Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Multiplying fishes

We got 4.5 times the expected Pacific salmon run this year due to one weird trick. We (and by we I mean an eco entrepreneur named Russ George and a BC indian tribe, the Haida) strategically distributed 120 tons of iron sulfate in the Pacific and created an ocean paradise for the salmon to feed on. 12 men and one boat worked in 2012 to set up that feeding ground to reduce the traditional levels of starvation among migratory fish going out into the resource poor Pacific Ocean. Open-sea mariculture has been hemmed in by unfortunate treaty language that fails to distinguish between pollution and setting out fish food. The 2012 experiment results are in.

The SE Alaska Pink catch in the fall of 2013 was a stunning 226.3 million fish. This when a high number of 50 million fish were expected. Those extra ocean pasture fed fish came back because their pasture was enjoying the richest plankton blooms ever, thanks to me a[nd] 11 shipmates and our work in the summer of 2012. IT JUST WORKS.

As a side effect of the process, a great deal of carbon dioxide was sequestered as the diatoms that did not get eaten by the fish died a natural death and sank to the bottom.

Environmentalists are beside themselves with fury. They're more interested in establishing a precautionary principle regulatory framework that would have led to many tons fewer fish to feed families across North America this year if not banning the process altogether. Their global campaign made the Haida blink and Mr. George has been fired.

We can't have fish multiplying beyond all reason and solving our global food problems while knocking down CO2 levels. That might reduce the need for environmental NGOs to study the problem.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Posted Social Security report alpha 6

I mentioned that I would be putting up a report. This is one of a long backlog of reports that have been waiting on me finding technical talent to program. I've decided to shift strategy and put up report alphas and just manually update. This usually has massive scaling problems as the number of pages goes up which is why I've been avoiding this approach.

In any case, here's the first Citizen Intelligence report.

Will you get all promised Social Security Benefits? Here's a hint, for most americans, the answer is no under current law. Males born in 1955 or later and females born in 1952 or later have a pretty hefty Social Security cut written into the present law.

This is a manual report at present. I need to work out a scalable way to take e-mails so that I can send out the yearly updates for this report when the new trustees report means updated data. Ultimately, this report will be a module to be plugged into the yet-to-be-created Citizen Intelligence oversight dashboard.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Insurance does not mean health care

Four decades ago, the US fell into a trap. We essentially adopted government pricing healthcare. It had become clear that the Treasury couldn't handle traditional fee for service medicine. With the government paying, too few made the effort to drive a good bargain. So the government took on the huge job of putting out a fee schedule. Private insurance followed the government's lead because, frankly, it was a big cost saver not to have to do the work themselves.

The problem is that the government got the prices wrong. Specifically the payment ratio of primary care codes to specialist care codes has been off. Primary care codes have been too low to attract enough primary care doctors. This has distorted US medical care. Both right and left know that these ratios are not correct. It's not a matter of partisan difference. We just don't know where to get the money to pay the primary care doctors enough to attract enough doctors to make the system work right.

The US is too poor to do everything else we've committed to and to do this right as well. As a consequence we just have lived with too few primary care doctors. Enter Obamacare.

A number of California uninsured have been assisted by their free clinics to get on the exchanges but after a few months are right back at the free clinics. Doctors who are supposed to be in their networks are either not taking new patients or deny that they even accept their insurance. But the free clinic isn't allowed to take them either. They now have insurance and free clinics are for the uninsured.

For now, human compassion has led them to be accepted. But the bureaucratic rules won't be flouted forever as budgets get stretched and the theory that health insurance equals access to health care is exposed as the fraud it always was. The free clinics will be threatened with a loss of money if they keep allowing insured patients to use their services.

Not every Obamacare story is a horror show. But we simply don't have the data to exclude the horrifying possibility that after a half century of pushing for something like Obamacare, liberals have, on net, made things worse on the health care front. That's a travesty.

Christ is Risen

For the Easter season, romanians say to each other in greeting "Christ is risen" and respond "Truly He is risen". It's an eastern tradition that runs across many churches. 

So to all of you, friends, and future friends, acquaintances, and enemies I hope to make peace with, to everybody reading I say to you Christ is risen and wish you all the good things that are promised with that statement. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How not to improve government

"Proof The Feds Are Stalling On Oil And Gas" is a boring article that isn't going to change anything about how the US Federal government handles drilling permits on federal land. It won't change anything because the approach used skips right past the foundations and prerequisites and goes straight to the charges.

To have effective, durable change, we would need to map out the entire process for drilling on federal land as a part of a larger project identifying what government does from soup to nuts. We need to insist on commitments for performance for each of them and normalize an expectation that the least efficient and effective things that government does will be heavily scrutinized for alternate arrangements.

Slow rolling permits is not something the bureaucracy is going to be happy to do when they know that to delay legitimate requests puts them at risk for unemployment. But that's not the world we live in. The world we live in has articles decrying oil drilling delays in an oil drillers website while the public blissfully goes about its business, in general rationally ignorant of the whole issue.

There needs to be a better way.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Don't skip looking up the law

The Pennsylvania special ed student who recording a bullying episode and was threatened with a wiretapping felony charge has been making the rounds. What nobody seems to be mentioning is that what he did was perfectly legal. The school officials, the police, the judge, and even all the hyperventilating commenters all seem to have skipped looking up the law.

Title 18 Section 5704 Subsection 17

Any victim, witness or private detective licensed under the act of August 21, 1953 (P.L.1273, No.361), known as The Private Detective Act of 1953, to intercept the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, if that person is under a reasonable suspicion that the intercepted party is committing, about to commit or has committed a crime of violence and there is reason to believe that evidence of the crime of violence may be obtained from the interception.
I'm not a lawyer. I just know how to use Google fairly decently. Bullying is a crime of violence.

The law seems pretty clear. So why did the school officials, the cop, and the judge all fail to do their basic duty? Why aren't we calling them on not enforcing the law?

The only silver lining in this whole mess is that the judge is elected and could get booted for this.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Catholic Death Penalty

The argument in the Catholic Church regarding the death penalty has always proceeded on terms that are not that clear to many outsiders. The essence of the argument for invalidating the traditional permission for the death penalty is that something fundamental has changed about modern penal systems, that for the first time ever we can prevent crime and that it is safe to keep heinous criminals alive and thus the death penalty should be abolished.

The counter in Catholic circles has always been that it is simply not true, that nothing fundamental has changed. It has always bothered me that neither side seems eager to tear the covers off what modern prisons are really like and honestly, openly monitor matters. Here's a data point on the pro-death penalty side. Murder spree conducted by sex offenders wearing GPS ankle bracelets.

Can we trust the state to actually keep us safe? That's an open question.