Fighting the Insurance Company – Example of

After My Son Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, I Was Told Insurance Would Cover His Medical Bills. I Was Dead Wrong.

When RJ was discharged from the ICU after three weeks, he was transferred to a rehab facility. After he got there, they called me on the phone and said, “Your insurance company called and said RJ’s rehab benefits are up on Friday.”

I said, “No, no, no, no. That’s covered. I was told by my insurance company that this facility is covered for at least 60 days and possibly more. We have more time.”

But all I had was a voice on the phone. Without written proof, without the summary plan description, I couldn’t prove it. So when the rehab facility got another call from my insurance telling them these benefits had lapsed and I couldn’t prove otherwise, I went to the facility and I asked, “Where am I supposed to take him? He’s in a coma.” I remember a social worker telling me I could look into foster care.

Months passed, and I still couldn’t get the summary plan description. I kept calling my insurance company, and they’d be telling me my benefits, and I’d say, “You’re giving me information that you’re looking at. Give me, like, a screen grab of your computer screen.” But they wouldn’t do it. They kept telling me it was being “revised.”

I did some research, and I found out that under a law called ERISA—the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974—I was entitled to the details of my insurance policy.

So I called an ERISA lawyer and told him the situation, and he said, “I can help you, but you’re going to have to give me a retainer of $30,000.”

Stephanie Peirolo
First told at a show by the Moth, the live storytelling group, at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle

Readers digest: https://www.rd.com/true-stories/survival/when-insurance-stops-paying/

Stephanie Peirolo is executive director of the board of the Health Care Rights Initiative, a nonprofit providing advocacy and navigation services for patients and caregivers. This story was excerpted from All These Wonders.

Here Are the Urban Highways That Deserve to Die – City Lab

On one side of Interstate 980 in Oakland rise the new glass skyscrapers of the city’s Uptown neighborhood, home to a bustling entertainment district and Silicon Valley’s spillover tech startups. On the other lies West Oakland, a “food desert” where two-thirds of residents live below the poverty line.

West Oakland residents should be able to benefit from the growing number of amenities available in Uptown, since they technically live in walking distance. But crossing the 560-foot-wide interstate and two frontage roads is a daunting task. It’s a prime example of one of America’s most divisive freeways—literally.

CLAIRE TRAN APRIL 3, 2019
https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/04/urban-worst-freeway-without-future-teardown-demolition-list/584707/

The Great Empty – The New York Times

Today a different global calamity has made scarcity the necessary condition of humanity’s survival. Cafes along the Navigli in Milan hunker behind shutters along with the Milanese who used to sip aperos beside the canal. Times Square is a ghost town, as are the City of London and the Place de la Concorde in Paris during what used to be the morning rush.

The photographs here all tell a similar story: a temple in Indonesia; Haneda Airport in Tokyo; the Americana Diner in New Jersey. Emptiness proliferates like the virus.

The Times recently sent dozens of photographers out to capture images of once-bustling public plazas, beaches, fairgrounds, restaurants, movie theaters, tourist meccas and train stations. Public spaces, as we think of them today, trace their origins back at least to the agoras of ancient Greece. Hard to translate, the word “agora” in Homer suggested “gathering.” Eventually it came to imply the square or open space at the center of a town or city, the place without which Greeks did not really regard a town or city as a town or city at all, but only as an assortment of houses and shrines.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/03/23/world/coronavirus-great-empty.html

Coronavirus and mild winter helps Germany to reach 2020 climate target

Mild temperatures accompanied by strong winter storms have led to rising production levels from wind power farms amid a lower energy consumption for heating, the Berlin-based think-tank explained.

On top of that, the coronavirus crisis from mid-March on is likely to drive down emissions in the transport sector, as well as industry demand for power and natural gas.

“We currently expect emissions to decline by 40 to 45% [from 1990s levels],” Agora Energiewende director Patrick Graichen said.

rechargenews

My Words Were Taken Out of Context – Falwell Example

I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians…the A.C.L.U., People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, “You helped this happen.”
— Jerry Falwell, September 13th, on The 700 Club about last week’s terrorist attacks

I sincerely regret that comments I made…were taken out of their context.
—Jerry Falwell, September 14

Nine Possible Contexts:
1. “…NOT.”

2. “You know, I’m really high right now, so this may not make any sense, but…”

3. “Keeping in mind that today is Opposites Day, I emphasize that…”

4. “My son showed me this cool thing on Alta Vista, where you type something in English and then have the computer translate it into French and then into Spanish and then into German and then back to English—it’s kinda like ‘Telephone,’ you know?—and something that made sense at the beginning will come out sounding like…”

5. “If an infinite number of monkeys typed on an infinite number of typewriters, one of them would write…”

6. “I want to take a break from the grim events of this week, and salute the brave people who’ve spent years making America a better and more tolerant place. Who’s done this, who’s helped this happen? Well, I’ll tell you: …”

7. “An insane man off camera is pointing a gun at my head and forcing me to read this statement. Quote,…”

8. “Please join me in praying that, in the wake of this horrific tragedy, Christ’s message of peace will prevail, our entire country can unite in compassion, not aggression, and that no misguided person will state…”

9. “I truly believe that if Osama bin Laden had been born in America, right now he’d be saying…”

What Falwell Really Meant
Michael Gerber And Jonathan Schwarz
SEPTEMBER 18, 2001
Village Voice

Google Trends – Corona, Covid …

Helping Colorado Homeless – Covid Pandemic

“Corona Virus (COVID-19) puts people experiencing homelessness especially at-risk. At Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, our Stout Street Health Center staff are working diligently to provide services to our most vulnerable population during this crisis. We are in need of supplies for our staff and patients. Thank you for being a part of this effort! Shipping address: 2130 Stout St Denver, CO 80205 (Stout Street Health Center)”

Here’s their Amazon wishlist if you want to help out:
Amazon

Freakonomics, Andrew Yang Interview

YANG: Now, I studied economics. And according to my economics textbook, those displaced workers would get retrained, re-skilled, move for new opportunities, find higher-productivity work, the economy would grow. So everyone wins. The market, invisible hand has done its thing. So then I said, “Okay, what actually happened to these four-million manufacturing workers?” And it turns out that almost half of them left the workforce and never worked again. And then half of those that left the workforce then filed for disability, where there are now more Americans on disability than work in construction, over 20 percent of working-age adults in some parts of the country.

DUBNER: So the former manufacturing workers, a lot of them are on disability, a lot of them are also — especially if they’re younger men — they’re spending 25 to 40 hours a week playing video games.

YANG: Yeah so it did not say in my textbook, half of them will leave the workforce never to be heard from again. Half of them will file for disability and then another significant percentage will start drinking themselves to death, start committing suicide at record levels, get addicted to opiates to a point where now eight Americans die of opiates every hour. When you say, “Am I for automation and artificial intelligence and all these fantastic things?” of course I am. I mean, we might be able to do things like cure cancer or help manage climate change more effectively. But we also have to be real that it is going to displace millions of Americans.

People are not infinitely adaptable or resilient or eager to become software engineers, or whatever ridiculous solution is being proposed. And it’s already tearing our country apart by the numbers, where our life expectancy has declined for the last two years because of a surge in suicides and drug overdoses around the country. None of this was in my textbook. But if you look at it, that’s exactly what’s happening. The fantasists — and they are so lazy and it makes me so angry, because people who are otherwise educated are literally wave their hands and be like, “Industrial Revolution, 120 years ago. Been through it before,” and, man, if someone came into your office and pitched you in an investment in a company based on a fact pattern from 120 years ago, you’d freakin’ throw them out of your office so fast.

freakonomics

Supermax – “Alcatraz of the Rockies”

Before entering ADX, Powers had no history or symptoms of mental illness, but since being installed there, he has become deranged and has engaged in numerous acts of self-mutilation, including amputating his testicle and scrotum, biting off his finger and trying to kill himself on several occasions.

To give you an idea of why a previously sane person would lapse into madness at ADX, you need look no further than the circumstances of their confinement. ADX was designed to ensure the total isolation of all its prisoners, who are held in cells about the size of an average toilet. The cells have thick, concrete soundproof walls, a door with bars and a second door made of solid steel. The only possible means of communicating with other humans is to yell into the toilet bowl and hope that someone may hear. The inmates are kept in their cell 24/7 for two days each week. On the other five days, they may get to spend approximately one hour in a similarly-sized cage for what is laughingly referred to as “outdoor” recreation.

US ‘supermax’ prison is condemned internationally for its abusive regime
Sadhbh Walshe, September 2012, guardian

Build a better bus stop

Time spent waiting for a bus feels even longer when there’s no place to sit or get out of the rain. I mean that literally: A study from the University of Minnesota found that a five-minute wait at an exposed, “pole-in-the-ground” bus stop will seem like a 13-minute wait. If the transit agency simply offers a bench and some kind of roof, perceived wait time falls to 7.5 minutes.

As Pedestrian Observation’s Alon Levy has noted, the price of such a bus shelter is only around $15,000. That makes them a cost-effective way of making bus trips seem faster, even if a transit agency lacks the resources to increase service frequency. And it is perception that drives human behavior.

VIA, San Antonio’s transit agency, spent $12 million to build 1,000 bus shelters from 2014 to 2017. Correlation is not causation, but the steep decline in VIA’s ridership began to taper off at around the same time the program began, and in 2019 bus ridership grew in San Antonio — bucking national trends.

4 Cheap Ways To Make Urban Transportation Better
David Zipper, CityLab

Gerrymandering, example of

Texas’ 35th district from assholedesign

ghalta
Austin is the largest city in the country that doesn’t have a congressional district centered in/on it, but is instead split into five congressional districts – 21 that stretches out into the hill country, 25 that reaches up into the DFW suburbs, 17 that includes Waco, 10 that stretches to the Houston suburbs, and 35 shown above. The goal of the Republican-dominated legislature that created these districts was openly and intentionally to dilute the influence of Austin’s liberal voters in electing the Texas congressional delegation. In 2018, for example, Democrats won about 47% of the overall state’s congressional vote, but only won 13 of the state’s 36 districts thanks to gerrymandering such as above.

Bounty1Berry
I could see odd shapes if the goals were to try to have approximate equality of population, to follow landmarks like rivers and highways, and to minimize splitting of other government entities (cities/counties) across districts.