Monday, 16 January 2017

By on January 16th, 2017 in personal, politics, science kits

09:19 – Happy MLK day to any of my readers who celebrate it. It’s a normal workday for us.

The weather continues spring-like. It was 43F (6C) when I got up this morning, gray and damp with heavy fog, but not raining. We’re to have more of the same for the next few days.

We got enough made up yesterday of everything we need to build another smallish batch of chemistry kits, enough to fill four or five outstanding orders and have another several remaining. We’ll build forensic kits next, and then back to build more chemistry kits. At this time of year, I don’t want to get too much inventory built up, because it’ll just sit on the shelves. January sales are usually pretty decent. A lot of homeschoolers are ordering for the spring semester, as are a lot of schools and universities. Come February, sales will drop off severely. It’s our worst month. Some years, we sell barely a dozen kits the whole month.

And I see from the front-page headline in the morning paper that ObamaCare is about to be replaced by TrumpCare, AKA “Insurance for All”. I was kind of hoping it would instead be “Insurance for anyone who wants it and can pay for it”.

If Trump gets what he wants, the biggest losers are likely to be the pharmaceutical companies, for whom the gravy train may be coming to an end. For decades, Americans have been paying much, much more for pharmaceuticals than citizens of any other country, often ten times as much or more. That’s because other countries, including the EU and Canada, negotiate fiercely with pharma companies, particularly American ones. The gloves are off. Even many of our allies negotiate with American drug companies under the threat of ignoring their patents and producing their drugs locally.

Trump says that Medicare and Medicaid (and, presumably, TrumpCare) will no longer pay what the drug companies ask. Instead they’ll take advantage of their volume-purchasing power to negotiate lower prices for drugs. American consumers will no longer be the goose that lays the golden eggs. If you own any stock in pharma companies, now may be a good time to sell it.

Pharma companies have been abusing these sweetheart deals for decades. If and when they go away, Big Pharma will be hurting badly. All or nearly all of their profits come out of American pockets, most of that from American taxpayers. If Trump also cracks down on patent abuses, which have been rampant, he essentially kills drug development by US pharma companies. Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing.

Over the last 30 years or so, most of the “new” drugs that have been developed have been, at best, minor improvements on existing drugs. Things like reduced dosage frequencies or minor changes to formulations that allow the pharmas to obtain new patents on what amount to existing drugs. As far as actual new and useful drugs, there haven’t been many, nor are there likely to be many if things continue as they are. Pharma companies have gone from being developers of new and useful drugs to managing their existing portfolios to maximize revenue. Like most people, I have little sympathy for them. The hugely increased price of things like epinephrine injectors and synthetic insulin pretty much sums up the state of things. Nothing new, other than ridiculously increased prices.


109 Comments and discussion on "Monday, 16 January 2017"

  1. DadCooks says:

    To avoid going into a raging rant (which I am just a gnat’s ass away from) I’ll just give @RBT’s correct assessment of the medical insurance situation a +20-trillion.

    My wife retired just in time. First because of the horrible driving conditions so far this year, but most of all because the over-high-priced consultant that Trios (formerly known as Kennewick General Hospital) hired has convinced the BOD to layoff 120 employees (10% of total employees). The Trios death spiral continues. IMHO these consultants are in league with “Big Hospital” to leave Trios no alternative but to sell out to them.

  2. lynn says:

    I wonder how Trump feels about Texit and Calexit ? That is 25 % of the USA population.

  3. Dave Hardy says:

    Good riddance to Kalifornia but we’d feel kinda sad about the Great Lone Star state leaving. We’d understand, though.

    There have been several stillborn attempts at seceding up here in VT and NH but there are too many libturds, SJWs, and progs in strong positions. That could be changing in the next several years.

    WRT to medicine; I get mine from the VA but it would be nice to see a big reduction in the prices for Mrs. OFD’s stuff.

    28 here now w/sun and blue skies, but they predict 30s rising to low 40s into the rest of this week; I hope to get a few outside things done while the getting is good.

  4. Miles_Teg says:

    I’d be happy for the west coast and upper NE coast to leave.

  5. Miles_Teg says:

    Wouldn’t synthetic insulin be out of patent by now?

  6. lynn says:

    Has anyone bought one of these ergonomic office chairs ? My body is falling apart so fast right now that I cannot even remember where to be careful. I have arthritis from a autoimmune disease and am having a severe pain in my right hip when I sit for ten minutes or more. I have now broken three of my finger joints and four of my toe joints as they have stiffened over the years, my larger body joints are in not much better shape.

    We bought my current steelcase office chair in 1976 so it is a little old (the seat cushion lost all the cushion many years ago from my fat ass). Oh yeah, I am 6’1″ and weigh 247 lbs (down from the 272 I was twelve years ago). And I like a big and tall chair where I have room to move about. Something kinda like this maybe but it is expensive at $317:
    https://www.amazon.com/Seating-Double-AirGrid-Ergonomic-Managers/dp/B000WJVB1Q/

    I am not sure about the ergonomic stuff being any better but one of my guys is suggesting it. And I am thinking about of the motorized lift desks that someone here recommended so I don’t sit so long:
    https://www.autonomous.ai/smartdesk-sit-to-stand-height-adjustable-standing-desk

  7. lynn says:

    And I see from the front-page headline in the morning paper that ObamaCare is about to be replaced by TrumpCare, AKA “Insurance for All”. I was kind of hoping it would instead be “Insurance for anyone who wants it and can pay for it”.

    Our single biggest problem in the USA is that too many people show up at the ER and cannot pay / refuse to pay. We need some sort of backup universal insurance that pays in that situation. Or, we need to turn people away from the ERs. That will not happen until the entire system falls apart.

  8. MrAtoz says:

    A work day here as we set up for our biz conference starting tomorrow. MLK has always just been another day off for me. A cash cow for Sharpless, Jackwagon et al.

  9. Dave Hardy says:

    “We need some sort of backup universal insurance that pays in that situation. Or, we need to turn people away from the ERs. That will not happen until the entire system falls apart.”

    BINGO!

    I figure this is another huge problem that tRump won’t be able to glibly finesse with a few tweets. Just a wild out-on-a-limb guess.

  10. ech says:

    If Trump also cracks down on patent abuses, which have been rampant, he essentially kills drug development by US pharma companies.

    It’s not just US pharma companies, it’s essentially all pharma major companies as they are multinationals.

    As for drug discoveries over the last 30 years or so there have been a number of major new drugs. HIV drugs are a totally new area. Statins. Targeted cancer drugs like Herceptin and cancer drugs in general. Gastric acid inhibitors. Arthritis biologics. A handful of antibiotics, including one last year.

    In 2015, there were 45 new drugs approved and 10 were considered “breakthrough”. Many were for rare conditions, true. There were 41 new drugs approved in 2014 and 17 breakthroughs. There are more drugs approved in each of the last two years than since the 1990s. The general consensus is that the human genome project is finally paying off. The FDA is also giving expedited approval to “orphan” drugs and breakthroughs, shaving years off approval times.

    A lot of “Me too” drugs are a result of research that identifies a target and several companies start working on a drug to hit it.

  11. nick flandrey says:

    Just another day for me, except the kids are home.

    I had predicted a slow down in ebay sales for this month, due to Christmas hangover. Turns out, that should have applied to my “household” or “personal interest” items, ie. things people buy for themselves. My sales of industrial type items have continued on pace.

    One of the things I love about selling on ebay is that it doesn’t really take vacation or days off. This weekend I sold $350 on craigslist, and 6 items on ebay for ~$435. Given the items that sold, that is almost all profit. That’s a pretty good couple of days for part time work.

    Regarding MLK day, I grew up in a household where he was ALWAYS referred to as Martin LUCIFER King. That colored my perception of his value and virtue, and the revelation of womanizing continued to color it. That demonstrated unfaithfulness, while common, kinda makes it hard for me to believe there was ANY faithfulness to anything. Also, I’ll note that for whatever combination of reasons, blacks are much worse off now, with a few glaring exceptions, and who knows where they would have ended up with 50 years of evolving social conditions. The black individual might be better off, but the black family is not, and the vast mass of blacks are certainly not by any conceivable measure.

    nick

  12. dkreck says:

    ERs are awful places. I never understand why anyone goes there unless they absolutely need to. Besides they are full of people that can infect you. What’s needed is a better triage that allows them to send non-emergency people to other places. Have a PA decide if urgent care or even clinics would be a better choice and send them off. They could even set up appointments for them, but mostly don’t make any of those places of convenience. If they have a cold send them to a clinic where they wait 6 hours.

  13. nick flandrey says:

    dkreck, that’s why I chose to got to “industrial medicine” offices when I needed care (back in the day.) Those sorts of practices are full of people who are well, but hurt. and there is an emphasis on treating you quickly and returning you to work (if possible.)

    Last time I walked into an ER, not only did I wait a long time and get very sick with lung infection afterwards, but I didn’t even get care! I’d smashed a finger, and wanted them to drill the nail and let the pressure out. They said, “we won’t do that.” I ended up doing it with a hot needle myself. So waste of money, waste of time, and got sick.

    And so I’ve upped my preps and knowledge in the medical area, and hope to increase it more. Triage yourself!

    n

    ADDED- it helps to have had the injury before and know how to treat it. Like the one I had last month where I cut off a bit of my thumb. I knew from experience that if it wasn’t getting blood, it wasn’t re-attachable. So I chose to use steri-strips to secure the flap, close the edge and support the tip, rather than go to ER where they would likely remove the flap and cauterize the site. That would have left me with an open wound on my vacation, and meant big dressings, and no swimming.

    as it was, it acted like a meat bandage, closing the site, but eventually got hard and flaked away (AFTER my trip.) The new tissue underneath was and is tender, but healed well.

  14. MrAtoz says:

    Many MilSpec ERs have a “Fast Track” triage. You come in with minor stuff, you go to “Sick Call” for treat and release. Usually seen by a PA.

  15. nick flandrey says:

    Here’s an interesting article that supports something that seems like common sense, and is a position of RBT (iirc) and/or Jerry Pournelle.

    http://www.nature.com/news/how-to-raise-a-genius-lessons-from-a-45-year-study-of-super-smart-children-1.20537

    “…what has become clear is how much the precociously gifted outweigh the rest of society in their influence. Many of the innovators who are advancing science, technology and culture are those whose unique cognitive abilities were identified and supported in their early years through enrichment programmes such as Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth — which Stanley began in the 1980s as an adjunct to SMPY. At the start, both the study and the centre were open to young adolescents who scored in the top 1% on university entrance exams. Pioneering mathematicians Terence Tao and Lenhard Ng were one-percenters, as were Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and musician Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga), who all passed through the Hopkins centre.

    “Whether we like it or not, these people really do control our society,” says Jonathan Wai, a psychologist at the Duke University Talent Identification Program in Durham, North Carolina, which collaborates with the Hopkins centre. Wai combined data from 11 prospective and retrospective longitudinal studies2, including SMPY, to demonstrate the correlation between early cognitive ability and adult achievement. “The kids who test in the top 1% tend to become our eminent scientists and academics, our Fortune 500 CEOs and federal judges, senators and billionaires,” he says.

    {snip}

    “The research emphasizes the importance of nurturing precocious children, at a time when the prevailing focus in the United States and other countries is on improving the performance of struggling students ”

    {snip}

    “The education community is still resistant to this message,” says David Geary, a cognitive developmental psychologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia, who specializes in mathematical learning. “There’s a general belief that kids who have advantages, cognitive or otherwise, shouldn’t be given extra encouragement; that we should focus more on lower-performing kids.”

    nick

  16. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    The top 1% are important, but it’s the top 0.01% who are critical.

  17. nick flandrey says:

    And the March To War(tm) continues:

    Hundreds of U.S. Marines land in Norway, irking Russia

    By Reuters

    OSLO, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Some 300 U.S. Marines landed in Norway on Monday for a six-month deployment, the first time since World War Two that foreign troops have been allowed to be stationed there, in a deployment which has irked Norway’s Arctic neighbour Russia.

    Officials played down any link between the operation and NATO concerns over Russia, but the deployment coincides with the U.S. sending several thousand troops to Poland to beef up its Eastern European allies worried about Moscow’s assertiveness.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-4124410/Hundreds-U-S-Marines-land-Norway-irking-Russia.html

  18. lynn says:

    ERs are awful places. I never understand why anyone goes there unless they absolutely need to.

    I’ve been several times in the last ten years. Three heart incidents for myself, two resulting in extended hospital stays. The daughter had a spinal tap and the plug fell out, releasing most of her spinal fluid. Etc.

    Heart and stroke problems need to be solved now. There is generally a 90 minute window before permanent damage happens. I missed the 90 minute window on the first time and I lost the back side of my heart muscle. It is now dead but it still flexes, thank goodness.

  19. nick flandrey says:

    @lynn, buy a freaking adjustable chair! $300 is cheap for a good chair. Then adjust it properly. You also want a workstation with adjustable height for keyboard, desk, and monitor support. THEN get someone to help you adjust all that. If you have really bad habits, it will feel really weird to have everything in the right place– but it will get better quickly.

    If your physical symptoms are not caused by your poor structure, they are certainly exacerbated by them.

    n

    BTW, many of the big companies I’ve done work for have spent >1000USD per chair and double that for adjustable workstations. They didn’t do that ‘cuz they like spending money. They see a benefit that outweighs the cost.

    For years I used an aeron chair from herman miller. Between that, and having the monitors at the right height, a lot of my issues went away. When I ignore the ergonomics (and spend a couple of days reaching for the mouse) I feel it in neck, shoulders and back.)

  20. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    It’s not just US pharma companies, it’s essentially all pharma major companies as they are multinationals.

    As for drug discoveries over the last 30 years or so there have been a number of major new drugs. HIV drugs are a totally new area. Statins. Targeted cancer drugs like Herceptin and cancer drugs in general. Gastric acid inhibitors. Arthritis biologics. A handful of antibiotics, including one last year.

    In 2015, there were 45 new drugs approved and 10 were considered “breakthrough”. Many were for rare conditions, true. There were 41 new drugs approved in 2014 and 17 breakthroughs. There are more drugs approved in each of the last two years than since the 1990s. The general consensus is that the human genome project is finally paying off. The FDA is also giving expedited approval to “orphan” drugs and breakthroughs, shaving years off approval times.

    A lot of “Me too” drugs are a result of research that identifies a target and several companies start working on a drug to hit it.

    Yes, it’s not just American drug companies, although foreign drug companies also make most/all of their profits in the US market. I guess one man’s “breakthrough” drug is another man’s “me-too”. I don’t really consider drugs for orphan diseases to be particularly important, except of course to people afflicted with those conditions. So, too, erectile dysfunction drugs and similar non-essentials. The US taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for these.

    The real problem is the financial motivations that drive drug research. What they want is a drug that ameliorates conditions that are common and must be taken long-term. The last thing they want is a drug that fixes a condition with a single course of treatment. The money is in people who will buy that drug on an ongoing basis, not those who will buy one course and then never need it again. See the dichloroacetate treatment for cancers. It’s cheap, already known to be safe from its use for other conditions, and it can’t be patented, short of a fraudulent use-based patent. It induces apoptosis in cancerous cells. As the headline said years ago, “Cheap Drugs Kills Cancer”. But the drug companies prefer to sell their expensive and relatively ineffective chemotherapeutic agents instead. They can’t make any money selling sodium dichloroacetate, and it’s one of those use-once and then you never need it again drugs. That’s why I have a liter of dichloroacetic acid squirreled away.

    But the real problem is the FDA and the hideously high cost of clinical trials. If a drug company is going to spend literally billions of dollars running a clinical trial on a new drug candidate, they’re going to expect to make those billions back on sales of that drug, along with more billions that they spent on failed clinical trials. We need to abolish the FDA and clinical trials, and allow drug companies to sell new drugs, labeled as experimental, on the basis of animal trials. Well, animals and convicted murderers, rapists, progressives, and so on. But then I repeat myself.

    Yes, that’d mean we’d have occasional messes like thalidomide, but that’s a small price to pay to have an ongoing supply of new, effective, and inexpensive drugs in the pipeline.

  21. dkreck says:

    Lynn hopefully you are now aware of heart conditions and are near a ER that gives them priority. I had pains in my left arm in 2012 and knew what it might mean. Had an angioplasty and a stent the next morning. Fortunately caught in time.
    In 2014 I had a colon resection. All attempts to make me less of an asshole failed but at least I was declared all clear on cancer. About 8 months later I was having abdominal cramps so bad I was doubling over. Thinking the worst I went back to the same ER. They have a fast cardiac track there and as soon as I checked in they hauled me to the back ahead of all the sick people in the waiting room. Turned out I was just dehydrated from a case of the shits I had a couple of days earlier. Couple of saline transfusions and I was mucho better but avoiding that waiting room was pure bliss.

  22. Dave says:

    The only indispensable ergonomic item I have found is this keyboard tray. Yes, much of the item is cheap plastic and will fail after five or six years of use. But when my first one failed, I ordered a replacement without even checking for something else first.

  23. Dave says:

    We bought my current steelcase office chair in 1976 so it is a little old (the seat cushion lost all the cushion many years ago from my fat ass). Oh yeah, I am 6’1″ and weigh 247 lbs (down from the 272 I was twelve years ago).

    I’m about the same height and 10 pounds lighter. My problem is not my posterior but my belly.

  24. Dave Hardy says:

    “My problem is not my posterior but my belly.”

    Ditto, ditto, ditto.

    6’5″ and 245 now, which is not bad, BUT, I’ve got that inner tube thang going on. It was much worse at 275. So, gotta dump another 20 pounds or so, but NOT off my chest, shoulders, legs, etc. GOTTA be the inner tube. Means eating less and getting out more.

    Not just for appearance sake, ’cause who really gives a flying F what I look like at my age, certainly not young and nubile young hotties, but to give more relief to my poor aching back and pelvis, where the nerve that slides through the sciatic notch is being pinched. After two epidural shots at the VA, I still have to be careful how I move, and get occasional pain jolts anyway, and it continues to travel down the back of my right leg. Gabapentin helps somewhat, and I finally got new shoes on the recommendation of Mr. Nick, so if they don’t help and I get more pain I’m suing him; it’s the Murkan Way!

  25. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’ve shrunken over the years, from my peak of around 6’4″ and 240 pounds to about 6’3″ and a bit under 180, about what I was when I was playing serious tennis at age 20. I just don’t eat nearly as much as I used to.

  26. Miles_Teg says:

    I’m quite short, at 6’1″. Lost about 20 kg in less than a year a few years back. Dunno how, but I wish I could do it again.

  27. Miles_Teg says:

    DH wrote:

    “…young and nubile young hotties…”

    They’re over-rated, plus I don’t have the energy for that any more.

  28. nick flandrey says:

    I’ve started my new year’s physical fitness program. Atkins Plan to lose the fat, started stomach work to get some support for hips and back. Will start stretching this week to try for some flexibility. Won’t likely get back to when I was doing martial arts 4 days a week, but I need some strength and flexibility before I start a self defense class or shooting class.

    All non-aerobic workouts.

    Will lose at least 15 and would like to lose 20 pounds of fat, and if I do some strength training and put some muscle back on, the weight gain will be ok. One of the reasons not to exercise while doing atkins 1 and 2 is so you are monitoring fat loss by weight. Lose the fat, then add the muscle. Also, it’s not a diet to be on when trying to build muscle.

    I’m healthy and fit looking at 190-195 pounds. Any less and I start to look sick.

    Oh, 6′ 0″ tall.

    n

  29. Greg Norton says:

    Has anyone bought one of these ergonomic office chairs?

    I’ve used a Herman Miller Aeron for over a decade. My only gripe is that, with me, the lumbar pad tends to crack after about a year, but every part on the chair is designed for easy DIY repair/replacement. Now that I’m out of warranty, it is only a question as to how frequently I want to drop $70 for a new pad.

    I had an all day interview at a startup in Seattle which put the higher end Herman Miller office chairs in their conference room, but the new designs are not a dramatic improvement over the Aeron for the added cost IMHO.

    The chair is not about status sitting in my home office. The only other entity who sees it on a regular basis is our cat, and she isn’t impressed.

  30. Dave Hardy says:

    “…I had an all day interview at a startup in Seattle…”

    All freaking day?? Yikes. You must be way up on the feeding chain; I’ve had ’em last a couple of hours but I’m just a little old tadpole.

    Seattle? Seriously? Can you work from home at least 80% of the time? Would you have to move there? If you do the gray man route you’ll have to go full hipster, woncha?

  31. lynn says:

    We are 81 F outside and the air conditioners are spinning. We’ve got a wet front coming in and the weather liars are claiming that our nighttime temps are going to drop back in the 50s. I’ll believe when I see it.

  32. Greg Norton says:

    All freaking day?? Yikes. You must be way up on the feeding chain; I’ve had ’em last a couple of hours but I’m just a little old tadpole.

    I have specialized VPN development experience from a decade working on NetClient, but all day is not uncommon with small organizations on the West Coast. Companies tend to be careful, especially in CA where non-competes are illegal.

    You don’t want any part of my niche. Exept for a three month sentence -er- tenure at a small wannabe DoD contractor in Seattle, I haven’t worked in industry in nearly seven years. I’m currently on my second attempt at academia.

  33. Dave Hardy says:

    I’ve only worked in academia on the teaching/grad skool end of things; the big U up here is not a state skool but private, and they have IT gigs all the time but I can’t even get my foot in the door. Notorious super-PC there, even in IT. If you have my genetic-ethnic-racial-age-vet status-religion-sexual preferences profile, forget it. Even though they proudly proclaim their diversity and non-discrimination creds.

    In short, I could have a PhD in computer science with a dozen programming languages and multiple operating systems and speak several languages, but they’d rather have an affirmative action candidate with not even 100th of that. And once in, they can’t be fired, no matter how bad they are.

    Good luck, I guess. I’ve about had it with the IT industry and IT shops at corporations and gummint.

  34. nick flandrey says:

    How the hell do people live like this?

    “Actor Anthony Triolo (pictured) who had a role in the recent film How to Be Single, revealed how he lives in his 150-square-foot bachelor pad (pictured right) in the Upper West Side. The actor moved into the apartment six years ago thinking it would be temporary accommodation. He made good use of his architecture degree and transformed the tiny studio apartment. ”

    PRISONERS get more room.

    n

  35. lynn says:

    “Wind and Solar Growth Outpace Gas”
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/wind-and-solar-growth-outpace-gas/

    “More than half of electricity generation capacity added to the U.S. grid in 2016 came from renewable resources”

    Cool !

  36. CowboySlim says:

    “I’ve shrunken over the years, from my peak of around 6’4″ and 240 pounds to about 6’3″ and a bit under 180, about what I was when I was playing serious tennis at age 20. I just don’t eat nearly as much as I used to.”

    Reminds me, I too shrunk to one inch to 5’11”, but still at 150# and playing tennis, but just doubles nowadays.

    No joint issues so can’t help with chair selection.

  37. CowboySlim says:

    “I thought Mexico had strict anti-gun laws…”

    Yuuup, but remember Obominable having undercover agents getting guns sent down there to…… well, whatever the objective was, it was a total failure and the cartelminals did get the guns and haven’t returned them.

  38. CowboySlim says:

    However, my SIL and grandson and I went down and spent several hours in Tijuana the Wed after Christmas and made it back unscathed.

  39. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Barbara said when I turned 35 that she didn’t want me picking up a racket anymore because she didn’t want to be a young widow.

  40. Dave Hardy says:

    So pick up a battle rifle and ammo and a ruck and start humping across them North Carolina foothills, looking for primo game, i.e., progs, SJWs, lawyers, politicians, financial speculators, etc. Rare in them thar parts, I reckon. Major points when bagged.

    Up here in the Northeast that’s all considered small fry game, suitable for elementary target practice, and that’s it.

  41. ech says:

    Gene Cernan, last human to walk on the moon, passed away at 82.

    A long time ago, at a Houston Oilers game, I ended up in the concessions line with Gene Cernan and Alan Shepherd. Nobody seemed to know who they were. We talked football as we waited. Just as they went to place their order, I said “By the way, I work at JSC. It was an honor to meet you.” They smiled, we shook hands, and they went on their way

  42. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I don’t think we have many of any of those left in the wild up here. Probably a sixth of the population of Alleghany county is on food stamps, but that’s not their fault. Most of them had jobs back before the feds declared war on tobacco, textiles, and furniture, wiping out millions of factory jobs.

  43. lynn says:

    I don’t think we have many of any of those left in the wild up here. Probably a sixth of the population of Alleghany county is on food stamps, but that’s not their fault. Most of them had jobs back before the feds declared war on tobacco, textiles, and furniture, wiping out millions of factory jobs.

    I honestly wonder if any of those jobs will come back to the USA. Seems like the feddies want to regulate everything on the face of the planet.

  44. Dave Hardy says:

    “They smiled, we shook hands, and they went on their way.”

    Wow. When I was a teensy skinny little kid with carrot-top red hair and freckles, our elementary skool teachers wheeled a b&w tee-vee into the classroom so we could watch Shepherd’s flight, so to speak. They don’t make guys like that anymore.

    Never met any of the astronauts but I did meet General Westmoreland.

    “…the feds declared war on tobacco, textiles, and furniture, wiping out millions of factory jobs.”

    We made textiles and furniture here in Nova Anglia before those industries got moved to the southern states (for cheaper labor and plant overhead at the time) and put a lotta peeps outta work. Gardner, MA used to be known as “Chair City.” And some of my older relatives worked at the textile mills in New Bedford and Fall River. Also Revere Copper and Brass.

    Leominster, MA was “The Plastics Capital of the World;” Southbridge, MA was “The Eye of the Commonwealth (American Optical); New Bedford was “The Whaling Capital of the World,” and of course Boston was “The Hub of the Universe (usually shortened in olden times to just “the Hub”) and “The Athens of America.”

    We won’t talk about Athol, MA.

  45. Dave Hardy says:

    “Seems like the feddies want to regulate everything on the face of the planet.”

    It ain’t just the Fed bastards; it’s the corporate owners and boards, who’ve outsourced and offshored millions of jobs, including mine at IBM. With Fed support and acquiescence of course.

  46. lynn says:

    Oh man, being on a RFD mail route sucks at times. We have a new delivery guy and did not get our office mail last Friday or Saturday. And we cannot complain today of course.

    I wonder what he did what our mail (think checks).

  47. pcb_duffer says:

    1. Hopefully, step 1 in installing TrumpCare will be to abolish employer paid health insurance. (I’ve never heard of an employer paying for homeowner’s or auto insurance for an employee.) It skews the market in favor of very large employers, to the detriment of the entrepreneurial. I ought to pay more for health insurance than a health 20 year old man, and I ought to pay less for auto coverage than my neighbor with four DUIs in his past.

    2. Retail gun sales are indeed strictly limited in Mexico. So the radical capitalist (Libertarian?) elements in their society fill the need at great profit to themselves. I’m hard pressed to find a problem in that.

  48. nick flandrey says:

    “More than half of electricity generation capacity added

    – I wouldn’t get too excited, it’s not like they were adding a bunch of coal or ng plants capacity. If they added ONE I’d be surprised, and it takes a bunch of wind to match a NG plant, right?

    Weasel words….

    n

  49. CowboySlim says:

    “Barbara said when I turned 35 that she didn’t want me picking up a racket anymore because she didn’t want to be a young widow.”

    Different here, 43 years ago when I was 35, I was playing mixed doubles with my wife and then several years later with my daughter when she was a teenager. Never did succumb to golf or bowling.

  50. lynn says:

    I wouldn’t get too excited, it’s not like they were adding a bunch of coal or ng plants capacity. If they added ONE I’d be surprised, and it takes a bunch of wind to match a NG plant, right?

    There were several natural gas powered power plants added in Texas last year. In fact, one of the petroleum coke plants converted to natural gas even due to emissions equipment cost.
    http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=26312

    And whatever capacity of wind has to have the equivalent capacity added in gas turbines. For, when the wind stops. We get a double whammy when the wind stops because the wind turbine owner has decide if they want to take it offline or use the generator as a motor to keep it synchronized to the grid. If the wind turbine becomes a motor then it requires quite a bit of power to turn it.

  51. dkreck says:

    So called renewable energy is an environmental sham. Look at California Valley between
    Bakersfield and San Luis Obispo

    https://www.google.com/maps/@35.3554952,-119.9853122,17747m/data=!3m1!1e3

    https://www.google.com/search?q=california+valley+solar&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj069az8sfRAhWKslQKHRKZBOAQsAQIUA&biw=1024&bih=570

    Lovely. Then go look at Tehachapi wind farms.
    None of it would even begin to exist without taxpayer money.

  52. lynn says:

    Hopefully, step 1 in installing TrumpCare will be to abolish employer paid health insurance.

    Only if I can buy health insurance somewhere here in Texas. I’m 56 with two heart attacks. The only way that I can get health insurance is the crappy Obolacare HMO crap or, group healthcare through my business. I buy health insurance for 14 people at $8,000/month.

  53. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Lynn, you’re not eligible for health insurance under any reasonable system because of pre-existing conditions. If you were an insurance company, would you insure you?

  54. Ray Thompson says:

    As long as one has had continuous health insurance coverage they should be able to get health insurance without regard to pre-existing conditions. By your reasoning the first time someone has any condition, boom, insurance cancelled and no ability to get any more insurance.

    Health insurance is not like auto insurance where driving habits are under the insured’s control. Sometimes bad health problems happen to people through no fault of their own. One major incident without health insurance and the person will likely fall into bankruptcy and go on welfare.

    Let’s say your spouse has a heart attack. Insurance is cancelled. Then spouse needs a hip replaced. Could you afford the $75K that would be charged? Per joint? Next heart event you are now out $150K. Next cancer strikes, say goodbye to another $Million. How financially stable would you be after such events?

  55. CowboySlim says:

    “Lovely. Then go look at Tehachapi wind farms.
    None of it would even begin to exist without taxpayer money.”

    10-4, and look at how many bald eagles die there. If a ranger caught you killing one, you would be incarcerated.

    Roger that, and I’ve driven through Tehacapi. Total and complete fraud!

  56. Dave Hardy says:

    We have our first seasonal Darwin Awards nominee up here finally; a 29-year-old Hispanic male from Swanton (next town north of us, very small) evidently drove his car onto the ice and through it on that area of Lake Champlain at 04:00 and walked to the border crossing to report it. When the cops got there, they saw he was obviously DUI and ran the test and it was twice the legal limit. Pic of the car through the ice on the front page of the local rag.

    Now we’re just waiting for the inevitable pickup trucks and snowmobiles through the ice. In my view it hasn’t been cold enough for long enough for anyone to be out there; it only takes one dunking in icewater to have some major situational awareness, and I speak from personal experience of half a century ago.

  57. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    The fact remains that insurance companies cannot cover pre-existing conditions. If they do, it’s not insurance; it’s welfare. Someone has to pay for that, and it’s not fair to force other customers to do so. No one is forcing you to use medical services. If you will not or cannot pay the actual cost of insurance, do without. If you’re uninsured and have a medical emergency, either pay the actual cost youself or do without the service. Don’t expect me or the taxpayers to pay for your care.

  58. Dave Hardy says:

    In other north-country nooz, a six-foot white male dressed all in black with a mask robbed the Subway joint smack dab on Main Street in downtown Saint Albans City last night. I go in there about once a month and I was just there last week to grab a foot-long steak-and-cheese. The store person says he had a gun.

    Just think: I coulda been there and we coulda had us some big fun!

  59. MrAtoz says:

    By your reasoning the first time someone has any condition, boom, insurance cancelled and no ability to get any more insurance.

    I don’t think that is what Dr. Bob is saying. If you walk into an insurance office needing a heart transplant and have never been covered, why would any insurance company sell you insurance? But, you’re right, if you have ObolaCare and it is replaced by tRumpCare, and you need a transplant, it should be covered since the gooberment is forcing all this shit on the market.

    I think Mr. Lynn is right, we will all be under single payer Medicare (health care, not insurance) in the future. If you can’t pay, you should be sweeping the streets and cleaning up dog shit in the local park to pay for it. If you can’t get your fat azz up, you can stuff envelopes with Medicare flyers.

  60. Dave Hardy says:

    WRT to health insurance: say you’re paying more than your monthly mortgage for it (which is the case up here) and one of you has a bad accident or a haht attack and then they cancel the insurance and no one else will take you on now. Meanwhile you’re seeing how they rip us off, lie to us, and the top dawgs continue to rake in the big bucks.

    Meanwhile your aging self and/or your aging spouse get really sick and the prices of treatment and drugs are astronomical; tough shit? And meanwhile you’re paying taxes until you’re bled white and you see swarms of migrants and criminals get taken care of, gratis, thanks to your tax dollars.

    Multiple you and your spouse by tens of millions.

    In the area of health insurance and medical care, we’re in for some kind of major shakeup in the next few years; there won’t be enough money anyway in Medicare or Medicaid by the 2020’s. Ditto Social Security.

    So we’ll have mass die-off regardless of any kind of pandemic, epidemic, crop failures, or Grid down. People simply won’t be treated anymore, other than what would have been available, say, 150-200 years ago.

    Additional edit: Doctors are dumping their Medicare patients and turning away any new Medicare patients; one reason? They have to learn and abide by a 450-page book of regulations and caveats. While their costs skyrocket and profits go down the tubes. What next?

  61. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    You should be covered only if you have been previously covered from before ACA, by either a private or group policy, and if the new insurance company offers you coverage without being compelled to do so.

    If I were an insurance company, I might offer coverage to Lynn that excluded PE conditions at a price for which I’d insure any healthy guy his age, and I might insure him including coverage for PE for $8,000/month or whatever I thought my actual costs might be for a pool of him and people with similar risk profiles.

  62. nick flandrey says:

    Karl D over at market-ticker. org has looked at this extensively and run the numbers.

    Break up the cartels, enforce anti-trust laws, and force open pricing (like we have for literally every other good and service) in other words make it a free market economy, and prices will fall dramatically to where normal care is affordable. Carry catastrophic insurance for the unexpected. Buy into a discount prepaid plan (what HMOs and PPOs actually are when prices are not set by actuaries but by fiat) and expect to pay A LOT if you are sick when buying in.

    Costs are high because the people paying are not the people using, and there is no way to compete on price, or even KNOW the price. Drugs cost what they cost because the insurance companies have agreed to PAY that amount. Costs are also high because of the large numbers of illegals using the system without paying, drug seeking “frequent fliers” sucking up resources at every ER in the country, obesity and the associated health problems, and finally the fact that end of life care is extremely expensive whenever it entails heroic measures. People are living long enough to die from stuff that is complex and expensive to treat, or will only delay the inevitable. (The high cost of malpractice insurance and the proliferation of scam and frivolous lawsuits factors in too.)

    I’ve been without insurance for large parts of my adult life. I have insurance now that got shittier and more expensive under Obammy. I prefer a combination of negotiated, discount rates for ordinary care paid with cash out of pocket, with true insurance for big but unlikely stuff.

    The mass of plans with minor variations that make direct comparisons difficult wasn’t a good deal. Neither is the one or two shitty choices we have now that the Dems jammed it up our @sses. There are LOTS of proposed alternatives, some good, some worse. I get angry every time I hear the canard that the Rs don’t have a plan, spent 8 years not coming up with a plan, that no one likes O-care but no one has a proposal, etc. There have been thousands of proposals. The one put forth by the founder of Whole Foods was good, even if he’s got political issues. Karl D’s is better.

    The one thing that is certain, it can’t go on like this.

    nick

  63. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’ll agree with that.

  64. Ray Thompson says:

    The fact remains that insurance companies cannot cover pre-existing conditions. If they do, it’s not insurance; it’s welfare.

    If you walk into an insurance office needing a heart transplant and have never been covered, why would any insurance company sell you insurance?

    That is why I stipulated that you must have had continuous coverage. If you have not had continuous coverage pre-existing conditions are not covered for two years and any new condition within one year is not covered. Only after you have had insurance for at least one year would you be covered. That would stop those that have no coverage discovering a heart condition then immediately signing up for coverage.

    Through no fault of my own or action on my own I have been forced to change health insurance companies multiple times. Either through job changes, changes in group health at work, and the latest was BCBST dropping coverage in my area forcing a change to Humana. Since I have had continuous coverage I should not be denied, nor dropped, from any coverage. Let the insurance companies figure out which company should cover pre-existing conditions.

    Why should a forced change in insurance company cause me to be denied when I have never been without coverage. To allow such would encourage insurance companies to drop people and force them to change companies every six months. Thus everything becomes pre-existing and would not be covered.

    I don’t know what the change in obuttwadcare is going to bring. Because I am not employed my wife now gets a subsidy of about $400 a month making my premiums about $450 a month. Drop obuttwasdcare and I would have a very difficult time getting her coverage because of two hip replacements. No insurance company would cover because of pre-existing. But if obuttwadcare gets dropped I am forced to change insurance companies and thus would be denied coverage. I have paid insurance for years and a forced change in companies through no fault of mine should not result in denial of coverage by the new company.

  65. lynn says:

    As long as one has had continuous health insurance coverage they should be able to get health insurance without regard to pre-existing conditions. By your reasoning the first time someone has any condition, boom, insurance cancelled and no ability to get any more insurance.

    I’ve been covered by medical insurance since I was 14. So my health insurance should be canceled now that I have issues ?

    I am not under Obolacare. I am under BCBS who is carrying the group health insurance for my company (14 people at $8,000/month total). I would not touch Obolocare with a 39 and a half foot pole.

  66. CowboySlim says:

    “The fact remains that insurance companies cannot cover pre-existing conditions. If they do, it’s not insurance; it’s welfare. Someone has to pay for that, and it’s not fair to force other customers to do so.”

    Roger that! A friend neglected to pay is auto insurance on time. His wife had an accident, when he sent his payment in after that, the accident was not covered…pre-existing!

    Why should health insurance be any different?

    Don’t be late with you home owner’s insurance while you home catches fire!

    10-4?

    CowboySlim, whose dog has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and is scheduled for surgery next Mon. Yes, not covered by Obamanoid care.

  67. lynn says:

    The one thing that is certain, it can’t go on like this.

    Homeboy, is that ever true.

    When my wife got breast cancer in 2005, we went to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Best cancer treatment in the world. Also one of the most expensive. Her total bill over 12 months was $350K. Five surgeries, six months of chemo, twelve months of an experimental drug, Herceptin. If I remember correctly, our insurance company paid $175K, we paid $15K, Genentech (clinical study) paid $50K, and MDACC wrote off $110K. It worked, she is still alive. I wonder how much her treatment would be now.

  68. Miles_Teg says:

    Lynn wrote:

    “More than half of electricity generation capacity added to the U.S. grid in 2016 came from renewable resources”

    Cool !

    Don’t tell that to a South Australian.

  69. lynn says:

    Don’t be late with you home owner’s insurance while you home catches fire!

    About 4 or 5 years ago, my life insurance company lost my life insurance payment credit. They got my check, cashed it, and forgot to credit my account. I cannot get life insurance anymore due to heart condition. So we had a nice round robin when I got the account overdue notice stating that they had canceled my life insurance. Took about a week to get it all cleared up and my life insurance reinstated. BTW, I have had this policy since I was 30. It is enough to pay off both mortgages on the house and commercial property should I kick off one fine day.

    Don’t even get me started on LTD (long term disability). I have that as a group for my business also as I cannot get it individually, no freaking way.

    BTW, remember that health, life, and disability insurance is just not about preexisting conditions. You might get run over by a bus one fine day and where is your family then ?

  70. lynn says:

    Lynn wrote:

    “More than half of electricity generation capacity added to the U.S. grid in 2016 came from renewable resources”

    Cool !

    Don’t tell that to a South Australian.

    We have lost power here at the office and house six times today. So far. Nothing to do with “renewables”.

  71. Ray Thompson says:

    I wonder how much her treatment would be now.

    Non-issue. She would be dead by the time the medical community got approvals from the insurance company for treatment.

  72. nick flandrey says:

    “Don’t be late with you home owner’s insurance while you home catches fire!”

    Used to be that only people that had paid ahead of time got attention from the fire department. And it happened that way a couple of years ago too.

    Small department, volunteer, rural area. Homeowner gets pissy about the bill, decides not to pay as a protest. His house later catches on fire, and the fire dept refuses to fight the fire. He screams, stomps, begs and pleads, offers to pay, etc but TOO F-IN LATE for you! Dept watched it burn down, protected any other structures for paying supporters.

    I don’t have a lot of sympathy for free riders.

    n

  73. Dave Hardy says:

    Well, as I and others have said, it simply can’t go on like it is now and quite simply–it won’t. We have no freaking idea of what comes next. Hold onto yer hats, compadres.

    And that’s just “healthcare.”

    We have a few other pressing national security issues that might even beat that for importance. Potential flashpoints in Ukraine, Kashmir, the South China Sea, and with the Norks; all potentially involving nukular weapons.

    Swarms of millions of immigrants coming across our southern border and through our airspace. Most of them with zero acquaintance concerning a supposed federal republic and system of law, let alone the language and culture, and zero desire to become acquainted with it. Ingratitude and aggressive hostility, in fact. What to make of this? Will we get what Germany and Italy and France and the UK are getting?

    And a very vulnerable Grid and food and goods distribution system. A major crash just waiting to happen.

    Last but not least, by any means, a gigantic financial house of cards, with $20 trillion that the lords temporal will admit to officially, and in reality ten times that for future generations. Does anyone in their right freaking mind think that will continue much longer???

  74. lynn says:

    We have a few other pressing national security issues that might even beat that for importance. Potential flashpoints in Ukraine, Kashmir, the South China Sea, and with the Norks; all potentially involving nukular weapons.

    You forgot Israel. I just read a scenario with Israel getting pushed hard and doing a preemptive strike on Cairo, Tehran, Damascus, and Baghdad in 2022. The resulting is WW III or WW IV depending on your perspective. Then South Americans boiling up through Mexico into the heartland, ala the original Red Dawn.

  75. pcb_duffer says:

    I had health insurance for several years as an individual, purchased via the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Not great, but they were willing to cover by already ruined at that point knees; essentially a semi-catastrophic policy. Then the carrier left the state, and every other insurer in Florida said “No way.” I went quite a while without any coverage, until the Obamacare law forced insurers here to take me. But the first year there was exactly one carrier (BC/BS) writing policies in this county.

    Were I a direct employee of the State, Blue Cross would be delighted to sell me an insurance policy. Ergo, the actuaries think that simply working for the State will make me healthier. Or, in the alternative, the finance people don’t want the general public to know what health insurance actually costs. (My money’s on the latter.)

    What I’d really like is for Vermont to try one approach, Mississippi a second, and Wyoming a third. Then some larger states could join in, and the best results would quickly gain acceptance nationwide. Capitalism, I think it’s called, along with a large dash of limited Federal government.

  76. Dave Hardy says:

    “What I’d really like is for Vermont to try one approach,…”

    Vermont is probably gonna have to do something PDQ here; they blew $2 million of our tax dollars on the Vermont HealthConnect web site and sign-up stuff and it didn’t work, and then it worked badly, and now who knows WTF is going on? But we’re out that two million for good and the governor who oversaw the whole mess is out and we have a new gov, a RINO, with a Prog (literally) Lt. Gov. Mrs. OFD missed this month’s sign-up but will probably do next month’s, or whatever the damn plan says for her to do but as it currently exists, it’s a huge problem up here.

    I go for serious stuff to the VA and sign in on a kiosk machine each time at whatever location and one of the questions is if I have insurance, and the answer is always “no” and I haven’t had any since I worked for the state, circa 1998-2002. And as I’m unemployed again I fit their eligibility criteria for being an unemployed loser bum so they treat me. And I have zero complaints for how they’ve treated me, pretty much like a prince.

    But wife’s medical chit is more serious than mine and she has no insurance and needs to have some stuff done ASAP.

    “You forgot Israel.”

    Ah yes, Eretz y’is Rael, the Promised Land.

    Well, of course they’re always an interesting potential giant monkey wrench in the works; faced with eternally hostile musloid hordes all around, they have both the conventional and nukular means to defend themselves and I don’t doubt for a minute that they’ve war-gamed pre-emptive strikes, probably assuming our air and intel cover. So sure, another possible flash point.
    ישראל, הארץ המובטחת

  77. Dave Hardy says:

    A kinda long but interesting read on the current World-FUSA situation, for your morning coffee and crullers:

    http://thesaker.is/risks-and-opportunities-for-2017/

    …or your bacon and eggs and grits and French toast…

  78. lynn says:

    WRT to medicine; I get mine from the VA but it would be nice to see a big reduction in the prices for Mrs. OFD’s stuff.

    I take three drugs for my heart, Metaprolol at $10/month, Coumadin at $10/month, and Rythmol at $520/month (but BCBS makes me pay only $10/month). I also take a 50 mg/day of Doxycyline for my PLC which costs $10/month.

  79. lynn says:

    Were I a direct employee of the State, Blue Cross would be delighted to sell me an insurance policy.

    BCBS will sell a group health insurance policy to any business in TX with two or more employees. This is mandated by The Great State of Texas, BCBS (or any other insurance company) cannot turn you down. They used to charge the same for each employee in the group but since Obolacare, they charge based on the employee’s age. Mine is now $861/month or something like that. And our deductible is $3,500 and our copay is $3,500.

  80. brad says:

    How the hell do people live like this?

    Dunno. 150 square feet is a bit very small. That said, I’m a fan of small. Our current building is about 4500 square feet, plus another 2000 sq ft in the basement. Overall about half business and half private. I find this much bigger than we need privately. When we retire, and there is no more business, and the kids are out of the house, I want a place a fraction of this size.

    Really, look at what you use in your house. We use the computers (office), the living room, the bedroom, and the kitchen/dining room (not counting necessities like the bathroom and laundry room). Figure four rooms, add a guest room for five. Make them generous at an average of 200 sq ft each, and you’re done with 1000 sq ft, plus a garage/basement for storage.

    – – – – –

    Y’all were talking about supporting the smart kids in school. Your average teacher doesn’t *like* smart kids. They hate being shown up in class, which is what smart kids do. I had this starting in first grade, where my teacher picked me up and swung me around, because she couldn’t get me to stop answering questions in class. She wanted her cute girls to answer the questions, but they didn’t know the answers.

    This kind of crap continued in various forms through middle school. Finally, in 8th grade, my parents managed to get me into a private school. What a relief!

    So the first thing you’ve got to do is get the smart kids out of the normal classes and put them in with smart teachers. But you are relying on those average teachers to identify the smart kids and recommend them for special treatment. “Pick out the kids who are smarter than you are, so you don’t screw them up.” Not quite sure how that’s going to work :-/

    But it’s true: massive effort invested in the skills of the worst students makes no sense. You want them basically literate and numerate. Then send them to some sort of hands-on vocational training. Years of special ed is a waste of resources. Mainstreaming is worse, because it drags down the rest of the class. Whoever thought up things like NCLB was an idiot.

  81. Denis says:

    “Gene Cernan, last human to walk on the moon, passed away at 82.”

    The last moonwalk took place before my birth, and I am not sanguine that another will happen before my death, unless the Chinese get really busy soon. What an indictment of present-day humanity.

  82. Dave says:

    Wouldn’t synthetic insulin be out of patent by now?

    Yes, it would be. However synthetic insulin is not made by chemists, it’s made by genetically modified bacteria. So, yes, the patent should have expired on those bacteria. But you would have to genetically modify your own bacteria, and grow those bacteria. Then you would have to figure out how to process it.

  83. Dave says:

    The last moonwalk took place before my birth, and I am not sanguine that another will happen before my death, unless the Chinese get really busy soon. What an indictment of present-day humanity.

    Given the choice between going back to the moon or going to Mars, I would choose Mars. Once you’re in Earth orbit you are halfway to anywhere. So the challenge of going to Mars isn’t that you need a little more propellant, it’s that you need to deal with a longer travel time.

  84. Dave says:

    Gene Cernan, last human to walk on the moon, passed away at 82.

    Cernan was the last of twelve men to walk on the moon. Of the twelve men who walked on the moon, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Alan L. Bean, David Scott, John Young, Charlie Duke and Harrison Schmitt are still alive.

  85. nick flandrey says:

    Someone, Jerry Pournelle probably said -paraphrase- The future of humanity is in space, but no one said the language of space would be english….

  86. pcb_duffer says:

    [snip] BCBS will sell a group health insurance policy to any business in TX with two or more employees. [snip]

    But does the price depend on the size of the group? Is a 32 year old woman who is a secretary is charged one price while working for you and another while working for the TX Department of Transportation?

  87. dkreck says:

    Is a 32 year old woman who is a secretary is charged one price while working for you and another while working for the TX Department of Transportation?

    No, if she works for government you pay that too, and then some.

  88. Miles_Teg says:

    Lynn, there are numerous problems with power supply in South Oz.

    About once or twice a month my power goes off for a second or two. Annoying.

    We used to have plenty of reliable natural gas and brown coal generated power. Not any more.

    We have heaps of solar and wind generated power. Not much use when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t up. Or bad weather has knocked over the cheap pylons made with inferior Chinese steel.

    We buy power from Victoria, but if the inter connector between Victoria and SA fails…

    Recently we’ve had several days long power outages. Lot’s of refrigerated food spoiled, blast furnaces damaged, with a high cost of repair.

    And other states want to follow our “lead”!

    When I was a kid here in SA the power was very reliable. In Canberra the power was very reliable. Since I moved back it’s been terrible. I think this issue will determine the next state election.

  89. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yes, it would be. However synthetic insulin is not made by chemists, it’s made by genetically modified bacteria. So, yes, the patent should have expired on those bacteria. But you would have to genetically modify your own bacteria, and grow those bacteria. Then you would have to figure out how to process it.

    Actually, synthetic insulin has been made by two genetically-modified organisms: E. coli bacteria and the fungus Saccharomyces cerevisiae (AKA yeast). There are some advantages to using the latter, because it (like us) is a eukaryotic organism rather than a prokaryote. In either case, what the microorganism actually produces is an insulin precursor, which must be chemically modified to produce actual insulin or a substance that is metabolized to insulin in the body.

    The issue is that living organisms are patentable, and the strains used to produce synthetic insulin are patented. As improvements are made to the organisms, new patents are filed, which will end up extending the 17-year patent term indefinitely. The older strains have gone out of patent by now, but that’s really no help because once they’re superseded by newer, better strains, no one bothers to maintain the older ones. They’re now extinct.

    I’ve tried every way I can think of to get lyophilized samples of an insulin-producing strain, but so far without success. It’s not really a top priority for me, since we now live in an area where livestock outnumber the human population by three to one or more. And I know how to isolate insulin from livestock pancreata. Doing so is pretty straight-forward, so that’s always in reserve if we end up needing to supply insulin to someone.

  90. JLP says:

    I guess I should chime in here since I’m in the field. I don’t work for Big Pharma, I work for Medium Pharma. I’m a development scientist for a company (~150 people, 1 approved product, several in development or filed for approval) that is a part of a larger international group.

    The health insurance system in the US is broken. Mostly because it has been meddled with so extensively by government that it really isn’t insurance anymore. I don’t have an answer, it is beyond me.

    I can make an informed statement on drug costs. Pricing of drugs is very complex. Some are big money makers, some barely break even. It has to do with so many factors. There are costs associated with development, trials, manufacturing, QC, ongoing regulatory, distribution, etc. None of which are small and some you would be surprised at how much they cost.

    The regulatory framework we work within would drive some people crazy (in fact I think some of the people in our regulatory department are crazy). For example adding a second package size to our product (some treatments don’t require the full amount in the big vial) took a couple of years and millions of dollars. Same product (just a little less), same glass vial (slightly smaller), same stopper. We were required to treat it almost as a brand new drug.

    I could give several more examples of thing which seem (and usually are) tiny but require large sums of money to meet regulatory requirements of federal, state and foreign governments and markets.

  91. lynn says:

    Someone, Jerry Pournelle probably said -paraphrase- The future of humanity is in space, but no one said the language of space would be english….

    That said, I think the trumpophobic Wheedon got it right in “Firefly”. English conversation with Chinese swearing.

  92. lynn says:

    [snip] BCBS will sell a group health insurance policy to any business in TX with two or more employees. [snip]

    But does the price depend on the size of the group? Is a 32 year old woman who is a secretary is charged one price while working for you and another while working for the TX Department of Transportation?

    The price depends on the group size and history. And multitudinous other factors that they will not tell us about. My (56) health insurance is $803/month, the wife (58) is $877/month, my son (33) is $412/month, and my daughter (29) is $385/month. My wife and son work for the business also. My daughter is officially classified as disabled so Texas law says that she can be on her parents health insurance. If, we pay for it.

  93. lynn says:

    Lynn, there are numerous problems with power supply in South Oz.

    About once or twice a month my power goes off for a second or two. Annoying.

    We used to have plenty of reliable natural gas and brown coal generated power. Not any more.

    I would be happy if our power went off for a second just twice a month. We get power blips weekly and several times when it happens. And my home distribution is dual fed and the office distribution is single fed. No difference.

    Most of our power is from natural gas (60%). 10% nuclear and 20% red / brown coal. 10% “renewables”. And those are SWAGs. I like diversity in our power generation.

    Sounds like you need a bunch of backup gas turbines. They are expensive but sure are nice on bad days. My customer GE would love to talk to you.

  94. Dave Hardy says:

    Based on what Mr. JLP has just said and others have said here, and something else I just read about it; does it make sense to get as much gummint out of the healthcare and pharma areas as possible?

  95. brad says:

    “The regulatory framework we work within would drive some people crazy (in fact I think some of the people in our regulatory department are crazy). For example adding a second package size to our product (some treatments don’t require the full amount in the big vial) took a couple of years and millions of dollars. Same product (just a little less), same glass vial (slightly smaller), same stopper. We were required to treat it almost as a brand new drug.”

    I remember reading about some stuff like this. For example, two people are in the hospital, and each requires only a part of a package of medication, apparently the hospital is not allowed to split a package between the two. Each has to have their own. I don’t recall if that applies to all meds, or maybe only injected ones. It doesn’t matter – it’s nuts regardless.

    If the US (or really anyplace) only had the guts: zap 90% of the regulations, or maybe 99%, and let the market sort things out. About the only thing you would want to retain would be the requirement that insurance cannot be arbitrarily cancelled: once you’re in, you’re in even if you contract an expensive disease. It wouldn’t take long, maybe 5-10 years, before we had a much better system than what we have now.

    Of course, some people would choose to not have insurance, and some of those might die for lack of medical care. That’s their gamble and their choice. For people who really do want insurance, and genuinely cannot afford it, charities would likely step in.

  96. JLP says:

    …two people are in the hospital, and each requires only a part of a package of medication, apparently the hospital is not allowed to split a package between the two.

    There may be some rules at the hospital or pharmacy but I don’t think it’s the FDA. The FDA regulates the safety and efficacy of the drug not the practice of medicine, although they do seem to cross the line at times.

    Frequently the problem is the medicine itself. Many products are lyophilized. Once reconstituted it may have a limited period of stability, sometimes only a few hours.

  97. Dave Hardy says:

    OFD, that hyper-literate PITA learned a new word today: “lyophilized.”

    A Greek or Latin origin, possibly?, I’d guess Greek, and means simply “freeze-dried.”

    Shazzammm!

  98. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yeah, lyophilized is science-speak for freeze-dried. I remember the look on another prepper’s face the first time I referred to Mountain House as “lyophilized food” and then explained what I meant.

  99. JLP says:

    We’re all a bunch of nerdy eggheads so we need words like “lyophilize” and “sublimate” and “eutectic” to make us feel special.

  100. Dave Hardy says:

    I’m a “nerdy egghead?” Yikes.

    But that does remind me of the time I showed my high skool yearbook picture to a colleague a year or two after my return from working for Uncle and he said “You look like you were captain of the chess team,” which got a big laff from everybody. I killed him a few days later, of course.

    Yeah, I can look like a chess team nerd, a tweedy English prof, or “grim-visaged war.” Depends.

    But I do love to play with the language/s.

  101. JLP says:

    The “we” I was referring to was me and my fellow lab rats. You are welcome to join in with the eggheadedness.

  102. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    One way to sort out scientists from non-scientists is to have them read aloud a list of words that includes “unionized”.

    The scientists will speak it as “un-ionized” every time, and the non’s will speak it as “union-ized”. Every time.

  103. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I should say the scientists will do every time if the list includes at least a couple of other sciency words. If it includes only non-sciency words, it might set their frame of mind to pronounce it as the non’s do.

  104. Miles_Teg says:

    Lynn, if the power goes off for two seconds I have to reset the clock on the oven and reboot the computer/s. A small price to pay. A few months ago my power went off for “only” six hours. Other parts of SA were off for days. A smelter/blast furnace up north was close to needing repairs costing tens of millions, but power came back just in time. People had bought seafood just after Christmas and had to gorge the lot because the refrigerator couldn’t keep it cold…

    Another time my power went off for two seconds my sister lost power for 6+ hours. Other people had no power for several days. Welcome to the Third World.

    They are demolishing, as we speak, brown coal fired power stations up north. They imploded the smoke stack only a few weeks ago. Coal miners at Leigh Creek were thrown on the scrap heap. This so that we can generate more renewable energy that doesn’t have the desirable characteristics of coal, gas, hydro or nuclear, such as a stable frequency.

    There is now talk of building new coal fired stations that are more efficient and less polluting. I hope they do it quickly. Meanwhile, I can’t wait ’till next year’s state election when we can eject the Labor government.

  105. Dave Hardy says:

    It sounds a lot like Oz is gonna go the Max Max: Road Warrior route sooner than we thought.

  106. ech says:

    I don’t recall if that applies to all meds, or maybe only injected ones.

    Injectables for sure. My wife is a retired anesthesiologist and they were required by JCAH (the accreditation group for hospitals) to use fresh vials of drugs for each patient. A real pain in the rear when some of the drugs are narcotics that have special handling and disposal requirements and you use a tiny amount for each patient. Each patient now gets billed for a full vial.

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