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Health care here, get your health care here! August 19, 2009

Posted by Patrick in Life, Science, Work.
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So I couldn’t help but voice my opinion on this health care debate.  I try to avoid talking politics, since conservative points of view aren’t very well accepted here on the interwebs.  This topic is fairly safe though, since I consider myself  middle-of-the-road on this.

So first off, I’m sick of the right talking about death panels and all that crap.  Clearly nobody really wants those, and they’ll never exist.  So I won’t even worry about that angle.  Now most people who are against a ‘public plan’ are those who already have decent insurance, and are afraid they’ll lose what they have.  Believe it for not, that’s a very real possibility. There’s a large percentage of people who work for small businesses. (I’m a blogger, not a reporter so you can check those numbers yourself, lol) And perhaps you’ve never worked for a small business, but they tend to spend a lot of money on health care. And if my old boss had the option to switch us over to a cheaper public plan, then he would have done it immediately. Then instantly, you no longer have the same health insurance you enjoyed.

Everyone needs health care!? Right? Wrong. Sorry, but I just don’t think so. Since I graduated high school (in 2002) I had health care for a total of 6 months. If I was paying for health insurance for the last 7 years, there’s no way I could afford rent and tuition. It just wouldn’t have happened.

Simple numbers. I don’t know about you, but when my dad needs a checkup, or a non-emergency visit, he usually has 1-2 week wait until they can schedule him in. Then, you get there for your 3pm appointment, but don’t really see a doctor until 3:30ish. Now just imagine, 46 million more people suddenly have health care. Can you just think about the surge of people who will want to go in for checkups? And how many million more doctors are we adding? What’s that? Zero? That’s not the government’s problem. How can you get the same service from your doctors when they instantly gain (on average) %15 more clients? Impossible.

Ideas. There’s nothing I hate more than those who complain without making suggestions. First off, and this doesn’t deal with insurance directly, but Ban advertisements for prescription medication. There’s no reason to advertise prescriptions to the general public. Let their Dr decide what meds they need, don’t wait for the patient to walk in saying “Oh I think you need to prescribe X for me, since I saw this commercial and I have Y, and Z symptoms. How much are drug companies spending on these advertisements? How much of those costs are increasing the price on our prescriptions? But why will they never be banned? Because pharmaceutical companies donate heavily to politicians, and so they get away with whatever they’d like.

Next, pass laws to help protect doctors. Health care prices are greatly inflated due to so many hospitals/doctors are afraid of getting sued. Put a cap on what a family can sure for, also make it more transparent if there’s a doctor who’s made mistakes. I can look up nearly any business on the BBB to see it’s record. If I buy a car, I get a CarFax, but do I have any idea about my Dr’s track record? No.  Also, when it comes to transparency, how about being more honest about prices? I would bet that 99% of people have no idea what they’ll be charged for their visit/care until the bill comes in the mail. If you get your car repaired, you make some calls and find a reasonable price. If you need to be repaired, good luck on finding the best price. You can’t even “shop around” if you wanted to. So when people can’t “shop around” there is no competition amongst locations. And without competition, there’s no reason to keep prices low. Just let them skyrocket! And that’s exactly what’s happened.

So these are just a few small changes, and that’s the way to go about this problem. Not with some crazy public option, it will be chaos, expensive, and I feel it will eventually lead to inferior care.

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Global Warming? No Shit! September 18, 2008

Posted by Patrick in Science.
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First let me start with a disclaimer, I’m not a scientist, just an engineer applying some logical thought.

So let’s get one fact down: Energy! It can’t be created or destroyed. (You must have heard this before)

So thanks to all the dead dinosaurs earth has lots of oil. (This isn’t a fact, but I like the idea) So now this oil, it contains energy that can be released through either compression or combustion. (That’s how most engines work) Gas engines have an efficiency of about 30%, that means 70% of it’s energy is lost while running a car. So where does that energy go? Some of it is turned into heat from the engine, some is spit out as carbon. So we have how many cars on this rock? Looks like 600 million. So you’ve got all those cars, who’s hot engines are running and giving off heat. But there’s more when it comes to cars, they’ve got a lot of energy when they’re cruising along. And how do we stop them? Brakes, steel on steel action provides friction. Well friction turns one energy (motion) into another (heat). And where does the heat from our breaks go? That’s right, into the atmosphere. Ok, so enough about cars.

You know what it’s like to have an old house in the winter? You’re heating bill is horrible, because it’s hard to keep the heat inside the house. I wont go into the details of how R values change and all that. Everyone knows that we run our heaters almost all winter long. And again, energy can’t be destroyed so eventually all (or at least most of) that energy eventually escapes the house. Where does it go? Into the sky of course!

Now cars and houses are just two small examples, so now think of this, humans (well, humanoids) learned about fire about 790,000 years ago. Since then we’ve been finding more and more ways to turn wood, oil, coal, gas, pretty much anything we can into heat in some form. And we do it more and more as the world is industrialised. So I couldn’t imagine a situation where the world wouldn’t be slowly getting warmer and warmer.

Now this isn’t perfect logic, I’m ignoring the magical thing called an atmosphere. It works kind of like our house insulation, it protects us from extreme heat and cold. It doesn’t, however, have a special thermometer that know exactly how hot/cold to keep the earth. So my guess is, the more heat we keep creating on the surface, the more we change the ‘accepted’ temperatures.

Again, this is half science and half assumption, which doesn’t make for perfect results. I just wanted to show how easy it is to understand the possibility of warming. All we need is some genius scientist to figure out exactly how the atmosphere works. If we know what gasses to increase/subtract I think engineers could develop a way to make it happen.

If someone out there sees flaws in my logic (which I’m sure there are) feel free to drop me a comment and help me better understand things.