Who is Publishing Scientific Research — By Country

Interesting to see the scientific enterprise compared across the globe. Only surprise for me was the small contribution from Russia.

All About Grants

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I just read a piece on what MLK did, not what he said, but what he actually did.  It was astounding; and shocking to me that I had forgotten the immensity of what he accomplished.




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“Tough Guy” Foreign Policy — the Myth Exposed

Although I missed last night’s presidential candidate debate, I am guessing that Romney played the “get tough” card, and talked once again about “not apologizing” for America.  Am I right?  A classic example of toughness in foreign policy is alleged to be when Kennedy went eyeball to eyeball with Khrushchev and made him blink and forced the freighters with nuclear warheads on their way to Cuba to turn around. It was called “brinkmanship” by academics and pundits — something to celebrate, a high risk, high gain game that is won by the toughest, most steadfast player.  In the game of chicken someone (the weakest?) swerves to avoid the collision.

I remember a comical “reenactment”of the Cuban Missile Crisis during an American Politics college course using pencils as ships on top of an overhead projector (no joke). The professor had the Soviet ship nearly touching our ships which enforced the blockade, then suddenly, just before they touched and set of nuclear war, the Soviet ships turned around.

It should not come as a surprise that this story is a myth. The Soviet ships turned around 750 miles from the blockade.  It’s the false picture of Kennedy’s “toughness” that is most misleading according to Michael Dobbs who wrote a history of the Cold War. Kennedy was quite willing to negotiate with Khrushchev.

Kennedy was certainly bracing for an “eyeball to eyeball” moment, but it never happened. There is now plenty of evidence that Kennedy — like Khrushchev — was a lot less steely-eyed than depicted in the initial accounts of the crisis, which were virtually dictated by the White House. Tape-recorded transcripts of White House debates and notes from participants show that Kennedy was prepared to make significant concessions, including a public trade of Soviet missiles in Cuba for American missiles in Turkey and possibly the surrender of the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay.

The “fog of war” was much more a significant part of the crisis than the “clash of wills” narrative that is prevalent and popular in American culture.

By Saturday, Oct. 27, the two leaders were no longer in full control of their gigantic military machines, which were moving forward under their own momentum. Soviet troops on Cuba targeted Guantánamo with tactical nuclear weapons and shot down an American U-2 spy plane. Another U-2, on a “routine” air sampling mission to the North Pole, got lost over the Soviet Union. The Soviets sent MiG fighters into the air to try to shoot down the American intruder, and in response, Alaska Air Defense Command scrambled F-102 interceptors armed with tactical nuclear missiles. In the Caribbean, a frazzled Soviet submarine commander was dissuaded by his subordinates from using his nuclear torpedo against American destroyers that were trying to force him to the surface. via The ‘Eyeball to Eyeball’ Myth and the Cuban Missile Crisis’s Legacy – NYTimes.com.

The macho talk about toughness turns out to praise stubborn, holding firm to one’s position and NOT compromising anything. It turns out that Kennedy did not give us an example of how the game of chicken is an apt metaphor for foreign policy.

Let’s stop  pretending that he did.

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Romney Backs Away from Health Care Reform

“Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance,” he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night. “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”

The 60 Minutes interview shows that Romney is fully prepared to ignore the uninsured. You might recall that George Bush’s position was similar,  what problem?  The uninsured can always go to the emergency room.  Romney is denying that  federal government has responsibility in this area.  The suggestion that states can do what they want is a false promise. The federal government is already heavily involved in paying for healthcare under medicare and medicaid.

It’s a clear sign that the talk of  a Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act is political doubletalk.  Their real position is that health care reform is basically unnecessary.

Romney did not always think this way.  Back in 2007,  Romney called free emergency care “socialism” and defended forcing people to pay for health insurance.

“When they show up at the hospital, they get care. They get free care paid for by you and me. If that’s not a form of socialism, I don’t know what is,” he said at the time. “So my plan did something quite different. It said, you know what? If people can afford to buy insurance … or if they can pay their own way, then they either buy that insurance or pay their own way, but they no longer look to government to hand out free care. And that, in my opinion, is ultimate conservativism.”

Reflecting back on his term as Governor of Massachusetts, he wrote in his book No Apology (this guy does not like apologies!).

After about a year of looking at data — and not making much progress — we had a collective epiphany of sorts, an obvious one, as important observations often are: the people in Massachusetts who didn’t have health insurance were, in fact, already receiving health care. Under federal law, hospitals had to stabilize and treat people who arrived at their emergency rooms with acute conditions. And our state’s hospitals were offering even more assistance than the federal government required. That meant that someone was already paying for the cost of treating people who didn’t have health insurance. If we could get our hands on that money, and therefore redirect it to help the uninsured buy insurance instead and obtain treatment in the way that the vast majority of individuals did — before acute conditions developed — the cost of insuring everyone in the state might not be as expensive as I had feared.

Of course, I have just restated the familiar Romney script of tailoring his policy views to the prevailing political winds.  It’s worth remembering that only Democrats and President Obama have been willing consider the millions of uninsured a problem worth solving.

via Mitt Romney, On 60 Minutes, Cites Emergency Room As Health Care Option For Uninsured.

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Scaring the Voters in the Middle – NYTimes.com

The claims of Representative Todd Akin that women don’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape” now live in infamy. But a few things you may not know:

via Scaring the Voters in the Middle – NYTimes.com.

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Romney’s Dance Around Ryan’s Medicare Plan

Medicare has entered the election campaign is not likely to leave the political arena UNLESS Republicans find a way to sideline the issue.  If Republicans accomplish this by replacing Medicare talk with debate over  the difference between “legitimate rape” and fake rape — they are legitimately and inevitably going to be skewered until November mercifully brings the 2012 election to a close.

Romney wanted Ryan as VP, but not Ryan, the author of the Republican Congressional budget and author of changing Medicare from entitlement program to a premium support program. I am still puzzled as to how Romney could think that this was possible.

Romney’s so-called  guarantee of Medicare to seniors (those who are currently Medicare eligible) pointedly rejected the Medicare cost reductions build into the President’s Affordable Care Act.  This sort of political gimmick makes sane people want to flee politics.  The President’s reduction or “cuts” to Medicare are not reductions in benefits.  Claiming that President Obama plans to decimate Medicare is a political strategy, time honored, that fear is the lifeblood of politics.

The money Romney wants to “restore” to Medicare is actually absent in the Ryan budget. In other words, the Affordable Care Act and the Ryan plan are in agreement on the $716 billion in Medicare savings. The savings are reductions in reimbursements to insurers and hospitals that were built into ACA as part of the negotiation with providers and  companies that will reap financial gains from the reduction in of uninsured.

Romney’s plan for Medicare is short-term would:

  1. Move up the date of Medicare insolvency to 2016 from 2022.
  2. Violate Romney’s promise that benefits will not change for persons within 10 years of receiving benefits.

In fact, out of pocket expenses will increase immediately.

Marilyn Moon, vice president and director of the health program at the American Institutes for Research, calculated that restoring the $716 billion in Medicare savings would increase premiums and co-payments for beneficiaries by $342 a year on average over the next decade; in 2022, the average increase would be $577.

It is hard to dispute that this issue has the potential to work in 2012 as it did in 2010.  Fortunately for us these lies cannot cover up the transformation of Medicare from guarantee of care to a voucher to assist with paying for health care insurance.  I know which program I prefer.  When I am no longer able to work, I don’t want to borrow money for health care I can no longer afford on my own.

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Job Growth Under President Obama


It’ election time, so job growth numbers will be tossed about by candidates and news sources.  One number you will hear repeated is that private sector employment is  4.7 million less than it was in January 2008. Of course, that’s the number and jobs problem Obama inherited from George Bush.

Overall job growth during Bush’s eight years in office provides no reason to think that Republicans have some special formula for increasing employment.  Private sector employment over 8 years decreased by 170,000 jobs.   The number of jobs created per month between 2004 and 2008 is similar to recent job growth under President Obama.  To repeat my point:  Republicans have no magic solution.  With their  fixation on solving the deficit problem through budget and tax cuts for the wealthy, economic activity will decline because of the reduced federal budget.


My last graph shows how unlucky President Obama has been. Nearly all of the effects of the recession were felt during his first two years of his term.   That’s real bad luck.

Monthly Change in Non-farm Unemployment

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Cloud Atlas, a book and now a film

If you have not read anything by David Mitchell, you should. And CloudAtlas is a good one to start with.  Put simply, the book is about power, our will to power, and where it takes us individually, collectively, and historically.  The film trailer shouts out “everything is connected”, a cliché, but the book warrants, may even require, repeated readings.  And yes, part of the challenge and fun is figuring out how the stories tie together.

The novel is structured around a set of individual stories or vignettes which take place in different historical periods including the future, centuries into the future.  Each story is written in the vernacular of the period including the two stories set in the future.

There is plenty of tense drama, lots of action (hence, the film) and gorgeous writing.

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Health Care Reform Politics

This is an excellent video clip. The insurance mandate is the spinach we need to eat.

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