I doubt this surprises anyone

Code Carts

I often say to my friends, “Being alone isn’t anywhere near as stressful as being with the wrong person”:

Toxic relationships have long been linked to poorer health. But newly published research suggests that, to increase your chances of developing cardiovascular problems, you and your spouse don’t have to despise one another.

Mutual ambivalence will do the trick.

That’s the disturbing finding of a team of University of Utah researchers led by health psychologist Bert Uchino. Figuring that totally negative relationships are rare (at home, if not at the workplace), they decided to look at whether having mixed feelings about one’s partner presents a health risk.

Uchino and his colleagues looked at 136 older couples (people in their 60s who had been married more than 30 years). All underwent scans to measure coronary artery calcification—the amount of plaque build-up in those vital blood vessels. This measurement is “a robust predictor of cardiovascular risk,” the researchers note.

In addition, all participants completed the Social Relationships Index, in which they rated “how helpful, and how upsetting, they perceived their spouse to be during times when they needed support, such as advice, understanding, or a favor.”

They rated their spouse’s supportiveness in various circumstances using a six-point scale, from “not at all” to “extremely.” The 30 percent of spouses who received an average score of two points or higher on support and only one point on “upsettingness” were classified as positive; the rest were rated ambivalent.

After crunching the numbers, the researchers found the largest amount of calcification “when both partners in the relationship viewed each other as ambivalent.”

“Even when we statistically controlled for traditional behavioral risk factors,” they write, “coronary artery calcification scores were highest if both individuals within a marriage viewed each other as relatively high in both helpfulness and upsettingness” during times when they turned to the other for support.

While it’s hard to draw any definitive conclusions as to the reasons for this correlation, criticism exchanged by ambivalent couples could easily exacerbate already-stressful situations, effectively negating the positive effect of any supportive statements.

Another possibility: People who suspect their spouse won’t be of much help don’t even bother to turn to them in times of trouble, thereby depriving themselves of an important source of emotional support.

Obamacare founding CEO wants single payer in MA

"I DON'T RECALL." !!!! says the Kaiser Health Foundation Healthcare Quality GURU!

So obviously, he’s got a brain!

On his first day as governor of Massachusetts, Donald Berwick promises to set up a commission tasked with finding a way to bring single payer to the Bay State. It’ll have report back to him within a year — ideally sooner.

Having run Medicare and Obamacare in Washington for 17 months, he has concluded that the existing hybrid system is too cumbersome and expensive, and that single payer is the right fix. And he’s the only candidate in this year’s contest who dares to go there.

“The Affordable Care Act is a majestic step forward for this country — for the only nation that hasn’t made health care a human right yet. But luckily I’m in a state that’s able to take even a bigger step,” Berwick told TPM in an interview. “And a single payer option — even if the country is not ready for it, I think Massachusetts is ready and it’s worth exploring.”

A political novice, Berwick is an underdog candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2014 elections — the most outspoken progressive in the race. A pediatrician, Harvard health policy professor and former health care executive, his talent for — and obsession with — health management caught the eye of President Barack Obama, who in 2010 appointed him to be the Administrator of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which was tasked with getting Obamacare off the ground in its infancy. Berwick left in December 2011, after his recess appointment expired and Senate Republicans refused to confirm him.

“I’ve been looking hard at the Massachusetts budget and I’ve become more aware than ever of how the rising costs of health care are taking opportunity away from other investments,” he said. “I saw it in Washington, and I see it in Massachusetts. We need to find money for transportation, education, the social safety net. … And so I feel a sense of urgency about getting costs under control without harming patients at all.”

There are huge obstacles, as he acknowledges. Entrenched industry groups who prefer a multi-payer system. Insurance companies who would cease to exist. Conservatives who view such a system as an affront to economic freedom. Questionable support from the state legislature. Even though liberals across the country passionately support the idea, no state has set up a single payer system yet and no president has seriously considered it. Luckily for Berwick, Massachusetts is ahead of the curve on health care: In 2006, Gov. Mitt Romney set up the nation’s first ever state-based universal health care system, which subsequently became the template for Obamacare.

Berwick and three other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination are getting crushed in the polls by Martha Coakley, the attorney general known nationally for her 2010 U.S. Senate campaign that failed spectacularly. She has the support of 56 percent of Democrats, according to a Suffolk University poll out this week. Berwick is a distant fourth place tie, with a measly 1 percent. (Worse yet, he’s polling behind the top Republican candidate, Charlie Baker.) He refused to talk about Coakley, but pointed out that Elizabeth Warren was also relatively unknown early in her Senate campaign, and that Mitt Romney was also a political newbie. The primary is seven months away, on Sept. 9.

So far, his campaign says he’s raised about $847,000 and spent $706,000. He touts endorsements from Massachusetts State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D) and Mass-Care, the state’s campaign for single payer. Mass-Care’s executive director Ture Turnbull said rising health care costs “are crippling the economy in Massachusetts” and harming families and clinicians. Berwick’s spokesman, Joshua Cohen, predicted that “we’ll start picking up more support soon.”

“I would claim that I’m the boldest progressive in the race,” Berwick told TPM. “We’ve not minced our words. I say what I believe. I’m the only candidate to support single payer. I’m the only candidate opposing that law that allows casinos in the state.” He worries about being seen as the health-care-only candidate when it’s not the top concern of Massachusetts residents — 98 percent of whom have insurance — and insists he’ll also prioritize education reforms and “repairing our very flawed transportation system” if he becomes governor.

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Judge rules NJ has to hand pension records to blogger

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Ha ha!

TRENTON — A New Jersey judge this week ordered the state Treasury Department to hand over most of the documents requested by a blogger who is investigating the pension deal for a top assistant to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno when she was the Monmouth County sheriff.

The ruling Tuesday by Administrative Law Judge Linda Kassekert won’t be the last word in the records battle between investigative journalist Mark Lagerkvist and the state government. The judge has scheduled a hearing on whether the state Treasurers Office withheld the records unlawfully. If she finds it did, the state will have to pay his legal fees.

The whole decision can be reviewed by the state Government Records Council after she decides that matter.

Lagerkvist, a reporter for the nonprofit news blog NJ Watchdog, has been looking into Guadagno’s 2008 hiring of former Prosecutor’s Office investigator Michael Donovan. Under the deal, he got a non-law enforcement title that allowed him to keep collecting an $85,000 state pension on top of his $87,500 salary. Guadagno has said the move saved taxpayer money.

Lagerkvist filed a request in March 2011 for a series of documents about the job and pension.

The Treasury Department said the records were not subject to open-records laws because they dealt with personnel records or deliberative process.

Via attorney David Stander.

It scares me that people are this gullible

Imagine thinking that fake snow is a more rational explanation than global warming:

This week’s wild weather across the south of the U.S. has raised a controversial question online: was it just a light snow, or a nefarious government conspiracy?

It was definitely just snow. But the last few days have seen scores of videos like this from skeptics who claim the snowflakes aren’t the real deal.

“I have a sample of ‘snow’ … leaving the snow unmelted.” (Via YouTube / sugar magnolia)

The conspiracy reasoning goes like this: the snow is unusual in Georgia and other southeast areas and doesn’t melt when burned. Therefore, it must be fake snow, distributed by the government, as a diversion from big government tyranny: (Via YouTube / Div9neImages)

“You’re being distracted from all fronts, you’re preoccupied. They’re up here signing bills, the government, to pretty much take away more of your rights and freedoms.”  (Via YouTube / Occult Sin)

Many of these videos have racked up thousands of views online — though, presumably, not everyone who watches this believes the whole fake weather thing.

Some skeptics tie the fake snow to a wider, and older, conspiracy regarding “geo-engineering” and the fear that the government is manipulating weather to use as a weapon. (Via The Resistance Journals)

Anyway, as you might expect, the fake government snow craze is pure paranoia.

Science-savvy reporters and experts have been quick to point out that snow doesn’t melt when exposed to open flame like this.

“When you heat something like this, it goes from a solid to a gas. It’s called sublimation. It doesn’t go from a solid to a liquid, i.e. melting.” (Via WTVR)

Thanks to David Benowitz.

Sen. Warren to Obama: Stop nominating corporatist judges

Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts.

She gives me hope. Via Talking Points Memo:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Thursday called on President Obama to nominate fewer judges who have represented corporate interests and more with backgrounds working for public interest groups.

“Power is becoming more and more concentrated on one side,” she said at an event organized by the left-leaning Alliance for Justice. “Well-financed corporate interests line up to fight for their own privileges and resist any change that would limit corporate excess.”

Warren pointed out that after the Senate voted to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominees, it could be easier for the Senate to confirm such judges.

“[I]t’s unsurprising that the president and a majority of the Senate gravitated to nominating corporate lawyers…that most conservative senators could not object to,” she said. “We have an opportunity to…fight for something that balances the playing field in the other direction.”

Alliance for Justice released a report Thursday on the President’s judicial nominees. Seventy-one percent of the judges he nominated primarily represented corporate interests.

The ‘used-to-haves’

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A freelance writer on Huffington Post:

We “Used-to-Haves” all used to work in the corporate world for big, wealthy companies. We were discarded in layoffs. I’ve been told, as my employer du jour let me go, what a positive difference I made and the value of my contributions. I agree. I know I made my bosses look brilliant. Fully aware that my contributions built the company’s brand image. Yet, I was expendable.

As a new “Used-to-Have,” I denied my slide. “I’m not poor!” I nervously chuckled to myself. But as I slid more, the smartest thing was finally acknowledging poverty and applying for the benefits available. I’d never been poor before. I didn’t know how to be poor. But finally, I learned. The magnitude of my shame and embarrassment is unspeakable. It’s impossible to explain to people who aren’t poor — “The Haves.” When I’m beseechingly desperate for a check owed to me, the check writer inevitably has no concept of how frighteningly desperate I am for that money. They say, “Next week? or “The accountant says two weeks.” I plead, nicely, sincerely, “Is there no way you could just write me that check?” And the answer is “no.” It’s just putting a pen to paper, but for “The Haves,” I’m just a pain in the neck.

Despite the disappearance of the middle class and the proliferation of the “Used-to-Haves,” Corporate America is as cavalier and unfeeling as they were when I was laid off. I remember working overtime for a New England financial firm on weekends, holidays and New Year’s Eve. Getting my arm stuck in a copier while fixing a paper jam. Wearing matching t-shirts as we moved boxes from one location to another. You name it, I made every sacrifice to keep my job in Corporate America.

Watching John Boehner and the Republican Congress during the past few years has been a stunning confirmation of their seeming disregard for the “Used-to-Haves.” As they pull down salaries of $174,000 a year, unparalleled benefits and the option of voting themselves a raise, their selfishness is unrivaled as they barricade health care reform, knowingly shut down the government, cut SNAP benefits and eliminate extended unemployment payments.

Congress doesn’t have the stones to call up their lobbyist buddies and corporate honchos and insist they hire more unemployed Americans for the American companies they celebrate and boast about.

The press calls it “The Great Recession.” It actually was the “Great Theft.” In the wake of this very public, often-glossed-over theft from the middle class, the perpetrators have been revealed. We know the American corporations without the courage, scruples or heart to help us, the ones responsible for the recession and the politicians who put the toxic policies in place. We “Used-to-Haves” aren’t stupid.

As a “Used-to-Have,” I’m beyond angry. I’m not a “Never Had.” I know what it’s like to pay bills on time and have a little left over. I remember vacations and pedicures and going out to dinner. As a “Used-to-Have,” I know exactly what Corporate America, lobbyists and politicians have taken away from me. The “Used-to-Haves” and the children of the “Used-to-Haves” won’t forget. The “Used-to-Haves” are educated. Many of us and our children have amazing talent and academic honors. We know how to get things done. And though all of the odds appear to be against us, we must refuse to give up hope.

H/t Ben Mann.

People are wonderful sometimes

Isn’t this great?

As a tutor and mentor at Valley Oaks Elementary School in Houston for over 10 years, Kenny Thompson has taken pride in helping out kids. So on Monday, when he found out that over 60 students at his school were eating cold sandwiches for lunch because of overdue funds on their accounts, he decided to pay off the negative balance. All $465 of it.

“It was the best money I ever spent,” Thompson, 52, told TODAY.com. “It was the best gift I ever gave myself. I went into my car and screamed.”

He didn’t realize how widespread the lunch account problem was until he learned that a Utah school had thrown away the lunches of students with negative balances at the end of January. That’s when he decided to look into the issue in his own community.

He found out that some students whose parents hadn’t paid were eating cold cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, instead of hot, hearty fare. And others avoided the lunch line altogether, preferring not to eat rather than face the embarrassment of not being able to afford the same lunch in front of their peers. Many of these students were already on reduced lunch, which costs just 40 cents a day.

“It was horrifying, it broke my heart,” he said. “These are elementary kids. They’re not bankers, and not responsible for the financial issues in the household.”

His wife, a teacher at Valley Oaks, encouraged him to follow through on the idea, but warned him that he wouldn’t be able to buy the new pair of Doc Martens he’d wanted. That was quite all right with Thompson.

“My work boots are still good,” he said with a chuckle.

Graceland

They say losing love is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you’re blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow.

Paul Simon:

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