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2009 August 03 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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Numbers Don’t Lie, Right?

Well, not without a bit of help as Okanogen at Corrente noted in Death by Math.

S/he is a bit prescient as today on All Things Considered they asked the question: Are Insurers’ Profits As Low As They Claim?

The answer is yes and no because the insurance companies used that marvelous symbol, %, to tell their tale of woe. Their claim is that health insurance company profits are only 1% of the cost of health care in the US. That is probably close, but they fail to note that insurance companies only fund approximately 35% of the actual health care that people receive.

The ATC article notes that using the standard methods for determining profits, the difference between income and expenses, the health care insurance companies make profits between 2 and 10%, nor is it explained that in the expenses there are megabuck executive salaries and perquisites, marketing costs, and all of the other things that they spend money on other than paying for actual health care for policy holders. In the corporate world there is no difference between the money spent on a pacemaker, and the annual dues at a country club for the CEO, they are just expenses.

August 3, 2009   Comments Off on Numbers Don’t Lie, Right?

Whole Lot Of Shaking

The USGS is showing a series of quakes in the Gulf of California/Mar de Cortés between Santa Isabel, Baja and La Doce, Sonora, around the North-South midpoint of the Gulf.

It started at 12:55:23 with a 5.8, then the big one at 12:59:56 6.9, at 13:33:34 5.0, and at 13:40:50 a 5.9 6.2. [Times are in CDT, subtract 2 hours for local time, PDT]

The San Andreas has been grumbling for a while, indicating that there is definite stress in the area.

No reports of damage, but there aren’t a lot of people in the area, and communications are not always the best when nothing is happening.

Update: the last quake was upgraded from 5.9 to 6.2 and is deeper than the three earlier events.

August 3, 2009   Comments Off on Whole Lot Of Shaking

More Evacuations In BC

FireThe CBC reports on evacuations in Fintry and Lillooet.

The Terrace Mountain fire near Okanagan Lake has burned 7520 hectares [29 square miles] and the winds are making it a threat to Fintry. Although the fire was 90% contained, the winds have pushed it in a new direction.

To the southwest the Mount McLean fire is encroaching on Lillooet and required evacuations there. The fire has consumed about 2650 hectares [10 square miles]. It is still uncontained because of the terrain.

The BC forest service dealing with 88 active wildfires at at the moment, with priority given to those near the settled areas of the province.

The CBC says “There have been almost 2,100 fires so far this season, scorching about 550 square kilometres [212 square miles] of forest. The vast majority were caused by lightning.”

The CBC Fire Map. Despite what the text at the top says about when it was updated, it doesn’t ever seem to be more than a day late, and new fires are usually posted within hours. I think they ignore the date at the top and concentrate on putting the fires on the map.

August 3, 2009   4 Comments

It Doesn’t Scale

Time magazine has picked up on Bill Gates’s solution for hurricanes: cooling the sea surface.

The problems with this solution, as are patiently explained by Dr. Jeff Masters, an individual who actually knows something about tropical weather, are manifold, but can be condensed to the same major problem with everything Gates has ever done: it doesn’t scale.

What may look like a good idea in the lab, can be totally worthless in the real world. What Gates thinks is a great new idea already occurs naturally. Powerful hurricanes are immensely effective pumps, and they naturally create upwelling, bringing cooler water to the surface. If two hurricanes follow the same path within a week of each other, the second will be much weaker because of the cooler sea surface temperatures. Hurricanes have the energy of nuclear weapons, which is why they can do this. The puny fleet Gates envisions won’t impress the Gulf of Mexico, much less the Atlantic, and where are you going to find the people to man a ship that will be intentionally steaming into hurricanes? Sailors tend to be more reality based than the corporate managers who buy Microsoft products.

August 3, 2009   4 Comments