American health care insanity– it’s the prices

Why it’s the prices is complicated, but suffice it to see this is largely a matter of policy.  And it’s pretty clear that ours gets it wrong.  Obamacare is a step in the right direction, but just a modest step.  Here’s one example, from a series of 15 charts at Vox.


Oh, and all the countries that pay less?  They are not doing it through health savings accounts or allowing insurance purchases across state borders, but generally through more (and more importantly) more coherent government regulation of health care policy.

Video of the day

The tallest building of the world as seen from space.  Notice the jet flying through at the bottom.  More here.

NHL goalies and luck

Fascinating post from 538 to feed my growing obsession with hockey goaltenders.  Apparently, a huge amount of goaltending is really luck and a good portion of hot (and cold) streaks are surely just statistical anomalies, rather than great (poor) goaltending:

But herein lies a great paradox: Despite goaltending’s outsize impact on the outcomes of hockey games, it’s extremely hard to say exactly which goalies are truly good or bad at their jobs.

This perplexing point was raised by the authors of the 2010 book “Stumbling on Wins,” and it still stands today. Using’s adjusted version of the save percentage statistic, adjusted Goals Against Percentage (GA%-),4 the correlation of goalie performance from year to year is so low5 that, in practical terms, only 30 percent of the difference we see between a goalie and the league average in any given season actually “belongs” to the goalie himself. The rest is just random. [emphasis mine]

The poor correlation of save percentage from one year to the next also indicates that goalies are extremely volatile commodities. For instance, if a goaltender is above average in a given season, there’s only a 59.2 percent chance he’ll be above average again the following year. And if he’s below average now, don’t worry: There’s a 47.2 percent probability that he’ll be above average next season…

A goalie’s save percentage only begins to stabilize after facing around 3,000 shots, at which point we would expect half of his observed performance to be talent (the rest is still luck). The busiest goaltenders each year face roughly 2,000 shots, so it takes about a season and a half for GA%- to offer insight on even the biggest goaltending workhorses…

If chance overwhelms skill in an entire regular season’s worth of goaltending statistics, imagine what can happen in the playoffs, when the leading goalies face but 800 shots at most…

It’s something to keep in mind during this year’s playoffs. Just as we found the correlation for regular-season GA%- to be quite low from year to year, the correlation between a goalie’s regular-season and his playoff GA%- is even smaller, as is the correlation between his previous career GA%- and playoff GA%-. We can’t predict who will fluctuate, just that somebody likely will.

I’m a modest fan of the Carolina Hurricanes.  I think Cam Ward is probably a better-than-average goalie (or maybe not), but I cannot help but thinking that his whole career/reputation was made by having a great run– the majority of which was just luck– during his 2006 rookie season in the ‘Canes’ Stanley Cup run.

Beyond meat!

So, as my regulars know I really love the idea of high-quality plant-based replacement for meat.  I was excited to learn of a new replacement that gets great reviews.  My far-and-and away favorite part is that it is not soy-based (it’s actually from pea protein) as my wife seems to have developed a soy sensitivity which prevents the substitutions we had been doing (50/50) when making ground beef dinners.  We used this recently in meat sauce with pasta and it worked great.  I don’t know that it’s ready for a 100% replacement, but blending with meat to cut down meat use worked great.   Been trying to get my wife to use it more, but she’s still a little freaked out about her soy sensitivity.

On a related note, I enjoyed this Mark Bittman column about fat.  Here’s the meat part I’m totally on-board with:

So at this juncture it would be natural for a person who does not read volumes of material about agriculture, diet and health to ask, “If saturated fat isn’t bad for me, why should I eat less meat?”

The best current answer to that: It’s possible to eat as much meat as we do only if it’s grown in ways that are damaging. They’re damaging to our health and the environment (not to mention the tortured animals) for a variety of reasons, including rampant antibiotic use; the devotion of more than a third of our global cropland to feeding animals; and the resulting degradation of the environment from that crop and its unimaginable overuse of chemicals, soil and water.

Even if large quantities of industrially produced animal products were safe to eat, the environmental costs are demonstrable and huge. And so the argument “eat less meat but eat better meat” makes sense from every perspective. If you raise fewer animals, you can treat them more humanely and reduce their environmental impact. And we can enjoy the better butter, too.

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