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Internet wags have field day with Obamacare vote

KindaWhen the Supreme Court voted Thursday to uphold most of the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare, both Facebook and Twitter were thrumming with buzz about it.

On Twitter, #AffordableCareAct and #Obamacare were trending almost immediately. Several folks, upset about the ruling, declared they were so unhappy they were going to move to...Canada. Others, recognizing the irony and humor in that statement, had a great time retweeting it.

Other heavily retweeted jokes were intentional. Such as this @BorowitzReport's "#SCOTUS UPDATE: Romney Blasts Supreme Court, Calling Affordable Care Act 'Worst Idea I Ever Had,'" and @GerryDuggan's "Against Obamacare? Just pretend it’s a taxpayer funded corporate bailout for your immune system."

The Twitterverse also had a field day after CNN's initial, inaccurate report that the individual mandate was struck down. BuzzFeed pulled together the top 25 funniest tweets about it, such as @Dr_Cop's "Dewey Defeats Obamacare" and @StevePlace's "Fortunately, the CNN producer who was just fired will now have health care under #ObamaCare."

Folks had plenty of fun on Facebook, too.

From the People's Boycott page:

Prayer

This satirical article from the Onion, "Republicans, Leukemia Team Up to Repeal Health Care Law," was also heavily shared.

This telling picture, of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) went viral:

 

Boehner

What were your favorites?

 

Recharge NY recipient list

For a list of the 93 Western New York companies that have received low cost power from the New York Power Authority so far this year, click here.

Covering up climate change causes?

TillersonFor years, there have been two camps of people: those who believe that the burning of fossil fuels is changing our climate, and those who believe that climate change is a bunch of hooey.

On Wednesday, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson came down on the side that believes global warming is happening and that it's a man-made problem. But, he said, it's not that big of a deal.

Ross Gelbspan, author of the book Boiling Point, would beg to differ. He was a Boston Globe reporter when he came across a concerted effort to cover up research showing the dooming effects of climate change. It scared him enough to leave his job and take on the issue full time.

CoalGelbspan writes on his web page:

Thinking about the issue, it quickly became clear that the coal and oil industries constitute one of the biggest commercial enterprises in history – and that their very survival is threatened by the imperatives of climate change. The science is unambiguous on one point: climate stabilization requires that humanity cut its consumption of carbon fuels by about 80 percent. The motivation behind the disinformation campaign was very clear – as was the reporting imperative. In this case, it was also the path into an amazing drama – a once-in-a-lifetime story -- that, unfortunately, has largely unfolded outside the spotlit arena of public awareness.

Oil

 His Web site, heatisonline.org, collects a dizzying amount of information, research and news about climate change and its effects. It also collects a fair amount of disinformation it has found in the media and elsewhere; news distorting the science around climate change and bogus studies funded by those with an economic or political interest in fostering skepticism about global warming.

Which side do you believe?

The lighter side of the health care issue...

With the Supreme Court's decision on President Obama's health care plan looming, let's take a look at the issue through the eyes of some editorial cartoonists.

Here's one from the Washington Post's Lisa Benson:

Lisa

Jeff Parker's take:

Cartoon

Here's one from Walt Handelsman:

Obama2

David Fitzsimmons from the Arizona Daily Star has a go:

Fitz

Here's one from Dana Summers at the Orlando Sentinel:

Obama3

 

Birmingham News' Scott Stantis weighs in:

ScottStantis

One from Rome News Tribune's Mike Lester:

Lester

And how about two from Tom Toles?

One:

Toles1
And two:

Toles2

Winery woes can make your dream a nightmare

LongCliffVineyardOwning a vineyard and winery sounds like a dream: working the fields, crushing the grapes, tasting the product.

But winemakers from the Niagara Wine Trail, brainstorming with U.S. Rep. Kathleen Hochul Monday, aired some of the concerns that make it a bit less romantic to operate in the industry. Things like marketing difficulties and sky-high duties that keep Canadian wine tasters from buying their wine.

SchulzeVineyards

The New York State Society of CPAs, in a back issue of its monthly newspaper The Trusted Professional, talked about how CPAs can cater to the winery community. In doing so, it sheds even more light on the difficulties vineyard owners face.

Perhaps the most unpredictable and potentially damaging event for a winery is a crop failure. John Savash wrote:

When vineyard owners . . . suffer subzero temperatures that unexpectedly injure their vines, CPAs have to step up to financial forecasting in an unpredictable, storm-ridden business climate.

There are plenty of other pitfalls as well:

HoneymoonSince vineyards and wineries are among the most important industries in New York state, many CPAs, especially those upstate or on Long Island, are faced with questions about crop failure, internal theft or inconsistent cash flow due to seasonal production. Even when they can’t predict the weather, CPAs must predict the numbers . . . .

“Since production occurs in the winter and peak season occurs in the summer, cash flow issues can be a problem for many wineries,” said Krista Niles, a Rochester CPA.

To cover production costs, these wineries will often take out working capital or short-term loans in the winter, which they will then pay off in the summer, when cash flow is highest, according to Niles.

Since tourism is an important part of the winery business, a good or bad tourist season can, like the weather, significantly affect the success of the winery.

As with most industries, theft can be a big problem when there’s desirable merchandise available for the taking.

Still want in?

Trademark this!

RingsAn online knitting group called Ravelry spends each Olympic season holding its own Ravelympics, during which members knit certain projects and challenges while watching the Olympics on television, Bloomberg Businessweek reports:

...Thousands of knitters attempt to complete an ambitious project—such as knitting a hat for the first time, or finishing an entire blanket—during the two weeks the Games take place. They form teams and challenge each other to events such as “scarf hockey” and “sock put.”

Those who rise to the challenge receive a virtual medal.

OlympicsBut the U.S. Olympic Committee is cracking down this year. It has sent cease-and-desist letters asking members to take down items bearing the trademarked Olympic rings symbol, including a free pattern for a crocheted olympic ring necklace and a $2 pattern for a dish towel with Olympic rings.

The social networking site lists other crafts that use trademarked images, such as the Batman symbol, but has never been asked to pull anything else down. In fact, items bearing the Major League Baseball logo have even been tapped by MLB for display at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Speaking of trademarks, Business Insider pulled together 15 funny trademarking attempts and infringements. They include Sarah Palin attempting to trademark her name (then being denied because she forgot to sign that name to her application), Harley trying to trademark the sound of a revving motorcycle engine, mixed luck on the McDonald's "Mc" prefix and Facebook's success in trademarking the word "face."

 

 

Does a minimum wage help or hurt workers?

AppleSome retail employees of the Apple Store will soon be getting raises, by as much as 25 percent. Workers there typically earn $9 to $15 per hour, while tech support makes as much as $30 per hour.

The company said it is instituting the performance-review-based raises after a survey found its workers were underpaid, but analysts speculated the company was also motivated to better compensate workers once it found they were being poached by Microsoft for its own retail stores.

Employee compensation is an interesting subject. Here is a neat little tutorial about wage determination in competitive markets. It's from the United Kingdom, but still works.

Here's a video lesson:

 

Subscribing to free market theory, many folks believe minimum wage and other regulations concerning wages and benefits should be done away with.

This Web site lists what it believes to be the pros of ending minimum wage. It says abolishing minimum wage would create more jobs, prevent outsourcing for cheaper labor and keep out illegal aliens.

Here is Ron Paul advisor Peter Schiff advocating the abolition of the minimum wage:

 

Other folks don't think so.

Here is a lengthy rebuttal:

 

 

How health care changes will affect you...

Supremecourt

There's an interesting Q&A in today's Business section explaining some of the finer points of what the passage of so-called "Obamacare" might mean for owners of small businesses.

Bill Frist, a heart surgeon writing in The Week magazine describes how the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare will affect every American citizen:

If you are poor, the ruling may decide whether or not you have coverage. If you are not poor, it will impact how much you pay for health care. If you own a small business, it might determine if you must purchase health insurance for your employees. And if you work for a large business, it may determine whether you still receive your insurance from your employer. If you're a doctor, it will likely affect your reimbursement. If you're a patient, it will determine your benefits . . . . This one is worth following. It will be a game-changer. And not just for the politicians and pundits in Washington. It's a game-changer for you, too.

Obama

In a blog on the U.S. News & World Report Web site, Phil Moeler describes how Obamacare might affect seniors:

Older Americans in their 50s and early 60s who are too young to qualify for Medicare often face enormous challenges—and costs—finding private health insurance. Losing the individual mandate could hurt their health insurance prospects, depending on whether the court also rules on related provisions of the act.

Beyond the individual mandate, the law's most significant shift is its requirement that insurers must sell policies to anyone who applies, and can no longer refuse to insure a person because of preexisting health conditions. It is hard to imagine the court invalidating the individual mandate while still forcing private insurers to approve all applicants. Again, the impact on seniors of these provisions affects non-Medicare coverage.

In a blog on Forbes.com, Avik Roy talks about how passage of the bill might affect young workers:  

Many of the people who go uninsured are young people. The young are just entering the work force, and therefore typically have below-average incomes. In addition, the young are healthy, and have much less use for expensive health insurance.

Obamacare forces insurers to charge their eldest beneficiaries no more than 3 times what they charge their youngest ones: a policy known as “community rating.” This, despite the fact that these older beneficiaries typically have six times the health expenditures that younger people face. The net effect of this “community rating” provision is the redistribution of insurance costs from the old to the young.

Also on Forbes.com, David Whelan and Brian Wingfield talk about how Obamacare might affect those with different types of insurance.

SurgeryFor those who buy their own private insurance, they predict:

The market for individual and small business insurance plans is where health care is the most dysfunctional and the root of the swelling ranks of uninsured. There's a lot of good news here. If you suffer from a pre-existing condition that prevented you from getting an affordable policy in the past, those days are over. Also, individuals and families buying coverage through the state-run exchanges in the Senate bill may be eligible for large subsidies if they make less than four times the federal poverty level. Otherwise, buying insurance for one's self will likely be similar, though perhaps cheaper because the private exchanges will cut out expensive middleman brokers.

In the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Scott Gottlieb opines about how Obamacare will affect doctors:

While the public option is meant for the uninsured, employers will realize it's easier -- and cheaper -- to move employees into the government plan than continue workplace coverage . . . . As patients shift to a lower-paying government plan, doctors' incomes will decline by as much as 15% to 20% depending on their specialty. Physician income declines will be accompanied by regulations that will make practicing medicine more costly, creating a double whammy of lower revenue and higher practice costs, especially for primary-care doctors who generally operate busy practices and work on thinner margins.

This tool from the White House allows you to select the situation that best describes you and purports to explain how Obamacare will affect you personally.

Microsoft Surface reviews...

Surface1Is it the beginning of the end for the personal computer?

Microsoft unveiled its line of tablet computers Monday, called Surface.

The light, compact devices, described as a "tablet that's a great PC--a PC that's a great tablet," is intended to compete with Apple's game-changing iPad.

Surface2The Washington Post pits the iPad and the Surface head to head, doing a side-by-side comparison. But perhaps the most important criterion of the Surface isn't available yet.

"One key point that will help determine how the tablet does in the market has yet to be determined — the price," writes Hayley Tsukayama. 

The Surface's real competition may not be the iPad after all, but Microsoft's own PCs.

CEOBallmerAshlee Vance elaborates in Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

As it does with the Xbox, Microsoft has opted to make the Surface tablets—both hardware and software—on its own. This stands as a huge affront to Microsoft’s longtime PC partners. Making matters worse, the Surface products look far better than anything else the PC makers have shown to date on the tablet front . . . . The keyboard/cover combo is a fantastic idea that immediately makes you question future laptop purchases. That’s yet a further blow against Microsoft’s PC buddies.

 Here's Microsoft's first ad for the device. What do you think?

 

Cartoonists' take on Greece woes

Greece's economic problems have been weighing heavily on a lot of minds. Let's take a look at the lighter side, courtesy of some political cartoonists.

First, Grecio Komar takes a crack at it:

Komar

Next up is Buffalo News alum Tom Toles:

TolesGreece

Here is one from our own Adam Zyglis:

Zyglis

And a personal favorite:

Greecebennett

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