Science Addiction

A dormant blog by Devanshu Mehta

Month: December, 2009

Revisit: An Ode to the TSA

With all the renewed interest in TSA craziness, what with the underwear bomber and all, I thought I’d put up this amateurish, silly video I made a few years ago as an “Ode to the TSA” (Transportation Security Administration):

The Elevator Pitch for Health Care Reform

I participate on Vark.com, where people can ask questions and get answers from the community. At 2am this morning, I got a question on politics from someone in Florida:

Can someone explain this healthcare shit they are trying to pass? It sounds like everybody will be forced to buy insuance and that sounds like crap to me. Help me understand it, cause it sounds like bad news bears to me.

I almost ignored it. But the dude really wanted an answer and he’s from Florida, where every vote counts. Or at least, it should. Now I realized I couldn’t reply at length, the conversation had started in bad faith (shit, crap) and I had to answer quick or he wouldn’t be paying attention any more.

So, very quickly, this was my answer:

It’s going to be tough convincing you since you start out calling it shit and crap. But here’s a try: there is a mandate to buy health insurance. You could be fined for not getting insurance. But people below certain income levels will get government assistance to buy it. And there are all kinds of things that bring insurance (and health care) costs down. Also, no one can be denied coverage by an insurer and an insurer cannot rescind coverage when someone is sick.

An additional 30 million people will be covered, costs for coverage (on average) will drop by $3000 per year, seniors can’t be charged more than 3x others (currently as much as 11x), women can’t be charged more than men (currently up to 50% more), the federal deficit is reduced and medicare is solvent for 10 more years than without the bill.

Phew. That was my elevator pitch for health care reform. It probably has holes the size of Aetna in it– I’m generalizing, I’m oversimplifying and I’m glossing over. But that’s what you get if you’re stuck with me in an elevator.

And I couldn’t have done it without this graph at the Wonk Room. I wonder if the Floridian dude saw that coming!

UPDATE: I got a reply from my Floridian:

“Thanks for your reply. You made it easier for me to understand, and it doesn’t sound as bad as I thought. I am still not convinced it is the right thing to do but that’s not really what I was looking for. I just needed understanding and you help with that. Thanks again. Have a good holidays.”

If only all political disagreements could be this civil.

Administrative Note

For all the people who follow this blog, here’s some additional information:
<ul>

<li>I have recently started blogging at <a href=”http://www.devanshanu.com/things”>Things of Which I May Not Speak</a> about film, music, things I read and write.</li>

<li>You can <a href=”http://feeds.feedburner.com/sa”>add this blog to your RSS feed reader</a> like Google Reader, My Yahoo, Bloglines or others. If you don’t use RSS readers, you should– it brings updates from all the sites you like to you, instead of having to go out and see if they’ve updated. I recommend <a href=”http://www.google.com/reader”>Google Reader</a>.</li>
<li>I’m fairly <a href=”http://twitter.com/devanjedi”>active on Twitter</a>, so you can <a href=”http://twitter.com/devanjedi”>follow</a&gt; my more live, off-the-cuff and short updates there.</li>
<li>I write about <a href=”http://www.galaxyfaraway.com”>Star Wars stuff on my Star Wars site</a>. </li>
</ul>
Enjoy and thanks for reading! Leave a comment once in a while, so I know who is reading.

Star Wars Game Theory

The Freakonomics blog analyzes Han’s decision to come back and help the rebels in Star Wars.

Han understands that the Rebels have a dominant strategy of fighting. Knowing that, although he has no dominant strategy, and being the self-centered person he has already shown himself to be, Han realizes he is better off choosing to aid the Rebels and fight.

And Volokh Conspiracy follows it up with a serious point:

[Han’s] contribution is likely to be decisive to the outcome. After all, he’s got “the fastest ship in the galaxy,” and it can make mincemeat of Imperial tie-fighters. […] Now the serious part: Consider how different is the situation of most people suffering under oppressive governments from Han Solo’s. If any one of them tries to rebel, it is highly unlikely that their actions will have a decisive impact on the regime’s fate. On the other hand, they, unlike Han, don’t have the Millenium Falcon to escape in. If they defy the government, they will likely be caught and punished. Of course if all or most of them resist at once, they might well overthrow the state.

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