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Supernova's Journal
Posted by supernova in Latest Breaking News
Mon Sep 20th 2010, 05:16 PM
Source: WRAL.Com

RALEIGH, N.C. — Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina said Monday that it would refund $155.8 million to 215,000 policyholders because of the national health reform effort.

Brad Wilson, chief executive of Blue Cross, the state's largest insurer, said the refunds would be issued by the end of the year to people who had individual Blue Advantage or Blue Options HSA policies on March 23, the date when President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 into law.

"This is not necessarily in response to any criticism. It's simply the right thing to do," Wilson said. "A new law was enacted, new rules are in force, change is in the air."

Refunds will be equivalent to a little less than two months of premiums, meaning the average policyholder who pays a $380 monthly premium would receive about $690 back, he said.


Average is $380/mo? I haven't seen that since at least 10 years ago.

But good news about the refund nonetheless.
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Posted by supernova in Latest Breaking News
Mon Aug 23rd 2010, 10:26 AM
Source: The New Yorker

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.


The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, “The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven’t been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement.” With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, “everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there—people who can provide real ideological power.” The Kochs, he said, are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.”

A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud—and they’re our candidates!”


Oddly enough, the fiercely capitalist Koch family owes part of its fortune to Joseph Stalin. Fred Koch was the son of a Dutch printer who settled in Texas and ran a weekly newspaper. Fred attended M.I.T., where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. In 1927, he invented a more efficient process for converting oil into gasoline, but, according to family lore, America’s major oil companies regarded him as a threat and shut him out of the industry. Unable to succeed at home, Koch found work in the Soviet Union...

Read more:

Hardcopy edition for August 30.

It's always good to know who's pulling the conservative strings. Do we even have anything like these two on our side?

edit: Even though the article says "war against Obama" their war is really with all of us on the left side of the political spectrum and all we wish to accomplish with government and affecting our lives through policy for the better.
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Posted by supernova in Latest Breaking News
Wed Jun 30th 2010, 03:25 PM
Source: Independent Weekly

*Chocolate syrup masquerading as oil

N.C. is central to MMS's proposed five-year leasing plan

There is a place in the sea 45 miles northeast of Cape Hatteras brimming with so much life that at depths beyond the sunlight's reach the water is illuminated by colorful ocean creatures and fish.

Known as the Point, it is one of the most valuable and biodiverse areas of the Atlantic. Here, the cold northern Labrador Current meets the warm southern Gulf Stream and the mingling creates a parfait of marine life: swordfish, sharks, endangered sea turtles and large, iconic sea mammals such as dolphins and whales. Rare sea birds dive in the water for food.

The Point is also valuable because of what has died there. Over millions of years, plants and sea creatures perished. They were buried beneath layers of sediment and rock, which acted like a pressure cooker and eventually created deposits of oil and gas.

North Carolina's coastline—the second largest on the Eastern Seaboard—contributes to the state's economic and environmental wealth. But its trove of resources, including potential oil and gas deposits located offshore, also leave North Carolina vulnerable.

Read more:

This is a disaster waiting to happen.

Mods: The first sentence is a subtitle.
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Posted by supernova in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Jun 07th 2010, 11:58 AM
The first poll I did yesterday was strictly about unemployment.

This poll is for those who have had to make other arrangements, rather than the career you thought you had planned for. Again it's divided by age group.

underemployed means you found a job of some description: hourly, P/T . You might get grocery and gas money out of it, but it's not a future you can believe in.

6 months means 6 months or less.

6+ months means over 6 months.

If I get enough responses to these polls it might be interesting to plot them on a graph.

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Posted by supernova in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Jun 06th 2010, 09:02 PM
There's been a lot of discussion this weekend about longterm unemployment.

I wanted to do a little demographic survey.
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Posted by supernova in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed May 19th 2010, 12:29 PM
Disclaimer: I'm a Duke fan, but props to UNC!!

Seven months ago, UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp advised students from the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign that in pressing the university to reduce its reliance on coal, "you might wish to consider working with campuses not as advanced as ours."

Instead of heeding his advice, the persistent students forced UNC to prove exactly how advanced it is.

Last week, Thorp stood with those same students atop a grass-covered solar-paneled campus parking deck, and UNC became the first university to announce plans to end its coal use since the Sierra Club targeted 60 universities to do just that last September.

.... In 10 years, UNC will stop burning coal at its Cogeneration Plant in favor of woody biomass and natural gas. The university will also explore solar options.

Previously the university had committed to going carbon neutral by 2050 but hadn't set a firm date for getting off coal.


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Posted by supernova in Science
Tue May 18th 2010, 08:43 AM
This is a compilation of the weird, the odd and the downright strange to come across NASA and Russian space missions.

I don't think we're being visited by our little green, bug-eyed friends, but it is fun to look at these and think, "What is that?!?"
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Posted by supernova in Latest Breaking News
Fri Apr 02nd 2010, 03:33 PM

NEW ORLEANS — Thousands of U.S. homes tainted by Chinese drywall should be completely gutted, according to new guidelines released Friday by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The guidelines say electrical wiring, outlets, circuit breakers, fire alarm systems, carbon monoxide alarms, fire sprinklers, gas pipes and drywall need to be removed.

"We want families to tear it all out and rebuild the interior of their homes, and they need to start this to get their lives started all over again," said Inez Tenenbaum, chairwoman of the commission, the federal agency charged with making sure consumer products are safe.

About 3,000 homeowners, mostly in Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, have reported problems with the Chinese-made drywall, which was imported in large quantities during the housing boom and after a string of Gulf Coast hurricanes.


As if having an upside down mortgage wasn't enough.

I have an older home but I have remodeling projects in the works and I have become super paranoid about sourcing materials.
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Posted by supernova in Latest Breaking News
Tue Mar 30th 2010, 03:15 PM
Source: Washington Post Blog

By Dan Eggen

The staffer fired by the Republican National Committee for authorizing a $2,000 payment for a night out at a bondage-themed club was the head of the Young Eagles, a GOP program aimed at cultivating major donors under 45 years old, Republicans familiar with the details of the case said Tuesday.

Allison Meyers, the Young Eagles director, asked the RNC to reimburse a GOP consultant for the costs of a Jan. 31 after-party event for young Republicans at Voyeur in West Hollywood, Calif., which features topless female dancers wearing bondage gear and simulating sex acts. Meyers' identity was first reported by the National Journal's Hotline.

The disbursement of money for the Voyeur gathering has become a major embarrassment for the RNC and its high-profile chairman, Michael S. Steele, at a time when the GOP is hoping to capitalize on an energized conservative base for this year's midterm elections. The RNC acknowledged late Monday it had fired an unnamed staffer over the affair, but spokesman Doug Heye declined to comment Tuesday on whether Meyers was the staffer who was let go.

The trip to Voyeur took place after an official RNC Young Eagles dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel attended by about 50 young Republican donors, according to the RNC and other officials. Hotline, citing several unidentified sources, said Meyers organized both the official RNC event and the after-party at the club. About a dozen young Republicans, including Meyers, attended the Voyeur gathering, GOP officials said.

Read more:

Oh, this just gets better and better. I'm limited to four paras, but keep reading down on YR fundraising.

edit: Does anyone honestly think that it will go no further than firing a young program director?
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Posted by supernova in The DU Lounge
Thu Feb 11th 2010, 01:51 PM
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Posted by supernova in Science
Sun Jan 10th 2010, 01:00 PM
I found this last night before I went to bed and saved it for today since I love reading about art, history, anthropology, cultural history and the like on Sunday afternoons. Enjoy!

One of the most perplexing mysteries that Egyptologists and Aegean experts are tackling is that of the frescoes of Tell el-Dab'a, also known as Avaris.

This site was used as the capital of the Hyksos, at a time when they ruled much of Egypt, from 1640 – 1530 BC. It is on the Nile Delta and would have provided access to the Sinai, Levant and southern Egypt.

The site appears to have been abandoned for a time after the Hyksos were driven out. However, by the end of the 18th dynasty (when the Egyptians were back in control of their land), the site was in use and sported with three – yes three – large palaces. They were ringed by an enclosure wall. The whole complex was about 5.5 hectares in size.

There is no question that the frescoes at Tell el-Dab'a are Aegean influencedNow here’s the mystery –
Two of those palaces were decorated, for a very short period of time, with Minoan frescoes. These include drawings of bull-leaping scenes – which are well known from the Palace of Knossos in Crete.


edit: Here's a pic (computer generated for clarity):

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Posted by supernova in Career Help and Advice Group
Sat Jan 09th 2010, 03:41 PM
I want to switch my career from technical writing (IMO, it is on the wane here) to having a green job. I'm thinking more along the lines of being a green consultant... giving people the means, methods, knowledge to reduce energy use, choosing sustainable materials for building, etc. Exploring the drawbacks and bennies of alternative energies.

I think my apptitude for technical subjects and translating them for the less technically inclined would suit me well here. I'm thinking though that residential and small businesses would me audience. I'm not sure that large enterprises would be open to me.

I am willing to get training and certification for this area, since I don't have a professional background in building or anything construction related. Though I do have some personal background.

But I don't know of any such "green" training program. Do any of you? Alternatively, if you had to design such a program, what would you include?
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Posted by supernova in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Dec 28th 2009, 03:48 PM

Wow, I could so see myself doing that.

Thanks for the info dixiegirrrrl.
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Posted by supernova in North Carolina
Thu Dec 10th 2009, 07:15 PM
I read an article in The Independent saying that the new RW members were meeting in secret and pretty much threatening to implement policy changes, like doing away with the magnet system, without due process.

Then I come home and find this article on the WRAL web site about two groups, pro and con, who are going to protest next Tuesday evening.

Meeting next Tuesday promising to show some fireworks. Anybody going?
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