Saturday, September 28, 2013

Arkansans on the Hook if "Private Option" Costs Soar

The Arkansas Times committed a random act of journalism yesterday when they reported that the feds are putting Arkansas taxpayers on the hook if the per-patient costs of the so-called "Private Option" exceed their Medicaid guidelines.   The feds are paying for the costs of the expansion during the three year life of the waiver, but we will be expected to cough up the difference if there has been any cost over-runs during that time.

So how much wiggle room do we have?  You are going to love this one.  Less than five dollars a month per beneficiary.   So for example, DHS predicted the costs for a medium, or silver, plan would be $495.79 per participant and the feds have told them that any costs over $500.08 would be billed back to Arkansas at the end of the waiver.   What are the odds that a government healthcare program can be contained so that actual costs stay less than 1% greater than its projected costs over three years?  Those are the odds that we won't be stuck with a bill at the end of that period.

Actually, there is a caveat to that which could keep us from having a big bill at the end of this thing (at which point the feds are going to yank the temporary waiver and leave us with exactly what they wanted us to do at the start).  The costs are being calculated on a per-person basis, not a total cost basis.  That is, they don't care if the total bill is billions more than first projected, we only get punished if the per-person bill is $5 a month more than anticipated.

Why keep score in such an insane fashion?   Because the socialists want as many people as possible to be forced into the program.   They want to force healthy people into the program.   This will keep the "per-person" costs down, even though it will raise total costs and take away freedom.   Look for the state of Arkansas to really start trying to push healthy people into this program.   This way of measuring costs is designed to leverage state government to be used against its own citizens and badger them into an unpopular program even if they don't feel that they need it.

The Republican legislators who dumped Beebe's plan on us are spinning madly, but its just spin.   This is nothing but Obamacare in a hat and sun glasses.   The so-called "Private Option" is Medicaid expansion, they just run it a slightly different way than normal (but it is something that has been possible under Medicaid for a long time).    And even this amount of leeway is temporary.   The temporary Medicaid Waivers (again, it operates under Medicaid waivers because it is a Medicaid program, its an expansion of Medicaid) can be pulled in three years and we can be billed for any cost over-runs.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Paleolithic Population Expansion Claim Does Not Add up.

It has long been believed that the rise of agriculture and animal husbandry helped produce an explosion in the human population in the Neolithic Period (about 10,000 years ago).   Now a new study that has taken a detailed look at the genes of 66 human ethnicities claims that the expansion actually took place much earlier, in the Paleolithic, as long as 80,000 years ago.  The summary of the research can be found here.

I would like more details about how their figures for the age at which the population expansions were calculated.  They report " the authors also demonstrate that the populations who adopted a sedentary farming lifestyle during the Neolithic had previously experienced the strongest Paleolithic expansions."

They speculate that these societies benefitted from some technological advantage which allowed for their populations to greatly expand, while other populations which stayed hunter-gatherers did not see much change.  That really does not make any sense to me.   The populations which became farmers later somehow were the ones that expanded, even before they changed to farmers and herders?   

Maybe most folks new how to farm already, but there was no need for it until population density reached a point where you really had to work at it to be a hunter-gatherer?   Or maybe, and this is one of those things that post-modern science is not allowed to speculate on, there method of calculating dates based on a reading of genetic changes is seriously off.   That is, the expansion really did occur around 10,000 years ago, but the mutation rate they used to calculate it is in error, giving dates of 60,000 years or even more.

It makes more sense for the rise in population to coincide with the rise of agriculture, and it makes little sense that the ones who later adopted agriculture were the only ones to show a dramatic population boom 50,000 to 60,000 years before they developed the means to feed such an increased population.   It makes more sense for the boom to be very closely associated with the technology which can sustain it- farming and herding.  But this would mean their methodology about determining dates by measuring changes in genes over time was deeply flawed, a prospect that not many in the field are willing to take a hard look at these days.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

GIGO Study on Cambrian Explosion

"Garbage In, Garbage Out" is one of the oldest expressions in data processing. That expression came to mind when reading this latest attempt to white-wash the problems for Macro-evolution posed by the Cambrian Explosion. The Cambrian Explosion is a problem for the evolutionary hypothesis because, besides perhaps sponges, every basic body plan in existence today (and many which are not) shows up within a 10 million or so year window in the fossil record, including vertebrates. This event was estimated to have occurred 543 million years ago, and nothing remotely like it has ever happened since. The assumption is that all of those plans "evolved" but it seemed a ridiculous amount of change occurred in a remarkably brief period of time.

I am a fan of real science, and so junk science like this bothers me. What they did was try to develop a computer model to determine how much faster macroevolutionary change occurred in the explosion than occurred at any other period of time. This was done in an effort to produce the result they got- so it does not surprise me that they got it. They claim the results show that evolution only had to happen five times faster than "normal" to produce these changes. The article gives no details as to how their "computer modeling" was put together.

They were shy on the details in the article, they just wanted to be able to tell laymen "scientists have determined that the Cambrian explosion was not that big a deal. Evolution only had to happen five times faster than normal." Still, they only could have even generated the garbage that went in two ways. One was to take short-term micro-evolutionary trends and extrapolate them to absurdly unsound degrees, and the other is to engage in the perfectly circular reasoning of assuming that any other big change in the fossil record is wholly due to evolution and that therefore those changes could be used to calculate a "normal" rate for evolution.

For example, they could have taken short term micro-evolutionary changes, like variation in beak size or hair color patterns, and extrapolated how long those tiny changes would take to amount to major changes. This of course assumes that the change is not part of a cycle back and forth around more or less fixed limits. The scientific term for this sort of fallacy is "unsound extrapolation of data." It is when you take too little data over too short a period of time and try to make long term predictions with it.

For example, if the temperature rises twenty degrees from six am to two pm, we might predict that it will be two hundred degrees higher three days from now. Or if the stock market drops 100 points today we might postulate that one month from now one could buy the entire DOW for one dollar. A third example would be timing a runner who goes one quarter of a mile in one minute. Will they manage 10 miles in forty minutes, or 100 miles in 400 minutes? The mistake is to think that a short term change, one that is often built into the system, can be sustained nearly indefinitely even when there are physical constraints impacting the amount of change likely, or even possible, once you leave a narrow range.

As sorry as the above would be, it still makes more sense than the other technique they could have used, and the one that I suspect that they did use. At least micro-evolution is observable in the actual world, rather than just inferred from other evidence. It happens, but it is only a re-shuffling of existing information rather than the creation of complex new structures through novel new information being introduced into living systems.

The other way they could have produced the garbage to put into their model is simply to assume what they were trying to prove, and then use the information from their assumption to "validate" their conclusion. This is of course the fallacy of circular reasoning. The whole point of calculating how fast macro-evolution would have to occur in the Cambrian Explosion was because the event was being used by Creationists to question the evolutionary hypothesis. They said as much in the article.

So the second way they could have calculated their rates of evolution was to assume that every change they see in the fossil record was due to evolution, then pick a few of the "fastest" changes they think they see in the fossil record, then apply that to the Cambrian to see how much faster it would have to be than the other times it went fast. The problem of course is that it assumes those other times were really evolution. We have never really seen complex new features arise in organisms within the period of human history, we have only seen variation back and forth around a mean for various groups of animals.

The pattern in the fossil record is that organism are introduced as a general type, then radiate to more specialized types, then there is a long period of stasis. The changes happen in mini-explosions in most cases, not slowly over an extended time period. Is that due to a burst of evolution or something beyond evolution? The way they designed this experiment does not allow them to ask this question.

Suppose instead of fossils you has my credit card receipts, and you were trying to determine how fast I could change location. Most days you would see I was in the same general area, but a few days I might drive to a city 400 miles away. Then one day I took an airplane to a city 2000 miles away. If they did not know about jet planes, they might conclude that I could drive 2,000 miles in a day because it was "only" five times faster than the car trips which I occasionally took. In this scenario, the jet plane represents intelligent design, which they discount in an attempt to shoe-horn in the idea that the processes they know about are sufficient to explain the amount of change over time they see. The analogy breaks down though, because in the case of evolution they don't have a rate of change to even explain the car trips. It would be more like their insisting I could evolve fast enough to explain every credit card receipt by foot travel. They would use my car trips to claim I could foot-travel far faster than I really could, then use the mistaken assumption about my ability to foot-travel to say it could also explain the time I took a jet to Rio.

They are using an "evolution of the gaps" to explain sudden bursts of genomic change which themselves do not make sense under presently understood mechanisms, and then using that inexplicable rate of change to claim that an even larger rate of change is not that big a deal because it is only five times faster than the other times we have seen it happening at an inexplicable rate. Hey folks, that answers nothing, because they still can't demonstrate that evolution produced the original rate of change, much less the ones that are five times faster over a Titanic scale.

I see science rapidly being replaced by propaganda as government funding takes over research departments around the country. At this point, I view a failure to consider certain ideas and ask questions which challenge not just the details, but the overall framework under which researchers are operating as a hindrance to human progress.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Blacks Getting A Bum Rap on Race Crimes

For some reason the corporate media in this nation want to sensationalize white-on-black crime in America while under-reporting black-on-white crime which is racially motivated. White people are noticing the selective reporting. The response of the new conservative media, mostly through social-networking and blog sites, is to highlight one story after another of brutal racially-motivated attacks on whites by blacks. The result is a bigger racial divide than ever before, and I rise today in opposition to this divide.

These practices produces a black population driven by a frenzy of media manipulation into believing that they don't have the full protection of the law. Meanwhile the white population believes the same thing- because of a reluctance of the media to identify the instances of black-on-white racially motivated crime for what it is. I don't believe that leaving it there is the proper response.

First of all, it is true that black-on-white crime is about seven times more prevalent than white-on-black crime, but that stat is highly deceptive. For one thing, in around eighty percent of crimes both victims are the same race. Black on black crime and white on white crime is a bigger problem than either race victimizing the other.

But even the seven on one ratio is deceptive, because there are around six times as many whites as blacks in America. If a black guy picks someone out at random to victimize the odds are much greater that person will be white just because of the numbers. If a white guy picks out someone at random to victimize, the odds are much greater that the person will be white for the same reason. Think of it like this: If one black guy and one white guy reach into a bag which contains six times as many white stones as black ones, they will each on average, draw out about six times more white stones. The same principle explains most, though perhaps not all, of the disparity we see in crime victimization rates.

This does not at all change the seriousness of the occurrences of racially-motivated black on white crime in this country. The pain of the victims is real. If you care to search it, you can find a number of horrific anecdotes of such attacks. The total number of racially-motivated attacks was 567 in 1998, according to the FBI. The actual number is very likely to be higher, though back then the FBI was perhaps less politically correct in reporting such figures than it would be now, when everything has been politicized. Let's say there are 1,000 such attacks annually.

While each is offensive and an outrage, in a nation of 310 million people it hardly represents an epidemic. It does not justify a racial divide. There are almost 40 million black people in this nation. Even if there were two perps per crime, and each criminal committed only one crime per year, it would mean that one black person out of 20,000 was a hate-criminal. 19,999 out of 20,000 are not. In percentage terms, that is 0.00000005%. The problem is the tiny number of brutal criminals within the population, not the population. The bad feeling this issue is engendering between the races is all out of proportion to the actual problem, but it won't be if we don't change course. By the way, white-on-black racially motivated crimes are three or four times as numerous as the reverse.

I have lived much of my life in places which there was a significant black minority. For various reasons, I spent a lot of time in neighborhoods which were predominately black. A lot of it was that when I was a young man I just liked to play basketball and that is where the games were. I never came close to being victimized by a hate criminal. I realize that some of that may just be me. In my younger days I could give off a definite "that's me" vibe. Still, I could not have lived the life I have lived if even one percent of the black population were hate criminals just looking for a chance to jump a lone white guy. Is it rational to hold fear or animosity towards 37 million people because somewhere in there are a few thousand hate criminals?

And that brings me to my next point. I think the problem is not in black America as a whole, but concentrated in maybe a dozen large cities. It is well documented that big-city life is bad for your mental health and decision making. Unfortunately for them, black Americans are concentrated in large urban areas. That might be part of the problem. If you read that link the study basically shows that city people are more impulsive, aggressive, and less thoughtful, because of the over-stimulus of their surroundings.

My experience has mostly been with black populations in cities of 50,000 or less, and from my personal experience I know that blacks are not particularly violent. I find the charge at odds with what I know to be true. Understand that anyone can be violent if they are in desperate circumstances, as the poor often are, but considering what they face I just don't see black America outside of these few urban areas as having a serious racial-violence problem.

I don't know that whites from single parent families, crowded into concrete jungles and given similar economic outcomes, would not even be more prone to violence. I feel fairly certain that I and my friends would have at the least burned all of the welfare offices to the ground and taken our women back from the government. You may think that white people don't tend to riot. I guess it depends on how you score it. Maybe our style is we just wait a little longer to get organized and call it a revolution, but there is no lack of bloodshed in either case. Humans, when pushed, can and will become violent and that is not a function of our race, but a function of our humanity. Polarizing things around race feeds into this human weakness, it does nothing to alleviate it.

Our government and media are acting as though they would like to divide us on race. They have motive as well as opportunity, for that way we need more of them as the referee and protector. That way maybe the middle class whose taxes are paying for most of it won't object to the encroaching police state as much as they should. England's SOP when taking over a colony was to find some tribal division and intervene on the side of the weaker tribe, so that the two sides could be balanced - with them as the difference maker. It also prevented the tribes from uniting to cast off the true invaders. Is our ruling class using this tried-and-true strategy on America, trying to keep us divided on race lest we realize that they are the real problem?

While whose ancestors were slaves 170 years ago is important, it is not nearly as important as the fact that the ruling class is turning all of us, of every color, into debt slaves right now. They are siphoning off the wealth of the entire nation from our pockets to theirs via the monetary system. To the ruling class who are the beneficiaries of the Federal Reserve and the ongoing bail-outs, we are all Amerindians now. Their partners, the control freaks in government who want to control every aspect of your life, at best want to be our benevolent government masters on the new national plantation. The bottom line is this: Maybe your ancestors came here on the Mayflower, or maybe they came on a slave-ship, but we are all in the same boat now. And we'd best figure out a way to row together.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Evolution Again, Dolphins and Bats Have Similar Genes

Bats and dolphins both use echo-location, albeit one in the water and the other in the air. Still, not many other creatures share such a trait, and scientists wondered, out of the hundreds of special genes required to produce this special feature, how many of them were similar in both types of animals?

In a way it was a crazy question to ask if macro-evolution is true. After all, they are not closely related. They are about as far apart as they can be and still be in the same class of organism. As the article concedes, these two groups would have evolved echo-location independently of one another, so what would the odds be if they used more than a few of the same genes to do it?

The vast number of genome regions which have to chance together to successfully acquire the ability to echo-locate is problem enough for the macro-evolutionary hypothesis. The results of their study astounded them and made the macro-evolutionary hypothesis even harder for thinking people to accept. It turns out almost 200 genomic regions were virtually identical in the two groups of organisms. "We had expected to find identical changes in maybe a dozen or so genes but to see nearly 200 is incredible," explains Dr Joe Parker, from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

They chalk it all up to the power of evolution of course, because they have an "evolution of the gaps" bias. Whenever they see something that "astounded" them, as this did, they chalk it up to the power of evolution via some undefined pathway. They called this an example of "evolutionary convergence". Honestly though, a finding like this gives a lot more support for the Intelligent Design Theory. That is, two vastly dissimilar organisms can share the same genes because they had a common Designer, who "cut and pasted" the same genes in the two groups. Under that scenario, it is not necessary for the two groups to have had a common ancestor in order to wind up with the same genes.

Evolutionary convergence used to mean animals which were not related had a similar form due to performing similar functions. The classic example is sharks and dolphins. Their physical forms were shaped in a similar way by a common function. Evolutionists are trying to shoe-horn this idea into the exciting findings they are making in genetics. But it doesn't fit. There is no reason to expect that the same genes would be adapted in both species for such a novel function as echo-location.

Example: If I build a grandfather clock from metal shards, and a man in China does the same, the faces of our clocks may look alike, but there is no reason to expect that a specific part from my clock would even exist, much less fit, in his clock. Evolution shapes the end result, but the means to get to that result are supposed to be random, chance changes being selected for or against by the environment. When the means are the same, it is a mark against the hypothesis, or would be if they were not trying to rig the terms of the debate so that no matter what the evidence shows, "evolution did it". That's an "evolution of the gaps."

It is just a way of saying that whatever happened, evolution did it. If sharks and dolphins look similar but have different genes to breath, why evolution produced the differences, while if dolphins and bats use the same genes for echo-location, why, evolution did that to. It makes the idea impossible to falsify via the scientific method. Which of course, means that it is no longer science at all.