" /> Coruscation: December 2012 Archives

« November 2012 | Main | January 2013 »

December 30, 2012

there is growing recognition that the true cost of disruptions, in terms of gasoline lines, lost workdays and business sales, and shivering homeowners, is far higher than the simple dollars to protect the power system.

There is growing recognition that the true cost of disruptions, in terms of gasoline lines, lost workdays and business sales, and shivering homeowners, is far higher than the simple dollars and cents spent to protect the power system. A recent report from the National Academy of Sciences about the vast 2003 blackout in the Eastern United States determined that the economic cost of that disruption was about 50 times higher than the price of the actual electricity lost, and that didn't take into account deaths or other human consequences.

"We need to think now of not just restoring the grid, but how to make it more survivable," said Philip B. Jones, president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, a trade association of state officials. "I think most commissioners are coming around to that."

December 29, 2012

Why more talk of excesses that inadequacies ?

The most outrageous aspects of the show -- its copious nudity, grinding simulations, exceptionally blue language -- tend to overshadow both its social importance and the sweet, rather innocent messages about sex at its core. The revue ran during a time when ideologies from the 1960s sexual revolution were being absorbed into the American mainstream: second-wave feminism and the post-Stonewall gay rights movement both were in full swing.

The sexual revolution, women's liberation and gay activism were all enormously complicated, influential, interconnected movements that meant countless different things to as many different people. Reactions to the changing times ran the gamut from sheer joy on one hand to confusion, anger, and fear on the other.

A friendly, inclusive show like "My People" proved just the ticket for the time. Audiences likely came to the Village Gate to ogle naked actors and guffaw at crude sex jokes, but the show ended up offering much more: surprisingly touching songs and sketches about intimacy, women's rights, gay life, lesbian love, all presented as fun, healthy and just not that big a deal. The show could be enjoyed by those who had unflinchingly embraced the era of sexual liberation, but it proved just as appealing to the many spectators who were tentative -- shyer, conservative, confused -- and yet eager to learn, at a safe distance, what all the fuss was about.

The excesses might have died away, but the 1970s left us with lasting, meaningful change: more rights for women; a better understanding of sexuality; enormous strides in the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights.

Let My People Come" will be revived this winter for eight Fridays at the Underground, a bar just south of Columbia University. According to the producer, John Forslund, the original lyrics and sketches will be revised and updated

-- Elizabeth L. Wollman, an assistant professor at Baruch College, is the author of "Hard Times: The Adult Musical in 1970s New York City" (Oxford University Press).

December 27, 2012

Design for twitter favico, not fax legibility in 2013

University brands have to look fresh and new, not only to impress prospective donors but also so they can translate well on the multiple platforms their logos will live on -- including mobile phones, Web sites and tablets, Mr. Simon said. "The old standard used to be for a designer, 'Does it fax?' " Mr. Simon said. "Now it's, 'Does it work as a Twitter icon?' "

-- U Cal newlogo

December 24, 2012

Financial crisis due to more than mortgages

This Mark Adelson article proposes the following deeper
causes beyond US mortgages: securities firms converting from partnerships to corporations, the 30-year trend of
deregulation, the quant movement, the spread of risk-taking culture through the financial
industry, and globalization.

December 23, 2012

Autism: more treatable than billable ?

But a part of Ms. Lorri Unumb's job these days is to assist parents with appeals where employers have said no or appear likely to. She has accompanied parents to meetings with their human resources departments all over the country to request that the employer expand coverage for everyone. She has a 115-page presentation that she draws on, pointing out that at its core, autism is a medical condition diagnosed by a doctor, the very thing health insurance is supposed to cover.

At $60,000 or more annually for children with particularly acute treatment needs, the coverage does not come cheaply. But Autism Speaks estimates that that expense, spread over thousands of employees, raises premium costs 31 cents a month.

Ms. Unumb notes that for many autistic children, intensive early intervention can allow them to function in mainstream classrooms and prevent a host of problems there and once they finish school. "You pay for it now or you pay for it later," she said. "And you pay for it a lot more if you choose later, in more ways than just financial."

Autistic children can benefit from an intensive treatment called applied behavior analysis, but many insurance companies haven't wanted to cover what can be a $60,000 or $70,000 annual cost. They claim that the treatment, which can include intensive one-on-one interaction and assistance with both basic and more complex skills, is either too experimental or an educational service that schools should provide. This can be a tricky area for parents to navigate, because it isn't always clear which part of an overall health insurance policy ought to cover various possible treatments.

A law school professor named Lorri Unumb faced a bill that big several years ago when her son Ryan was found to be autistic and she discovered that her insurance would not pay for treatment. After moving to South Carolina and meeting families there who had not been able to afford the therapy, she spent two years persuading state legislators to pass a law that forced insurance companies to pay for the treatment. "I did not really know how to write a bill," she said. "I had watched 'Schoolhouse Rock' before, and that was kind of my inspiration and guidance."

Autism Speaks, a national advocacy organization, saw what she accomplished and hired her to barnstorm the country in an effort to get similar laws passed. There are now 32 states that have them, though there's a crucial catch: they don't apply to the many large employers who pool their own resources in so-called self-funded insurance plans.

If you work in such a company, it may be up to you to lobby your human resources department to cover applied behavioral analysis or whatever mental health therapy you or your child may need. Sometimes a personal appeal will succeed; Mr. Kaplan, the benefits consultant, noted that when a parent called about a child, an employer might be particularly sensitive.

According to a 2008 American Psychological Association survey, 85 percent of the 2,200 respondents who said they worked at least part time in private practice received at least some third-party payments for their services. That doesn't mean they take your insurance, though.

Nor does it guarantee that they or other mental health practitioners are anywhere near you or have any imminent openings for appointments. This can be a challenge for people who live far from major cities or big medical centers and need treatment for mental illnesses like severe depression or schizophrenia or disorders like autism.

But it is a particular problem for parents of autistic children who need specialized treatment that is relatively new or that not many people are trained to do. Amanda Griffiths, who lives in Carlisle, Pa., and is the mother of two autistic boys, called 17 providers within two hours of her home before finding one who was qualified to evaluate her younger son and was accepting new patients his age.

"No amount of insurance is going to magically make a provider appear," she said.

And it remains a struggle to persuade insurance companies and employers to cover treatment that is new or expensive, even if it's likely to be effective. Ira Burnim, legal director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, points to something called assertive community treatment, a team-based approach that has proved useful for adults with severe mental illness and holds promise for children, too. There, the challenge is to define what kinds of interaction with a patient outside of an office setting is billable and write rules for coverage.

December 10, 2012

Overdramatize the work of lexicographers ?

While the creators of dictionaries could certainly do a better job explaining to the public what it is they do, I have a feeling that news outlets looking to drum up outrage will continue to overdramatize the work of lexicographers. There is a ready-made audience out there for such stories, no doubt because language is something with which we are all deeply engaged. But the language-loving public deserves to know that dictionaries are not made by cloak-and-dagger cabals full of deep, dark secrets. Don't misjudge the harmless drudge.

Ben Zimmer, a former On Language columnist for The New York Times Magazine, is the executive producer of VisualThesaurus.com and Vocabulary.com.

December 8, 2012

Real estate recovery in diversified cities.

Q. How would you categorize 2012?

A. Coming out of the recession the big gateway cities were the ones that performed best. That included New York, Washington, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. That's where investors were willing to take risks. You had diverse employment base, better leased buildings, less risk of a double-dip micro recession.

So that's where we were -- and 2012 was a continuation of that.

Apartments were the darling real estate subsector. But what happened in 2012 was we saw apartment cap rates get too low in some of those markets -- south of 5 percent -- and so investors were looking to invest outside apartments and outside the gateway cities. We started seeing in 2012 an interest in the office asset class, the industrial asset class, and a little bit more interest in retail.

Q. Are there regions of the country where you see future growth?

A. The other 45 markets that are covered in our investors survey look like that's where all the opportunities are -- whether it be Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Texas markets like Austin, Houston and Dallas; Seattle; and Denver.

None of them is radically overbuilt from an office or apartment perspective. What's also interesting is those markets have a high percentage of echo boomers in their population -- the 25- to 34-year-olds. That's who's going to buy a house in the future, who's going to work in an office or retail or warehouse, or shop in retail

Mitchell Roschelle, 51, is national practice leader and a founder of the real estate advisory practice of the American unit of the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

December 2, 2012

Rowing technique by Concept 2

1 The Recovery

Extend your arms until they straighten.
Lean your upper body forward to the one o'clock position.
Once your hands and the oar handle have cleared your knees, allow your knees to bend and gradually slide the seat forward on the monorail.

2 The Catch

Arms are straight; head is neutral; shoulders are level and not hunched.
Upper body is at the one o'clock position--shoulders in front of hips.
Shins are vertical and not compressed beyond the perpendicular.
Balls of the feet are in full contact with the footplate.

3 The Drive

With straight arms and while maintaining the position of the upper body at one o'clock, exert pressure on the foot plate and begin pushing with your legs.
As your legs approach straight, lean the upper body back to the eleven o'clock position and draw the hands back to the lower ribs in a straight line.

4 The Finish

Legs are extended and handle is held lightly at your lower ribs.
Upper body is at the eleven o'clock position--slightly reclined with good support from your core muscles.
Head is in a neutral position.
Neck and shoulders are relaxed, and arms are drawn past the body with flat wrists.

via Concept 2