Leonardo Da Vinci & His Wonderful Toys


Brisbane Confidential 07 – The Da Vinci Machines Exhibition

I don’t I’ve plugged the Brisbane Confidential show much in this blog, but I thought this episode might interest y’all, because it’s about Da Vinci – and who doesn’t love Da Vinci?

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Scott Adams on Solving Healthcare

Dilbert author Scott Adams has a GREAT idea for reducing health insurance premiums:

First, 80% of healthcare costs go toward chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Second, a huge study on diet and its correlation to disease, called The China Study, found that chronic diseases, particularly the ones I just mentioned, only get triggered if you eat a plant based diet, for the most part, regardless of your genetic propensity. (CR Note: I think he meant to write "DONT get triggered if you eat a planet based diet".)


The author’s thesis, backed by a mountain of data, is that the only safe level of animal based food is zero. No milk or cheese either. Moderation simply doesn’t work when it comes to eating meat. That’s the data talking, not me, according to this expert. I haven’t seen any data that contradicts that notion. Provide a link if you have.

As a practical matter, it would be impossible to ban meat from the diets of average Americans. But when you are talking about insurance of any sort, whether it is health or auto or hurricane, we accept the principle that risk factors can be considered in pricing. So all we need to do is charge meat eaters four times as much as vegetarians for health insurance. Over time it will create more vegetarians, for economic reasons alone, and healthcare costs will plummet.

You might say it is unfair for the insurance company to charge a higher premium for earthquake insurance to people who actually live on a fault line. But I say that’s just good business.

What do you think? Should health insurance companies have better plans for vegetarians? And would YOU become a vegetarian if you knew your health insurance would be cut by 75%?

Nine US Banks Paid Out $33 BILLION in Bonuses

Following on from yesterday’s story about Goldman Sachs as the root of all evil, today we get the information that:

Nine banks that received government aid money paid out bonuses of nearly $33 billion last year — including more than $1 million apiece to nearly 5,000 employees — despite huge losses that plunged the U.S. into economic turmoil. … The nine firms in the report had combined 2008 losses of nearly $100 billion.

(Source: WSJ)

And if you think things are going to change, don’t be deluded. Here’s what the Obama White House had to say:

"The president continues to believe that the American people don’t begrudge people making money for what they do as long as…we’re not basically incentivizing wild risk-taking that somebody else picks up the tab for," said White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs.

What happened to Obama’s feigned outrage last year before the election? It’s all gone, baby. It disappeared to the same place as his promises about Gitmo, prison camps, climate change and health care.

If the NBA has a salary cap, why can’t American corporations? One of the key problems with capitalism is the open-ended nature of the upside. It breeds unlimited greed. Surely we can combine the good aspects of capitalism – eg incentives for creativity and effort – but restrict the upsides? I know we have tiered taxation, which effectively acts as a way of channeling some of that upside back into the system, but it doesn’t stop companies and individuals trying to bleed the economy for as much money as they can get their hands on, despite the negative consequences.

It still seems to me that we need another system, one that limits the greed but retains the incentives. 

Newsgator / NetNewsWire

I’ve been using Google Reader as my default RSS reader for a few years and, like all Google server products, I love it. However I also like to use a clients for some of my services, such as mail and calendar, because they allow me a deeper level of customization of the user experience.

A few months ago I went looking for a Mac RSS client that would act as a front-end to Google Reader but I couldn’t find one. I ended up moving to NetNewsWire instead as an interim measure, exporting my Google Reader OPML. Unfortunately, though, the NNW iPhone client keeps crashing on me, so I had to use Google Reader on the iPhone – not a great experience either, because everytime I leave Reader to view a full post, then return to Reader, Safari refreshes all the feeds takes me back to page one, even if I’m on page ten!

Anyway, Newsgator CTO & Founder Greg Reinacker announced via email today that they are releasing new versions of all of their products (some today, some, like the iPhone client, soon), that will use Google Reader as the back-end. Great news! I’ve already upgraded my NetNewsWire Mac client. Thanks Greg!

Download the new versions here.

The Great American Bubble Machine

Rolling Stone magazine has a Hunteresque story about Goldman Sachs:

The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who’s Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.