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LAGC

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Missoula, MT
Home country: USA
Current location: Deep in Red State Hell!
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 4,988

About Me

Godless democratic socialist, look towards northern Europe for inspiration on what role-models our economy should aspire towards. Love the ACLU and donate heavily to them each year, wish they'd get with the program and defend the Second Amendment with as much fervor as they do the rest of the Bill of Rights. Proud member of the 99%.

Journal Archives

My Parents Are 57 and 61, Both Smokers, Finally Got Through on Healthcare.gov

They were originally going to go with the cheapest Silver plan, but it had a $2500 deductible and $11,600 max out-of-pocket. So I suggested they check out the Gold and Platinum plans, just for comparison. They are both in pretty good health (besides their smoking habit) but my dad had to undergo an angioplasty a few years back, clogged arteries. My dad got laid off his long-term job as an HVAC salesman a couple years ago, had been drawing unemployment and paying into a COBRA plan that cost over $500/month just for himself. My mom has been uninsured for years since arthritis stopped her from working. (She never applied for disability.)

They both have a modest 401K which my dad has been drawing on these last couple years which about to run out, but Social Security kicks in for him next year so that should help somewhat. Then my mom can start drawing on her 401K until she makes it to 62 herself. They were surprised to find out they qualified for a $611 monthly tax credit. They ended up going with a Platinum plan, the premium which costs just over $647/month for the both of them. $0 deductible, and only a $3000 max out-of-pocket. Not too bad considering their age and the fact that they admitted to being smokers on the application.

I'm trying to get them to quit smoking, try e-cigarettes or something, so they can save an additional $100/month on their insurance, then they would only be paying around $550/month for a Platinum plan. This will be much better coverage than they ever had their whole working lives, which is especially important now that they are at that critical age where they are at most risk: over 55, yet not quite old enough to qualify for Medicare. I'm just glad they will both be covered again. I was worried about my mom going so long without insurance.

The ACA really is making a difference in many people's lives. I hope they are able to get the kinks worked out and make this thing work. At least until we finally get around to expanding Medicare for all. One step at at a time...

State Cop Shoots at Minivan Full of Kids

TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) - A simple traffic stop turned into a wild scene with a 14-year-old rushing a state cop, a high-speed chase and another officer firing at a fleeing minivan full of kids.

Now the driver and her son are facing charges while New Mexico State Police are investigating the officers involved.

It all started Oct. 28 on a state highway south of Taos. A State Police officer pulled over Oriana Ferrell's minivan for going 71 mphr in a 55 mph zone. In the minivan with her were her five kids. The Taos News reports the children range in age from 6 to 18.

On dash cam video released to KRQE News 13 Friday you can see Ferrell and the officer argue after Ferrell couldn't decide whether to pay the $126 fine or contest it in court. The officer instructs her to turn her vehicle off and stay put before walking back to his car.




http://www.krqe.com/news/crime/state-cop-shoots-at-minivan-full-of-kids

She shouldn't have drove off, but that doesn't justify the violent police response -- one of the kids in there could have easily been killed.

Cops needs to chill the fuck out instead of play Rambo all the time.

"Measured response" is the order of the day.

That is all.

I Will Say One Thing About the Catholic Church...

They sure have harbored some incredible minds.

Many Catholics, both clerics and laypersons alike, have made significant contributions to the development of science and mathematics from the Middle Ages to today. These scientists include Galileo Galilei, René Descartes, Nicolas Copernicus, Louis Pasteur, Blaise Pascal, André-Marie Ampère, Gregor Mendel, Charles-Augustin de Coulomb, Pierre de Fermat, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, Marin Mersenne, Alessandro Volta, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Pierre Duhem, Jean-Baptiste Dumas, Roger Boscovich, Pierre Gassendi, and Georgius Agricola, to name a few.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Catholic_scientists

For an institution so steeped in tradition, superstition, and folklore, they sure did evolve (even before the Renaissance) to lay the very foundation for modern science itself.

We're covering Gregor Mendel right now in Biology, his insightful contributions to the study of genetics.

I can't help but to think, if it wasn't for the Church back in the day with all their monasteries allowing such "philosopher monks" to be able to focus all their free time on on matters of the mind instead of endless busy-body work, we would have never gotten out of the Dark Ages.

I'm not so sure that the Church is really all that necessary any more, in this era of free-flowing information and esteemed secular institutes of higher learning, but I will give them props for the role they played back in the day, laying down the building blocks of the explosion of human knowledge and scientific discovery over the past 500 years, especially over the past 200 years alone.

It gives me great hope for the future of humanity, that even from the most guarded halls of dogma and ritual that such forward-thinking perspectives could arise, and even thrive.

Maybe even Islam will eventually come around and change its ways. Come back to contributing to the greater human knowledge like it did in its early days, instead of trying to drag us back down to pre-civilized levels of endless sectarian violence and hate.

We can hope, right?

Today We Learned How to Make Crack Cocaine and Kevlar!

So today we learned about amines and amides, in Organic Chemistry. (For those not familiar, it involves organic compounds with a Nitrogen component.)

This is cocaine:



Chemistry professors sure seem to know a lot about illegal substances... crack is a lower purity form of free-base cocaine that is usually produced by neutralization of cocaine hydrochloride with a solution of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3) and water, producing a very hard/brittle, off-white-to-brown colored, amorphous material that contains sodium carbonate, entrapped water, and other by-products as the main impurities.

Someone in class asked why it is that rich people tend to be the ones who do the pure cocaine, whereas poor folks tend to be the ones who do crack. She wasn't sure, but said she'd get back to us.



But what was really cool is we learned what kevlar and many fire-proof and bullet-proof vests are made of:



Those red balls are oxygen atoms, the blue balls nitrogen, white balls hydrogen, and black carbon.

It's amazing that just these 4 simple elements, when arranged a certain way, produce properties that make them so impervious to penetration.

This class has been nothing short of fascinating, it really is amazing how chemistry ties in to so many aspects of our lives. It really is the central science.

If I wasn't so dead-set on becoming a biologist, I'd definitely pursue chemistry instead.

The things we've learned in just the past 200 years since chemistry was founded as a science really have changed everything.

Everything boils down to chemistry. Everything.

I Finally Got Through on HealthCare.gov! UNBELIEVABLE Rates!

Holy smokes!

I've been trying to register since Day 1, only to have it keep erring out over and over again, no matter what time of day I tried. Multiple unsuccessful attempts, a couple user account names "lost in limbo", but the third try was the charm.

Took me well over an hour to answer all the verification questions, but I was finally able to look at and compare plans.

To be on the safe side, I ended up over-estimating my income a bit, as my current part-time job only pays around $10K/year, which isn't enough to qualify for subsidies. (My current home state of Idaho is one of those backwards GOP-controlled states that didn't expand Medicaid. Assholes.) But I expect to be able to take on a work-study job through my community college next semester, which should be just enough to put me over the $11,490 threshold for full subsidies to kick in.

So I checked out the default Silver-level plans which looked very affordable. With the $203/month subsidy, I found two plans that only cost $20/month: one with a $1000 deductible and $5800 max out-of-pocket, and another with a $3500 deductible but $3500 out-of-pocket. While that isn't too bad, just for fun I took a peek at the other level plans. I could get a Bronze plan for free, but they had way higher deductibles and max out-of-pocket expenses, too risky. The Gold plans weren't much better than the Silver it didn't seem, and still had pretty high deductibles and co-pays.

Then I was completely blown away: I could get a fucking PLATINUM plan for only $85/month. NO DEDUCTIBLE, $1500 MAX out-of-pocket expenses, worst-case scenario. Only a $35 primary doctor co-pay, a $50 specialist doctor co-pay, and $10 generic drugs. Even though its over 4 times as expensive as a Silver plan, I'm seriously leaning toward this option. The extra income from a work-study job would more than cover it.

No fucking wonder the GOP wants to shut this down before word gets out! Even without subsidies, that Platinum plan is only $288/month, and from the looks of it far superior to many employer-offered plans. This is really going to give corporate insurance plans a run for their money. Employers won't want to look like cheapskates offering less benefits than what the uninsured can get on the exchanges, so I imagine it will force them to reduce, if not eliminate, their high deductibles as well.

If this is really what we have in store, then 2014 is going to be a blood-bath... for the Republicans.


*** ETA: I'm 36 years old, single, non-smoker:

As Germans Push Austerity, Greeks Press Nazi-Era Claims

AMIRAS, Greece — As they moved through the isolated villages in this region in 1943, systematically killing men in a reprisal for an attack on a small outpost, German soldiers dragged Giannis Syngelakis’s father from his home here and shot him in the head. Within two days, more than 400 men were dead and the women left behind struggled with the monstrous task of burying so many corpses.

Mr. Syngelakis, who was 7 then, still wants payback. And in pursuing a demand for reparations from Germany, he reflects a growing movement here, fueled not just by historical grievances but also by deep resentment among his countrymen over Germany’s current power to dictate budget austerity to the fiscally crippled Greek government.

Germany may be Greece’s stern banker now, say those who are seeking reparations, but before it goes too far down that road, it should pay off its own debts to Greece.


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/world/europe/as-germans-push-austerity-greeks-press-back.html?_r=0

It will be interesting to see if Greece presses the issue.

For as much as Greece has bent over backwards to meet German demands, there really should be forgiveness of a good part of that bailout debt that is crippling Greece right now...

Matthew 6:6



I'm sure God is quite impressed with such grandiose displays of public piety...

Of course, its not Him they are trying to impress, is it?

"Emergent Properties" in Biology

So I finally decided to go back to finish up college earlier this year after a long 15-year hiatus. Before, my original major was sociology, but I was only going part-time while working full-time in the tech industry back when the economy was booming under Clinton, so my head wasn't really in the game.

Anyway, I decided to pursue my dreams and major in biology this time around, mainly because life science was my favorite subject back in junior high school, and genetics in particular really fascinated me. So here I am taking my first intro-level (albeit sophomore-level) biology course, and I already keep finding myself just absolutely stunned and shocked by what I'm reading in my textbook.

How you have all these mindless molecules self-reproducing, molecules spawning other molecules, all completely void of any sort of will or agency at all, just doing their own thing without any care in the world. Just a handful of simple chemical elements, that once joined together cause incredibly complex things to happen. I just find it so fucking incredible and awe-inspiring.

I mean, don't get me wrong -- I'm not even buying into the notion that any of our current religious traditions are anywhere near close to knowing the truth of how it all began -- but it is hard not to imagine that we are part of some sort of massive simulation, like we're living in the Matrix or something. LOL. All these hidden "rules" dictating how life behaves at each level of the biological hierarchy, as simpler parts combine to make much more complex things happen. It's just mind-boggling.

Do you guys ever wax philosophical about it all? I know philosophy tends to be only so much mental masturbation often times, but it is fun to think about "the deeper issues" some days... ponder the "how" of it all, let alone the "why" of it all, even if it does seem like an exercise in futility most of the time.

Isn't life fascinating? Just the sheer absurdity of it all? Something rather than nothing? Consciousness out of reducible parts?

Quick! Where's my fainting couch!

Conservapedia: "Moral Zeitgeist"

Don't ask me how I stumbled upon this.

But offered for your reading pleasure if you need a chuckle to lift up your day...

http://www.conservapedia.com/Moral_Zeitgeist

I Don't Give a Damn If You Deny Global Warming, But...

...there is a very real problem emerging with CO2 mixing with ocean water and forming H2CO3 -- carbonic acid.

This effect is gradually turning our oceans acidic, which could have serious ramifications for the entire ecosystem before the end of this century.

National Geographic did an interesting expose on this phenomenon not too long back:

http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/

On the pH scale, which runs from 0 to 14, solutions with low numbers are considered acidic and those with higher numbers are basic. Seven is neutral. Over the past 300 million years, ocean pH has been slightly basic, averaging about 8.2. Today, it is around 8.1, a drop of 0.1 pH units, representing a 25-percent increase in acidity over the past two centuries.


A change of 0.1 pH units may not seem like much, but the potential for affecting marine life is huge. Many aquatic creatures are very sensitive to fluctuations in the acid-base scale, even a shift of a few tenths of a degree in pH units could kill off entire species. This won't just affect fishermen and those industries dependent on them, but the impact will be felt along the entire food chain!

We've made great strides reducing pollutant levels in many U.S. cities. Over the past 30 years, sulfur dioxide levels are down 71%, carbon monoxide levels are down 79%, ozone down 25%, and nitrogen dioxide down 46%, but for some reason we don't seem to have the political will-power to do what needs to be done to reign in carbon dioxide as well.

So nevermind how hot its gotten this summer, or the prospect of rising ocean levels flooding cities -- pay attention to the other threat here: life on this planet as we know it.

We need to do something about CO2.
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