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May 31, 2010

Public option: healthcare for imprisoned criminals costs $40 per day in illness or health

California spends more than $40 a day per inmate for health care, including expenses for guards who accompany them on visits to outside doctors. NuPhysicia says that this cost is more than four times the rate in Texas and Georgia, and almost triple that of New Jersey, where telemedicine is used for mental health care and some medical specialties.

"Telemedicine makes total sense in prisons," says Christopher Kosseff, a senior vice president and head of correctional health care at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. "It's a wonderful way of providing ready access to specialty health care while maintaining public safety."

Georgia state prisons save an average of $500 in transportation costs and officers' pay each time a prisoner can be treated by telemedicine, says Dr. Edward Bailey, medical director of Georgia correctional health care.

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The Doctor Will See You Now. Please Log On.
Published: May 28, 2010
Advances in video technology and a need to reduce medical costs have made interactive telemedicine a growing business.

May 27, 2010

MTA transit data dump #MTADEV opens for development

#MTADEV: Build your own transit informatics for lower NY and NYC using MTA's data.

May 26, 2010

Crackshack or mansion ?

crackshackormansion ? looks at what housing you get for around $1 millon in Vancouver.

May 25, 2010

Pumper at weebly

Pumper at weebly. is a niftfy lightwieght web creation system example of pumping.

May 24, 2010

Johnson hit on a solution -- privatize Fannie, so that its expenditures would be somebody else's problem.

Fannie and Freddie developed as tools of credit enhancement; direct handouts offended laissez-faire sensibilities, whereas loan guarantees were nearly invisible. The practice of disguising government aid dates to the rescue of farmers and homeowners during the Depression. Mortgage capital barely existed and so, in 1934, the New Deal chartered the Federal Housing Administration to stimulate mortgage lending. Within a generation, the government was operating 74 separate programs to bolster credit through guarantees, insurance or outright loans, according to Sarah Quinn, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, who researched these programs. The point, Quinn says, was nearly always the same: "to camouflage, hide, or understate the extent to which [the U.S. government] actually intervened in the economy."

President Johnson was perfectly willing to let Fannie backstop investors, but he had a problem. Every mortgage Fannie purchased went on the government's books, which were already strained by the Vietnam War. After valiant efforts to manipulate the budget, Johnson hit on a solution -- privatize Fannie, so that its expenditures would be somebody else's problem.

The clever twist was that Fannie, which exited the public sector in 1968, wasn't wholly separate. Investors viewed Fannie, and its new sibling, Freddie, as having the implicit backing of the Treasury. This lowered the companies' costs and arguably led to lower interest rates for borrowers.

As long as Fannie and Freddie stuck to conservative underwriting, the arrangement seemed to work. But Congress was eager to use the twins for political purposes, like increasing homeownership and affordable housing. As Dwight Jaffee, a professor at the Haas School of Business at Berkeley, observed, legislators persuaded themselves that Fannie and Freddie could further such causes "basically at no cost."

When Fannie and Freddie began to face competition in their business of securitizing loans and providing liquidity to the mortgage market, their profits and stock prices took a nosedive. Seeking to recoup, the firms took more risk. And thanks to their implicit Treasury support, they could borrow virtually at will. Eventually, their debts reached the absurd level of 100 times their capital. When mortgage values tanked, a bailout was unavoidable.

Cracked Foundation: Reforming Housing Finance
Published: April 19, 2010
Fannie and Freddie are broken. What would fixing them mean?

May 23, 2010

BP knows booming ?

BP knows booming ?

Written like like Tanta was an oil worker. Eat what you kill.

May 22, 2010

Middle class: Scarsdale, NY teachers up to $135,000

"We deserve a tax break and the kids deserve to keep their programs more than the teachers need a raise," said Fred Gorman, one of the group's founders.

School superintendents and board members say they have been caught in the middle, left with no choice but to reduce teacher payrolls -- either through salary concessions or layoffs -- to offset sharp revenue drops from state aid cuts, declining property values and resistance to higher taxes on the middle class. "At a certain point, there's nowhere else to go" to achieve savings, said Michael V. McGill, the superintendent in Scarsdale, whose 460 teachers are among the best paid in the nation, earning $54,442 to $135,000.

In New York's Suburbs, Teachers Feel Budget Ax
Published: May 11, 2010
Cost-saving measures like wage freezes and pay cuts have spread even to upscale suburban communities.

May 21, 2010

Cass Sunstein, blog leader

Junior Minister for 4Chan ?

Sunstein had, during his academic career, a penchant for publishing trial balloons -- they were a necessary part of his inquiry, a perpetual what if? Now, with their author a government official, some of these conjectures seem more worrisome. Sunstein has, for example, written often about the corrosive effects of rumors and falsehoods on democratic discourse (it is the subject of one of the two books that were published while he was waiting to be confirmed last year), and in a 2008 paper, he proposed that government agents "cognitively infiltrate" chat rooms and message boards to try to debunk conspiracy theories before they spread. The paper was narrowly concerned with terrorism, but to some, these were dark musings. The liberal essayist Glenn Greenwald, writing in Salon, called the proposal "spine-chilling."

Cass Sunstein Wants to Nudge Us
Published: May 11, 2010
President Obama's regulatory czar says that incentives, not top-down regulation, can make us do the right thing -- and that includes slowing climate change.

May 20, 2010

The options Insider

theoptionsinsider looks at options trading strategies.

Right food for weight loss and admittance into an Ivy League college

I finally quit reading Gawker's flagship site altogether after a post about the heated jockeying among New York Times reporters over which stories landed on the "Most E-mailed" list. I didn't know why anyone in the nation's most-respected newsroom would compete for the pro-bono, viral marketing services of a group of readers who demonstrably only care about a story if it concerns food, weight loss, or admittance into an Ivy League college--and I didn't want to know. I had a sort of not-in-my-backyard unease about the nothing-based economy.

While journalism had not exactly rewarded me in any quantifiable way, it had exposed me to a large number of people who had taken this vow of poverty for a lot of reasons other than the opportunity to endlessly debate the relative merits of carbohydrates and get their photos taken at parties.

-- from the serial failings and firings of Maureen 'Moe' Tkacik

May 17, 2010

G. O. P. sweatshirt


See also Republican Theme Park.

Via Kelvis Sense.

May 16, 2010

Fried tourists

For lunch, I bypassed the kid-pleasing pizza shops and hamburger joints along the waterfront and found healthier sandwiches and salads at Cafe Metropole, a true traveler's oasis, with patio seating. It's the kind of place anyone who eats vegetables is thrilled to find in a town that mostly caters to tourists, especially boardwalk or seaside destinations that lean heavily toward fried things.

A California Island, Ready for Its Face-Lift
Published: May 14, 2010
The challenge for Catalina Island is maintaining the picturesque while increasing tourism.

May 15, 2010

High Frequency Traders (HFT) Driven by Spread Squeeze

For decades an order to buy or sell a security went to a person in a trader's jacket standing on the floor of an exchange, often at the NYSE in Lower Manhattan. If you wanted to sell stock in General Electric, for instance, these so-called specialists would find a buyer. If they couldn't find one, they bought it themselves.

In exchange for their services, the specialists pocketed some of the difference between the price at which you were willing to buy and the price at which a GE holder was willing to sell.

This system came under attack in the early 1980s from Nasdaq, a rival marketplace for stocks, which began using computers to make trades. The pitch was it could match buyers and sellers faster than humans, and for less money.

Then, starting in the late '90s, the NYSE specialists got hit again, this time with a series of blows: new rules encouraging computer matching of buyers and sellers, a shift to quote stock prices in minute increments of decimals instead of fractions, and a decision to cut the minimum spread that specialists or other middlemen could grab for themselves from 6.25 cents per share to a penny.

''It used to be an oligopoly, an old boy's club,'' said Irene Aldridge, head of an HFT shop called Able Alpha Trading and author of ''High-Frequency Trading.'' ''But now it's a completely level field.''

Critics of high-frequency trading say all this talk about narrowing spreads for ordinary investors distracts from a key problem: Split-second trading without human supervision is a recipe for disaster

May 16, 2010
Secretive Speed Traders in Spotlight After Crash
Filed at 12:33 a.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- If you saw a penny on the sidewalk, would you pick it up?

May 14, 2010

Software insider

Softwareinsider lives up to its tagline, 'Insider insights into effective enterprise apps strategies, vendor selection, and software contracts'.

Example: SAP bets on innovation with Sybase acquisition.

A corporate complement to Joel on Software.

May 13, 2010

Survived the crash of 2:45pm ?


I survived the crash of 2:45pm t-shirts, $20, memorializes on day's trading position.

May 12, 2010

Our clientele is in school, going back to school, first job, second job, and not from New York

For instance Jakobson Properties, which manages some 2,000 apartments in about 30 buildings in Manhattan and Queens, offers what it describes as middle- and upper-middle-income housing. Peter Jakobson Jr., a principal, said, "Our clientele is in school, going back to school, first job, second job, and not from New York."

He says that Jakobson leases most of its apartments through its Greenwich Village office and its Web site, nofeerentals.com, but that brokers bring in about 35 percent of its business. Ms. Schwartz said, however, that some management companies work exclusively through brokers.

Finding Your First Apartment
Published: April 20, 2008
Everything you need to know to beat the competition and find that elusive place to live in New York City.

May 10, 2010

Euro lacks discipline

During its first decade of membership, the European Union's generous subsidies helped catapult Greece out of its Balkan backwardness. By the time 1997 came around, and Europe's leaders prepared to introduce the single currency, some were hailing Greece, enjoying steady economic growth of more than 3 percent under the then Socialist government of the prime minister, Costas Simitis, as a plucky economic stalwart.

For Athens, Mr. Papantoniou recalled that joining the euro was a matter of pride and necessity, as it would stabilize the country's economy by fending off predatory speculators, while allowing Greece access to credit at low interest rates because it was part of the rich euro club.

"Once we were in line to join the euro, we started to transform from a third world country to one that aspired to look more like Switzerland," he said.

But Greece's path to the euro was far from assured. Public opinion in Germany, scarred by the memory of wartime hyperinflation, was always wary of giving up the Deutsche mark, and the German government insisted on tough conditions for the countries that wanted to join. Budget deficits were supposed to be below 3 percent of gross domestic product; debt was not to exceed 60 percent of G.D.P. and inflation could not top 3 percent.

In December 1996, the currency's rules were toughened in a so-called Stability Pact, intended to punish with costly fines countries that persistently broke the rules once inside the euro zone. The unspoken intention was to raise the barrier for Southern European countries, which were seen as having looser, more inflationary economic policies.

Germany wanted the fines to be automatic, but other countries, led by France, put the onus of enforcement on political leaders in the European Union. (No country, Greece included, has ever been fined even though the rules have been routinely broken by most countries in the euro zone.)

The euro was fundamentally a political creation, which meant that the rules could be bent when deciding whom to admit. So, when 11 nations locked their currencies in January 1999 -- the first stage in the creation of the euro -- they included Italy, Belgium, Spain and Portugal. Greece failed to join because of budgetary and inflationary problems.

The European Central Bank expressed concern about Greek finances as early as 2000, noting in a report that Greece's total debt was far above the prescribed limit.

Greece's Stumble Follows a Headlong Rush Into the Euro
Published: May 4, 2010
Athens began the push for acceptance in 1981, eager to join its rich European neighbors, which ignored their own rules to let Greece in.

May 7, 2010

Agile business

In product development, for example, Mr. Ries is an enthusiast of so-called agile programming methods, which emphasize rapid development, small teams and constant improvement. But, he adds: "The agile practices have to be adapted, shifting the focus somewhat from generating stuff to learning about what customers will want. Most technology start-ups fail not because the technology doesn't work, but because they are making something that there is not a real market for."

So the lean playbook advises quick development of a "minimum viable product," designed with the smallest set of features that will please some group of customers. Then, the start-up should continually experiment by tweaking its offering, seeing how the market responds and changing the product accordingly. Facebook, the giant social network, grew that way, starting with simple messaging services and then adding other features.

The goal, explains Mr. Blank, is to accelerate the pace of learning. "A start-up is a temporary organization designed to discover a profitable, scalable business model," he says.

Many young Internet businesses have embraced the lean start-up principles of beginning small and getting products into the marketplace quickly in pursuit of paying customers. Several gathered last week at a conference in San Francisco, including representatives from Grockit, an online education network; KISSmetrics, a Web site measurement business; and Dropbox, an online file storage and sharing service. Others represented PBworks (Web collaboration tools), Flowtown (software for social media marketing) and Aardvark (a social network search service, recently acquired by Google).

The Rise of the Fleet-Footed Start-Up
Published: April 23, 2010
The costs of starting an Internet company have fallen sharply. The "lean start-up" formula adds management practices tailored to exploit the Web environment.

Literally compartmentalize

There is more room for distraction in golf, which is less reactive and more reflective than sports like football or tennis. The best players' minds are like the bags toted by their caddies. They have lots of compartments, tuck away personal matters before a round and collect them afterward the way they do their watches and wallets.

Paul Goydos, who lost to Sergio GarcĂ­a in a playoff here in 2008 and is tied for 15th entering the final round, said, "I think most golfers, regardless of what's going on in their lives, have to be able to compartmentalize."

Life Outside the Ropes Can Be a Tough Course to Negotiate, Too
Published: May 8, 2010
PGA Tour players struggle on the course to find ways to deal with problems they encounter off the course.

May 4, 2010

Joel on Software

Joel's pithy developer on a small team at a small firm view of software.

( joelonsoftware, reddit)


May 3, 2010

Of AAA-rated subprime-mortgage-backed securities issued in 2006, 93 percent have now been downgraded

the e-mail messages you should be focusing on are the ones from employees at the credit rating agencies, which bestowed AAA ratings on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of dubious assets, nearly all of which have since turned out to be toxic waste. And no, that's not hyperbole: of AAA-rated subprime-mortgage-backed securities issued in 2006, 93 percent -- 93 percent! -- have now been downgraded to junk status.

Krugman illustrates the integrity of NRSRO (Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization) which look at new evidence, and in light of new evidence are willing to revise their ratings. And Krugman notes the difficulty in monetizing intellectual property in the Internet age:

What we really need is a fundamental change in the raters' incentives. We can't go back to the days when rating agencies made their money by selling big books of statistics; information flows too freely in the Internet age, so nobody would buy the books. Yet something must be done to end the fundamentally corrupt nature of the the issuer-pays system.

Berating the Raters
Published: April 26, 2010
The Goldman Sachs e-mail messages we should be focusing on are the ones from employees at the rating agencies, which reveal huge conflicts of interest.

May 2, 2010

Sprint RIM Blackberry Tour Bold 9650

Sprint RIM Blackberry Tour Bold 9650

New: touchpad and WiFi
Gone: trackball:


Available in all Sprint sale channels May 23, the new BlackBerry Bold 9650

Via pocketnow.

May 1, 2010

Fannie Interest_Only (IO) FICO > 720, LTV < 70

Fannie is also going to change criteria on interest-only mortgage loan products, capped at 70% loan-to-value ratio with the borrower FICO at 720 or higher. Balloon mortgages will no longer be eligible under the new guidelines.

Via Housingwire.