Friday, October 31, 2014

WAGES UP, UNEMPLOYMENT IN CITIES DOWN

All the economic news seems to be good, but according to the media and polls, people don't recognize it.  Perhaps it is too recent for them.

Wages gains are now confirmed to be the best since 2008 (http://www.cnbc.com/id/102140846?trknav=homestack:topnews:20)

Unemployment in one-third of the cities is below 5%: (http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2014/10/29/jobless-rate-below-5-in-nearly-one-third-of-u-s-metro-areas/?mod=djemRTE_h)

Consumer Sentiment Index is up: https://www.conference-board.org/data/consumerconfidence.cfm  The index surged to a score of 94.5 in October, up from 89.0 in September.

For other economic news see: http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/10/employment-and-consumer-sentiment.html; http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/10/consumers-are-better-off-finally.html

Thursday, October 30, 2014

THE GREAT AMERICAN NON-CRISIS - EBOLA VS THE FLU

As the current hysteria, fanned by the media, moves to quarantine health workers with no Ebola symptoms, I presume people are dying from the flu or flu related causes like pneumonia, but is the shot mix designed  last February working?  Did they guess right?  I did hear one news flash some time ago that the flu season arrived early this year.

Now we have some answers after nearly one month of  the 2014-2015 flu season that officially started September 28 (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/).  There has been one pediatric death recorded so far (in the previous season, there were 109 pediatric deaths reported for the whole season). It was in North Carolina, but we are still in the beginning of the flu season and not yet in the peak period for ILI symptoms  occurs as early as early December (2012-2013) to as late as late February (2010-2011) (http://www.flu.nc.gov/data/) though the 2009-2010 flu season peak for happened early and had already occurred by October 23rd.



 Note that the 2010-2011 ILI visits is missing from the figure above.

 Figure: Annual ILI trends from the Influenza-Like Illness Network (ILNet) for 2010-2015.  Note that the 2009-2010 year is missing from the above figure.






Friday, October 24, 2014

DEATHS FROM DOMESTIC AND "FOREIGN" CAUSES

I have long been fascinated by how we Americans view deaths - those we seem to overlook and those that make us hysterical.

First consider deaths from causes domestically.  For example consider guns.  There were just over 11,000 homicides by guns in the U.S. in each of 2010 and 2011,* over 18,000 suicides and 700-800 accidental deaths; yet we do next to nothing to regulate guns.  The final figure for gun deaths in 2011 for all catagories is 32,351.**  Then there are automobiles.  In 2011, the final figure for automobile deaths is 33,783.**   Those who have had life changing injuries from automobile accidents must outstrip that large number.  Automobile deaths are down markedly from their all-time high owing to increased safety features; yet this remaining huge figure is tolerated with calm.  Lastly I'll mention flu.  Flu strains often are imported from foreign sources, but, because there is a flu season every year, we consider the flu to be a domestic disease and don't seem to pay much attention to flu related deaths.  In a good year, the number of flu related deaths may be as low as 3,000 or as high as 49,000 (!) in a bad year.***  Yes, there is some attention made of deaths from these domestic sources, but it certainly is not hysterical.

Now consider the reactions of Americans to a small number of deaths from foreign sources.  We are terrified of any deaths from terrorism on U.S. soil.  We want our privacy but we demand there be no deaths from terrorism, not one.  We opposed staying involved militarily in Iraq until two American reporters were shown being decapitated by ISIS in Syria after which hysteria ensued.  All of a sudden attitudes changed to wanting to return to war in Iraq.  Up to 70% of those polled favored air strikes.  In a poll reported by Fox News, 52%  of Americans favor returning ground troops to Iraq if air strikes should not be enough versus 42% who oppose using ground forces.****  Among Republicans 66% favor sending ground forces versus 29% who oppose using ground forces if air strikes prove to be insufficient.

Then consider the hysterical reaction of Americans to Ebola, unlike the flu a "foreign" disease.  We have saturation coverage by the news media on a case by case basis.  Even though we were assured that Ebola is hard to get, a super hysteria has occurred, stimulated by some heath care officials getting Ebola who were handling patients with the disease in Africa and one patient in the U.S. who handled a dead person in Africa.  People apparently discontinued air travel trips.  Some worried whether it is safe to live in New York.  They didn't believe the experts that the disease is hard to get.  This has unbelievably become a political issue.  Not even the fact that none of the Duncan family (the man who acquired Ebola in Africa) has come down with Ebola nor have more than 50 others that he had contact with seems to have eased the hysteria.

What a contrast!  We accept deaths from guns, automobiles and the flu with equanimity, but lose our sanity over something we consider "foreign."

P.S. Both nurses exposed to Duncon in Texas are now pronounced Ebola free.  The reaction to a physcian in New York, who had been treating patients with Ebola, has come down with the disease, but the news media hasn't been able to stir up as much hysteria over it though they incorrectly announced he had a temperature of 103 degrees when actually it was 100.3.

* http://usconservatives.about.com/od/capitalpunishment/a/Putting-Gun-Death-Statistics-In-Perspective.htm
** http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/injury.htm
*** http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/us_flu-related_deaths.htm
**** http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/fox-news-poll-majority-supports-ground-troops-to-battle-isis-if-airstrikes-not/

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MONICA LEWINSKY - AGAIN

So Monica Lewsinsky is in the news again.  You know, the young woman who flipped her blouse up so that womanizer Bill Clinton could see her bra strap that left him salivating.  Clinton survived his affair with her and being only the second president to be impeached, but Monica hasn't fared very well.  Didn't her mother ever tell her the "The woman always pays?" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Lewinsky)

What I would have done in a similar situation, I really don't know.  I have a saying that "Untested Virtue Is No Virtue At All,"  and I never had pretty young women come on to me.

I heard a large excerpt of what she said, and it was pretty good so far as it went.  She didn't say she regretted getting a President impeached and ruining the last years of his presidency.  But the acts themselves were not all that bad (Though what they did sounded ugly in print, apparently they never had intercourse.).  Her real sin was that she had to blab about her affair.  It used to be that women kept their mouths shut if they managed to have a affair with the President, but she just had to tell an enemy of the President.  Today is different, women tell.

I knew from the beginning that Clinton was a womanizer, but I thought he wanted to accomplish some things enough that he would keep his pants zipped.  In this I was wrong, it was like handing a recovering alcoholic a martini.  Irresistible.  And there were those other woman who couldn't forgive Hillary for not divorcing the SOB, though I suppose there were others who understood and who also had remained in a marriage in spite of infidelity.

At the time, there were others with Salvic names in the news, like Ted Kaczynski who didn't like modern technolgy and bombed technologists.  I put Lewinsky and Kaczynski in a poem called "the Balkenization Of America (http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-balkanization-of-america-poem.html).

For awhile it was lots of fun.  In case you have forgotten, for example there was Henry Hyde*, who led the impeachment hearing in the House, who had to admit to a multi-year "youthful indiscretion in his 40s" with a married woman.  And then there was Rep. Helen Chenowith of Idaho, a viscous critic of Presidnet Clinton's behavior, who admitted to a six-year affair with a married man ( "I've asked for God's forgiveness, and I've received it." ).**  Dan Burton had to admit to even fathering a child out of wedlock.***  Lastly, there was Rep. Bob Livingston incoming Speaker of the House who resigned even before he took office due to four known affairs, one within the last three or four years.***

*  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Hyde
** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Chenoweth-Hage
*** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Burton
**** http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/livingston121998.htm

THE BALKANIZATION OF AMERICA (POEM)

Lewinsky,
Kaczynski,
I don’t want either agin'st me.
With bombs, technologists does he blow?
In a biblical sense, did the President this young woman know?
Is blowing up people now just swell?
Is it all right to kiss and tell?
Did the President deflower this innocent virgin?
Or was it right to stop the technology burgeon?
What gives with these confusing Slavic names
Who play all those weird and dangerous games?

1998


A very young American Olympics skating gold medalist at age 15 is
Tara Lipinski, which brings to mind a couplet:

How can anyone so short and slight
Do figure skating so out of sight.

Also Monica Lewinsky’s mother’s maiden name is:

Marcia VILENSKY.

Friday, October 17, 2014

EBOLA AND THE FLU

The news media is trying their best to whip the public into hysteria over the two nurses who apparently have come down with Ebola.  I listen to the Ebola news just long enough to hear if there is anything new.  There isn't except that the first nurse is now in good condition.  No one outside the medical profession in the U.S. has come down with Ebola, though I guess we await developments on the journey to Cleveland by the second nurse.  We may yet close all air traffic to the infected African countries.

In the meantime many hundreds of children have come down with envirovirus and one child has died, which is as many as have died from Ebola in the U.S., yet the new media seems immune to this development.  If you Google envirovirus, you only get reports up front from last September.  So far as I am concerned, Ebola in this country is a non-issue, as of now.

There is also the little matter of this year's flu epidemic, something I feel is far more important than Ebola (http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/flu-season-coming-early-and-hitting-hard/37803/):

"The H3N2 strain tends to affect the elderly population more severely and a season with predominant H3N2 activity typically leads to more hospitalization and deaths.
..........................................................
Another difficulty with the flu vaccine is the time required for its mass production. Vaccine strains are chosen in advance, sometimes as early as February. While experts do their best to predict the pattern of the viral strains, often the strains contained in the vaccines end up having an almost insignificant effect on the flu season.
"


So, although I did get a flu shot, I and many others, particularly at continuing care facilities, may still be exposed.  All it would take is someone in the kitchen handling food to come to work or a visitor with the flu and have it run rampant through the membership.  Time will tell what happens.  Symptoms of seasonal flu are:  fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and muscle aches.
The following is excerpted from a CDC report (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2014-2015.htm):

Is there treatment for the flu?

Yes. If you get sick, there are drugs that can treat flu illness. They are called antiviral drugs and they can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They also can prevent serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia. For more information about antiviral drugs, visit Treatment (Antiviral Drugs).

What is antiviral resistance?

Antiviral resistance means that a flu virus has changed in such a way that antiviral drugs are less effective. Samples of flu viruses collected from around the United States and worldwide are studied at CDC to determine if they are becoming resistant to any of the FDA-approved influenza antiviral drugs.):

EMPLOYMENT AND CONSUMER SENTIMENT PICTURE

New applications for unemployment are at a 14-yr low, lowest since 2000.*  This does not necessarily say that the employment picture is equally as good.  What it may be saying is that layoffs are down, but hiring is not necessarily up.  Consumer sentiment is the highest since 2007.**  All signs are of an improving economy and optimism:  optimists now edge pessimists (though a plurality of those who don't know still dominates), wages and job openings doing well, the U-6 (unemployed plus underemployed) is decreasing nicely, though still above the "all time low" set in April of 2006.***

Yet, many people feel that the recovery has not reached them.  A reason for this may have been shown on Meet The Press (October 5, 2014), communities along the north-south interstate highways are doing well and those farther away are either doing less well or are even falling behind.  I have been unable to locate the figure so I'll quote a bit of the text that gives an example:

"Well, because the road to recovery is taking different routes. And that could mean trouble for Democrats in November. Let me show you another graphic and a map. Along the major interstates running north to south in the U.S., the fives, communities close to those highways are in the economic fast lane. These are the mostly urban areas that do favor Democrats, where economies are thriving and people are actually heading back into the job market at a rapid pace.
Much more rapidly than in rural America, farther away from those interstates. In fact, take a look right here in Washington D.C., along the I-95 corridor. From July 2010 to July 2014, the unemployment rate dropped nearly two points. And 35,000 more people felt encouraged enough to actually go into the job market.
150 miles to the southeast though, in rural Gloucester County, Virginia, the unemployment rate also dropped less than a point. But that was simply because nearly 1,200 fewer people are actually out there looking for work. Let's go to I-35 in Iowa, in Polk County, home to Des Moines. Not only was there a drop in the unemployment rate of two points, but 4,700 more people actually are in the job market."****


* http://www.cnbc.com/id/102092928?trknav=homestack:topnews:15
  http://www.cnbc.com/id/102096833?trknav=homestack:topnews:1
*** http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/10/consumers-are-better-off-finally.html; http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/10/economy-job-openings-doing-well.html; http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/10/unemployment-underemployment-rate-u-6.html
**** http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meet-press-transcript-october-5-2014-n218796