The Apple iPhone 4G Gizmodo Saga [Flowchart]

★ If you are having a hard time following the events of Apple Gizmodo iPhone 4G Saga, then you’re not alone. Luckily the nice people at Fast Company have made a flowchart:

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Health Care Reform: The immediate benefits #HCR

★ Here is a nice breakdown of the immediate benefits of the Health Care Reform Bill by Reuters

WITHIN THE FIRST YEAR OF ENACTMENT

*Insurance companies will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Lifetime coverage limits will be eliminated and annual limits are to be restricted.

*Insurers will be barred from excluding children for coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

*Young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26. Many health plans currently drop dependents from coverage when they turn 19 or finish college.

*Uninsured adults with a pre-existing conditions will be able to obtain health coverage through a new program that will expire once new insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014.

*A temporary reinsurance program is created to help companies maintain health coverage for early retirees between the ages of 55 and 64. This also expires in 2014.

*Medicare drug beneficiaries who fall into the “doughnut hole” coverage gap will get a $250 rebate. The bill eventually closes that gap which currently begins after $2,700 is spent on drugs. Coverage starts again after $6,154 is spent.

*A tax credit becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.

*A 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services that use ultraviolet lamps goes into effect on July 1.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2011

*Medicare provides 10 percent bonus payments to primary care physicians and general surgeons.

*Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get a free annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan service. New health plans will be required to cover preventive services with little or no cost to patients.

*A new program under the Medicaid plan for the poor goes into effect in October that allows states to offer home and community based care for the disabled that might otherwise require institutional care.

*Payments to insurers offering Medicare Advantage services are frozen at 2010 levels. These payments are to be gradually reduced to bring them more in line with traditional Medicare.

*Employers are required to disclose the value of health benefits on employees’ W-2 tax forms.

*An annual fee is imposed on pharmaceutical companies according to market share. The fee does not apply to companies with sales of $5 million or less.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2012

*Physician payment reforms are implemented in Medicare to enhance primary care services and encourage doctors to form “accountable care organizations” to improve quality and efficiency of care.

*An incentive program is established in Medicare for acute care hospitals to improve quality outcomes.

*The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the government programs, begin tracking hospital readmission rates and puts in place financial incentives to reduce preventable readmissions.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2013

*A national pilot program is established for Medicare on payment bundling to encourage doctors, hospitals and other care providers to better coordinate patient care.

*The threshold for claiming medical expenses on itemized tax returns is raised to 10 percent from 7.5 percent of income. The threshold remains at 7.5 percent for the elderly through 2016.

*The Medicare payroll tax is raised to 2.35 percent from 1.45 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and married couples with incomes over $250,000. The tax is imposed on some investment income for that income group.

*A 2.9 percent excise tax in imposed on the sale of medical devices. Anything generally purchased at the retail level by the public is excluded from the tax.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2014

*State health insurance exchanges for small businesses and individuals open.

*Most people will be required to obtain health insurance coverage or pay a fine if they don’t. Healthcare tax credits become available to help people with incomes up to 400 percent of poverty purchase coverage on the exchange.

*Health plans no longer can exclude people from coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

*Employers with 50 or more workers who do not offer coverage face a fine of $2,000 for each employee if any worker receives subsidized insurance on the exchange. The first 30 employees aren’t counted for the fine.

*Health insurance companies begin paying a fee based on their market share.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2015

*Medicare creates a physician payment program aimed at rewarding quality of care rather than volume of services.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2018

*An excise tax on high cost employer-provided plans is imposed. The first $27,500 of a family plan and $10,200 for individual coverage is exempt from the tax. Higher levels are set for plans covering retirees and people in high risk professions.

Obama’s Health Care Speech

★ I thought that Pres. Obama killed it in his Health Care speech to congress last night. A lot of his address simply called out the right-wing on their misleading rhetoric and all around childish behavior. I only caught pieces of the speech, because I was watching it while coding away at an application I’m building, but here are some of the highlights that stuck out to me.

Fiscal Conservatives -
Obama delivered a blow to the argument of some of the self-professed fiscal conservatives. He decried how the Bush tax cuts, the Bush war in Iraq and the Bush prescription drug plan helped explode the deficit, squandering the Clinton surplus and plunging us deep in debt. No one who voted for that unholy trinity can credibly oppose Obama’s health reforms on fiscal grounds.

Public Options -
He explained why the competition that a public option would create is a good thing because it would keep pressure on private insurers to keep their prices affordable and treat their customers better. I like the example he chose to use:

“Public colleges and universities provide additional choice and competition to students without in anyway inhibiting a vibrant system of private colleges and universities.”

Irony really is the best medicine

★ You can’t make this stuff up. I saw this first when @gruber posted it on df: Anti-health-care-reform activist Kenneth Gladney, reportedly injured in a scuffle at a town hall meeting late last week, is collecting donations to pay his medical bills because he was recently laid off and lost his health insurance.

If the current system can consistently produce irony of this calibre then I’m all for it.

Socialism

★ This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US department of energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the national weather service of the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the national aeronautics and space administration.

At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads built by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After work, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to a house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all it’s valuables thanks to the local police department.

I then log on to the internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post on my blog about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.

Socialism

Punk’d

★ The “Birthers” are so crazy, stupid, and increasingly desperate to hurt the Democrats who are dominating them, that they can’t be bothered with “fact-checking”. I only wish that I had thought of this first. While the wacky, tin-foil hat wearing, conspiracy theory movements are making headlines based solely on entertainment value in this post Sarah Palin era. It still doesn’t change the fact that the GOP is NOT relevant. Not even remotely relevant.

Not even @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher) could’ve setup a better Punk. From the TPM:

It now looks like the forged “Kenyan” Obama birth certificate that was briefly promoted by the Birthers — actually an altered copy of a decades-old South Australian birth certificate — was deliberately designed as a prank on the Birther movement itself, Dave Weigel reports.

  • Fine cotton business paper: $11
  • Inkjet printer: $35
  • 1940 Royal Model KMM manual typewriter: $10
  • 2 Shilling coin: $1
  • Pilot Varsity fountain pen: $3
  • Punkin’ the Birthers: Priceless

Everything needed to forge a Kenyan birth certificate You've Been PUNK'D! Kenyan Birth certificate Punk

All you need to know about Louisiana

★ Read this on TPM this morning. The New York Times hit the nail on the head.

Louisiana has gotten $130 billion in post-Katrina aid. How is it that the stars of the Republican austerity movement come from the states that suck up the most federal money? Taxpayers in New York send way more to Washington than they get back so more can go to places like Alaska and Louisiana. Which is fine, as long as we don’t have to hear their governors bragging about how the folks who elected them want to keep their tax money to themselves. Of course they do! That’s because they’re living off ours.

Read the full article here.

17 Efing Miles!

★ Seriously, how does this happen? This was the plot of two low-budget movies last year (Stuck and Hit and Run). Is this life imitating art?

A pedestrian was struck by a sport utility vehicle on a street in Corona, Queens, on Wednesday morning, then immediately struck again by a cargo van that dragged the victim 17 miles through a web of city highways and to Coney Island in Brooklyn, the police said. The pedestrian, apparently a male, was killed.

– The New York Times cityroom blog

Inaugural Address

★ It was a historic day for the country.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.

– President Barack Obama

I’ve heard that Obama writes his own speeches. Thats impressive, because I know that it’s his own words and his own feelings.

Full text of Obama’s speech

Steve Jobs Leave of absence

★ Steve Jobs’ memo to his ‘Team’:

Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Steve

It’s unfortunate that his person business has to be so public like this. I hope everything works out for Steve.

Lipstick on a Pig

★ I have had girlfriends in the past who seem to have open budgets for their makeup products. As a guy, I’ve accepted that I will never understand this. But how the hell do you spend that much on hair and makeup in 2 months on ONE person!.

The RNC paid $110,400 on hair and makeup artistry on Sarah Palin for her two months in the sun.

Plus $55,000 more for clothes.

(ed.note: Let me stipulate that the title refers very broadly to the insufficiency of expenditures on superficialities to compensate for Palin’s shortcomings as a candidate.)

TPM nailed it again.

The Problem

★ It is deeply disturbing to me that a person like Sarah Palin, who didn’t know that Africa is a continent and not a country, got that close to the highest office of a global superpower. Clearly there is a problem with our government. I know that this is not news by any stretch of the imagination. But Sarah Palin has shown just how dangerous it is. To think that a person who doesn’t know the countries in NAFTA could’ve been our president is very disturbing. This got me thinking about how we got to this place in politics.

I’m gonna use an analogy. Lets say our government is a car. Every 4 years we get a chance to redesign this car however we want it. We can customize this car to best suit us for the road ahead. When the GOP designed their new concept car, lets call it the “Mavrick”, they slept on some critical engineering decisions. They decided to invest all of their resources in a really shiny bling’d out hood ornament. They were so proud of this shiny new hood ornament that represents their brand like a logo, but they forgot the engine. I’m sure they thought that it would be fine. They would just throw some leather and wood trim inside, cut the price, and America will buy it. If they want the car to move the Republican party will just push it.

I’m not picking on the GOP because they are not the only ones guilty of this in the past. But the days of thinking its okay to nominate bling over a high-tech electric engine are over.

It was a good day

★ A very good day. I’m proud of my country, especially my generation that saw this grass-roots movement through to the end.

The Ball & Chain

★ A Wall St. Journal poll of registered voters shows that Palin is now officially the ball & chain to McCain’s campaign. Respondents where asked to pick their two greatest concerns about McCain from a list. 34% named Palin as their biggest concern.

Now, Palin’s qualifications to be president rank as voters’ top concern about McCain’s candidacy — ahead of continuing President Bush’s policies, enacting economic policies that only benefit the rich and keeping too high of a troop presence in Iraq.

Joe six-pack

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★ Is this the ‘Joe Six-Pack’ that Sarah Palin was talking about?

Obama Tax Calculator

★ I’m consistently impress by Obama’s use of the internet during this campaign. Here is a cool Tax Calculator widget that shows how much you will save on taxes.

taxcut.barackobama.com

Palin as President

★ Sarah Palin scares me…This actually frightens me.

PalinAsPresident.com

Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart

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★ This flow chart is surprisingly accurate. I think you could also apply this to her interview strategy.

Death Ray

★ I agree with John Gruber, It’s very hard to dispute this logic:

I’m not saying Secretary Paulson is Lex Luthor. I’m just saying $700 billion is exactly enough to build a death ray.

@badbanana

Bankruptcy, not bailout, is the answer

A statement by Jeffrey A. Miron, a lecturer in economics at Harvard, in opposition to the bailout. He thinks the bailout is a terrible idea and this is why.

The current mess would never have occurred in the absence of ill-conceived federal policies. The federal government chartered Fannie Mae in 1938 and Freddie Mac in 1970; these two mortgage lending institutions are at the center of the crisis. The government implicitly promised these institutions that it would make good on their debts, so Fannie and Freddie took on huge amounts of excessive risk.

Worse, beginning in 1977 and even more in the 1990s and the early part of this century, Congress pushed mortgage lenders and Fannie/Freddie to expand subprime lending. The industry was happy to oblige, given the implicit promise of federal backing, and subprime lending soared.

This subprime lending was more than a minor relaxation of existing credit guidelines. This lending was a wholesale abandonment of reasonable lending practices in which borrowers with poor credit characteristics got mortgages they were ill-equipped to handle.

Once housing prices declined and economic conditions worsened, defaults and delinquencies soared, leaving the industry holding large amounts of severely depreciated mortgage assets.

The fact that government bears such a huge responsibility for the current mess means any response should eliminate the conditions that created this situation in the first place, not attempt to fix bad government with more government.

The obvious alternative to a bailout is letting troubled financial institutions declare bankruptcy. Bankruptcy means that shareholders typically get wiped out and the creditors own the company.

Bankruptcy does not mean the company disappears; it is just owned by someone new (as has occurred with several airlines). Bankruptcy punishes those who took excessive risks while preserving those aspects of a businesses that remain profitable.

In contrast, a bailout transfers enormous wealth from taxpayers to those who knowingly engaged in risky subprime lending. Thus, the bailout encourages companies to take large, imprudent risks and count on getting bailed out by government. This “moral hazard” generates enormous distortions in an economy’s allocation of its financial resources.