From Gallup.Com: Four Years in, GOP Support for Tea Party Down Significantly to 41%

Will those running for national office see these numbers and start moderating their talk? AVB

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About four in 10 Republicans classify themselves as Tea Party supporters, while 11% are opponents and 48% are neither. This is a significant drop in support compared with 2010, when 61% of Republicans were supporters of the Tea Party.
Read more at GALLUP.com.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Those without health insurance drops dramatically in the US since the Affordable Care Act

It seems to me set the Affordable Care Act is doing exactly what it was designed to do. The term Obamacare will leave a legacy that the opponents of it will come to regret. AVB

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The percentage of U.S. adults without health insurance was 13.4% in April, compared with 15.6% in the first quarter of 2014 and 17.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013. The rate dropped most among blacks, Hispanics, and lower-income Americans. Read more at GALLUP.com

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Congress is selling out the Internet

We are about to lose the Internet as we know it. People of means we’ll be able to get faster service and leave the rest of us behind. AVB

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Do you buy books online, use Google, or download to an iPod? Everything we do online will be hurt if Congress passes a radical law next week that gives giant corporations more control over what we do and see on the Internet.

Internet providers like AT&T are lobbying Congress hard to gut Network Neutrality–the Internet’s First Amendment and the key to Internet freedom. Net Neutrality prevents AT&T from choosing which websites open most easily for you based on which site pays AT&T more. BarnesandNoble.com doesn’t have to outbid Amazon for the right to work properly on your computer.

If Net Neutrality is gutted, the voice of the little guy will be diminished online. Small businesses, activist groups, blogs, religious groups, and other everyday Internet users will never be able to outbid giant corporations for the right to have our websites open properly on people’s computers.

You can do your part today–can you sign this petition telling your member of Congress to preserve Internet freedom?
Please sign the petition to save the Internet

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Sen. Tim Kaine backs Hillary Clinton for president in 2016

The play begins, those in the first act are usually trying for a cabinet seat in the prospective White House administration. AVB

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Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (Va.), a close ally of President Obama’s who chaired the Democratic National Committee during the president’s first term, is throwing his support behind Hillary Rodham Clinton’s prospective presidential campaign on Saturday.
Full article at Washington Post

Update from Senator Tim Kaine:

In 2006, when I was serving as Governor of Virginia, I told my friend, then-Senator Barack Obama, that I would support him if he ran for president in 2008. I made my decision early because I figured that the sooner I started helping, the more helpful I would be. It was an historic effort that broke barriers and changed politics forever.

If Hillary Clinton decides to run for president in 2016, I know that she can achieve all that and more. The best thing for our country – our growing, diverse, dynamic, innovative country – is for us to do all we can to help Hillary Clinton get elected as our 45th President. I’ll be starting my fifth year in the Senate on Inauguration Day 2017, and she’s the partner I know I’ll want to be working with in the White House on all fronts.

But we can’t just cross our fingers and hope that she runs. There is too much at stake for that. Together, with one voice, we need to send a clear and unmistakable message that America is ready for Hillary.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

How to win at rock-paper-scissors

This is great stuff, tickles the inner geek in me.  AVB

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By James Morgan Science reporter, BBC News

2 May 2014
Easy as one-two-three… but winning is more complicated

What are your odds of winning rock-paper-scissors? Simple – one in three. At least, that’s what chance predicts.

But people do not play randomly – they follow hidden patterns that you can predict to win more games than you should, a study has revealed.

Winners tend to stick with their winning action, while losers tend to switch to the next action in the sequence “rock-paper-scissors”.

Anticipating these moves could give you a winning edge, say scientists.

Their strategy was revealed in a massive rock-paper-scissors tournament at Zhejiang University in China, documented on the Arxiv server.

Scientists recruited 360 students and divided them into groups of six. Each competitor played 300 rounds of rock-paper-scissors against other members of their group.

As an incentive, the winners were paid – in proportion to their number of victories.

To play smart, classical game theory suggests players should completely randomise their choices – to remain unpredictable and not be anticipated by opponents.

This pattern – where both players select rock, paper or scissors with equal probability in each round – is known as the Nash equilibrium.

The strategy is named after game theory pioneer John Forbes Nash Jr, subject of the 2001 Hollywood film A Beautiful Mind.
Game theory pioneer John Forbes Nash Jr was played by Russell Crowe in the film A Beautiful Mind

And indeed – in the Chinese tournament players in all groups chose each action about a third of the time, exactly as expected if their choices were random.

However, on closer inspection, the organisers noticed a surprising pattern of behaviour.

When players won a round, they tended to repeat their winning rock, paper or scissors more often than would be expected at random (one in three).

Hidden psychology

Losers, on the other hand, tended to switch to a different action. And they did so in order of the name of the game – moving from rock, to paper, to scissors.

After losing with a rock, for example, a player was more likely to play paper in the next round than the “one in three” rule would predict.

This “win-stay lose-shift” strategy is known in game theory as a conditional response – and it may be hard-wired into the human brain, the researchers say.

Anticipating this pattern – and thereby trumping your opponent – “may offer higher pay-offs to individual players” they write.

“The game of rock-paper-scissors exhibits collective cyclic motions which cannot be understood by the Nash equilibrium concept.

“Whether conditional response is a basic decision-making mechanism of the human brain or just a consequence of more fundamental neural mechanisms is a challenging question for future studies.”

Though it is only a simple game, rock-paper-scissors is seen as a useful model for studying competitive behaviour in humans – in financial trading for example.

A previous experiment found that players unconsciously mimic the actions of their opponents – a surprising result because advantage is usually gained by acting differently.

The Chinese scientists now plan to investigate the underlying psychology behind the seemingly irrational choices players make when competing.

In the meantime, anyone curious to test if their “winning strategy” really works need look no further than the UK championship.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read about our approach to external linking.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Obamacare enrollment may approach 18 million

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I believe, sometime soon, the opponents of this will hate the fact that they named it Obamacare. AVB
05/01/14 10:26 PM
By Geoffrey Cowley

Two weeks after the president delivered the health care headline of the year—Obamacare enrollment reaches 8 million—the administration has published the story behind it.

In an issue brief released Thursday afternoon, health officials confirmed that 8 million people selected private (“marketplace”) health plans through the state and federal insurance exchanges during the enrollment period that ran from October 1 through April 19. An additional 4.8 million enrolled in Medicaid during that period, and an estimated 5 million bought individual policies outside the exchanges. Together, the figures push the six-month total to nearly 18 million.

No one knows exactly how many of the new enrollees were previously uninsured—the early estimates vary widely—but the new report suggests the coverage is expanding. Among the 5.2 million people who requested subsidies through the federal exchange, only 13% (695,000) reported having health insurance when they applied. It could take two more years to tease out the law’s impact on insurance coverage, but a recent Gallup poll suggests the uninsured population shrank by more than a percentage point (from 17.3% to 16.1%) between December and January, continuing a six-month decline.

The health care landscape still varies dramatically by region, but the gains in coverage weren’t limited to blue states. Hostile state officials have worked actively to undermine Obamacare in Texas, Florida and Georgia, but they were among the dozen states where enrollments doubled in March, helping to push the national total 2 million beyond the projected 6 million.

The vast majority of new enrollees will get some help with the cost. Some 85% of the 8 million new marketplace enrollees qualified for tax credits to offset their premiums. The proportion was even higher (95%) among the 5.4 million who enrolled through the federal exchange that covers 36 states.

Marketplace health plans offer five levels of coverage—starting with “catastrophic” plans (low premiums, high cost-sharing) and topping out with “platinum” plans (high premiums, low cost-sharing), with bronze, silver and gold in-between. Silver was by far the most popular choice, commanding 65% of the overall market and 76% among consumers who qualified for subsidies in the federal exchange. The bias toward silver was especially strong among young adults, who make up 28% of enrollees.

The new report offers a preliminary breakdown of enrollment by race and ethnicity. The figures are admittedly sketchy, based on information volunteered by a subset of shoppers, but they suggest low participation among Latinos. African Americans make up 13.3% of the population eligible for marketplace health plans, but they accounted for 16.7% of enrollment. Latinos make up a larger share of the eligible population (14.5%), but they racked up a smaller share of enrollments (10.7%).

In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, federal officials said that the fear of deportation may have stunted participation among Latino families with mixed immigration status. Applications for marketplace plans include questions about citizenship, but government agencies use the information only to determine eligibility, not to identify and prosecute undocumented immigrants. Myra Alvarez, associate director of the HHS Office of Minority Health, said her agency would expand its outreach and education efforts between now and next fall’s enrollment period.

Republicans critics remain skeptical of the enrollment numbers, saying paid premiums are a better measure of success. True enough, but it’s too early to do that accounting. On Wednesday, House Republicans tried to undercut the enrollment figures by announcing that one-third of the new enrollees hadn’t paid their first premiums by April 15. However, payments weren’t yet due on the large number of plans selected during the surge at the end of the enrollment period, so even if that assessment is accurate, it’s all but meaningless.

“Together we are ensuring that health coverage is more accessible than ever before, which is important for families, for businesses and for the nation’s health and wellbeing,” outgoing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in releasing the Thursday’s report. This year’s numbers back that claim.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

US gains 288k jobs; jobless rate falls to 6.3 pct.

I believe a wise person once said “it’s the economy that maters stupid”. AVB

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. unemployment rate plunged in April to its lowest level since September 2008 as employers added 288,000 jobs, the most in two years.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil