New York still hearts you

These are some shots I grabbed while there in that big ol’ city.

Each image will open up larger. Opening up in tabs is the best way to view them. On a Mac in Safari, you can COMMAND click them and they’ll do it automatically. I don’t know what it is on a PC.

I am not a PC.

Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions


On Sam Harris’ facebook page, he says, “Thanks for all the feedback on my TED talk. For those of you who are worried that I haven’t dealt with Hume, Moore, etc. I have addressed their arguments in my book. I just didn’t have time to do it at TED. I will be developing an hour-long version of this talk for the fall, so please feel free to keep posting questions, concerns, etc. here. It will improve my future communication on this subject.”

Ted Kennedy On Health Care 1978

Yet another thing conservatives dragged their feet on for too long.

At my Opoe’s birthday party last weekend, my family told stories about the family from before they moved from the old country to the United States. While the Witteveens were exited about many advancements in different qualities of life they would encounter in the U.S., my grandfather or Opa, decided that — since there was no socialized health care like in Holland — my Opoe should have all of her teeth pulled and get dentures to avoid the expense of dental care in America.

I don’t know exactly how old Opoe was when she moved to this country, but she wasn’t in any position to get all of her teeth pulled.

If you study the world economy, Holland isn’t doing poorly at all, and they’ve had socialized health care for how long?

Conservative fear tactics were all they could muster. Only poor, misguided information that has no place in the public sphere. Surely health care reform won’t be perfect, but it’s time. It’s certainly time.

Reuters explains the Health Care Bill

This is a long repost, so I’m not going to put it in typical quotes. Via Reuters (spread the word):

House Democrats are confident they can overcome solid Republican opposition and pass the bill. Leaders are using a two-step process where the House approves Senate-passed legislation and then votes for a separate package of changes to satisfy concerns of House Democrats. The Senate is expected to approve those changes as well and President Barack Obama plans to sign the bill into law.

Here is what to expect if the bill becomes law:


*Insurance companies will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Lifetime coverage limits will be eliminated and annual limits are to be restricted.

*Insurers will be barred from excluding children for coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

*Young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26. Many health plans currently drop dependents from coverage when they turn 19 or finish college.

*Uninsured adults with a pre-existing conditions will be able to obtain health coverage through a new program that will expire once new insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014.

*A temporary reinsurance program is created to help companies maintain health coverage for early retirees between the ages of 55 and 64. This also expires in 2014.

*Medicare drug beneficiaries who fall into the “doughnut hole” coverage gap will get a $250 rebate. The bill eventually closes that gap which currently begins after $2,700 is spent on drugs. Coverage starts again after $6,154 is spent.

*A tax credit becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.

*A 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services that use ultraviolet lamps goes into effect on July 1.


*Medicare provides 10 percent bonus payments to primary care physicians and general surgeons.

*Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get a free annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan service. New health plans will be required to cover preventive services with little or no cost to patients.

*A new program under the Medicaid plan for the poor goes into effect in October that allows states to offer home and community based care for the disabled that might otherwise require institutional care.

*Payments to insurers offering Medicare Advantage services are frozen at 2010 levels. These payments are to be gradually reduced to bring them more in line with traditional Medicare.

*Employers are required to disclose the value of health benefits on employees’ W-2 tax forms.

*An annual fee is imposed on pharmaceutical companies according to market share. The fee does not apply to companies with sales of $5 million or less.


*Physician payment reforms are implemented in Medicare to enhance primary care services and encourage doctors to form “accountable care organizations” to improve quality and efficiency of care.

*An incentive program is established in Medicare for acute care hospitals to improve quality outcomes.

*The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the government programs, begin tracking hospital readmission rates and puts in place financial incentives to reduce preventable readmissions.


*A national pilot program is established for Medicare on payment bundling to encourage doctors, hospitals and other care providers to better coordinate patient care.

*The threshold for claiming medical expenses on itemized tax returns is raised to 10 percent from 7.5 percent of income. The threshold remains at 7.5 percent for the elderly through 2016.

*The Medicare payroll tax is raised to 2.35 percent from 1.45 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and married couples with incomes over $250,000. The tax is imposed on some investment income for that income group.

*A 2.9 percent excise tax in imposed on the sale of medical devices. Anything generally purchased at the retail level by the public is excluded from the tax.


*State health insurance exchanges for small businesses and individuals open.

*Most people will be required to obtain health insurance coverage or pay a fine if they don’t. Healthcare tax credits become available to help people with incomes up to 400 percent of poverty purchase coverage on the exchange.

*Health plans no longer can exclude people from coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

*Employers with 50 or more workers who do not offer coverage face a fine of $2,000 for each employee if any worker receives subsidized insurance on the exchange. The first 30 employees aren’t counted for the fine.

*Health insurance companies begin paying a fee based on their market share.


*Medicare creates a physician payment program aimed at rewarding quality of care rather than volume of services.


*An excise tax on high cost employer-provided plans is imposed. The first $27,500 of a family plan and $10,200 for individual coverage is exempt from the tax. Higher levels are set for plans covering retirees and people in high risk professions. (Reporting by Donna Smith; Editing by David Alexander and Eric Beech)

Does The Devil Exist?

Simple answer: no.

The devil, purportedly evil and awful, is clearly not even that bad of a character in the bible. Even the Job story, when looked at objectively, doesn’t make the character of Satan out to be that bad. Key moments are when in the bible story, the inerrant word of god says that the devil can only do what God allows him to do. So remember, whenever something bad happens to you, or your family, or your friends, god allowed the devil to do that to them. All things evil go through god first. So when you’re confused, in pain, wagging a fist at the ceiling, don’t forget to thank the divine for perfection and love.

Or … see it for what it really is … not all that fantastic.

How many people do you know who have lost everything, found god, but would never enjoy the wealth that a guy like Job had? Hell, I saw a guy last night begging on the side of the road last night on the way home from the airport. Is he not important enough to god?

Should the devil exist, oral tradition is what paints the evil all around him. Should you want to watch a British panel talk about the topic, click below.

Aired March 21, 2010 on BBC One
From Times Online:

Sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church are proof that that “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican”, according to the Holy See’s chief exorcist.

Father Gabriele Amorth, 85, who has been the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 25 years and says he has dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession, said that the consequences of satanic infiltration included power struggles at the Vatican as well as “cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, and bishops who are linked to the Demon”.

He added: “When one speaks of ‘the smoke of Satan’ [a phrase coined by Pope Paul VI in 1972] in the holy rooms, it is all true – including these latest stories of violence and paedophilia.”
Read more
(Via Atheist Media, Thanks to TreVelocita)