but he's hardly the first one and that's not a crime. Read through the indictment and a different picture emerges. He counsels his clients to lie to Government investigators (witness tampering), arranges to receive the proceeds for this venture via the mail (mail fraud) and even ignores his own good judgment. When one of the undercover agents admits to lying on his employment application Williams cuts him off and says he can't work with him, he only works with people that are being truthful but whom are nervous about the test. This is in fact what his website says.

Had he stopped there he would have been fine. Did he? Of course not! He decides to "sleep on it" and comes up with a hair brained scheme to transfer money in a supposedly untraceable manner. He then tells his would-be client to break contact and reestablish it under a different name so that he doesn't have to knowingly counsel someone to lie.

The net proceeds of this particular venture? $5,000. The man is going to lose his freedom for a lousy five grand, all because greed overrode the little voice inside his head that said something was wrong. This is a life lesson that applies to everyone, criminal and honest citizen alike.

You are exactly right. I just read that indictment. I can't understand how Williams would take a chance like that.

He's been taunting the feds. They do a lot of stings like that, and it's prudent to be prepared for one. Even if the undercover agent's story had been true, the agent might have been prosecuted and might as well inform on Williams in hope of a better deal.

He said

You don't have to turn around and say, "Yeah, like I told you, I'm a lying son of a bitch." What the fuck was the reason for that, unless you wanted it on record that I was knowingly teaching someone how to lie and cheat...?

Williams knew what was happening. How could he make a stupid mistake like that? Is it the decline of age?

His line was, "The lie detector is bullshit, they can't catch criminals and then can accuse innocent people, I'm going to teach you how to pass the test. I don't want to hear about crimes. I'm not a lawyer and I can't give you lawyer-client privilege. If you want to talk about crimes, get a lawyer."

If he had stuck to that, he would have been OK.

about a week ago
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Former Police Officer Indicted For Teaching How To Pass a Polygraph Test

nbauman Re:First Post (328 comments)

Actually, often to get away your only choice is to lie to the cops.

Big mistake. That will net you an obstruction charge. The only safe course of action is to refuse to speak to them at all. Give them your name, address, and the following statement: "I do not wish to make any statement without the benefit of counsel." If you have information that they want badly enough they'll give you immunity. Otherwise keep your fucking mouth shut.

I'm not sure you even have to give them your name and address, if they haven't seen you committing a violation. That may vary from state to state.

A lawyer from the National Lawyer's Guild once told me to say, "Officer, am I free to go?"

In my understanding, the cops can't detain you unless they have reasonable grounds to believe you committed a crime.

That's also a good line to use when they try to intimidate you into giving them permission to search your car.

Pig: Can I search your car?

Driver: I won't resist, but I'm not giving you permission.

Pig: If you don't give me permission to search your car, we'll get the drug-sniffing dog and tear up your car.

Driver: Officer, am I free to go?

(The legal answer is yes. If he doesn't have enough reasonable suspicion to search your car, he doesn't have enough reasonable suspicion to detain you.)

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Who's the Doctors Without Borders of Technology?

nbauman Re: Check your local community first (111 comments)

Stay home. Seriously. As someone who has spent the last decade working on technology in the developing world, I can tell you that most of what I do is clean up after well meaning people who don't know enough about technology to avoid making simple mistakes, and who know next to nothing about local conditions. I cut my teeth working on the Canadian frontier, and I suggest you do something similar. Don't try to help until you're confident you can.

There's some merit to that. Doctors without Borders is an unusual organization in that they often operate in areas of danger. They turn down volunteers who don't already have experience in their kind of work.

Unexperienced doctors and others often go into disaster areas without being prepared, get into trouble and have to be evacuated.

Doctors without Borders also maintains a policy of strict political neutrality in the regions where they work. They often have relationships lasting 30 years with the local medical community, and they know exactly what the locals want, without imposing their own ideas on them.

Other organizations are not so neutral. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... If you're politically naive, you may not realize the risks you're taking https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

about a week ago
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Will Lyft and Uber's Shared-Ride Service Hurt Public Transit?

nbauman Re:should be banned or regulated (237 comments)

Lyft and Uber drivers should have to follow the same not-free regs as taxi drivers.

Why?

Serious question. Forget about questions of fairness, step back and look at first principles and evaluate whether the regulations are of value to society. Were these rules ever necessary? If so, why? Do the same reasons apply to Uber and Lyft?

We went through this debate in the 19th Century. People got tired of buying milk from tuberculosis cows.

Give me the name of a real-world country without regulations that you'd like to live in.

about two weeks ago
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US School Installs 'Shooter Detection' System

nbauman Re:Benefits, but still misses the point... (694 comments)

A lot of doctors who deal with these shootings say that the best way to stop them would be to reduce access to guns.

Just curious, but what makes a doctor an expert on that subject? :)

I would go to them if shot, because they are an expert in doing something about the injury, but not the cause.

Fair question.

(1) Prevention is part of medicine. Doctors have to deal with the results of gun violence, so they spend a lot of time thinking about how to prevent it. The same thing happened with automobile accidents. As Ralph Nader described in Unsafe at Any Speed, doctors saw that automobiles were designed in a way that caused needless injuries, such as dashboard knobs placed at exactly the height and shape that would drive them into a child's face or eye in a quick stop. They asked the automobile manufacturers to change the design, but the manufacturers ignored them, until they got hit with a few big product liability lawsuits.

(2) Doctors know how to use the methods of science, epidemiology and fault-tree analysis to deal with problems. For example, there is a chain of events that lead to a gun injury or fatality. Interrupting some links is more effective than interrupting others. For example, some of the early research found that the gun in a house was several times more likely to be used in suicide than for self defense. If you remove the gun from the house, you eliminate a significant number of suicides. Doctors and psychiatrists are sometimes asked to write notes saying that a patient who is applying for a gun license is not at risk for committing violence. They know that it's impossible to predict that risk. Some people here mistakenly believe that gun violence can be reduced by identifying mentally ill people.

(3) Some doctors own guns themselves. Many of them have been in the military. Many of them go hunting. So they have some expertise about guns.

about two weeks ago
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After Silk Road 2.0 Shutdown, Rival Dark Net Markets Grow Quickly

nbauman The dark net (86 comments)

We should start a campaign to suggest better names for the next instance after Evolution.

Intelligent Design?

about two weeks ago
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US School Installs 'Shooter Detection' System

nbauman Benefits, but still misses the point... (694 comments)

Of course, the REAL issue isn't even guns, it is mental health. We have kids who are unstable, unbalanced, and unloved, and the system does nothing for them. There is no way to identify problem or challenged kids and get them some help before they go off the deep end.

Actually, it's easy to identify violent children. Teachers see them acting violent. The problem is that nobody knows what "help" would be. Interventions like DARE, where a cop comes around to a school and plays male authority figure, actually make kids more likely to get arrested. We know that sending kids to work camps and prisons makes them more violent.

Some preschool programs, which teach kids to interact with each other, make them less likely to have problems later on. Most violent kids come from families that are disrupted and low income. Since there's a strong correlation between violence and poverty, it seems plausible that eliminating poverty would also reduce violence.

I think studies found that giving people better housing, under certain circumstances, made their kids more likely to succeed in school.

Past behavior predicts future behavior. But a quick Google search of "predicting violence" will show that there's no scientific evidence of any screening method other than past behavior that can predict future violence. And there's no way to predict a school shooting.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

"There is no instrument that is specifically useful or validated for identifying potential school shooters or mass murderers," said Stephen D. Hart, a psychologist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver who is the co-author of a widely used evaluation tool. "There are many things in life where we have an inadequate evidence base, and this is one of them."

The only thing that can predict shooting is access to a gun. If kids can't get guns, they can't shoot up schools. They often get their parents' guns, or get older friends to buy them. A lot of doctors who deal with these shootings say that the best way to stop them would be to reduce access to guns.

Unfortunately, we don't have good research or evidence on gun violence because the NRA lobbied Congress to cut funds to any federal agency that paid for research on gun violence.

So the NRA has guaranteed your right to say, "There's no evidence for that."

about two weeks ago
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Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

nbauman Re:Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha (458 comments)

Good point, They thought of that. Their answer is no.

http://www.nber.org/papers/w98...

In Section 5, we discuss possible interpretations of our results, focusing especially on two issues. First, we examine whether the race-specic names we have chosen might also proxy for social class above and beyond the race of the applicant. Using birth certicates data on mother’s education for the dierent names used in our sample, we nd little relationship between social background and the name specic callback rates.

Also see Table 11.

about two weeks ago
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Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

nbauman Re:Yeah, right... (458 comments)

"There is a lot that has to change if we want true equality, and that includes everyone"

There is never ever going to be a time when everyone treats everyone equally. That is not in any way even a desirable state.

I would be happy to have a Scandinavian or German level of opportunity and (lack of) poverty. As you may know, there is more social mobility in those countries than in the U.S. [Citation omitted, go look it up yourself on Google]

And there are studies that show that countries like that with more equality have higher GNP, better health outcomes, etc.

I'd be happy to have a free education system like we did in New York City with City College and Brooklyn College, where admission was based on test scores and high school grades, rather than on your dad's ability to pay huge expenses. That was a real meritocracy. The smartest kids in NYC went to CCNY, regardless of race or religion. CCNY has a wall with photos of graduates who went on to get Nobel prizes, or (like Andy Grove) created Silicon Valley. If you read their Nobel autobiographies, you see that some of them were rich kids, but most of them were working class kids whose fathers were tailors or grocers, who would have gone on to do the same if college wasn't free.

about two weeks ago
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Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

nbauman Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha... (458 comments)

Here's one:

Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination (NBER Working Paper No. 9873).

Studies like that have been done repeatedly for decades. I expect that if you read the NBER study, they'd have a bibliography of older research.

Each one repeatedly demonstrates actual discrimination against blacks in hiring. I don't know how anyone could avoid that conclusion. Employers are more likely to hire a person with a white name than a person with a black name with the identical resume. It's not just socioeconomic disadvantage, inability to do the job, lack of qualifications or laziness.

I don't know if anyone has done a similar study in tech fields specifically, but it would be a good thing to do. If you're taking a black studies course, you could get a good paper out of it. Send out 100 resumes to Monster.com from Greg and 100 resumes from Jamal.

If you want to know generally why there are so few minorities in science, Science magazine has had many articles.

http://www.chicagobooth.edu/ca...

http://www.nber.org/digest/sep...

Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination (NBER Working Paper No. 9873).

Employers' Replies to Racial Names

"Job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback."

Now a "field experiment" by NBER Faculty Research Fellows Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan measures this discrimination in a novel way. In response to help-wanted ads in Chicago and Boston newspapers, they sent resumes with either African-American- or white-sounding names and then measured the number of callbacks each resume received for interviews. Thus, they experimentally manipulated perception of race via the name on the resume. Half of the applicants were assigned African-American names that are "remarkably common" in the black population, the other half white sounding names, such as Emily Walsh or Greg Baker.

To see how the credentials of job applicants affect discrimination, the authors varied the quality of the resumes they used in response to a given ad. Higher quality applicants were given a little more labor market experience on average and fewer holes in their employment history. They were also portrayed as more likely to have an email address, to have completed some certification degree, to possess foreign language skills, or to have been awarded some honors.

In total, the authors responded to more than 1,300 employment ads in the sales, administrative support, clerical, and customer services job categories, sending out nearly 5,000 resumes. The ads covered a large spectrum of job quality, from cashier work at retail establishments and clerical work in a mailroom to office and sales management positions.

Here's more:

http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/200...

Study: Black man and white felon – same chances for hire

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12...

In Job Hunt, College Degree Can’t Close Racial Gap

"A more recent study, published this year in The Journal of Labor Economics found white, Asian and Hispanic managers tended to hire more whites and fewer blacks than black managers did."

"There is also the matter of how many jobs, especially higher-level ones, are never even posted and depend on word-of-mouth and informal networks, in many cases leaving blacks at a disadvantage. A recent study published in the academic journal Social Problems found that white males receive substantially more job leads for high-level supervisory positions than women and members of minorities."

about two weeks ago
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Free Broadband For NYC Public Housing?

nbauman Re:Not enough (250 comments)

simple solution. Have schools for the learning disabled and tailor the curriculum to them. There is no reason for example an illiterate 18 year old should be i nthe same English class with students without disabilities as it will only stunt their ability to learn

  im not saying "kick them out" im saying work to better EVERYONE

That's the way they used to do it. It didn't work. I used to work for an organization that dealt with the blind. They used to have separate schools for the blind. They failed. When I worked for them, they were "mainstreaming," re-introducing students back to normal schools as much as possible.

If you stop and think for a second, an entire school full of illiterate 18-year-olds, some of them with behavioral problems, is not the place you'd want your kids to be, and not the place you want to teach. They don't have any role models of kids who can actually read. They don't make any normal friends. It's very expensive to staff a school like that, unless you give up and turn it into a dungeon, and they usually don't get the staffing they need. States never give them the budgets they need to even meet the normal expenses of running an institution.

And the kids are removed from their homes and taken far away. Do you want to take them away from their parents and relatives?

And it's much more expensive to keep a kid in an institution than leave them in their own homes.

They tried it. It didn't work. It was a disaster.

It works much better to mainstream kids and distribute them among regular schools.

about three weeks ago
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Free Broadband For NYC Public Housing?

nbauman Re:Not enough (250 comments)

Parents don't want their own kids to get kicked out. They want other kids to get out.

It sounds very nice to kick out kids who are deliberately being disruptive or not trying, but everybody in education knows that what makes running a school difficult is that a certain percentage of kids are going to be difficult to teach, usually through no fault of their own.

For example, early premature infants usually have damaged brains, and they range from being blind, unable to sit up, and unable to recognize people around them or speak, to having IQs of 40 or 50. It's pretty difficult and expensive to teach a kid with an IQ of 50, unless you want to warehouse them in dungeons like the Romanians did or execute them like the Nazis did. Public schools have to teach them. Private schools don't. That's why private schools can get higher average grades and sometimes be cheaper.

And a lot of schools kick out the marginally difficult students. There was a study of some of the southern schools where the principals had to meet high-stakes test standards for math and reading. As any teacher knows, there's an easy way to raise the percentage of students who pass the reading tests -- expel any student who has difficulty learning how to read. They were kicking out high school seniors who hadn't learned to read (or "encouraging" them to leave). These were students who were trying hard, but had intellectual deficits, with IQs of 80 or so. What's going to become of them? How are they going to get through life without reading?

In New York City, they don't kick those students out. They regard them as handicapped, give them extra effort, and bring them up to learn as much as they can. That's why New York City schools are expensive. Name a charter school that teaches illiterate 18-year-olds to read.

I worked for public interest lawyers. I saw a lot of lawsuits. When a school kicks out a "problem" kid, they should sue. You want to run a school? Take the good with the bad. Other countries do that.

about three weeks ago
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Free Broadband For NYC Public Housing?

nbauman Re:Not enough (250 comments)

Every developed country in the world provides free public education to children.

There are some countries like England where the rich send their children to private schools, but that's more for making social connections than for the better education.

And in the US, the main reason for sending children to private schools is to have them grow up among a wealthy class rather than to associate with the working class.

That's the main reason for private schools, and in the US, the public school movement got its big boost in the 1960s and 1970s with the segregation academies, which grew up when white parents in the south didn't want to send their children to school with black students.

You can look up Wall Street Journal editorials about how the federal government had no right to enforce integration.

Most wealthy towns have good public schools. That's why people are willing to pay such high taxes to live in those towns. If you have a school board with adequate funding, that is run by parents whose children are in the school, who want good education, you'll have good schools.

If you want to run an experiment, you can run public schools alongside private schools, give them each the same amount of money, and see who does better. We did an experiment like that. That was charter schools. The conservabots said that the private schools with financial incentives would do better. (The charter schools actually got more money, but never mind.) When after several years they were finally evaluated by the NAEP, which everybody agreed was an objective, qualified evaluator, the charter schools did no better and the public schools did slightly better. http://nces.ed.gov/nationsrepo...

In New York City, there are no private schools as good as Bronx Science and Stuyvesant. They are a meritocracy, and admission is by entrance exam, so a rich kid can't do any better than a smart kid. The private schools will take anybody who can pay $40,000 a year. In contrast, public schools cost the city about $20,000 a year.

about three weeks ago
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Free Broadband For NYC Public Housing?

nbauman Re:Not enough (250 comments)

Free quality education, free quality medical care and free child care would help more.

You mean like all the other industrial democracies?

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Danes make $20 an hour, Americans $9 for same jobs

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a month ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Fast food workers in Denmark make at least $20 an hour, with time and a half for evenings and Sunday. In the U.S., they average $8.90 an hour for the same jobs, and get public assistance. A Big Mac costs $5.60 in Denmark, $4.80 in the U.S. Restaurants are less profitable for the owners in Denmark, but profitable enough for the chains to set up shop there. Workers get a bigger share of the profits. Why is that?
“We Danes accept that a burger is expensive, but we also know that working conditions and wages are decent when we eat that burger,” said Soren Kaj Andersen, an economics professor.
Danish fast food workers also have a strong union, 3F, which works cooperatively with the employer associations. McDonald's arrived and refused to join, but after a year of protests, caved in.
The New York Times compares Hampus Elofsson, 24, who works for Burger King in Copenhagen, Denmark, with Anthony Moore, shift manager at Burger King, Tampa, FL. Elofsson has enough for a night out with his friends and a savings account (plus government health care). Moore makes $9 an hour for a 35-hour week, gets $164 a month in food stamps, is behind on his bills, can't buy clothes for his kids, and can't afford Burger King's health plan.
A pair of stories in the New Yorker reports on the (hopeless for now) movement to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 or at least $10 an hour, and debunks the arguments that minimum wage workers are teenagers getting their first job for gas money. It quotes some candid remarks by an adviser to Charles Koch, secretly recorded at a fundraising filet mignon dinner. http://www.newyorker.com/news/...
http://www.newyorker.com/magaz..."

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Why do Danes make $20 an hour and Americans $9 an hour for the same job?

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a month ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Fast food workers in Denmark make at least $20 an hour, with time and a half for evenings and Sunday. In the U.S., they average $8.90 an hour for the same jobs, and get public assistance. A Big Mac costs $5.60 in Denmark, $4.80 in the U.S. Restaurants are less profitable for the owners in Denmark, but profitable enough for the chains to set up shop there. Workers get a bigger share of the profits. Why is that?
“We Danes accept that a burger is expensive, but we also know that working conditions and wages are decent when we eat that burger,” said Soren Kaj Andersen, an economics professor.
Danish fast food workers also have a strong union, 3F, which works cooperatively with the employer associations. McDonald's arrived and refused to join, but after a year of protests, caved in.
The New York Times compares Hampus Elofsson, 24, who works for Burger King in Copenhagen, Denmark, with Anthony Moore, shift manager at Burger King, Tampa, FL. Elofsson has enough for a night out with his friends and a savings account (plus government health care). Moore makes $9 an hour for a 35-hour week, gets $164 a month in food stamps, is behind on his bills, can't buy clothes for his kids, and can't afford Burger King's health plan.
A pair of stories in the New Yorker reports on the (hopeless for now) movement to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 or at least $10 an hour, and debunks the arguments that minimum wage workers are teenagers getting their first job for gas money. It quotes some candid remarks by an adviser to Charles Koch, secretly recorded at a fundraising filet mignon dinner. http://www.newyorker.com/news/...
http://www.newyorker.com/magaz..."

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Why did Presbyterian Hospital send Ebola victim home?

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a month ago

nbauman (624611) writes "From the how-can-they-be-so-stupid department

One basic question a doctor asks is, "Have you been in a foreign country recently?" and the CDC issued guidelines on Ebola, so why did Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital send Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan home with antibiotics?

The Dallas Observer http://blogs.dallasobserver.co... asks whether it was a mistake or systemic problem. Presbyterian, an upscale hospital for people with good insurance, has a financial dilemma with low-income people without insurance. "Who eats the cost?" (Texas Governor Rick Perry rejected Obamacare and Medicaid money, and closed public clinics.)

Medicare/Medicaid regulations require hospitals to treat everyone in an emergency, but there are no records of that. Medicare/Medicaid does have public records of readmission to the emergency room, which is a proxy for inadequate treatment. Presbyterian is one of the worst in the area.

So maybe, under economic pressure of uninsured patients, Presbyterian ER doctors got in a habit of sending patients home with antibiotics and hoping they won't come back.

We won't know until or unless a health agency does a good investigation. Paul Levy, former hospital CEO turned industry gadfly, called for a full root cause analysis. http://runningahospital.blogsp..."
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Back to faxes: Doctors can't exchange digital medical records

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 2 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Doctors with one medical records system can't exchange information with systems made by other vendors, including those at their own hospitals, according to the New York Times. An ophthalmologist spent half a million dollars on a system and still keeps sending faxes. If doctors can't exchange records, they'll face a 1% Medicare penalty. The largest vendor is Epic Systems, Madison, WI, which holds almost half the medical records in the U.S. A RAND report described Epic as a “closed” platform that made it “challenging and costly” for hospitals to interconnect. UC Davis has a staff of 22 to keep everything communicating. Epic charges a fee to send data to some non-Epic systems. Congress held hearings. Epic hired a lobbyist. Epic's founder, billionaire computer science major Judith Faulkner, said that Epic was one of the first to establish code and standards for secure interchange, which included user authentication provisions and a legally binding contract. She said the federal government, which gave $24 billion incentive payments to doctors for computerization, should have done that. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said that it was a "top priority" and they just wrote a 10-year vision statement and agenda for it."
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Top 50 science stars of Twitter: Not wasting time after all

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 2 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Genomicist Neil Hall proposed a “Kardashian Index” (K-index), which divides a scientist’s Twitter followers by his or her citations. Scientists with a high score should “get off Twitter” and write more papers, wrote Hall.

Science magazine calculated the K-index of the 50 most followed scientists on Twitter. Actually, many of the high tweeters also had high citation counts too. The converse wasn't true: Many high-ranking scientists think Twitter is a waste of time. But others were converted.

The 3 scientists with the highest K-index are:

1. Neil deGrasse Tyson, @neiltyson
2. Brian Cox, @ProfBrianCox
3. Richard Dawkins, @RichardDawkins


The top 50 list is here. http://news.sciencemag.org/sci..."

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Coffee genome sequenced

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 3 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "According to ScienceNow, "The coffee genome has finally been sequenced, and it’s revealing some insights into how one of the world’s favorite drinks got its buzz. Compared with other plant genomes such as grape’s, the coffee genome has expanded the family of genes that include those that code for enzymes involved in caffeine production, researchers report online today in Science. There are 23 new genes found only in coffee, the group finds. These genes are different from the caffeine-related genes in chocolate, indicating that the ability to produce caffeine evolved at least twice. This isn’t just the first published coffee genome; it’s also the first in its 11,000 or so species family, which includes milkweeds, periwinkles, and the species that supplies quinine. Although the genomes of many groups have undergone duplications thought to make possible their diversification into different shapes and sizes, the researchers found no such expansion in the coffee group. Instead they suggest that the duplication of individual genes, including the caffeine ones, spurred innovations.""
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Peter Piot's tale of Africa's first encounter with Ebola (free)

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 3 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Microbe Hunters, 1974. The Ebola epidemic, free in Science magazine.

A virologist's tale of Africa's first encounter with Ebola
By Peter Piot

Piot would become one of the world’s most respected epidemiologists because of his work on the viruses that cause AIDS and Ebola—he is a former under secretary-general of the United Nations, former president of the International AIDS Society, and now director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. In part one of this edited excerpt from his memoir, Piot describes how he and colleagues, with what now seem crude and risky methods, became co-discoverers of the deadly virus now on the rampage again.
http://news.sciencemag.org/afr...

By this point for him to keep us working on those samples was sheer folly; he knew we were not equipped to do the work in safety. In 1974 there were only three labs outside the Soviet Union that could handle hemorrhagic viruses: Fort Detrick, a military lab in Maryland that did high-security bioterrorism work on anthrax and other highly lethal diseases; the Army High Security Laboratory in Porton Down, in England; and the so-called hot lab at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in Atlanta.

Doing that kind of work wasn’t Pattyn’s job. He was a micro-manager but he wasn’t a technician, and in fact he could be rather clumsy. But impulsively he reached for one of the precious tubes, to check it out himself under the scope, and as he did so it slipped from his hand and crashed on the floor.

In this second excerpt, he and colleagues go into Zaire’s hot zone and, with the help of nuns who had survived, make a tragic discovery about how the virus had spread among pregnant women.
http://news.sciencemag.org/afr...

Pattyn insisted I take a suit and tie, as I would “represent the Belgian government” and meet with Zairean government officials.

Free! Special collection of Ebola articles in Science.
http://www.sciencemag.org/site..."
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Commercial sex and the Internet

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 8 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "A big academic study by the Urban Institute on the commercial sex economy described how the Internet changed prostitution since 2000. This makes it easier for sex workers to get business and for cops to track it. "Getting rid of Craigslist.com was actually a disservice to law enforcement because they were cooperating," said one cop.

The study, Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities, focused on Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington, DC. There, the underground commercial sex economy (UCSE), as they call it, was worth $40-$300 million in 2007. They give prices in major cities for major services, and list the popular web sites. They interviewed pimps, traffickers, sex workers, child pornographers, and law enforcement. Pimps and traffickers interviewed for the study took home between $5,000 and $32,833 a week. Pimps claimed that the media portrayals were inaccurate, and exaggerated violence. They thought the term "pimp" was derogatory. Female sex workers, whose income varied greatly, often had family members or friends who exposed them to the sex trade at a young age, normalizing it.

Child pornography is escalating, and is mostly traded for free. Users often claim it's a victimless crime. The unsophisticated get caught. Some claimed that they were convicted because of images that were actually downloaded on their computer by family and friends.

The report's policy recommendations are to increase prosecution for commercial sex. "Consistently enforce the laws for offenders to diminish low-risk perception." Web sits that host ads should be prosecuted. Newspapers and web sites that post ads should be required to also post the phone numbers of trafficking hotlines. Investigators need more training."

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Immigration Fraud in Chinatown: Industry of Lies

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 9 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Can't get a U.S. immigration visa? Find a lawyer who will fabricate an asylum claim for you based on phony stories about persecution. Choose among Christianity, Falun Gong, political persecution or forced abortion.

Immigration law firms in New York City were coaching Chinese immigrants to lie about their experiences in China in order to get asylum, according to federal indictments reported in the New York Times. Applicants claimed they were forced to get abortions or sterilization, or that they were persecuted as Christians or as members of the Chinese Democracy Party or Falun Gong. A legal assistant who pled guilty testified that he would use the Falun Gong story for uneducated immigrants because it was easiest to remember. For young immigrants with at least a high school education, he would tell them to claim Christianity. Another defendant charged applicants for lessons on the basics of Christianity and how to lie, according to prosecutors. Her lawyer said she was a devout Christian whose “goal was to help these individuals find God through the teachings of Christianity.” In Flushing, Queens, churches give receipts for attendance to help them bolster their claims. A lawyer made up a narrative for a client about how she got pregnant out of wedlock, heard a knock on the door, was hauled off to a clinic by government officials, and forced to endure an abortion. Other legal assistants forged documents. Many sources said that these false applications were an open secret.

Federal investigators find immigration fraud among Russians, Afghans, Mexicans, Guineans and others, but right now, the overwhelming number are Chinese and the largest number are applying to the New York City office.

Fees start at $1,000 and can pass $10,000. Many of the applicants are restaurant and construction workers, nannies and manicurists. One indicted lawyer said that he was motivated by moral principles more than money. "We are doing work like the last stop on the Underground Railroad." Otherwise they would be sent back to China."

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Krugman: Say no to Comcast acquisition of Time Warner

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 9 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "In his column, "Barons of Broadband" http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02... (easily circumventable paywall) New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says:

Comcast perfectly fits the old notion of monopolists as robber barons, so-called by analogy with medieval warlords who perched in their castles overlooking the Rhine, extracting tolls from all who passed. The Time Warner deal would in effect let Comcast strengthen its fortifications, which has to be a bad idea.

Comcast’s chief executive says not to worry: “It will not reduce competition in any relevant market because our companies do not overlap or compete with each other. In fact, we do not operate in any of the same ZIP codes.” This is, however, transparently disingenuous. The big concern about making Comcast even bigger isn’t reduced competition for customers in local markets — for one thing, there’s hardly any effective competition at that level anyway. It is that Comcast would have even more power than it already does to dictate terms to the providers of content for its digital pipes — and that its ability to drive tough deals upstream would make it even harder for potential downstream rivals to challenge its local monopolies."

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US medical research down, asia up, sequester hits NIH

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 10 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Once, the U.S. paid for 70-80% of the world's medical research. Now it's down to 45%. Asia is up to 24%, according to an analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine. Europe is steady at 29%.

U.S. spending on biomedical research fell from $131 billion in 2007 to $119 billion in 2012. This decline was driven almost entirely by reduced investment by industry, not the public sector. But sequestration of NIH funding will exacerbate this reduction.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 cut the NIH budget for FY 2013 by $1.7 billion, to $29.2 billion — a 5.5% reduction. Federal funding for biomedical research has been declining since 2003.

Meanwhile, Japan increased spending by $9 billion and China increased by $6.4 billion. China has the highest annual growth rate of biomedical research in the world, at 32.8% per year.

One reason for this decline may be that research is cheaper in Asia, with lower-cost labor and greater government subsidies. Conversely, FDA approval has become more expensive in the U.S.

The data suggests that industry may simply be reallocating R&D funding to Asia-Oceana. The authors say, "the lack of a coordinated national biomedical R&D strategy is disappointing.""

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Federal judge says prosecutors blackmail defendants into guilty pleas

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, gave Lulzim Kupa a day to plead guilty and accept 8 years in prison for cocaine dealing; otherwise he would get an automatic life sentence. Judge John Gleeson wrote that the Justice Department was abusing their power to bully defendants into giving up their constitutional right to a trial. "The fact that they are business as usual doesn't alter the fact that these sentences should instill shame in all of us," he wrote, saying that it would force innocent people to plead guilty. These hardball tactics are "sledgehammers against the ever-dwindling few who have the temerity to ask for the trial the Constitution guarantees." The prosecutor said that the tactic was approved by the Supreme Court, and "Since when is it extortion for a federal prosecutor to follow Supreme Court law?""
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What's Lost When a Meeting Goes Virtual

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year ago

nbauman (624611) writes "This summer, NASA's Lunar Science Forum became the largest scientific gathering to embrace the new world of cyber meetings. The experience drew mixed reviews, according to a report in Science magazine. Mihály Horányi, who has been a regular, sat down at his computer at 1:45 p.m. on the first day of the conference and began talking into a webcam perched above the screen. "Last year it was a performance. This year it meant staring at myself, being annoyed that I kept leaning in and out of the picture, and thinking, 'Boy, am I getting old.'" He and other participants say the virtual conference was a pale imitation of the real thing. At previous forums, "You see your friends, you ask about their kids, and then the discussion flows into the science." He participated much less this year, 2 hours a day. In addition to the physical challenge of sitting at one's computer for hours on end, participants say that their day jobs competed for their attention. 150 to 200 people "attended" at any one time. Even without distractions, the quality of the interaction was much lower than in person. "I received a handful of short comments [from my talk] and had maybe one e-mail exchange," Horányi recalls. One scientist who didn't present this year—and who listened to only one talk after the fact—said that he much prefers an in-person meeting because "you get a much better sense of how the audience is reacting to what you're saying, especially any negative feedback.""
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What works in education: Scientific evidence gets ignored

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year ago

nbauman (624611) writes "According to Gina Kolata in the New York Times, The Institute of Education Sciences in the Department of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, has supported 175 randomized controlled studies, like the studies used in medicine, to find out what works and doesn't work, which are reported in the What Works Clearinghouse. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/ Surprisingly, the choice of instructional materials — textbooks, curriculum guides, homework, quizzes — can affect achievement as much as teachers; poor materials have as much effect as a bad teacher, and good materials can offset a bad teacher’s deficiencies. One popular math textbook was superior to 3 competitors. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/projects/evaluation/math_curricula.asp A popular computer-assisted math program had no benefit. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20094041/pdf/20094041.pdf Most educators, including principals and superintendents, don't know the data exists. 42% of school districts had never heard of the clearinghouse. Up to 90% of programs that seemed promising in small studies had no effect or made achievement scores worse. For example a program to increase 7th-grade math teachers' understanding of math increased their understanding but had no effect on student achievement. Upward Bound had no effect."
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Medical costs bankrupt patients; it's the computer's fault

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Don't get cancer until 2015. The Obama health reform is supposed to limit out-of-pocket costs to $12,700. But the Obama Administration has delayed its implementation until 2015. The insurance companies told them that their computers weren't able to add up all their customers' out-of-pocket costs, to see whether they had reached the limit. For some common diseases, such as cancer or heart failure, treatment can cost over $100,000, and patients will be responsible for the balance.

Tell me, Slashdot, how difficult would it be to rewrite an insurance billing system to aggregate a policyholder's out-of-pocket costs?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/13/us/a-limit-on-consumer-costs-is-delayed-in-health-care-law.html
A Limit on Consumer Costs Is Delayed in Health Care Law
By ROBERT PEAR
August 12, 2013

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said: “We knew this was an important issue. We had to balance the interests of consumers with the concerns of health plan sponsors and carriers, which told us that their computer systems were not set up to aggregate all of a person’s out-of-pocket costs. They asked for more time to comply.”"

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Slate retracts doctor-bashing essay

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Who needs journalists? Who needs fact-checkers? Let's just go on the Internet and give people the truth directly, right?

A Slate article gave incredible examples of abusive doctors, but Slate took it down because of the author's credibility — she had faked a suicide.

Slate published an essay from its partner Quora in which an obese woman named Sonnet Fitzgerald gave a long list of abusive comments that doctors and medical staff had made to her, including "When I was pregnant, one OB called me disgusting and told me to have an abortion."

Slate deleted the piece because it "did not meet our editorial standards," but didn't say why. http://www.slate.com/blogs/quora/2013/07/25/obesity_are_doctors_biased_against_their_overweight_patients.html

According to the blog http://sonnetfakedsuicide.blogspot.com/, in 2010 Fitzgerald posted a fake announcement by her husband of her own suicide. Several readers of the Slate blog challenged her credibility.

brandchannel reprinted the original essay, with more stories of abusive doctors, here http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/2013/07/26/Slates-Quora-Partnership-072613.aspx

Old-style newspapers that followed the traditional rules of journalism wouldn't have printed a story making charges against unnamed doctors (or anyone else) that couldn't be verified. The old New Yorker would have asked for the names of the doctors, called them up and found out what they had to say. But on the Internet, the blogger can write anything she wants, and the reader doesn't know whether it's true."
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Advice columnist: Stop nagging husband about gaming

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year and a half ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Q. Husband's Gaming: My husband and I married a few years ago after just months of knowing each other. I have never once doubted our decision to marry, and on the whole, we are exceptionally happy. He is my perfect partner and an ideal father for our daughter—but, of course, there's a but. During our very brief courtship, there is one habit he intentionally hid from me—online gaming. Apparently, he didn't want me to think him nerdy. When he first disclosed this after the honeymoon, I thought it was funny and cute. A couple years later, I'm bitter—we have routine marital disagreements, but this is the only issue we ever fight about. He spends several hours a week (10-20) playing these online games! Every time we fight about it, he'll cut back or promise to stop ... but within a week or two, it's back to at least a couple of hours every day. This is a man who has quit smoking and quit his pseudo-addiction to energy drinks, but can't (or won't) quit online gaming. I can't imagine life without him, but this is making me miserable. I'm not willing to leave him over it; how can I get him to stop or change my own attitude to accept it?"
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"This is your second and final notice" robocallers revealed: Brenda Helfenstine

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 2 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "A New York Times consumer columnist tracked down the people who run a "This is your second and final notice" robocall operation.

The calls came from Account Management Assistance, which promises to negotiate lower credit card rates with banks. One woman paid them $1,000, and all they did was give her a limited-time zero-percent credit card that she could have gotten herself.

AMA has a post office box in Orlando, Florida. The Better Business Bureau has a page for Your Financial Ladder, which does business as Account Management Assistance, and as Economic Progress. According to a Florida incorporation filing, Economic Progress is operated by Brenda Helfenstine, with her husband Tony.

The Arkansas attorney general has sued Your Financial Ladder for violating the Telemarketing Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services investigated Your Financial Ladder, but the investigator went to 1760 Sundance Drive, St. Cloud, which turned out to be a residence, and gave up.

The Times notes that you can type their phone number (855-462-3833) into http://800notes.com/ and get lots of reports on them."

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The brilliant jerk must die

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "When he spoke, everyone became quiet and listened — not out of excitement for what he was going to say but out of respect. Yes, the doctors had respect for the Brilliant Jerk.

Here’s why: He was always the first to cover for doctors who were on call. He was always the first to volunteer to work on holidays. He had the most articles published by the American Medical Association. He was the first to get new training and share it with others one-on-one. And by the way, he was the highest revenue producer of all the doctors in the group. In fact, he was producing twice the revenue of some of the doctors. He had been the third doctor to join the group and without his revenue, the start-up could not have been successful.

But here’s the problem: While he had performed brilliantly for the start-up, he was not performing brilliantly for a company that was trying to grow."

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Asshole President ignored detailed warnings about 9/11

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "George W. Bush's Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief, unclassified by the 9/11 Commission, had the headline, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” But other Briefs which weren't released show the CIA warning the White House of the planned attack in even greater detail all during the summer of 2001, according to former New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald. Bush ignored the warnings, even after federal authorities caught two of the hijackers.

On May 1, the CIA told the White House that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. On June 22, they reported Qaeda strikes could be “imminent.” On June 29, they reported that Bin Laden aides warned of a coming attack in an interview with a Middle Eastern journalist. On June 29, they reported that Bin Laden operatives expected the attacks to have “dramatic consequences,” including major casualties. On July 1, they said the operation had been delayed, but “will occur soon.” On Aug. 4. Mohamed al-Kahtani was stopped at an airport in Orlando, FL, by a suspicious customs agent and sent back. Two weeks later, Zacarias Moussaoui, was arrested on immigration charges in Minnesota after arousing suspicions at a flight school.

The White House ignored these warnings because the neocons, who were pushing for war with Iraq, said that it was a disinformation campaign by Bin Laden to distract attention from Saddam Hussein."

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Journals

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Canadian health care better, cheaper than US

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 7 years ago Canadian health care is as good as or better than U.S. health care, at half the cost.

Gordon Guyatt et al. published "A systematic review of studies comparing health outcomes in Canada and the United States," in volume 1, issue 1 of Open Medicine, a new Canadian journal with an editorial board composed of some of the world's top medical experts, and a staff that just got fired from or quit Canada's formerly top medical journal. http://www.openmedicine.ca/article/view/8/1 The review's conclusion is:

"Available studies suggest that health outcomes may be superior in patients cared for in Canada versus the United States, but differences are not consistent."

The article also says that, in 2003, Americans spent an estimated US$5,635 per capita on health care, while Canadians spent US$3,003.

The journal Open Medicine is another story. John Hoey, editor of CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association, was fired last year by the CMA, and most of the staff resigned. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/354/19/1982 http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/174/1/9 http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/173/12/1435 Hoey sent reporters to buy morning-after pills in pharmacies around Canada. They found out that pharmacists illegally asked for personal information, which was entered in their computers. The Canadian Pharmacists Association complained to the CMA, and the CMA censored the story and fired Hoey. The CMAJ staff quit and founded this new journal, Open Medicine, and they have loaded the first issue with the best studies they could get. Open Medicine does not accept pharmaceutical ads.

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Medical privacy: You have none. Psych notes are public

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Your most private thoughts that you share with your psychotherapist have been scanned and merged with your general medical records, where they are now available to anybody who sues your insurance company over a fender-bender auto accident, if your hospital is like Stanford Hospital & Clinics (and most are). That's what Patricia Galvin found out when she sued her therapist, clinical psychologist Rachel Manber, for disclosing her therapy notes, even though Manber assured Galvin that their notes would be confidential. When therapy notes are merged with general records, they lose their special protection under HIPAA, and anyone with a subpoena can get them. This story about Galvin from the Wall Street Journal is now available from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06362/749444-114.stm free to cheapskates without subscription. Another good reason for medical privacy: Some companies fire diabetics for ostensible safety reasons, even though there's no evidence that they're unsafe, according to the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/26/health/26workplace.html
U.S. privacy protection is even weaker than Europe's http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/27/0743217
A lawyer told me how to protect your medical confidentiality: use a false name, pay cash, don't trust computers.

WSJ, 26 Dec 2006, Medical dilemma: spread of records stirs patient fears of privacy erosion; Ms. Galvin's insurer studies psychotherapist's notes; a dispute over the rules; complaint tally hits 23,896, Theo Francis.

(My notes, for people who are too lazy to even click on the link:)

In 1996, after her fiance died suddenly, Patricia Galvin left New York for San Francisco and was hired by Heller Ehrman LLP.

In 2000, Galvin began psychotherapy sessions at Stanford Hospital & Clinics with clinical psychologist Rachel Manber, who discussed her problems at work, her fiance's death, and her relationships with family, friends and co-workers. Manber assured Galvin that her notes would be confidential.

"I would never have engaged in psychotherapy with her if she did not promise me these notes were under lock and key."

In 2001, Galvin was rear-ended at a red light and suffered 4 herniated disks, which worsened.

In 2003, she applied for long-term disability. Her employer's carrier, UnumProvident Corp., said it would deny her claim unless she signed a release.

Manber assured Galvin her therapy notes would not be turned over. 3 months later, Unum denied her claim, because of psychotherapy notes about "working on a case" and a job interview in New York, which, Unum said, showed she was able to work. Galvin says they misinterpreted the notes.

In 2004, Galvin sued Manber, Stanford and Unum for malpractice and invasion of privacy, under California law. Galvin said "my most private thoughts, my personal tragedies, secrets about other people" were exposed.

In 2005, Galvin learned that Stanford had scanned Manber's notes into its system, making them part of her basic medical record. Stanford sent this file to Unum and the other driver.

Stanford said that "psychotherapy notes that are kept together with the patient's other medical records are not defined as 'psychotherapy notes' under HIPAA." It would be "impracticable" to keep them separate.

The health-care industry is scanning documents into electronic record systems. HIPAA gives psychotherapy notes special protection, but not when mixed in with general medical records.

Peter Swire, law professor, Ohio State U., explains why they wrote the rule giving confidentiality only to separate psychotherapy notes.

Stanford refused to separate her psychotherapy notes from other medical records. "Any time anybody asks for my medical records, my psychotherapy notes are going to be turned over."

In 2006, DHHS rejected Galvan's HIPAA complaint. From Apr-Nov 2003, DHHS had 23,896 privacy complaints, but hasn't taken any action. HIPAA exceptions allow release in connection with "payment" or "health-care operations."

Galvan, 51, is representing herself, because she couldn't find a California attorney with privacy experience.

Deborah Peel, Austin TX, psychiatrist and head of Patient Privacy Rights, says, "How many women want somebody to know whether they are on birth control?"

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116709136139859229.html

NYT, 26 Dec 2006, Costs of a crisis: Diabetics confront a tangle of workplace laws, N.R. Kleinfield.

Some companies fire diabetics for ostensible safety reasons, even though there's no evidence that they're unsafe. Courts nationwide have split on whether diabetes is a disability under the test that a "major life activity" is "substantially limited".

John Steigauf, 47, was a truck mechanic for United Parcel Service, but UPS put him on leave because of his diabetes. UPS claimed his blood sugar might plummet while he tested a truck, causing an accident, and he couldn't get an interstate commercial driver's license with insulin-dependent diabetes. Some insulin-dependent diabetics are prone to dizziness, fainting or muddled judgment. His disability payment is $431, half his pay. EEOC ruled that he was subject to discrimination.

In 2002, ConAgra Foods withdrew a job offer to Rudy Rodriguez at a Texas baked bean plant because of his type 2 diabetes, when a doctor decided he couldn't work safely; an appeals court found for Rodriguez.

A mortgage loan officer in Oregon was forbidden to eat at her desk, and eventually fired.

A Sears lingere saleswoman in Illinois with nerve damage quit when Sears wouldn't let her cut through a stockroom; Sears paid her $150,000.

A worker at a Wisconsin candy company was fired after asking where he could dispose of his insulin needles.

Many diabetics conceal their illness on the job, says Brian T. McMahon, Virginia Commonwealth U.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/26/health/26workplace.html

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Nobel Laureate Attacks Medical Intellectual Property

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who was fired by the World Bank http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_E._Stiglitz blasted drug patents in an editorial in the British Medical Journal http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/333/7582/1279 "Scrooge and intellectual property rights". Knowledge is like a candle; when one candle lights another it does not diminish its light. In medicine, patents cost lives. The US patent for turmeric didn't stimulate research, and restricted access by the Indian poor who actually discovered it hundreds of years ago. The World Trade Organization imposed US style intellectual property rights around the world. "These rights were intended to reduce access to generic medicines and they succeeded." Billions of people, who live on $2-3 a day, could no longer afford the drugs they needed. Generic AIDS drugs cost $130 a year, patented drugs $10,000. Drug companies spend more on advertising and marketing than on research. A few scientists beat the human genome project and patented breast cancer genes; so now the cost of testing women for breast cancer is "enormous".

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