October 2009

The Tenacity Question
David Brooks
October 29
NY Times

So I guess the president’s most important meeting is not the one with the Joint Chiefs and the cabinet secretaries. It’s the one with the mirror, in which he looks for some firm conviction about whether Afghanistan is worthy of his full and unshakable commitment. If the president cannot find that core conviction, we should get out now. It would be shameful to deploy more troops only to withdraw them later. If he does find that conviction, then he should let us know, and fill the vacuum that is eroding the chances of success.

As long as both the President and most Americans focus on how many troops are in Afghanistan instead of connecting its people with the wonderful gift of globalisation we will continue to slug through this war.


Statins creating a social gap in cholesterol levels
By Amy Norton
October 15, 2009

Using government survey data from 1976 to 2004, researchers found that after statin drugs were introduced, wealthier Americans saw a sharp reduction in their average cholesterol levels — double the decline among low-income Americans.

The result, the researchers say, has been a flip in the relationship between income and cholesterol. In the late 1970s, higher-income Americans generally had higher cholesterol, whereas now poorer Americans have the highest levels.

“Back in the day, wealthier people had higher cholesterol because they were better able to afford a higher-fat diet — more red meat, butter, eggs,” said lead researcher Dr. Virginia W. Chang, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Reminds me of the white bread/wheat bread dichotomy of centuries ago. The rich ate white bread because it was the civilized, cultured thing to do, leaving brown or wheat bread to the peasant folk. The upper class was unknowingly eating the less healthy of the two options. These days if the rich can purposely choose the higher cholesterol option and just buy a drug to stay healthy.

Stimulus jobs overstated by thousands
Associated Press
October 28, 2009

The AP review found some counts were more than 10 times as high as the actual number of jobs; some jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two and sometimes more than four times; and other jobs were credited to stimulus spending when none was produced.

For example:

_ A company working with the Federal Communications Commission reported that stimulus money paid for 4,231 jobs, when about 1,000 were produced.

_ A Georgia community college reported creating 280 jobs with recovery money, but none was created from stimulus spending.

_ A Florida child care center said its stimulus money saved 129 jobs but used the money on raises for existing employees.

There’s no evidence the White House sought to inflate job numbers in the report. But administration officials seized on the 30,000 figure as evidence that the stimulus program was on its way toward fulfilling the president’s promise of creating or saving 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year.

Always loved the ‘create or save‘ part of Obama’s promise. How does the BLS count saved jobs again?

Iran’s Politics Open a Generational Chasm
Nazila Fathin
New York Times
October 21, 2009

Numerous children of prominent Iranians have become estranged from their powerful parents since the election, which the opposition says was rigged. Thousands more middle-class families have been divided by the generational chasm that opened over the summer.

Many families have tried to avoid talking politics, but the events of this summer has brought two different generations to a breaking point. The younger Iranians want individual freedom of expression, especially women, and will not live a dreaded future like they have experienced in recent years. It is inspiring to see such commitment to liberty. Obama should let the young voices play out and allow them to find their own freedom moment that will bring change from within.

Water drinkers may have better diets
By Amy Norton
Tue Oct 13, 2009

Using data from a national health survey of more than 12,000 Americans, researchers found that people who drank more “plain water” tended to eat more fiber, less sugar and fewer calorie-dense foods.

I drink at least 4 bottles of water a day, which is roughly 2000 mL. Water is at least 75% of my daily beverage intake. I bet I’m on the high-end of the water drinkier:carlorie bell curve though. I eat a lot of grilled chicken breast and rice, but breakfast and lunch kill me.

I haven’t had health insurance since December ’08, when I quit my corporate job to enter the world of unemployment. I started my current gig in early January ’09 with a very, very small company (heck we don’t even qualify as a small business; we consider ourselves a ‘tiny’ business) and do not receive any employer health benefits. Being a single, healthy, 25 year old guy with no children I made the calculated risk to not purchase private health insurance. I am well aware that many view this as irresponsible (Obama calls me out all the time) and am a liability to society and myself, but if there’s ever a time to do it, its now, right?

Fast forward to early September. The picture below was taken at an Atlanta Braves game. We arrived in the 3rd inning; the game was pretty boring, only lasting 2.5 hours. This was my first Braves game too, which is horrible considering I’m a lifelong Braves fan. Notice my eyes in the picture; see the yellow streak by my right eye?

Becca and me

Becca and me

I didn’t think much of it until I saw pictures taken last week from a Will Hoge concert, which I’ll post below. The skin around my eyes are still yellow. Yikes!

Me; not the best picture, but you can see my eyes well

Me; not the best picture, but you can see my eyes well

A few google searches led me to conclude I either had jaundice, hepatitis A, or everything is fine. I don’t have all the symptoms of jaundice or hepatitis, but I need some peace of mind. My biggest concern in all of this was how I would tell the girl I’m seeing that I might have hepatitis, but not the STD kind!

Turns out I’m OK. The doctor says my skin is a little pale, but I shouldn’t worry about it. He said he used to live in India and has seen hundreds of cases of hepatitis. The first symptom is your urine turning very dark, almost like Coca-Cola.

My total bill was over $170, but received a 25% discount for being uninsured. $170 would be about 2 monthly premiums for me and would likely have had a $30 co-pay too; and that assumes I’ve hit my deductible.