Obamacare is even less Consumer-Friendly than Cable/Television/Telephone Television

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 17th, 2014

Week in Review

Currently there are no market forces in health care.  Which is why health care costs are so high.  When buyers and sellers meet they always agree on a price that makes them both feel like winners.  Just watch an episode of one of those pawn shop shows.  The seller wants a higher price.  The buyer wants to pay a lower price.  As they move towards each other they arrive at a price that makes them both happy.  The seller gets an amount of money he values more than the thing he’s selling.  And the buyer is getting something he values more than the money he’s paying for it.  Making them both feel like winners.

It’s not like this in health care.  Because there is a third party between the buyer and seller.  Either an insurance company.  Or the government.  Just like there is a third party between networks’ programming content and the consumer.  The cable/satellite/phone company (see Why Your Cable Bill Keeps Going Up by Evan Weiner posted 4/12/2014 on The Daily Beast).

The television networks and the television carriers, whether it’s through cable, satellite or phone lines, carriers seeming are always fighting these days over the cost of programming and what rights’ fees should be. The rights’ fee is what a television carrier pays for a networks programming. The carrier then passes that cost along to consumers and tacks on an additional fee because they too feel the need to be compensated for bringing the program into a home.

The injured party is the subscribers who have little course to affect the talks unless they decide to drop their provider for another, and there is no guarantee switching to another provider will end TV blackouts…

Thanks to the 1984 Cable TV Act, cable subscribers have really no say in what they want for their needs. The cable carrier was allowed to establish tiers of services. The consumer could take a local, basic tier alone or basic and basic extended but would have no choice in what they wanted to buy and were forced to take whatever the multiple system operative wants to give them or they opt out of having cable TV. The same apparently holds true for satellite TV and the phone companies.

Cable/satellite/telephone television is like Obamacare.  As consumers can’t keep the programming they liked and wanted to keep.  As it is for Obamacare.  Where people who had health insurance they liked and wanted to keep could not keep it.  Instead, a third party, the government, forced them to buy a tier of health insurance they did not want.  Only they do not have the option to opt out of Obamacare.  Because buying health insurance is mandatory.  Unlike cable/satellite/telephone television.  For as much as we may hate our cable/satellite/telephone companies at least we don’t have to buy from them under penalty of law.

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The Doppler Effect and Malaysian Flight 370

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 26th, 2014

Technology 101

A Swan Pushes Waves Together in front of it and Pulls Waves Apart behind it as it Paddles across Water

Throw a stone in the water and what do you see?  Little circular ripples in the water moving away from and centered on where the stone broke the surface of the water.  These are waves.  Energy.  They are more intense the closer they are to the point of disturbance.  And become less intense the further they are from the point of disturbance.  So you’ll see larger circular ripples in the water closer to where the stone hit the water.  And smaller circular ripples at increasing radii from the point of impact.

You’ll see these little circular waves, too, when something else disturbs the surface of the water.  Like a swan.  Or a duck.  As they paddle their feet they move forward in the water.  Pushing the water out ahead them.  If you look closely you’ll see ripples bunched up in front of them.  And ripples spaced further apart behind them.  This is because of their movement towards the previous ripple.

These waves ripple through the water at the same speed (assuming the swan or duck is paddling at a constant speed).  So each ripple will travel the same distance at the same speed from the paddling bird.  But as the bird moves forward each subsequent wave in that direction is starting its journey at a point further along in that direction.  So one wave may have gotten to a point (let’s call it Point A) in the water 3 inches ahead of where the bird created it.  Since creating that wave the bird continued to paddle.  And created another wave.  This one created only 2 inches from Point A.  And then the bird created another wave at only 1 inch from Point A.  So subsequent waves are ‘catching up’ to previous waves.  Thus bunching the waves up in front of the bird.  While the bird is pushing these waves closer together the bird is traveling away from the waves behind it.  Stretching those waves further apart from each other.

A Guitar makes Sound by Vibrating the Soundboard in the Body of the Guitar

If you’ve ever played a guitar or watched someone play the guitar you’ve probably noticed how the sound changes depending on where the player fingers the string on the fingerboard (or fretboard).  If the player presses down on the string closer to the body of the guitar the note sounds higher.  If the player presses down on the string further away from the body of the guitar the note sounds lower.  Why?  Frequency.

A guitar makes sound by vibrating the soundboard in the body of the guitar.  The faster it vibrates the higher pitch the sound.  The slower it vibrates the lower pitch the sound.  The string vibrates back and forth a number of times each second.  The more it moves back and forth in one second the higher the frequency and the higher the pitch.  The fewer times it does the lower the frequency and the lower the pitch.  Thinner strings vibrate faster than thicker strings.  Shorter strings vibrate faster than longer strings.  So a typical guitar has 6 strings of various thickness stretched from the soundboard across the fingerboard.

The vibrating soundboard creates sound waves that move through the air.  Similar to a rock breaking the surface of the water.  As a guitar player fingers different notes on the fingerboard the soundboard vibrates at different frequencies.  Making music.  If you’re attending a small concert where a soloist is playing, say, Spanish Dance No. 2: Oriental by Enrique Granados you would hear the same beautiful music wherever you were sitting in the room.  The sound waves would be radiating throughout the room like the ripples created when a rock breaks the surface of the water.  However, if the soloist was moving like a swan through the water it would be a different story.

Using the Doppler Effect they determined Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 traveled the Southern Route

Ever listen to the sounds of cars and trucks traveling down a highway?  Maybe while visiting your aunt and uncle who live on a highway out in the country?  Did you notice that they had a higher-pitched sound when they approached you than when after they had passed you by?  The next time something noisy passes you by listen.  Especially if they’re blowing their horn.  It’ll go from a higher-pitched sound to a lower-pitched sound just as it passes you.  Why?  Think of the waves a swan makes gliding through the water.  Bunching waves closer together in front of it.  And stretching them further apart behind it.  The same thing happens with sound waves.  Austrian physicist Christian Doppler noted this in 1842.  Something we now call the Doppler Effect.

If a train is travelling down the track while blowing its horn it sounds the same aboard the train from the moment the engineer starts blowing it until he or she stops.  Just as the sound of a soloist playing Spanish Dance No. 2: Oriental sounds the same wherever you are in the room.  Because the distance between the source of the sound and the listener of the sound does not change.  But if you were standing stationary near the railroad track as the train traveled past you the frequency of the horn changes.  Because as it is approaching you it is pushing sound waves closer together.  Creating a higher frequency (or a higher-pitched sound).  As the train passes it is stretching those sound waves further apart.  Creating a lower frequency (or a lower-pitched sound).  This is the Doppler Effect.

When Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 shut off its transponder and ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) stopped broadcasting the plane vanished.  But a satellite communicating with the airplane still ‘pinged’ the aircraft every hour of its remaining flight time.  And electronic handshake.  The satellite says, “Are you still there?”  And the plane responds, “Yes I am.”  No data was transmitted.  Only a sent and received signal.  Just a pulse of a constant frequency.  A ping.  But from those pings they could measure the time it took to send and receive those pings.  Which they could calculate distances between the satellite and the plane from.  Giving us the northern and southern possible routes as it traveled in an arc around the satellite.  But which way it went on that arc was a mystery.  Until they analyzed the frequencies of those pings.  And they detected a slight change in the frequencies.  Using the Doppler Effect they determined which side of the plane was bunching up the sound waves and what side of it was stretching them out.  And concluded the plane was traveling on the southern route.  Which is why all search efforts are now in the south Indian Ocean southeast from Australia.  Because, according to Christian Doppler, that’s the direction the plane flew.

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Kim Jong-un can’t Feed his People but he can Spend $1 Billion to Test Launch a Nuclear Ballistic Missile

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 15th, 2012

Week in Review

And our little dance with North Korea continues.  We offer them food aid.  And then they test launch a nuclear ballistic missile.  Usually they wait to get their food before they start the next dance.  But they didn’t this time.  Probably to show that their new leader, the twenty something Kim Jong-un, has a pair.  To show his people he’s not afraid of the big bad wolf.  Which would be the United States in this metaphor.  To show how tough he is.  And how willing he is to let his people starve to death.  Yeah, he’s that tough.  The message to his people being “now do something to deserve some punishment and see what a cruel bastard I can be” (see Rocket failure cost at least US$1 billion by AP posted 4/15/2012 on The Taipei Times).

North Korea’s much-touted satellite launch ended in a nearly US$1 billion failure, bringing humiliation to the country’s new young leader and condemnation from a host of nations. The UN Security Council deplored the launch, but stopped short of imposing new penalties in response.

The rocket’s disintegration on Friday over the Yellow Sea brought a rare public acknowledgment of failure from Pyongyang, which had hailed the launch as a show of strength amid North Korea’s persistent economic hardship…

The launch brought swift international condemnation, including the suspension of US food aid, and raised concerns that the North’s next move could be even more provocative — a nuclear test, the country’s third.

North Korea can’t afford to feed their own people but they can spend $1 billion to put a satellite into orbit that none of their people can benefit from.  If you look at a nighttime picture of North Korea you’ll see the country is mostly dark.  They don’t have the money or the infrastructure to use electricity to light up their cities at night let alone receive anything electronic from that satellite.  But to save face they may now do something nuclear.  Again, something they can afford.  Unlike feeding the good people of their country.

North Korea is proud of their ‘military first’ policy.  For that is what’s important to their leaders.  After all, why feed your people when they may just starve to death anyway in another month or two?  Yet the American Left is far more vocal in their condemnation of the U.S. military than anything the North Koreans do.  Say all you want about the centuries old argument between guns and butter but one thing you can’t say is that the North Korean poor have an obesity problem.  Like they do in the United States.

The international community needs a plan on how to reintegrate the two Koreas without overwhelming the South Koreans or the Chinese.  Their nearest neighbors who undoubtedly will carry the heaviest cost in any reunification.  Perhaps line up some corporations to invest heavily in North Korea.  To find some resources they can extract.  To do a little job creation in North Korea.  And generate some wealth they can use to slowly build their infrastructure.  And grow the food to feed their people.  If we could communicate a viable plan to the oppressed North Koreans we could end this nonsense.  And help these people find a way to a better life.  And ultimately, hopefully, to reunification.  Or at the least an open and free border between the Koreas.  To bring together separated families.  While they’re still alive to be reunited.

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A Titanium Ball falls from a Failed Satellite Launch atop a Soyuz-2 Rocket and Plummets through Man’s Roof

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 31st, 2011

Week in Review

Man escapes death from being struck with by a piece of living history (see Man Miraculously Saves His Life As Satellite Fragment Crashes Into His House by Jesus Diaz posted 12/25/2011 on Gizmodo).

Andrei Krivorukov got a wonderful Christmas gift: his very own life. He saved it after a titanium ball from a Russian communication satellite crashed right into his house, escaping death by just a few feet.

The Russian satellite was a Meridian, which is used for civilian and military communications. It was destroyed when a Soyuz-2 rocket exploded in midair, just a few minutes after its launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome—a Russian spaceport, located 500 miles north of Moscow…

It’s a weird accident not only because of this Christmas miracle: the Soyuz has an excellent track record. It’s a tried-and-true vehicle with hundreds of successful missions since the 1960s, when it was designed by OKB-1 and manufactured at State Aviation Plant No. 1 in Samara, Russia. Its first flight was in 1966. The variant that launched today only has had one failure and one partial failure.

The Soyuz is tried and true.  From the days of putting the first man into space to shuttling people and supplies to the orbiting International Space Station.  It’s a true workhorse of the space program.  And the only one.  For the American Space Shuttle Program is now retired.  And it was shorter lived, more costly and suffered more failures than the Soyuz.  Never being able to live up to its initial design.  Not only to make space travel cheap but profitable.  Something it never did.  Being one of the most costly space systems of all time.

Yes, the Shuttle could retrieve satellites from space.  Something the Soyuz couldn’t do.  But it came at a cost.  And by cost I mean a big, heaping price tag.  It would have been cheaper and more cost effective to have continued with disposable booster systems.  Like the Soviets did.  And the Russians still are.  Sending new satellites in orbit to replace broken ones instead of trying to fix them.

Yes, the Shuttle was a magnificent piece of engineering.  But here we are.  Over 40 years have passed since Neil Armstrong first stepped onto the moon and we are still locked in Earth’s orbit.  One wonders where we might have gone had we not poured so much money into Space Shuttle.

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