Friday, 15 November 2013

07:37 – Obama’s so-called “fix” turns out to be nothing at all. It’s simply a cynical attempt by Obama to shift the blame for people losing their health insurance from himself to the insurance companies. Note two key facts: First, Obama did not require insurance companies to renew these “non-compliant” policies; he’s simply allowing them to do so. Second, Obama said nothing about how much insurance companies could charge to renew these policies.

This puts insurance companies between the proverbial rock and hard place. Because the companies are being forced to insure uninsurable people, they need lots of younger and healthier people to pay much more than they have been paying–if indeed they’ve been paying anything–to subsidize the costs of covering all those older, sicker people. For that matter, they need older, healthier people to pay more as well, again to subsidize the poor risks. So, the insurance companies now have two reasonable courses: First, they can simply let those older, less-profitable policies expire, and force all those former customers to buy grossly-overpriced new policies on the exchanges. Second, they can let people keep their old policies for another year, but if they do that they’ll probably need to double or triple the premiums in order to get enough money out of those original policy holders to subsidize the poor risks they’re being forced to insure. Either way, most people end up paying a lot more for their health insurance. But, Obama thinks, this way they’ll blame the insurance companies instead of him. Bastard.

A few months ago, I mentioned that one of our new neighbors, a high school biology teacher, had been arrested for having sexual contact with a student. The school system immediately fired him, of course, and he was arrested and jailed on $500,000 bond. The paper this morning reports what sounds like a very similar case. This teacher was also 24 years old, and was also fired immediately and arrested. The odd thing is that bond for this teacher was set at only $5,000, 1% of the bond in the first case. And the only difference I can see is that this second teacher is a woman rather than a man.

10:53 – We use autoburettes for filling bottles. Think one of those toppings dispensers in an icecream shop, but accurate to a tenth of a milliliter or less and with the parts that come into contact with solutions made from Teflon and glass. The things aren’t cheap, but they immensely speed up bottle filling.

So, a year or so ago I bought our first one, one with a range of 2.5 mL to 30 mL. Six months or so ago, it failed. The heavy glass cylinder cracked, and all the thing would do was suck air. So I contacted the vendor, who was willing to replace it in warranty but didn’t have a 2.5 mL to 30 mL unit in stock. It was going to be a week or so before he could get one to me. I told him that I didn’t ever want to be without one of these units, so while I waited on the replacement I had him ship me a 5 mL to 60 mL unit, as a second unit and spare.

Sunday, that second unit failed, leaving me with only the replacement 2.5 mL to 30 mL unit. The symptoms were the same. This time, I didn’t disassemble the unit because I didn’t want shards of broken glass all over the place as I’d had the first time. I also suggested that he might want to talk to the manufacturer about maybe replacing that heavy glass cylinder with a heavy Teflon cylinder or something. The vendor said he’d ship me another replacement unit under warranty, but as before he contacted the manufacturer to describe the problem. The manufacturer rep says he can’t figure out what’s going on. They’ve been selling these units worldwide for a long time, and the only two failures they’ve had of that glass tube have been on my two units. I’d told them that we weren’t abusing the units and that we’d treated them gently. The manufacturer rep thought that perhaps we’d been filling solutions that corrode glass, such as hydrofluoric acid. I told him that the only solution we filled that could potentially affect glass was 6 M sodium hydroxide, which will etch glass if it’s hot or left in contact for several hours. But I also told him that we filled sodium hydroxide solution cold, and that the unit was never in contact with it for more than the few minutes it took to fill a batch of bottles. So we’ll see what happens.

12:31 – Expect to see a lot more of this: Retired union workers facing ‘unprecedented’ pension cuts

Unions have been extorting businesses for the better part of a century, demanding unsustainably high wages and benefits. When something can’t go on, it stops. It’s now stopping, and the trend will continue getting worse with every passing year. Nor is it only 10% of pension funds that are in trouble. It’s 100% of pension funds, public and private. As I’ve said repeatedly for a long time, if you have a job, keep it. Don’t retire. You’ll regret giving up your job sooner rather than later. The younger generations are already starting to revolt against the very high costs that are and will increasingly be required to sustain us Baby Boomers. Many of these younger people have no jobs or only dead-end jobs themselves. There’s no way each of them can support a couple of us. We’re going to have to support ourselves.