A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Tits Up !! The Breastfeeding Sharecroppers Revolt

In yet the latest collision between the Plantation Owners and Sharecroppers is FaceBook and the women who don’t think that pictures of breast feeding are obscene. I am with the women. I don’t think the entire breast is obscene either singly or in pairs, let alone what is visible in most of the images in question.

However, I warned everyone what would happen when you join a sharecropper network.
Social Network Bill of Rights
A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web – The Sharecropper’s Revolt
Facebook – Emerald City’s Newest Sharecropper Network

Sorry Ladies You Lose
There is nothing ‘social’ about Facebook. There never was, there never will be. This is not limited to Facebook. MSN Livespaces, My Space, Ning, Flikr, You Tube, and every other ‘Social Network’ is a Plantation that hires out space that you get to play on so they can sell advertising against it. You are a sharecropper. And the Master is having no truck with those photos!
Even BlogHer the most visible Womens network is a business, and if it doesn’t sell advertising, it doesn’t play.

Here is why Nobody wins on a “Social Network”. According to a report at Mercury News.Com it was reported:

Facebook has removed these photos from members’ albums and profiles, saying that displays of areola — the dark skin around the nipple — violate the company’s policy regarding “obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit” material.

What is happening here is the same tired story that is killing TV Radio and Newspapers. ADVERTISERS!! Somebody from Dry Gulch, Missouri, told somebody that human breast feeding is obscene and or sexually explicit, (which when you really think about it is Nutritionally Explicit strictly speaking) who got an advertiser or their lawyer to have a brain fart and rattled their advertising budget in front of them. “Hmmmn… Tits or Revenue?

NO MORE TITS!! NO MORE TITS!! NO MORE TITS!!

Further down the same article is this nugget:

Facebook says its policies are designed to ensure its Web site remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many teenagers who use the site.

Is it coming clearer? Despite the fact that the majority of teenagers were breast fed, and would have a much clearer memory of such an event, the advertisers are not interested in your lactation issues because, you can’t play a video game, drive a car, buy more trendy worthless shit while breast feeding. And lawdy lawdy, teenagers are not supposed to think about such things, but are supposed to buy all that trendy worthless shit.

It is their Plantation and they make the rules.

Here is the problem in a nutshell. Everyone of these Social Network Content Plantations has you enter into a Contract. It’s the Terms and Conditions Page. That you didn’t read the fine print or understand it, makes no difference. This is basic Contract Law 101. You will not even get a place on a docket to fight this in court. This has not even touched the license that you granted them for your little corner of cyberspace.
Social Network Bill of Rights

The most surprising thing to me is not this areolagate happened,(because next week, It will be Nutritionally Explicit photos, you know those pictures of folks stuffing food into their mouths with a bit of the tongue showing) but all the folks who continue to get sucked into these sharecropper networks.

Social Network Bill of Rights
A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web – The Sharecropper’s Revolt
Facebook – Emerald City’s Newest Sharecropper Network

Toward Twitter Authority and a large confederation of dunces

The lunacy of the interwebs continues…

The popularity of Twitter has become a focus of concern of this week’s digerati. Loic Le Meur is calling for filtering based on authority, which has no relation to truth, justice, or any measurement other than popularity by way of number of followers. If the idea of followers doesn’t creep you out, consider Jim Jones and his followers.

This from a guy who as Charlie O’Donnell writes:

So, mark this date down. December 27, 2008 is the day that the digerati jumped the shark–the day that a guy who raised $12 million for a video blog commenting platform with no revenues or any idea of what the business model would be told the world that he only wants to listen to Twitter users with a lot of followers.
Source: Charlie O’Donnell

The ouroborus elegance of this proclamation is manifested in calling for a TechMeme filtering approach to accomplish this. And as an added bonus is the cavalcade of semi and former bloggers that are swallowing this lunacy contains all of the usual suspects and the Web 2.0 Social Media wannabes confirming that following each other is a dark warm moist place with hundreds of folks packed firmly up your ass, breathlessly waiting for the next 140 characters of clickable truth.

Now before you begin to cry foul over electronic anal probing, consider that the top IPhone app is IFart , which is just what it sounds like. (the IPhone being the unofficial talisman of the digerati, and now being able to buy one at Wal Mart, so you too can be mistaken as one of the shiny happy people, can only help to increase penetration and authority.)
Now that we have shown the wisdom of crowds in such a interesting manner, we can say that IFart has authority. To think that an app can engender such a following, let’s take a moment to understand what you can do with Authority.

In 1963 a professor named Stanley Milgram published his infamous experiment on obedience to authority. It involved the ability to administer electric shocks to other people who answered questions wrong.

The Milgram experiment’s startling result — as anyone who has taken a college psychology course knows — was that ordinary people were willing to administer a lot of pain to innocent strangers if an authority figure instructed them to do so. More than 80 percent of participants continued after administering the 150-volt shock, and 65 percent went all the way up to 450 volts.

Long story short, given the power, folks will turn up the juice. This experiment was recently replicated with identical results.

Jerry Burger of Santa Clara University replicated the experiment and has now published his findings in American Psychologist. He made one slight change in the protocol, in deference to ethical standards developed since 1963. He stopped when a participant believed he had administered a 150-volt shock. (He also screened out people familiar with the original experiment.)

Professor Burger’s results were nearly identical to Professor Milgram’s. Seventy percent of his participants administered the 150-volt shock and had to be stopped. That is less than in the original experiment, but not enough to be significant.
Source NYT Four Decades After Milgram, We’re Still Willing to Inflict Pain

If one had a dark view of the digerati, combining Twitter, IPhone and Milgram, we can probably look for a new app called IShock. The ability to shock folks through their IPhones. Great news for Apple as the batteries are not replaceable except by Apple. Combine that with say for example the tilde ~ for the twitter universe like the hash tag, one could expand their authority. Self shocking would banned of course.

When given the power to punish, having authority, folks will crank up the dial.

Electronic Health Care

The New York Times posted this story of a clinic in Wisconsin who has been at the forefront of computerized patient records for years.

The article brings up one of the most important ideas in electronic health records, being able to mine records for information related to treatments and outcomes, or evidence-based medicine.

The widespread adoption of electronic health records might also greatly increase evidence-based medicine. Each patient’s records add to a real-time, ever-growing database of evidence showing what works and what does not. The goal is to harness health information from individuals and populations, share it across networks, sift it and analyze it to make the practice of medicine more of a science and less an art.

Being able to query a large database for information related to a diagnosis, treatments and outcomes, can be extremely useful in collapsing the time between diagnosis and outcomes. It can also help to determine if a particular treatment, test, or drug is effective in illness. It can also be useful on a geographic basis for discovering outbreaks of disease and any environmental issues, such as cancer clusters, or Flu outbreaks.

Google Flu Trends provides daily estimates of the number of flu cases in the US, based on trends in flu-related internet searches such as queries about symptoms
.
The estimates made by Google’s new software match the weekly flu statistics compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from doctors’ reports, says Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, UK, who is familiar with the project. Moreover, Google Flu Trends can detect an outbreak days before it shows up in the weekly CDC reports, he says.
Link

What makes this so interesting is how quickly and accurately search information can be used for trend spotting. Think about real medical information for trending and treatments.

A few stumbling blocks

The first stumbling block is the issue of privacy of information. You may think that the information in your health record is private, and there are even laws and regulations that say so, like HIPPA, but they are a rice paper figleaf on the body of health care providers. The most significant evidence of this is the Health Insurance Industries requirement of disclosure of information for coverage, its ‘creative’ denial of treatments, using rescission as a get out of payment card, and administrative bottlenecks with claim forms and non medical judgments on ‘covered’ treatments and procedures, whose outlines change like a bowl of hospital jello in an earthquake.

If you have insurance, there is already a health record being kept by an insurance company, added to the others from that company. They mine this information with a financial outcome rather than a health outcome. This has great short term benefits in share price, but has created the current quagmire of unaffordable coverage, denial and fear.

Think about ‘Coverage’ for a moment. You pay a premium under the assumption that if you get ill, your doctor will make you better and the insurance company will pay the bill. Insurance companies do not make money writing checks, they make money collecting premiums.

Health Insurance works best when there is a large pool of healthy folks. The insurance company makes boatloads of cash. When someone gets sick, there is this large pool of cash to pay their bills. This of course lowers the amount of money the insurance company makes. So the best way to keep the most cash is to pay as little as possible. This is either done by denial, or an arrangement of fee for services that is measured to make the smallest possible payment for any treatment.

The second stumbling block is the record format. It does no good having 50 or so different record types. Ask your doctor’s billing department how may square feet is taken up with forms for the different insurance providers. A solution to this would be a XBRL language for the medical records.

The third stumbling block is a twofer. Storage and accessibility.
Storage can be accomplished in the ‘cloud’, using off site, internet accessible storage. Being able to access your health record across the internet will help your health care provider, especially in the case of travel or accident. Accessibility of information for analysis is an area that needs to be looked at hard as last years AOL stats release contained enough information to track individual users.

Having a Universal Health Care system, with an open standard data language, and the ability to check illness against treatment and outcomes can only make us stronger and healthier.

Barack Obama vowed during his campaign to spend 50 billion bucks on Electronic Health Records. The theory is that they will drive down costs, manage care better, and increase evidence-based medicine. We will have to see.

Holiday, Etc.

xmas

Shoes for Bush

The recent Iranian reporter’s displaying his displeasure with GW Bush with his shoes, and the subsequent hilarity across the web, we could entertain a similar notion.

Send GW Bush your old tired broken down shoes! Probably want to send them to his ranch in Texas, so they will be waiting for him when the door of the white house slaps him in the ass.

A new bonus scheme for the Banking and Investment Industry

While the feds are bailing out banks, stockbrokers, and other financial institutions who are racing at breakneck speed to become bank holding companies so they can belly up to the trough, proving again the definition of insanity, ‘repeating the same actions and hoping for a different outcome’, the Congress continues to throw more money at companies whose stellar record of fiscal responsibility is somewhere south of black.
Executive compensation has been getting a lot of inspection with multi million dollar bonuses for executives who have been driving their companies into the ground.
A new and novel approach is being taken by Credit Suisse.
Credit Suisse to pay bonuses in toxic debt

That’s right folks, they are paying bonuses in the same toxic debt that they created, traded and bought. Here is a rough outline:

“The new Partner Asset Facility is expected to be run as a mini-hedge fund and could take on debt of its own from Credit Suisse. If the troubled assets rebound in value, employees stand to gain from future payments; if they decline, it will be the value of employee bonuses that will be eroded – Credit Suisse will not have to book the losses.

This makes the scheme particularly attractive for a bank that has been struggling to offload tens of billions of dollars of illiquid credit instruments.

Participants in the fund will receive a small twice-yearly interest payment on the bonus, but will only be able to get their hands on the cash in five years, if the fund has any value left.
Source The Independent UK

I particularly like the 5 Year plan for any real pay out and shoving the burdens squarely up the asses of the folks who created this mess. This should become a requirement of every bailout dollar spent.

Meanwhile on the home front, foreclosures continue, despite the bleating by various groups saying that they are working on plans.
They seem to be talking big in the current game of asset value chicken. Nobody wants to step up and put a floor on valuation, to stop the plummet in value, but instead are letting neighborhoods crumble, which will only drive down values further, making current investments, and ghettoizing larger swaths of cities.

Some of these foreclosures will happen despite any amount of creative rewriting, but one area that has not been looked at is down sizing. Moving folks from houses they can’t afford into houses they can. There is no area of the housing market that does not have property in every price range.

Movies for Christmas

It is that time of year that you will want to snuggle up and watch a movie. Being an action junkie but sensitive to the holiday spirit, here are my favorite Christmas movies.

Die Hard Everybody thinks that this is just an iconic action hero movie, which it is, but it is a Christmas movie.

Die Hard with a Vengeance A couple of years go by, and John McClane celebrates Christmas in Washington DC.

The Long Kiss Goodnight A warm tale of an amnesiac recovering her memories and juggling home life with saving the world.

If you would rather laugh and not worry about the end of civilization as we know it I suggest
Badder Santa (Unrated Widescreen Edition) Billy Bob Thorton will warm your heart.

If on the other hand, depression is your goal:
Black Christmas (Full Screen Edition) Black X-mas A slasher movie that will douse any holiday spirit around.

After you have had christmas, here is one for the New Year.
End of Days Arnold saves the world from ultimate evil.
Happy Holidays!

Yet another hole in Internet Explorer

“Vulnerability in Internet Explorer Could Allow Remote Code Execution”
In plain speak, this is a password stealing trojan program.
This is also a complicated workaround.
Use Firefox.

Health Care for everyone

One of the most profound disconnects in health care are the current delivery systems. Hospitals are very big, expensive buildings to build and run. Really. The electric, plumbing, environmental, systems are orders of magnitude more complex than any other type of building. The per hour cost of a hospital is much higher than almost any other type of commercial structure.

Hospitals and Insurance companies have enormous staffs devoted to billing, and larger staffs devoted to compromise in stated charges vs paid charges. A lot of the costs in health care are a direct result of these folks making deals with each other.

Hospital administrations look at  them like  hotels with a break even point, requiring an occupancy rate toward profitability, regardless of the profit/non-profit status of the hospital.  Having soup to nuts care available is nice but the number of times the average individual requires such care is a very small number. Being able to use such resources efficiently requires looking at a number of factors, outside of the surgical suites.

Back when I was a practicing hippie, our neighborhood had a Free Clinic. Just what it sounds like. Free Medical Care. It was a small clinic, dealing with a lot of clap, crabs, and minor cuts, scrapes, bruises, and prenatal care. It was a volunteer effort which preformed low level assessment and treatment. The hippies grew up, urban development arrived, and those damn free clinic folks got the boot.

In a kitten, butterflies and rainbow world, there would be a Free Clinic on every street corner like convenience stores.

However neighbor clinics could provide many primary health care functions, and be able to access the larger hospitals for care and treatment that requires the facilities that a large hospital can provide. Being able to provide wellness checkups, screening, flu shots, and primary care and assessments on a neighborhood basis can be a much more cost effective solution to health care. Because if you can catch disease early, the treatment outcomes are much better. Cheaper too.

One of the most important functions of any medical clinic/hospital are the patient records. Currently a lot of the information in a patient record is confidential, to the point of absurdity. A lot of time and effort is going into electronic record keeping with various companies wanting to be the place to keep them. That some of what is contained in a medical record is between you and your primary care provider should be confidential,  a lot of this information needs to be set free for statistical purposes. Being able to mine data for diseases common to an area, and the efficacy of treatments of conditions, would be invaluable in providing flags of societal, neighborhood, and environmental conditions.

This is one of the few areas where cloud computing and storage actually makes sense.

The Internet has already shown promise in mining data for trends.

Google Flu Trends, created by the company’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, provides daily estimates of the number of flu cases in the US, based on trends in flu-related internet searches such as queries about symptoms.

The estimates made by Google’s new software match the weekly flu statistics compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from doctors’ reports, says Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, UK, who is familiar with the project. Moreover, Google Flu Trends can detect an outbreak days before it shows up in the weekly CDC reports, he says.
Source: New Scientist.com

This is just on searches for information. No medical records were used for this information.

If this sort of accuracy can be gleaned from random searches, think about how much information could be learned from actual patient records.

Divorcing patient identity from the information contained in a record is a subject for someone much smarter than I, but should not present such an obstacle to implementing such a database of information available to the health care field, which would include a large number of participants, such as local health care facilities, local and state health departments and yes, even drug companies and limited access by insurance companies.

Insurance companies are middlemen between you and health care, and as such are one of the major factors in pricing health care out of the range of most folks. Here is an example: Private Medicare Advantage Plans Take Heat for Profits “offering innovative solutions” they say. Any time you see this you should run for the hills, as the only solution is not related to health, but is directly related to profits.

Hospitals are not blameless in this either.
Hospitals Tap Credit Bureaus to Gauge Patients’ Ability to Pay If you don’t think that they are going to use this for their benefit, I have ocean front property to sell you in Arizona.

In case you haven’t noticed, almost nothing I have written above deals with providing health care, but has everything to the Benjamins.

It will be interesting if Tom Daschle actually understands any of this.
One other thing that should be part of the economic stimulus package would be the creation of neighborhood clinics and a large infrastructure commitment to high speed internet and health record normalization. Bridges and roads are fine, but not everybody on the unemployment knows which end of a shovel to use. Sick people can’t work and shouldn’t drive.
But Hey, that’s just me.

Sink the auto industry

Congress is getting ready to approve 14 billion dollars to bail out the domestic auto industry.

Why the Fuck? Detroit has consistently failed to set themselves apart with products that have actually been worth the money. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler continue to play “I got one Too” across the universe of cars and trucks. Sub compact to Trucks, they all figure that they all need to play to all market segments, and over the last 20 years have been playing catchup with the asian auto companies.

The last watershed moment and the first glimmer of creative thinking was the creation of the MiniVan. Regardless of what you drive, the minivan was a revolution  in transportation. Chrysler owned this market for 10 years. Nothing GM, Ford or the asians could touch them. They of course pissed this away.

Bolting badges and grilles with upgraded seats on pickup bodies and calling them sport utility vehicles, was yet another dumb move on the part of the majors, who you guessed it, followed nose to asshole, in producing vehicles for this segment, tossing fuel efficiency by reclassification and marketing campaigns designed to capture folks with money and no common sense, into these lumps. ( An Escalade is a Chevy pickup with different frills, but a pickup truck running gear. Driving one of these is driving with STUPID tattooed on your forehead)

Safety was an issue that the majors resisted with all of their might.  Airbags caused a major problem not only for the auto companies in designing them, which despite the insistence of reinventing the wheel with every model year, (considering that TRW, who was one of the major suppliers of air bags and components had a common design with a Dial a Yield feature almost since the beginning)but for the insurance industry, as what would have been fatal crashes requiring only a death benefit,  now required aftercare and continuing rehabilitation.

Improvements in quality and longer warranty coverage from overseas, as well as pricing pressures,  continued to bitchslap domestic companies putting them in the position of playing catchup again. Even with the adoption of platforms, where brands shared components underneath and drivetrains, having only plastic chrome badges and carpet colors differentiating models, was not helpful as they continued to insist on having “Me Too”  models in every segment, as though volume of models could overcome what was basically  poor direction by management.

As part of the current bailout, the workers and retirees are being bent over and hot pokers are being shoved up their rectums. Don’t feel too bad for them, as our turn as taxpayers will give us that same warm glow much sooner that congress thinks. The Auto companies will stop funding their retirement plans, forcing the taxpayers to pick up that tab too.

Ford may continue to exist for a few years, but they will have to figure out that they are a truck company and get out of the auto business.

GM and Chrysler may merge, which will give Cerebus Capital a great payday, but the monolithic cultures of both companies will spell their doom, they are unwilling to play nice with other.

As for the New Green Initiatives by the domestics, it is a ‘too little too late’ game.

The Car CZAR? I can’t think of the last time something this dumb came out of congress, although there are a lot of contenders.

There is nowhere for the car companies to go, they have downsized, out sourced, slashed facilities and workers, gutted their staffs except for management, and are already  in their graves, just waiting for some kind stranger to fill in the holes.