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Color me surprised: “https://www.npr.org/2017/12/12/570291123/will-it-be-moore-or-jones-polls-are-closed-in-divisive-alabama-senate-election”>Democrat Doug Jones Beats Roy Moore In Alabama.

Doug Jones is best known for sending KKK murderers to prison, in this case the murderers of four little black girls. By sending those Klansmen to prison, he automatically lost 33% of the white vote in Alabama. Which is why I’m rather surprised that he actually beat Roy Moore despite Roy’s spending of quality time with other people’s kids.

Hopefully this is the last time we see Roy Moore in politics. Unfortunately, there’s another election in 2020 to fill Doug Jones’s seat, and presumably the Republicans won’t run a pedophile this time, meaning this seat is going to flip back into the (R) column in 2020. Unless the Trump brand has *really* tanked. Which I doubt. Trump would likely win Alabama today by the same 10% margin that he won it in 2016. He could literally shoot random people down in the streets and his supporters would say “they deserved it!” and vote Trump anyways.

– Badtux the Surprised Penguin

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Did the economy do better under Ronald Reagan than under Jimmy Carter? There’s lefties who argue that Republicans are *always* worse than Democrats, but then Republicans shout, “Jimmy Carter!”. Was it true?

Technically yes. According to the St. Louis Fed, GDP in chained billions of dollars was 5732.462 in on 1/1/1977, and 6635.726 on 1/1/1981 when Reagan took office, for an average increase of 3.9% per year. GDP in chained billions was 8831.544 when Reagan left office, for average increase of 4.1% per year. So yeah, technically, you’re right, Reagan’s economy performed better than Jimmy Carter’s, but it’s like claiming that your guy will give us 11 cents rather than the other guy’s 10 cents. Nobody’s going to get too excited about the minimal difference there.

When you look at wages, on the other hand, things look different. In inflation adjusted dollars (taking Bureau of Employment Statistics numbers and feeding them into the official inflation calculator), average hourly wage for non-supervisory workers fell from $21.82 in January 1977 to $20.07 in January 1981, or an average of 2% per year. From there they then fell to $19.35 in January 1989. So: average hourly wages for non-supervisory workers fell by 0.45% per year under Reagan, as versus 2% per year under Carter.

In both cases the working class was fucked. But they were fucked less under Reagan than under Carter.

So I call foul on the notion that Republicans are *always* worse for the economy (and for wages) than Democrats. It is true that Clinton and Obama did better than any Republican president back to Eisenhower, but Jimmy Carter is the counter-example that proves that the rule really isn’t a rule.

On the other hand, Reagan’s policies decidedly set up today’s situation where wages are in free-fall for everybody who’s not one of us technology elites, so this isn’t saying that Reagan was a great President or anything. I mean, real wages fell during his Presidency. You can’t say a President is great if real wages fall during his presidency. On the other hand, he was not the Worst president of the past fifty years. That honor falls on Jimmy Carter, a nice man who tried (and tries) to do right, but a lousy President.

– Badtux the Numbers Penguin

I don’t understand how these people are getting blood from their cats’ ears in order to do glucose testing:

Now, poking my cat and injecting him with insulin? Child’s play. Put his food bowl down and he starts chowing down like a starving cat. Grab some of his hide, tent it up, poke, squirt, done. He barely even notices, he flicks his ear maybe when I squirt the cold insulin into him but that’s it.

But get blood out of his ear? I’ve tried the heated rice pad. I’ve tried the warm water compresses. I’ve tried the ear massages. I’ve tried all of that, and *never* managed to get enough blood out of his ear to test. It’s like trying to get blood out of a turnip. A very squirmy turnip that’s pointy at five ends. TMF has managed to get more blood out of *me* than I’ve managed to get out of *him*. Sheesh!

BTW, I’m using the same Walmart-brand meter as the lady with the heated rice sock…

– Badtux the Bloody Penguin

“You’re just not willing to accept the truth!” shouted the rightie.

So we were talking about solutions to the housing crisis that afflicts many big cities, and the possibility of the government itself stepping in to build the affordable housing that the private market apparently is unwilling to build. And he whipped out this gem:

“The more the state “plans” the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.” – F.A. Hayek

Nice quote, dude. Doesn’t deal with the reality that is the free-market utopia of Singapore, though. Over 80% of the population of Singapore lives in government-built housing. And Singapore is hardly a place where it’s difficult for the individual to plan, or difficult to live at all. It’s a very livable city-state given the density imposed by its geography (it only has a certain number of square miles and a lot of people to put onto them).

What this brings to mind is the fundamental difference between those of us in the reality-based community and those who are not: Our differing attitudes towards truth. For me, truth is something that is approached by careful examination of reality, making sure that my observations can be replicated by others and that there are no contrary examples to the hypothesis I arrive at about what is true. And even there, I am quite willing to rearrange what I think is true if new information comes in. For example, I once thought that lawsuit costs accounted for much of the high cost of medicine in the United States. Then multiple pieces of data came to my attention: 1) States with strict tort limits that make it very difficult to sue don’t overall have cheaper health care costs than states without those tort limits (for example, California’s tort limits are so strict that finding a lawyer willing to sue on contingency is basically impossible, making healthcare lawsuits basically impossible for anybody who isn’t rich here in California, yet California’s healthcare costs are amongst the highest in the nation), and 2) overall medical malpractice insurance premium costs account for 0.2% of healthcare costs nationwide. I.e., we spend more on tongue depressors than on medical lawsuits. So, given those facts, I changed my view of what was true and decided medical malpractice lawsuits were *not* a major cause of higher health care costs. Because careful observation of reality led me to understand that the truth was not what I thought it was.

Now back to the dude spouting Hayek: You’ll see a lot of that from the un-reality based community. Because they have a completely different conception of the word “truth”. For them, truth is something handed down from authority figures like Hayek. Or by a pastor. Or by God. Or by Ronald Reagan. Whatever. They’re always spouting quotes from those people as if it means something. The thing is, it doesn’t, not really. Ideological hacks have said things for centuries that weren’t actually true when you carefully examined reality to ascertain whether a statement agreed with reality or not. Things aren’t true because someone says they’re true. They’re true because when you make actual observations of reality, your observations agree with the statement, and your observations can be replicated by other people.

But that sort of truth — a truth that is conditional, that depends on the best available observations of reality — seems wishy-washy and somehow “wrong” to these believers in truths handed down by authority figures. So they quote Hayek instead, and shout “you’re just not willing to accept the truth!” if you reject their Argument By Authority Figure argument.

Which is why we have an epistemological problem here in the United States, where a significant portion of the population believes things as “truth” that, if you make systematic observations of reality, just aren’t true. Which is no way to run a country. Just ask the Soviet Union, where the Communist Party to its dying days defended Communism as “truth” even when it was clear to everybody observing the facts of the Soviet economy and Soviet society that Communism just wasn’t working.

As the Soviet Union went, so goes the United States.

– Badtux the Epistemology Penguin

As some of you know, my cat has been diagnosed as diabetic and requires insulin injection. He was prescribed Lantus, which is a long-acting insulin called “glargine insulin” that slowly infiltrates the body from the injection site during the course of the day rather than hitting in one big insulin hit. This is sort of the Gold Standard of insulin, controlling blood sugar far better than anything other than an insulin pump. Sometimes you can bring a cat with Type 2 diabetes back to non-insulin-dependent status by using this stuff to regulate his blood sugar until his body readjusts to operating with normal level blood sugar. Tapering off then lets his pancreas take over insulin production again and you have your cat back, albeit with severe dietary restrictions to keep his weight and blood sugar down. Yeah, that doesn’t really happen with people, but cats are weird.

TMF probably isn’t going to be in that cat-egory because his blood sugar was so high, but my vet said it was worth trying. my vet said “Okay, it’s expensive, but this is the gold standard and a $180 vial will last you several months.”

Well, it was a $180 vial in 2014, the year before its patent expired. Today it’s a $290 vial.

What happened? Competition happened. Two competitors entered the market, releasing two competing products, Basaglar and Toujeo. So, what happened? Why did prices go up rather than down the way the free market maniacs are always claiming competition will do in healthcare?!

Well: The maker of Lantus has a fixed amount of profit they want to make from Lantus. If volume goes down — which happened with competition — then they raise the price to make that amount of profit. And the competitors have similar price desires, so try to compete based on something other than price –Toujeo is more concentrated than Lantus (more doses per milliliter). Or if they’re wanting to compete on price, they price 10% below the market leader, because that’s what maximizes their profit (see: Basaglar). Every time Lantus raises their price to meet their profit goals, the other two raise their prices in lockstep to maximize their *own* profits.

So competition nearly doubled the price of my cat’s insulin within three years.

So much for that healthcare “reform” nonsense about “competition reduces prices!”. It just doesn’t seem to work that way in the real world, at least not for healthcare.

– Badtux the “Free Market Orthodoxy is religion, not fact” Penguin

The good news is that I’m not diabetic. The bad news is that my cat is.

Poor patchy kitty

The Mighty Fang has been poked, prodded, and otherwise miserated for the past three days to determine why he was drinking and urinating by a ridiculous amount. The final verdict: His blood sugar was way high in the blood test, at a point where a human would have already ended up in the hospital. He was also spilling a lot of sugar into his urine, indicating that it wasn’t just a momentary stress high, though the blood test was so high that was pretty much out of the question anyhow. The good news is that we caught it early, before there was damage to his retinas or kidneys or liver, and before he crashed.

So besides changing his diet to a low-carb diet (accomplished by changing his cat food to canned Nutro Natural Choice, which he loves) we’re starting out with a small dose of insulin twice a day. The photo above is his breakfast after this morning’s shot, which I gave under the vet’s direction. Yeah, the vet shaved a couple of patches of his fur off to give me easier targets to shoot at. Poor baby, he’s looking so patchy! Talking about insulin, that brings us to Big Pharma conspiring to hike the price of insulin. Three drug companies control 100% of the market for insulin, and conspire with each other to hike prices in lockstep. The best insulin on the market right now is one called Lantus. It’s a long-acting insulin that is much smoother than the older insulins, your blood sugar (or your cat’s, in my case) stays steady for far longer, requiring less monitoring and fewer injections to get a stable blood sugar level. My vet warned me that it was expensive. “You’re going to pay $180, $185 a vial. The good news is that he’s a cat, so a vial will last a couple of months.”

So here is what I paid for one vial of insulin: $293.99. When I showed him that bill, my vet was like, “What? That’s insane!”

“But we don’t charge full price!” said the drug companies above. Bull fucking shit. “But we offer discounts!” Not to cat owners, they don’t. There was one $20 discount coupon I could have taken if I’d know about it. That’s *it*.

So why don’t I get a vial of that old school insulin that costs $5/vial? Well, Big Pharma isn’t charging $5/vial for it. They’re charging $80/vial for it now. And it sucks, it’s really hard to get good control with it. And the better insulin, Humulin, that was introduced in the early 80’s for $10/vial? They’re charging $237 for it now. And it’s not as good as Lantus. It’s barely better than the older pork insulin (“Vetsulin”) that is available for $80/vial. And they’re charging $237/vial for it.

How fucked up is our healthcare system that I’m seriously looking at Canadian pharmacy sites… for my CAT?!

Oh, my good news? Well, glucose levels in cats need monitoring just like in humans. It turns out you use exactly the same supplies to do it. It turned out that Walmart sells their own branded version of one of the most highly rated blood sugar testing devices on the market, it requires a tiny blood sample and is as accurate as anything else (i.e., not particularly, but good enough for cats). This evening I got back from Walmart with a boatload of diabetic measuring supplies — lancets, lancet devices, and of course the test meter and the metering sticks, which have an enzyme in them that then reacts with the glucose in blood to set up an electrolytic reaction whose resistance is measured by the device to come up with the final result. The next task was to figure out how to use them. To do that, I wasn’t going to torment my poor cat and his ears — I volunteered myself as the guinea pig instead.

It took me several attempts to figure out how to use the lancet device to prick my fingertip. Then the next attempt didn’t result in a big enough blood droplet to test. Then I realized I needed to press harder on the lancet device before hitting the button, and did so, and blood didn’t really come out well but with some stroking of blood towards the hole a nice bead happened and I touched the tip of the meter strip to it, it sucked it in, and the meter gave me a value that was totally normal. Yay, I’m not diabetic! At least not yet! Stick gauze over the hole, wait a while, done.

Okay, but how the heck do I do this with the ear of a cat?! I need to watch those videos again, grr. Because I can’t see how I can manage to prick TMF’s ear using this device, because his ears are really thin and sort of floppy. The meter works well, doesn’t require much blood at all (turned out the bead I made was way more blood than the meter needed), but the pricking looks like a real prick of a problem. It looks like I’m going to have to watch more videos, ask people on the diabetic cat forum what setting they use on the pricker for their cat’s ears, and otherwise do more research before subjecting The Mighty Fang to my unkind ministrations. Because somehow I suspect The Mighty Fang will be less tolerant of fumbling than I was myself :(.

– Badtux the Diabetic-cat-owned Penguin
Oh yeah, obligatory slam against His Fraudulency Donald the Trump — he said he’d let people import drugs from outside the country and would let Medicare negotiate drug prices. Well, it turns out that campaign promise was as fraudulent as everything else about Deadbeat Donnie. SIGH.

Turns out every Russian athelete was juiced to the gills. Go figure.

In other news, Vladimir Putin has announced that he is running for President. Wait, I thought he’d just finished running for President, and won back in November 2016?

Oh wait, that was when he won the Presidency of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. No, his current announcement is that he’s also going to run for the office of President of the Russian Federation too.

In charge of two nations at once? Cool beans, if you’re a vicious tyrant like Vladimir Putin. Not so cool for anybody who opposes his rule.

Best comment: “I am sure the voting boxes are already full and the votes ready to be counted.”

Heh. Yeah, that’s how Russian elections work, alright :). And, increasingly, American elections too. SIGH.

– Badtux the Not-Russian Penguin