Author Archives: stanberlin

“Free” online is not free

Let’s be perfectly clear, when you get something for free online or a free online service, you are in some way paying for it. It may not be monetary to you but a wealth of information to the provider. Facebook, free game apps for your smartphone, and free online services all do it to gather information on you whether it be a one time affair or a continuous gathering of information on you such as Facebook. Most are harmless but having this information compiled on you just makes it a goldmine for unscrupulous third party companies or individuals to make a fortune on. In the 21st century it’s not about stealing your money it’s about stealing your identity and individuality!

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress
By: Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Updated: Apr 10, 2018 – 7:44 PM
https://www.wsbtv.com/news/trending-now/live-updates-facebook-ceo-mark-zuckerberg-to-testify-before-congress/730128159

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Equality is for all and needs participation from all

All this talk of equality today and equality for all…but yet I see Dr King’s message lost daily when I’m looked at as a white guy and automatically perceived with status. I was brought up to look beyond color and to listen and communicate accordingly but yet I see, I see just like a person of color a bias and I struggle and make that extra effort to show that I am only and individual, an individual trying to communicate with another individual but a lot of times it is daunting and sure dwindles that desire to just wanting to make a connection. I know I’m not the only person that feels that way, perhaps just the only person willing to admit it. I will continue to treat everyone like I would want to be treated but I will not treat anyone with special status just because they may have been considered unequal by others.

Homeowners Association (HOA) bans flying of American Flag

No Homeowners Association (HOA) should have it in it’s rules that one cannot fly an American Flag conversely anyone in the Homeowners Association knew of the rules before buying into the community. So don’t cry patriotism and your rights being violated even with the “Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005” when you put up your 15 foot flag pole. There is a reason your HOA has the rules in effect and most likely attracted you to the community. Get on the HOA board and get the rules changed to everyone’s agreement.

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Commentary: U.S. owes black people reparations for a history of ‘racial terrorism,’ says U.N. panel

Unfortunately a country or nation cannot refer to one’s past and pay reparations for “crimes against humanity” towards a single race of people that were enslaved nor can they punish the offending race that enslaved them. Slavery was about economics and domination of one culture by another (that could have been of another race or the same race) for the economic gain and development of that society. That in itself is indeed a heinous crime but all countries and cultures going back to biblical times and the romans have practiced it. We cannot undo our past nor can we continue to scream social injustice and perpetuate it and continually teach that a group of people are “owed” reparations for deeds of our country’s past. This perpetuates the division of races and cultures in our country and only continually festers the wounds of our past. We will never heal as a nation as long as we keep picking at these wounds. It’s time to remember our past for what it is, a point in time that can only serve our purpose today by using it as a tool to remember and teach going forward what we should not be doing and what steps can we take to grow as a society today to make sure it never happens again.

[03/13/18] Interesting piece on WOSU Ohio about White Lies: The Truth About Segregation in America a forum that was hosted by the Columbus Metropolitan Club on March 7, 2018 and was being aired this morning as I happened to catch the close of it while channel surfing.

High points: Stratifications and policy and subconscious bias being passed on from generation to generation both by whites and blacks.

The panel included “The Color of Law” author Richard Rothstein who reveals the long history on federal, state and local governments role in segregation, and the long lasting consequences. Lawrence Funderburke, former OSU and NBA basketball star, and the author of “Sociopsychonomics”, and Noceeba Southern, administrative law judge, former state court judge and federal prosecutor.

I am going to try and read the book by Richard Rothstein.

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U.S. owes black people reparations for a history of ‘racial terrorism,’ says U.N. panel
By Ishaan Tharoor September 27, 2016, WorldViews, The Washington Post

The history of slavery in the United States justifies reparations for African Americans, argues a recent report by a U.N.-affiliated group based in Geneva.

This conclusion was part of a study by the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, a body that reports to the international organization’s High Commissioner on Human Rights. The group of experts, which includes leading human rights lawyers from around the world, presented its findings to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, pointing to the continuing link between present injustices and the dark chapters of American history………

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/09/27/u-s-owes-black-people-reparations-for-a-history-of-racial-terrorism-says-u-n-panel/?utm_term=.1575f56e22fb

Opinion: ‘Root cause’ behind Parkland shooting

There are many reasons why we have such a mass murder issue in our country but no matter how you look at it, it all starts with the human capacity to want to kill others. And whether you take away access to weapons this same capacity to kill others will still be here everyday along with the violent video games, prime time TV, movies, media, social media, and the streets we live on where taking and stealing for gain is becoming more and more a course of condition and a fact of life for many as our morals, social capacity, upbringing, culture, and mental state continue to degrade.

Wisconsin sheriff pens viral letter addressing the ‘root cause’ behind Parkland shooting
Mar 4, 2018 6:37 pm – TheBlaze

https://www.theblaze.com/news/2018/03/04/wisconsin-sheriff-pens-viral-letter-addressing-the-root-cause-behind-parkland-shooting

One Wisconsin sheriff believes the conversation in the wake of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 is futile and will lead to no real solutions.

That debate has mostly centered on firearms — both for and against new regulations — and the National Rifle Association. There have been many reports about the failings of law enforcement ahead of the shooting, but the focus remains on the guns.

But Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt believes the root cause of the increased prevalence of mass shootings has yet to be thoroughly discussed. So he wrote a letter to his community addressing what he sees as the impetus of shootings like the one at MSD.

What did he say?

Schmidt began by pointing out that just a few decades ago, many high school students would have a hunting rifle in their vehicle in the school parking lot.

“So what has changed and more importantly how do we fix it?” Schmidt asked. “I think it is safe to say that there is no quick and easy solution.”

The sheriff stated the real solution is “obviously very complex,” but begins with “our youth lacking basic skills including respect for authority figures like parents and teachers, the ability to cope with conflict and the ability to handle rejection.”

“I believe it is imperative that we raise our children in a manner that instills respect for authority. While we all love our children, we need to get back to a society of parents who expect a level of respect toward both them and others in authority, including teachers,” Schmidt wrote. “Discipline needs to be reintegrated into our society. Parents, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t reasonably discipline your child in a non-abusive manner.”

“Teachers need to have the support of parents when they make disciplinary decisions and parents need to resist the urge of running to the defense of their children when a teacher feels the need to discipline. It undermines their authority and will likely be treated as an example for actions toward others in authority in the future,” he added.

The sheriff also pointed to the “participation trophy” culture as part of the root cause.

“While no one wants their child to ever be disappointed or upset, when they are young, they need to face conflict and disappointment and learn to resolve it appropriately under the guidance of adults. It is part of developing their personality and dealing with conflict in the future,” Schimdt explained.

He ended the letter by explaining that his intention in writing the letter was not to place blame on anyone. Instead, he wants to have a conversation about the real cause of the problem so that real solutions can be found and real progress made.

Read the full letter below:

Following every mass killing, I ask myself, what has happened to our society? I also wonder what the solution is to ensure our families do not become future victims.

Many have pointed out that years ago, people would go to school and have hunting rifles in their vehicles. Yet, mass violence in schools and other locations did not happen as in society today. It makes me think that there must be a root cause that we are not addressing that has led to this change.

So what has changed and more importantly how do we fix it? Media reports of school walk-outs and gun control discussions are becoming more prevalent than ever, all in an effort to find a quick and easy solution. I think it is safe to say that there is no quick and easy solution.

I think perhaps we are not evaluating the true root cause which is obviously very complex. We must make efforts to change our society as a whole. It’s my belief that the root cause starts with our youth lacking basic skills including respect for authority figures like parents and teachers, the ability to cope with conflict and the ability to handle rejection. Further issues like mental health and alcohol/drug use also play a role, but column length restrictions limit my ability to cover all aspects of the root cause today.

I believe it is imperative that we raise our children in a manner that instills respect for authority. While we all love our children, we need to get back to a society of parents who expect a level of respect toward both them and others in authority, including teachers. Discipline needs to be reintegrated into our society. Parents, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t reasonably discipline your child in a non-abusive manner. Teachers need to have the support of parents when they make disciplinary decisions and parents need to resist the urge of running to the defense of their children when a teacher feels the need to discipline. It undermines their authority and will likely be treated as an example for actions toward others in authority in the future.

What about inability to cope or handle rejection? For years we have watched as competition has been replaced by participation awards that are given to make children feel good. While no one wants their child to ever be disappointed or upset, when they are young, they need to face conflict and disappointment and learn to resolve it appropriately under the guidance of adults. It is part of developing their personality and dealing with conflict in the future. When youth are not taught how to handle difficult situations, they must find their own way to cope, which without guidance may be result in unhealthy or even dangerous future behavior. I am no expert and am merely giving an opinion of what I have seen in my own experience, but I feel that my opinions have merit as I have witnessed people dealing with difficult situations at the worst times of their lives.

My point in writing this is not to place blame but rather to start conversations on what truly is the root cause of violence in society. Many have strong opinions about gun control but realistically gun control will do nothing more than place a very small band aid on a much bigger problem. It is imperative that we have serious discussions on what we can do to change the norms of our society and positively impact the decisions our youth make. It’s time to refocus our energy to affect long lasting change so that we can keep Dodge County a safe and enjoyable place to live, work and visit.

Sheriff Dale J. Schmidt

Guns, my rights, your rights, and what we all need to be doing.

A good read. I like to read varying viewpoints and although not quite on board as to what the writer has to say his point is spot on in that why would any citizen need an AR-15 but we will continue to have these “tools” or “toys” until we get our legislators to come up with a clear and concise definition of the “right to bear arms”. I disagree that the constitution is a malleable document, it is a document that takes a process, a process that starts with the people going to their state representatives and demanding that they make a change on this entire gun control issue. The process needs to be carried forward and either an amendment is presented to address what we all shall consider as a viable definition for today’s society. Until that time, passing gun control laws will only be an article coded on paper because the real issue is these guns will always be readily available in our American society and until we can all digest and truly try to figure out why we as Americans crave this desire, we will continue to have a free flow of guns available to people wanting to do kill people.

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“Fuck you, I like guns.”
Posted on February 15, 2018
Wordpress: Engineering, Parenthood, and a Solid Attempt at Adult Status

https://agingmillennialengineer.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/fuck-you-i-like-guns-2/

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Team Up to Try to Disrupt Health Care

It’s always interesting how everyone wants to cut healthcare costs but it’s never compared to the continual rising of costs due to the continual increase of need either by age, new consumers in the system, or current healthcare issues such as addiction. Any study to reduce costs needs to show the rising of healthcare costs based on what I’ve mentioned as these costs will continue to rise on those factors alone regardless of current inefficiencies of the system. Additionally, and as a licensed insurance agent why would companies continue to use commission based models to sell healthcare products for a commodity that is needed by all and should be affordable to all? – Yes profit!

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Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Team Up to Try to Disrupt Health Care
By NICK WINGFIELD, KATIE THOMAS and REED ABELSONJAN. 30, 2018

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/30/technology/amazon-berkshire-hathaway-jpmorgan-health-care.html

SEATTLE — Three corporate behemoths — Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase — announced on Tuesday that they would form an independent health care company for their employees in the United States.
The alliance was a sign of just how frustrated American businesses are with the state of the nation’s health care system and the rapidly spiraling cost of medical treatment. It also caused further turmoil in an industry reeling from attempts by new players to attack a notoriously inefficient, intractable web of doctors, hospitals, insurers and pharmaceutical companies.
It was unclear how extensively the three partners would overhaul their employees’ existing health coverage — whether they would simply help workers find a local doctor, steer employees to online medical advice or use their muscle to negotiate lower prices for drugs and procedures. While the alliance will apply only to their employees, these corporations are so closely watched that whatever successes they have could become models for other businesses.
Major employers, from Walmart to Caterpillar, have tried for years to tackle the high costs and complexity of health care, and have grown increasingly frustrated as Congress has deadlocked over the issue, leaving many of the thorniest issues to private industry. About 151 million Americans get their health insurance from an employer.
But Tuesday’s announcement landed like a thunderclap — sending stocks for insurers and other major health companies tumbling. Shares of health care companies like UnitedHealth Group and Anthem plunged on Tuesday, dragging down the broader stock market.
That weakness reflects the strength of the new entrants. The partnership brings together Amazon, the online retail giant known for disrupting major industries; Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company led by the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett; and JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States by assets.
Photo
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From left: Warren E. Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase. 
Credit
Associated Press
They are moving into an industry where the lines between traditionally distinct areas, such as pharmacies, insurers and providers, are increasingly blurry. CVS Health’s deal last month to buy the health insurer Aetna for about $69 billion is just one example of the changes underway. Separately, Amazon’s potential entry into the pharmacy business continues to rattle major drug companies and distributors.
(Here’s a look at how the even the threat of Amazon’s entry into an industry can rattle stocks.)
The companies said the initiative, which is in its early stages, would be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints,” but did not specify whether that meant they would create a nonprofit organization. The tax implications were also unclear because so few details were released.
Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, said in a statement that the effort could eventually be expanded to benefit all Americans.
“The health care system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement, “Hard as it might be, reducing health care’s burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort.”
The announcement touched off a wave of speculation about what the new company might do, especially given Amazon’s extensive reach into the daily lives of Americans — from where they buy their paper towels to what they watch on television. It follows speculation that the company, which recently purchased the grocery chain Whole Foods, might use its stores as locations for pharmacies or clinics.
“It could be big,” Ed Kaplan, who negotiates health coverage on behalf of large employers as the national health practice leader for the Segal Group, said of the announcement. “Those are three big players, and I think if they get into health care insurance or the health care coverage space, they are going to make a big impact.”
But others were less sure, noting that the three companies — which, combined, employ more than one million people — might still hold little sway over the largest insurers and pharmacy benefit managers, who oversee the benefits of tens of millions of Americans.
“This is not news in terms of jumbo employers being frustrated with what they can get through the traditional system,” said Sam Glick of the management consulting firm Oliver Wyman in San Francisco. He played down the notion that the three partners would have more success getting lower prices from hospitals and doctors. “The idea that they could have any sort of negotiation leverage with unit cost is a pretty far stretch.”
Even the three companies don’t seem to be sure of how to shake up health care. People briefed on the plan, who asked for anonymity because the discussions were private, said the executives decided to announce the initiative while still a concept in part so they can begin hiring staff for the new company.
Three people familiar with the partnership said it took shape as Mr. Bezos, Mr. Buffett, and Mr. Dimon, who are friends, discussed the challenges of providing insurance to their employees. They decided their combined access to data about how consumers make choices, along with an understanding of the intricacies of health insurance, would inevitably lead to some kind of new efficiency — whatever it might turn out to be.
“The ballooning costs of health care act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy,” Mr. Buffett said in the statement. “Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable.”
Over the past several months, the three had met formally — along with Todd Combs, an investment officer at Berkshire Hathaway who is also on JPMorgan’s board — to discuss the idea, according to a person familiar with Mr. Buffett’s thinking.
The three chief executives saw one another at the Alfalfa Club dinner in Washington on Saturday, but by then each had already had dozens of conversations with the small in-house teams they had assembled. The plan was set.
Mr. Buffett’s motivation stems in part from conversations he has had with two people close to him who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, according to the person. Mr. Buffett, the person said, believes the condition of the country’s health care system is a root cause of economic inequality, with wealthier people enjoying better, longer lives because they can afford good coverage As Mr. Buffett himself has aged — he is 87 — the contrast between his moneyed friends and others has grown starker, the person said.
The companies said they would initially focus on using technology to simplify care, but did not elaborate on how they intended to do that or bring down costs. One of the people briefed on the alliance said the new company wouldn’t replace existing health insurers or hospitals.
Planning for the new company is being led by Marvelle Sullivan Berchtold, a JPMorgan managing director who was previously head of the Swiss drugmaker Novartis’s mergers and acquisitions strategy; Mr. Combs; and Beth Galetti, a senior vice president at Amazon.
One potential avenue for the partnership might be an online health care dashboard that connects employees with the closest and best doctor specializing in whatever ailment they select from a drop-down menu. Perhaps the companies would strike deals to offer employee discounts with service providers like medical testing facilities.
“Each of those companies has extensive experience using transformative technology in their own businesses,” said John Sculley, the former chief executive of Apple who is now chairman of a health care start-up, RxAdvance. “I think it’s a great counterweight to what government leadership hasn’t done, which is to focus on how do we make this health care system sustainable.”
Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, predicted that the companies would attempt to modernize the cumbersome process of doctor appointments by making it more like booking a restaurant reservation on OpenTable, while eliminating the need to regularly fill out paper forms on clipboards.
“I think they will bring the customer-facing, patient-facing thing into your smartphone,” he said.
Amazon has long been mentioned by health care analysts and industry executives as a potential new player in the sector. While the company has remained quiet about its plans, some analysts noted that companies often use their own employees as a testing ground for future initiatives.
The entry of Amazon and its partners adds to the upheaval in an industry where much is changing, from government programs after the overhaul of the tax law to the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act. All the while, medical costs have persistently been on the rise.
Nationwide, average premiums for family coverage for employees rose to $18,764 last year, an increase of 19 percent since 2012, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Workers are increasingly paying a greater share of those costs — they now pay 30 percent of the premium, in addition to high deductibles and growing co-payments.
“Our members’ balance sheets speak for themselves — health care is a growing cost at a time when other costs are either not rising or falling,” said Robert Andrews, chief executive of the Healthcare Transformation Alliance, a group of 46 companies, including Coca-Cola and American Express, that have banded together to lower health care costs.
Other major employers have also sought more direct control over their employees’ health care. Walmart contracted with groups like the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo and Geisinger, among others, to take care of employees who need organ transplants and heart and spine care. Caterpillar, the construction equipment manufacturer, sets its own rules for drug coverage, which it has said saves it millions of dollars per year, even though it still uses a pharmacy benefit manager to process its claims.
Suzanne Delbanco, the executive director for the Catalyst for Payment Reform, a nonprofit group that mainly represents employers, said controlling rising prices is especially hard in markets where a local hospital or medical group dominates. While some have tried to tackle the issue in different ways, like sending employees with heart conditions to a specific group, “it’s piecemeal,” she said.
She added, “There are so many opportunities to do this better.”
The issue is not solely a 21st-century concern: In 1915, Henry Ford became increasingly worried about the quality of health care available to his growing work force in Detroit, so he opened the Henry Ford Hospital. It is still in existence today.