Our Supposed Healthcare System

Let’s do a brief comparison of the U.S. to the civilized world, when it comes to healthcare insurance and what actually happens when a child is born.  In Switzerland, when a child is born, both the mother and the child may stay up to five days in the hospital.  For even the slightest complication that time gets extended for both.

In the U.S., an insured mother and her child are entitled two days.  If there is a problem with one, as was the case with my new niece (she was jaundiced and required an extra day), she is separated from the mother, who in this case herself spent the night in the hospital lobby so that she could nurse her newborn daughter, three days after having given birth.

Which would you want for your wife, sister, or daughter?  U.S. or civilized?  If you answered “civilized”, then you get to answer another question: who are the people who should supervise our profit-oriented health insurance industry, and where are they?  I personally would like to know.  By the way, here in Switzerland my family and I pay less than most Americans our ages for healthcare, and we’ve not been turned down for anything we needed (in fact we’ve never even had an argument about it).  Now- does that change your answer?

The Answer Key to Bearded Hippy Bingo

According to my notes from the program, here are the answers to who is in this picture:

Row 0:

Rick Adams, Eric Allman, Ken Arnold, Fuat Baran, John Bashinsky, Steve Bellovin , Michael Berch, Scott Bradner, Keith Bostic, Dave Borman, Geoff Peck, Jeff Poskanzer, Chris Torek

Row 1:

Russell Brand, TP Brisco, Pat Caruthers, Bill Cattey, Donald (Brent) Chapman, Greg Chesson, Bill Cheswick, Don Coleman, Hugh Daniel, Owen Delong, Dorothy Nelson, Rehmi Post, Paul Pomes, Paul Traina

Row 2:

Judy DesHarnais, Marc Donner, Mark Epstein, Erik Fair, Paul Evans, Tom Ferrin, Donnalyn Frey, Mike Gallaher, John Gilmore, Ed Gould, Paul Graham, John Quarterman, Paul Vixie

Row 3:

Chris Guthrie, J. Storrs Hall (JoSH), Dan Heller, Kee Hinkley, Brian Holt, Peter Honeyman, Don Hopkins, Mark Horten, Andrew Hume, Ole Jacobsen, Elaine, Richards, Mary Riendeau, Rob Warnock

Row 4:

R. Curtis Jackson, Brian Kantor, Tom Kessler, Bery Kercheval, Chris Kent, Karl Kleinpaste, Doug Kingston, Rob Kolstad, David Korn, Eric Lavitsky, Eliot Lear, Greg Rose, Peter Salus, Saul Wold

Row 5:

Marcus Leech, Evelyn Leeper, Mark Leeper, Craig Leres, Tony Li, Mark Lotter, Barry Lustig, John Mashey, Elizabeth Zwicky, Mark Mellis, Henry Mensch, Dennis Ritchie, Donn Seeley, Pat Wilson

Row 6:

Keith Moore, Jeff Mogul, Rich Morin, Ron Natalie, Evi Nemeth, Landon Noll, Mike O’Dell, Tim O’Reilly, Jeff Okomoto, Bob Page, Andrew Partan, Barry Shein, Len Tower

Row 7:

Peter Shipley, Melinda Shore, Keith Sklower, Tim Smith, Liz Sommers, Bill Sommerfeld, Bill Stewart, Dave Taylor, David Tilbrook, Jim Thompson, Greg Woods

A social network not to be part of

We’ve discussed the unintended evils of social networking sites in the past.  But here is a story about a “Social Networking” site that seems to have intended evils.  The site, which I won’t name, uses video cameras, and people are randomly connected to one another.  You can then chat with the person, click “next” to go to the next person, or report the person for inappropriate content. Doing so blocks an individual for about 10 minutes.  When a friend of mine told me about the site, I thought it was an interesting concept.  But then he told me that what he saw quite often would disgust most any normal person.  And then he told me that he saw young children using the program.

This raises all sorts of questions:

  • Where the heck are parents of such children, and why would they ever let them near this type of “social network”?  Where’s the little report button to report them?
  • As someone who believes in free speech, if the primary use of a technology is to violate the law, in this case child protection laws, perhaps I’ve just found my limit.  If we look at how Napster fared in the courts, because their business model was predicated on breaking the laws, in the end they had no legal defense.  Can this business argue that they have a viable model, absent the lurid behavior being demonstrated?
  • Even if they claim to have such a valid business model, should this site be required to exercise due diligence in protecting children?  A report button that knocks someone off for 10 minutes doesn’t seem like much of a deterrence.  How about the report button sending identifying information to the service so that they can review the video, where it could be used as evidence in a prosecution?

Here’s one reason I won’t go to the site in question, and neither should you: what if law enforcement finds even a hint that you’ve been there?  Could this be turned around such that you could be assumed to have participated in a lewd act in front of a minor?  After all, we’ve seen other instances where the presence of porn was enough for someone to lose his job and face prosecution.

Please do not applaud

The Three Stooges
The Three Stooges

The market had an “Up” day on Friday, now that Congress and the administration have decided that the crisis is so great that it requires what the Wall Street Journal described on Thursday as the biggest bailout since the 1930s.  We are now seven years and eight months into the Bush administration, and the comparisons to Herbert Hoover seem most apt.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, it was clear that the administration and this president lacked credibility to calm markets simply by words.  Opening up the coffers of future tax payers, however, speaks volumes.

While many will applaud the deal that Congress and the administration have put together to stablize the financial industry we have to ask ourselves how we got here in the first place.  While Democrats must take some blame for cowering in the face of anti-government rhetoric, it was the Republicans who clearly controlled the agenda.  And now we have seen the results.

There are no good ways to manage a bailout- only bad and worse ways.  The good way involves not requiring it in the first place.  Oversight of the markets has clearly been lax, as we discussed in the oil and food market.  Here now is the difference between a Republican and a Libertarian: a Libertarian’s principles dictate that he or she let the financial markets fail.  A Republican wants to be re-elected.

So please, no applause for the government’s move.  Our children will pay the bill for us.

Time to Takedown: Successes and Failures

Takedown is a term used by Internet service providers and law enforcement officials that means the involuntary removal of a computer from the Internet.  For instance, if a computer has been compromised and is attacking other computers, a takedown is seemingly appropriate.  Tyler Moore and Richard Clayton have done some analysis on how long it takes to get a site off the net when it is doing something anti-social.  They look at about six different circumstances: phishing, defamation, child pornography, copyright violation, spam and bot sites, and generally fraudulent web sites.

Not surprisingly, firms such as banks that actively defend their brand are able to expunge hosts serving bogus content the fastest, and service providers are the most cooperative (the numbers cross jurisdictional boundaries).  Sites harboring material that exploit of children takes 10-100 times longer than banks.  That’s an enormous difference.  There are several likely reasons for this difference.  First, banks are acting in their clear best interest and do not mind shouting at whoever they need to shout at to get rid of material.  They’ve also likely developed strong relationships with service providers to speed the process.

The data on child protection is somewhat skewed by a single source, and that source had substantial jurisdictional issues, in as much as they did not feel empowered to deal directly with certain governments and service providers outside the UK, and in particular in the United States.  Worse, images that were removed had a tendency to re-appear on the very same web sites, indicating that either the site was re-compromised or it was poorly managed or both.

The data points to a clear need for stronger coordination by service providers throughout the world to protect children.  The fact that banks are able to be more successful in removing content that offends them demonstrates that it is possible when self-interest is a factor.

In the area of copyright violation, the RIAA has had success in removing sites that are clearly violating copyrights.  By injecting themselves into P2P networks the RIAA has been able to determine many sources of copyright violation.  The paper does not have a data source to analyze takedown periods.