The Haphazard Blog

Perils of Updating Python on Your Mac

by on June 8, 2013 7:22 PM, under Software Development

As part of improving my skills, I started to learn Python, a popular scritpting (it can do more) language. So the natural first step was to get it installed. Mac OS X comes with many programming languages installed. My version of OS X Lion came with Python 2.7.1. While Python 3.1.3 was also out at that time, that was not included. They are now up to 3.3.2 and it seemed to make sense to me that I should get the latest. After all, I was learning the language, right? It’s easy enough to install, but the default python (which python) remains 2.7.1. So I set out to make 3.3.2 my new default. I found a tutorial on how to do this here. Learned some good things about OS X under the hood and everything seemed fine, until I went to update Office 2011.

I had started the Office 2011 update and then let it sit there when it asked me to quit Chrome (why does Office need me to quit my browser to update?) but I had some tabs open while working on some other stuff. A couple days later, I went to finish it up and it failed. So I thought maybe it was because I let it sit there in an intermediate state. So I tried again, and again (hey Microsoft, maybe you can save the installer locally instead of downloading it every time after it fails) with no luck. I then started to look into the install log (Command+L) and saw this error:

./preinstall: ImportError: No module named ‘popen2′

popen2 is a Python module. And I realized the problem was Python 3 vs Python 2. So I restored the symbolic links in /usr/bin back to Python 2.7.1 and the update worked fine. I did still leave 3.3.2 with the other versions and added 3.3 links to /usr/bin like the 2.7 ones. This seems like Microsoft’s fault because it’s crazy to think you should never upgrade Python. At some point Apple may (or maybe already has) install 3.x as the default. But reading more, it also seems to be my fault. Making changes to /usr/bin is a bad idea in OS X.

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Obamacare Battle

by on June 8, 2013 7:15 PM, under Politics

As we approach January 1, 2014, the big parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. PPACA, ACA or Obamacare) are going to go into effect.  Over the next couple of months, states will be getting their health exchanges set up for open enrollment in October. As this happens, we’re getting alternating announcements about how rates will be going up or down (or not—I will return to this specific analysis later). Since this is more about a political battle (not so much ideological in my opinion), we should expect to see these headlines declaring Obamacare a loser and winner for the foreseeable future.

I can’t think of any politician who was against the need for health care reform. Sadly, it was pushed through by one party with the other party now 100% against it. There’s a good write-up on the Wonkbook about where this road is likely to lead. The goal in Washington, DC now isn’t to focus on reforming health care for the better, but to win the next election through a “winner” take all approach. Just get the message out there, regardless of the facts to win the battle. The public isn’t fully informed about this law while it will impact nearly everyone.

Obamacare is what we have. We should think of it as a starting step. There’s going to be some good and some bad. We should keep the good, learn lessons from the bad and improve it. Healthcare is too big to fix with one reform. I also think anyone who “knows” what is going to happen is just hoping that will happen. All these predictions on the success and failure of Obamacare are absurd–the law is entirely too big to succeed or fail as a whole.

Getting back to the health exchanges, people are comparing premiums in 2014 to premiums in 2013 to determine if health care costs fell or went up. The exchanges are designed for the individual market which is going to have the largest impact. By law, everyone must have health insurance in 2014. If they do not, they will have to pay a penalty under most circumstances. They can no longer deny coverage to someone who may be high risk.

Now, every insurance company is trying to predict how many people who previously chose not to have insurance will choose to get insurance or pay a penalty. The penalty in 2014 (1% of income or $95/adult and $47.50/child, whichever is greater) is significantly lower than the annual premium will be.  For each person/family that is uninsured, there will be an inflection point where the value of the insurance outweighs the penalty and vice versa.

The insurance companies must also account for all the people who they were able to deny in the past who are now eligible. Those people are more likely to spend more than they pay in premiums. They’ve hired experts to try and figure this out, but the reality is, they have no previous data to gauge this. They also cannot change the premiums for 2014 once set.  Some will get this right, others wrong. If they are wrong, one of two things happen. If they didn’t collect enough premiums, it’s their problem and if they collected too much (did not spend 80% on medical services), they will have to issue a rebate. Personally, I’d rather hit it right or issue a rebate than take a loss. It’s for this reason I think it will be interesting to see what happens with rebates for 2014.

There still won’t be stability in 2015. The penalty changes to 2% of income or $325/adult and $162.50/child. Same thing happens in 2016 with a change to 2.5% of income or $695/adult and $347.50/child. It stays this way going forward. I think following this, we will see what rates really will look like. They should have the data necessary to predict who joins and who takes the penalty. Until then, the individual rates are a snap judgment. We should continue to look toward the group rates for comparisons in the meantime. (Note that group rates are the same regardless of age. The variation is based on the number of people enrolling. So when comparing individual to group, that needs to be accounted for as well.)

Finally, the Forbes article mentioned before. In his quest to prove his colleague wrong, he did his own analysis. He called California’s comparison apples and oranges (it was), but then proceeded to compare his own apples and oranges. He compared 2013 individual rates to 2014 individual rates. As I mentioned above, the pool of customers is going to change drastically. I don’t think you can really compare them to anything to determine if the rates are better or worse. I’d say they are competitive at a minimum. Most employer plans (group) accept employees with pre-existing conditions. In 2014, individual plans will have to do the same. Those plans should have much larger groups than small businesses, so there is more people to spread the risk across, but the big question is how is the pool going to be comprised?

In his comparison he still cherry picked the data. He first said he took the average price from Covered CA and immediately said it was the Median across the state instead. He did not explain if that was all plans, the cheapest plan, most expensive plan, median plan or average plan in each region. He also did not say where the eHealthInsurance was from as you have to provide a zip code. I used Santa Clara and got 52 plans. To support his position that “Liberals” are wrong, he used the median for the cheapest 5 in his “analysis”.

Let’s try to do a more honest analysis first. I’m using Region 7 (picked “randomly”, I didn’t use a number generator, I just chose a number). It is Santa Clara. They have 5 catastrophic plans with the following prices for 25 year olds: $171, $169, $147, $228 and $225 (Average: $188, Median: $171). So what is a catastrophic plan? Loosely, it has a high deductible and you get 3 doctor visits before the deductible applies. So finding plans that waive the deductable for the first 3 visits and has a deductable over $5000 on eHealthInsurance: $202, $118 and $176 (Average: $165, Median: $176). 2013 plans have the cheaper option, but average and median aren’t so far apart. The writer did not even compare similar plans. He simply chose the 3rd cheapest plan from a list of 50+ while choosing the middle value for the state plans.

Re-creating his chart:

ACA California Median Comparison

ACA California Median Comparison

He probably wouldn’t want to use this one. -3% and +29% when “upgrading” to the Bronze coverage for 25 year olds (vs. his +100% and +123%. +52% for 40 year olds (vs. his 116%).

Other charts:

ACA California Cheapest Comparison

ACA California Cheapest Comparison

Cheapest would work a lot better for the argument. +25% and +69% when “upgrading” to the Bronze coverage for 25 year olds. +90% for 40 year olds.

ACA California Average Comparison

ACA California Average Comparison

Finally average (I don’t mean median). +14% and +36% when “upgrading” to the Bronze coverage for 25 year olds. +35% for 40 year olds.

If you didn’t decide TL;DR (or maybe if you skipped to the bottom), my opinion is it’s pointless to declare 2014 rates better or worse because there isn’t a baseline yet. It does however appear from this example people buying in the individual insurance market are likely looking at higher premiums than 2013. One thing to determine is if the coverage is better or worse.

One last note to data manipulators: If you’re trying to find favorable data, premiums for the young are likely to go up while premiums for the old are likely to go down. This is because there are provisions to limit premium variation by age. Given that the costs are higher the older the person and it is believed the cost ratio between youngest to oldest is higher than the limit, the math would require the lower number to come up the same amount the lower number comes down if there was an equal distribution by age until the new ratio was achieved.  If the distribution is slanted toward the young, older customers will see a greater decrease than the increase to the young and vice versa.

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Unretirement Because of Politics?

by on May 15, 2013 6:39 PM, under Politics, Site News

Well, not really. I haven’t blogged in a while and there are a lot of reasons for it. Probably the biggest being the amount of effort it takes to write. Which is closely related to #2, which is the amount of time that I want to devote to things I want to blog about is high. And that leads to #3. Far more people have thoughts on topics that I want to blog about by the time I can get to it, it feels like I’m rehashing their thoughts. I considered tweeting to get my thoughts “out there” more quickly, but it’s just not the medium for those thoughts.

So what got me to write a post over 2 years after my last one? John Boehner.

My question is, who’s going to jail over this scandal?
– John Boehner on the IRS Scandal

A line was crossed by the IRS, no question, but sending someone to jail when not one person was even prosecuted over the 2008 financial crisis? Beyond ridiculous.

And he’s not the only person in Congress demanding this. This is how dysfunctional Congress is at this point. Imagine if both parties could be this enraged over far bigger problems?

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Patriots vs. Dolphins Recap

by on January 2, 2011 5:28 PM, under Football, Patriots, Sports

With the top seed wrapped up, a lot of speculation in this game was about who will play and who (and when) will they get rest. The Patriots pretty much played it like they would the third preseason game.

The Patriots defense got off to a great start with a Devin McCourty interception. Tom Brady took over and he’s playing the game shorthanded, missing Deion Branch, Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez. Even without them, Brady drove the ball down the field and hit Rob Gronkowski with a touchdown pass. I wondered if they were going to go after Mike Ditka’s rookie touchdown record today, but they didn’t.

It will be interesting to see how the rookie of the year voting goes. I assume the winners will be Sam Bradford (Offensive, QB, Rams) and Ndamukong Suh (Defensive, DT, Lions), but I think the Patriots should really have two of their own considered. Gronkowski has 10 touchdowns to tie for the most in the NFL by a tight end. McCourty has 7 interceptions to tie for 2nd most in the NFL (Ed Reed has 8 in only 9 games!). They have production that puts them right at the top with the league, not just rookies. Bradford is 24th in passer rating, 18th in touchdowns and 11th worst in interceptions. Suh is 11th in sacks and 8th in tackles.

Danny Woodhead ended the Patriots’ streak of no turnovers at 7 games when he fumbled the ball. He suffered a concussion on the play, so it’s hard to fault him on that. They still end the season with 10 turnovers, which sets a NFL record. Brady continued his consecutive passes with no interception streak. I think it’s a regular season type record (weird way to keep track, but I suppose it keeps things level) so it will continue next season.

Julian Edelman stepped up today playing wide receiver. I didn’t see any drops and he ended up with a couple big catches and a 94 yard punt return (new Patriots record) even after he bumped into a teammate.

The sack by Jerod Mayo looked illegal to me. Wasn’t that lunging at the quarterback’s legs? I thought they put in a rule that was supposed to prevent defenders who were on the ground from doing that. Maybe it has to be with the helmet?

Closing out the game late, Brian Hoyer threw a touchdown to a diving Brandon Tate. It looked like a pass/play that Brady had tried to hit a couple times this year but was usually just a bit off. They were also able to make sure BenJarvus Green-Ellis got over 1,000 yards rushing for the season (the whole team seemed pretty ecstatic about it.

Now the Patriots wait to see who they play. The Chiefs lost, so for now, the possibilities are the Chiefs, Ravens, Jets, Colts or Jaguars. Two of them will be out once the late afternoon games end.

Update: The Patriots will play one of these three teams:

Jets
Ravens
Chiefs

The opponent will be the first team remaining on that list after the wild card weekend playoff games..

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When Amazon Prime Isn’t

by on December 29, 2010 12:36 PM, under Life, Shopping

It seems like Amazon.com likes to teach me lessons about shipping. Amazon likes to occasionally offer free trials of their Amazon Prime service. For those who aren’t familiar with it, for $79/yr you get “free” 2-day shipping on your orders and can get overnight shipping for $4.

I’d learned from past purchases that the free super saver shipping can take forever, so when I decided to try and find a copy of Burnout Paradise for the Xbox 360, shipping time was important because I planned to play it while my brother was visiting. Amazon was offering the trial, so I signed up and ordered the game.

I learned that 2-day shipping is not the same as 2nd day air. They will use closer warehouses and ground shipping to get your item to you in 2 days. The main problem here is that UPS does not time guarantee ground shipments so they have no incentive to get your package to you if they make a mistake because there’s no financial consequence. I called Amazon, and they said sorry and offered me a $5 Amazon.com credit (that never showed up). UPS said they can’t do anything (like re-route it using a faster delivery method).

So here is what my package did:

Amazon (and UPS) Not So Prime

Two days turned into 12 (7 business) and I got it the day my brother left. I had never seen so many problems with a package.

On the bright side, a couple days later I got an e-mail from Amazon refunding my purchase. That meant a free copy of Burnout Paradise for the trouble!

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Using TV Shows to Determine Political Leaning

by on December 29, 2010 11:57 AM, under Entertainment, News, TV

I saw a study was released last month about the TV shows that Democrats and Republicans find most popular. So I took a look at the top 15 shows on both sides and checked what I watch on the list.

Experian Simmons Republican/Democrat Popular TV Shows

The final tally:

Popular Republican Shows:

3. Modern Family
4. V
6. The Big Bang Theory
10. Desperate Housewives
12. Lie to Me
15. Two and a Half Men

Popular Democrat Shows:

2. Mad Men
3. Dexter
5. 90210
6. Brothers & Sisters
8. 30 Rock
9. The Good Wife
10. Damages
13. Friday Night Lights
14. Parks and Recreation
15. Breaking Bad

I also stopped watching How I Met Your Mother (#14, Republican) and am on the verge of dumping Community (#11, Democrat).

So does that make me a left-leaning independent? (It would match how I view myself, fiscally conservative, socially liberal.)

Do the shows you watch match your political leanings?

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Patriots vs. Bills Recap

by on December 26, 2010 5:20 PM, under Football, Patriots, Sports

This was a game where it looked like it was over pretty early, the only question was “How much would the Patriots win by?”. I think the prognosticators were shaken by the close game Green Bay had. I think that’s a case of them discounting how good the Green Bay defense played (and is). There isn’t a whole lot to say about this game, but here are my thoughts.

The front 7 is down to the last bit of their depth, mostly due to injuries and a suspension for Brandon Spikes. With that, the Bills were running wild on the defense and inexplicably started to pass in red zone. Killed their momentum and they were forced to settle for a field goal and let Bill Belichick make adjustments for the next series.

I’ve noticed that as much praise Devin McCourty gets, teams are not afraid of him. They attack him and are able to complete passes against him. I think who should get some consideration/recognition for defensive rookie of the year, but Ndamukong Suh has been a beast and quarterbacks must be scared of him.

Rob Gronkowski seemed to have a possible touch down, but the ball was under thrown by Tom Brady. It would’ve been a great way to open the game with a 77 yard touch down on their first play. On the day, Brady had 3 touch downs, 2 to Gronkowski, and set a new bar for most consecutive passes without an interception. CBS was showing the graphic comparing him to Bernie Kosar and Bart Starr. They included the number of touch downs over that span and Brady was way ahead. I wonder if that’s a record for most consecutive touch downs without an interception. People are pretty quick top point put that there have been some lucky drops during this streak, but I doubt any of them have reviewed all the passes that Kosar and Starr threw. Obviously there is a luck component to a streak like that.

Gronkowski pulled in a great catch running down the seam on a safety. He has the safety trailing him and reached back with one hand to pull the ball in for a big gain on 3rd down. The Patriots played well without Aaron Hernandez this week. (I wonder if Hernandez was injured while high stepping (I think that’s what it was) into the end zone against the Packers?).

Wes Welker had a tough drive (2 drops) and overall a tough game (he added another drop). You could see he was not pleased with himself.

The defense continued to do what it has done all year. They forced turnovers (6!) and hit hard. It was an impressive job by them and now they can rest players as needed with nothing to play for next week. They have locked up the AFC East, #1 seed (home field throughout the playoffs) and the best AFC record. As an added bonus, the Raiders were knocked out of playoff contention which guarantees the Patriots a top 20 pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

Update: Saw a couple interesting Patriots tidbits.

Brady has thrown a touch down in each game this season. If he throws one next week he will be the fifth quarterback to do it since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. I was surprised by this for 2 reasons. First, just how rare it is and second, that Brady didn’t do this in 2007. I checked, and the Jets shut him out in week 15.

The Patriots have gone 7 games without a turnover, which extends their own record. The old record was 4 games.

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