April 19th, 2016

#5165: That's because gravity is an emergent property of four-dimensional spacetime, not a force.

It merely acts like a force.

The Earth is not subject to the sun's gravity; it does not circle the sun. The Earth moves in a straight line through space which is curved by the sun's mass.

Occam's Razor: if the force of gravity doesn't fit with the rest of physics, it just might be because it's not a force at all.

Think about it.

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The above is today's quotient of "what if?", completely free of charge, and is presented merely as a hypothetical topic for discussion.

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UN caused the cholera epidemic in Haiti because they're here to help so they don't need to worry about the little details like proper camp sanitation and keeping their sewage out of the water supply and things like that.

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And none of the people taking kickbacks are exactly Republicans, know what I mean?

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This article contains some interesting information on why oil prices collapsed.

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I really, really love it: "Seems the Sanders campaign isn't very happy about this:..." I should think not, having old Bernie's profile as the latest in a series of muderous socialist dictators. Lenin, Stalin, Mao--those three killed some 90,000,000 people in the 20th century, you know, all inspired by the first two in that lineup, Marx and Engels. Yeah.

I can see why the Sanders campaign doesn't like the comparison, but I do. I like that comparison!

#5166: Yes, I ate the whole--LOOK, I WAS DOING OUR TAXES, OKAY????

Mrs. Fungus brought home a box of Munchkins Sunday night. She'd intended to buy a box of 25, but the Dunkin Donuts gave her 50 for the same price because they had too many.

I ate them all.

Not at one sitting. It took me a couple days. Even so, because of this little imbroglio there's a new rule in the bunker: the Munchkin box stays in the kitchen. It's better for everyone that way.

Mrs. Fungus got quite a laugh out of this. It's kind of unusual as I don't have a penchant for gluttony. Oh well.

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Would Chicago have been any better? I think it might have been. Rio is rapidly turning into shit city (literally) where Chicago merely has a problem with violent crime. Personally I think the Olympics is a big bunch of hooey, and I'm glad that Chicago doesn't have that crap going on here, particularly as I have a commute, and setting up "Olympic City" in Chicago would merely have further bankrupted Illinois, which already has trouble paying its bills.

Of course, Obama and Valerie Jarrett and other prominent Democrats would have made a killing on land and construction kickbacks, but that's incidental....

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Any doctor that presents me with a bill like that is not going to like my reaction. My first step would be to muscle my way into his office, put the bill on his desk, and laugh in his face, loud and derisively. Step two would be to point at the $6,200 "facility charge" and to tell him, in no uncertain terms, into which anatomical orofice he could insert his bills until and unless he began to submit bills which actually reflect reality.

...that $6,200 facility charge is a little more than half of the bill. There's another charge, some $3,200 for a CT scan.

From the article Denninger links:
Federal law requires hospitals that offer emergency services (including at freestanding facilities) to provide a medical screening examination and stabilize a patient, regardless of that patient’s ability to pay. Anything that can be interpreted as discouraging a person from seeking care at that facility violates the law.
So saith the Colorado Hospital Association. Except that the law--EMTALA, a Reagan-era law--does not require that hospitals perform CT scans for sinus infections.

The last time I had a sinus infection, the doctor didn't need to do a CT scan or run a battery of other tests to make the diagnosis. It took her perhaps ten minutes of talking and examination to make the determination that, yeah, a course of inexpensive antibiotics would be sufficient to deal with this.

So Denninger is right when he says, emphasis removed:
If you ran a gas station and didn't post a price for your gasoline, refusing to give anyone a price until after the gas was pumped into the tank you'd be in prison right now. Utterly no business can get away with that in America today, other than one -- the medical industry, which does exactly that every single day to thousands of people.

Further, if you and your gas-station buddies colluded to figure out how many gas pumps to have and how much gasoline to stock in your town you'd also go to prison because that's black-letter illegal under laws that have stood for a hundred years -- collectively found in 15 USC. The medical industry does this every single day in America and no, there is not an exemption for them either.

This is why someone can get a $11,000 bill for a doctor visit because he's tricked into it.

The medical industry argues that EMTALA, a law I remind you Ronald Reagan argued for and got passed, is responsible for this outrageous financial rape. While EMTALA is an unmitigated disaster it is not the driver of this sort of policy, rather, it's a convenient foil to pull out and scream about all the "poor people" who wouldn't be able to get any medical care if screwing the common citizen was stopped.
Doctors will argue that you can't give an estimate for what treatment will cost because there are too many variables, and what if there's an emergency during treatment? But the answer to that is that ninety-five percent of patient interactions are routine--probably more--and the chance of unforeseen, life-threatening emergencies which will incur unexpected high costs is relatively low by comparison.

The cost of medical care in this country is high not because it costs that much to provide, but because carefully-managed scarcity has driven it that high. In the Fungal Vale, for example, one must drive quite a distance to be out from under the medical monopoly that has arisen here. There used to be two competing hospitals within ten miles of each other; both hospitals now operate under the same banner, same management, same everything.

There is no incentive, no need, to compete; prices are what they say they are, and you have a binary choice: you can pay them what they ask, or you can do without medical care.

This is a condition that our government has fought to correct in every other industry there is. Why is the medical industry exempt?

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The classic pattern again rears its head. Bernie Sanders: high taxes for thee, but not for me.

"...[T]here was outrage over Mitt Romney’s effective tax rate of 14-15%, but Bernie is paying even less," concludes the post. Well, duh: Romney's a Rethuglican and therefore his 15% tax rate is the result of evil fascist greed, and all he deserves is prison and maybe execution. Sanders is a socialist, so his 13% tax rate demonstrates his cogent understanding of the tax code, which is why he should be President for life.

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How many administrators at UC Berkeley support the $15 minimum wage? What a surprise: minimum wage goes up, people get fired. Because the real minimum wage is $0.

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Today is my Saturday, and so I get to do the traditional Saturday chores. I get to cut the grass! Whee!


#5167: Well, that was educational

So, I wanted to get the grass cut, and--spoiler!--I did manage it. Getting there was half the fun!

Tractor needs a new battery, and an inactive winter in the garage did not help matters any. I'm not eager to do that today; I just wanted to cut the dang grass. So I hooked it up to the charger and started working on getting the tires filled, thinking that I wouldn't need to charge it for long to get it running.

Little charger wasn't making any headway--one revolution and nothing--so I got the biggie out and tried it. And then after letting it go for several minutes at the 10 amp setting, I tried it.

And after two or three slow revolutions, it stopped, went BUZZ, and didn't move.

Me: "Buzz"?

Now, look: it's purely a DC system. The starter is a DC motor. What you should not hear from a stalled DC motor is a sixty cycle AC buzz. No.

So I went and got my cheap Harbor Freight multimeter, and--sure enough!--it reported a 32v AC voltage. I unplugged the big charger and reconnected the little one, then tore into the big charger, thinking there was something wrong with it.

I had expected, perhaps foolishly, that there would be some capacitors in the thing; either a smoothing cap had gone, or I had a faulty diode, right? Well, when I got the lid off I was dismayed to see there were no caps in the thing, and where the hell was the rectifier? This thing was not pumping full-wave AC into a battery; that wouldn't charge it. Oh...here, on the transformer, four diodes, mounted to a plate which was both the anode and a heat sink.

Diodes all checked out. Okay--so the battery charger supplies rectified AC voltage and the 32-volt AC the DMM saw was just because the waveform isn't smoothed:

The battery charger outputs a voltage that looks like the dotted line. That's fine, because batteries don't really care all that much. I was expecting something more like the red line, but that doesn't happen when there aren't any capacitors in the circuit.

Capacitors would probably fail too quickly, anyway.

Regardless, I figured out that there was nothing wrong with the charger--guess I learned something useful from DeVry!--so I put it back on, cranked it to 50 amps, and got the mower started. And of course the grass got cut.

Go, me.