Putting health-care costs under the microscope

Pro Publica is publishing a useful series of articles examining the health-care industry in the USA – and how its ultimate “beneficiaries” are not us, the patients, but the companies raking in huge excess profits and violating our privacy.  A selection of the articles so far: 1.  Why Your Health Insurer Doesn’t Care About Your Big Bills.  Patients may think their insurers are fighting on their behalf for the best prices. But saving patients money is often not their top priority.2.  Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Details About You — And It Could Raise Your Rates.  Without any public scrutiny, insurers and data brokers

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This may add an entirely new dimension to marine pollution

I haven’t heard the British-English idiom “to cry stinking fish” used in American English much, but it may be very appropriate to this report. Norway’s Hurtigruten, best known for the ships that ferry tourists along the country’s fjords and coastline and up into the Arctic, is investing 7 billion crowns ($826 million) over three years to adapt its 17-strong fleet.Six of its older vessels will be retrofitted to run on a combination of liquefied natural gas (LNG), electric batteries and liquefied bio gas (LBG).“We are talking about an energy source (LBG) from organic waste, which would otherwise have gone up in the

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When criminals turn technology against the police

Here’s an interesting twist on criminals and cellphones. Police believe Juelle L. Grant, 24, of Willow Avenue, may have been the driver of a vehicle involved in an Oct. 23 drive-by shooting on Van Vranken Avenue, near Lang Street, so they obtained her phone, according to police allegations filed in court. No one was injured in the shooting.After police took her iPhone X, telling her it was considered evidence, “she did remotely wipe” the device, according to police.“The defendant was aware of the intentions of the police department at the conclusion of the interview with her,” according to court documents.Police arrested

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Slings and slingshots can be a lot more dangerous than I thought

I used to play with slingshots as a kid.  In those days, we made our own out of Y-shaped branches we picked up among the trees on Table Mountain, and used strips of old bicycle inner tube (or, on one memorable occasion, my mother’s entire stock of elastic for clothing – she was not amused!) to make the sling.  They could launch acorns, or small pebbles, or nuts from my father’s old-nuts-and-bolts jar, out to 20 or 30 yards.  I never hunted with them, but plenty of other youngsters did (including a younger Lawdog, with hilarious results). I hadn’t realized that slingshots have

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The party of the rich is . . . ?

I note that the recent mid-term elections have produced one interesting result that hasn’t received much comment. California, New Jersey, New York and Virginia dominated the top 10 wealthiest congressional districts. Out of the wealthiest 50 districts, 13 are located in California; eight are in New York; five in New Jersey; and four in Virginia. Massachusetts, which didn’t make the top 10, still sports four of the nation’s richest congressional districts.Here are the 10 richest congressional districts in the U.S. by median household income:. . .Among the top 10 richest congressional districts, Democrats now represent all 10. Out of the 50 richest

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Close-range air-to-air footage of the Sukhoi Su-57

Russia’s attempt to produce a fifth-generation fighter, the Sukhoi Su-57, has apparently not been too successful in technical terms;  the aircraft is reputedly not nearly as “stealthy” as it needs to be when measured against the US F-22 Raptor.  Also, Russia has announced that it won’t put the aircraft into mass production, probably because it can’t afford it in large numbers.  Nevertheless, it’s probably a pretty capable “Generation 4½” fighter, and a dozen will be built for the Russian Air Force. Recently an air-to-air photo shoot was held for the Su-57.  An Antonov An-12transport (similar to the US C-130 Hercules) was the camera plane.  It

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Smartphones and what they really cost you

When you add up the cost of smartphones over time, they don’t look very appealing. If you think your family’s smartphone addiction is bleeding you all dry, you don’t know the half of it.Based on typical smartphone costs and usage patterns, your kids will end up spending a staggering $75,000 apiece on their phones over the course of their lives, according to valuation company Flipsy.And even they’re only scratching the surface, because they missed out the biggest cost of all: The opportunity cost of all that money.If you factor that in, the true lifetime cost of your kids’ love affair with their Apple

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Close-range air-to-air footage of the Sukhoi Su-57

Russia’s attempt to produce a fifth-generation fighter, the Sukhoi Su-57, has apparently not been too successful in technical terms;  the aircraft is reputedly not nearly as “stealthy” as it needs to be when measured against the US F-22 Raptor.  Also, Russia has announced that it won’t put the aircraft into mass production, probably because it can’t afford it in large numbers.  Nevertheless, it’s probably a pretty capable “Generation 4½” fighter, and a dozen will be built for the Russian Air Force.Recently an air-to-air photo shoot was held for the Su-57.  An Antonov An-12transport (similar to the US C-130 Hercules) was the camera plane.  It lowered

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Smartphones and what they really cost you

When you add up the cost of smartphones over time, they don’t look very appealing. If you think your family’s smartphone addiction is bleeding you all dry, you don’t know the half of it. Based on typical smartphone costs and usage patterns, your kids will end up spending a staggering $75,000 apiece on their phones over the course of their lives, according to valuation company Flipsy. And even they’re only scratching the surface, because they missed out the biggest cost of all: The opportunity cost of all that money. If you factor that in, the true lifetime cost of your kids’ love affair

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“The 10 most stolen cars in America”

That’s the title of an article in the Minnesota Post-Bulletin.  It looks at the most frequently stolen vehicles in the USA during 2017.  I’ll leave you to read the details for yourself at the link. What I’m curious about is, why those particular vehicles?  What is it that makes a car or SUV or pickup more or less likely to be stolen?  I can think of several factors, but there must be more: Local popularity – if there are more of a given make or model of car in a given location, it’s more likely to be stolen by sheer weight of

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