All posts by Gary Nolan

Your humble contributor is an avid political enthusiast, science junkie, former small business owner, limited government, constitutionalist, and all around lover of liberty. I make every effort to use logic and reasoning, not hate, ad hominem attacks, nor logical fallacy arguments.

Average Joe SCOTUS – Azar v. Allina Health Services

So, let’s talk about Medicare.

There are recipients on Plan A, which are usually low income folks. They get assistance by Medicare paying hospitals directly for their services. HHS makes an initial payment to the hospital, then subsequent payments as necessary based on how much more the services may have cost.

Plan C people, are usually higher income people, and they just get a subsidy from Medicare to pay for private insurance.

The Medicare Act pays more for hospitals who treat the low-income peeps that usually use plan A. Cost adjustments are based in part on something called “patient days.” Don’t ask me to explain WTF that means.

But nonetheless, Plan A folks have way more patient days, than Plan C folks, and that shit matters here. I’ll assume that Plan A folks, just abuse government more, than Plan C folks are able to abuse a private insurer, because that’s pretty much always true.

HHS are who manage how much Medicare will pay, though. Initially, they were averaging only the Plan A “patient days.”

But, if they averaged Plan A and Plan C “patient days” together, Plan C brought that average number down a good bit. So HHS, busted out some math and shit, and were like, “We can save some scratch here, if we include these plan C people in our average.”

Allina Health was all like, “You cheap motherfuckers! Drop those plan C peeps from your numbers, bitch! That’s some bullshit. The rules say if you’re going to change how you calculate that shit, you have to let people know in advance, and then we need to fucking talk about it first. You can’t just change that shit willy-nilly.”

So then HHS was all like, “We’re gubment, we do WTF we want!”

So then Allina was all like, “See you in court, tight ass!”

SCOTUS listened to their bullshit arguments and was like, “Listen HHS, you cheap mother fuckers. You change a fucking rule, the rules say you gotta tell people about it. Then you all have to talk about it. If there are no objections, or whatever, then you get to change the rule. So you are outta line, bitch!”

7:1 in favor or Allina Health.

Breyer basically was all like, “Do we even give a fuck about this? We’re SCOTUS, and this is some petty bullshit for some punk ass lower court to decide. Get the fuck outta here with this nonsense.”

Kavanaugh was like, “I can’t even be bothered to care about this. I’m out. Not even going to waste my time listening to this nonsense.”

Read about the case and/or hear oral arguments here.

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Average Joe SCOTUS – Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. v. Jackson.

This dude Jackson bought a water filtration system from Home Depot. He bought it on credit, and then decided he didn’t want to pay for it. He argued it was some bullshit.

Citibank sued his dead-beat ass, and Jackson was like, “Oh yeah? Two can playeth that game you motherfuckers. I’ll sue you, Home Depot, and CWS, (the people who made the water filtration system).” He argued that the all three of them were in cahoots, engaging in unfair and deceptive business practices.

Back in 2005, Congress passed and Bush signed the Class Action Fairness Act, which basically was designed to prevent abuses of class action suits, because basically lawyers are shady motherfuckers, and they would sue in areas where the courts might be more sympathetic to them. So the act allowed the federal government to step in and take jurisdiction for larger class actions to protect defendants against such abuses.

So Home Depot decided to ask for such an exemption, and asked they be removed from this suit brought forth in state court. If they had countersued in state court, they conceded that they wouldn’t have a right to ask to be removed, which was a main part of their argument. Had they voluntarily entered into state court counter-action themselves, they’d be stuck. But they didn’t countersue, they were just dragged into this shit by Jackson and wanted the hell out of it.

SCOTUS decided that Home Depot was just a defendent to a claim, not a class action, and thus, didn’t get to remove themselves from this shit using rules designed for class-actions.  5:4 decision for Jackson. The left justices plus Clarence Thomas were the majority.

The other four conservative justices thought this was some bullshit technicality shenanigans, but unfortunately for Home Depot, Justice Thomas apparently prefers Lowe’s or Menards.

Read about the case or hear oral arguments here.

Average Joe SCOTUS – Thacker v. Tennessee Valley Authority

This dude Thacker was boating about, flying through the water like a mad man. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) were doing some work on power lines by the water, and one of those lines had fallen into the water.

The TVA had told the Coast Guard to keep these mother fucking boaters out of the area, and even announced that shit on marine radio, and the TVA even had two warning boats deployed to tell people to stay the hell out. But Thacker is one balls-to-the-wall motherfucker, and he decided to go blasting through the water, ignoring any warnings otherwise, blowing right passed the warning boats before they could tell him to stay out.

Thacker hit the power line, was injured himself, and his friend died.

So Thacker sued the TVA for negligence.

As we’ve discussed before, for some reason that I believe is entirely un-American, we have laws from protecting the government from getting sued, so here we go again, deciding when they can and can’t be.

The TVA is a private corporation doing government work. So they’re kinda weird that way. They are what’s called a “Sue and be sued” company. But, there are still exemptions for when they can and can’t be sued for some dumb reason, and this was the shit they were trying to deploy here to get out of this mess.

SCOTUS reviewed and unanimously ruled for Thacker, that he may sue the TVA despite all the rules the opposition tried to throw at him to prevent that shit.

Read about the case and hear oral arguments here.

Average Joe SCOTUS – Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc.

Rimini Street Inc (RSI) was a software support company. Oracle, the makers of a software RSI supported. Rimini tried their best to honor Oracle’s copyrights, but Oracle felt RSI was using their shit without their consent in a way they’d have never agreed to.

Oracle sued, and won, for copyright infringement. But this isn’t the nature of the SCOTUS case. What RSI wanted, was a partial refund on the judgement. Oracle had been awarded legal fees, such as money for expert witness testimony and shit like that.

Based on 17 U.S.C. § 505, it says that litigants can recover “full costs” and then goes on to define them in “28 U.S. Code § 1920.Taxation of costs” as shown below in a post from Cornell.

A judge or clerk of any court of the United States may tax as costs the following:

(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;
(2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case;
(3) Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses;
(4) Fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case;
(5) Docket fees under section 1923 of this title;
(6) Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special interpretation services under section 1828 of this title.

So now Rimini was all like, show me in 28 U.S. Code § 1920 where it says a single fucking thing about attorney fees, expert witness fees, and shit like that!

Oracle was all like, “See you in court, bitches!”

As usual, SCOTUS thinks the Ninth circuit are a bunch of fucking morons. When they ruled in Twentieth Century Fox v. Entertainment Distribution that “All costs” means “All costs” instead of just the costs outlined above in 28 U.S. Code § 1920, they must’ve been stoned AF.

9:0 Judgement for Rimini Street Inc.

Average Joe SCOTUS – Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt

Gilbert P. Hyatt was an inventor in the IT industry. Eventually, he invented some shit that was actually useful and the cash started rolling in.

Hyatt lived in California, and I don’t think we need to talk about the way the California tax code rapes the people who live there. Hyatt decided he didn’t want to be a victim, and fled to glorious Nevada. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas—including Hyatt’s income, or so he thought.

Some communist California official saw articles on Hyatt back in 1993, specifically how much cash he was rolling in, and was like, “I want me some of that!” Communists LOVE other people’s money.

So when this douche-bag from California saw Hyatt had left California, they went about harassing the hell out of him. Claimed he owed 4.5 million-ish in taxes and penalties to the state of California. They felt like his apartment in Nevada was just to avoid paying California taxes, and that he still really resided in California, presumably living with someone else or something to make it look like he didn’t really live there. Side note:  If that’s true, he’s my hero.

Hyatt sued California in his new home state of Nevada saying they were harassing him, and that he didn’t owe them a fucking dime. As a matter of fact, he wanted them to pay him pain and suffering and shit.

Apparently Nevada REALLY doesn’t like California, because they awarded Hyatt $85M for emotional distress, $52M for invasion of privacy, and $250M in punitive damages. $387 million dollars, y’all!

California was all like, “this is some bullshit! State sovereignty motherfuckers! Do you speak it?”

State sovereignty has a history in English law, which was basically to protect the king from being sued, because those crooked-tooth motherfuckers thought the king was more perfect than Sofia Vergara’s face (which science has proved impossible).

How state sovereignty in the United States is even a thing is pretty ridiculous. It’s about as un-American as a French accent.

But back in 1793, a dude from South Carolina in Chisholm v. Georgia sued Georgia for unpaid war debts. The SCOTUS of that time ruled for Chisholm, and left Georgia pretty fucking pissed.

So pissed in fact, that Georgia convinced other states that people were going to start suing the fuck out of them, too. So scared were those twats, that a couple years later, they amended the constitution with #11.

The intent was basically to say that the federal government couldn’t tell the states how to run their state—basically, mind your own fucking business, feds. But it also became clear that the states were somehow granting themselves the right to determine if they could be sued or not. Like that’s not a conflict of interest or anything.

So back to this wily mother fucker Hyatt. There was another suit Nevada v. Hall in 1979 that basically said one citizen of one state can sue another. They ruled 11a was merely to tell the federal government to stay out of it, but states could sue other states all they wanted. Now current SCOTUS was being asked to overrule that shit.

The right wing of current SCOTUS proving that they’re not the limited government people you think they are, decided that the old 1979 SCOTUS were a bunch of out of touch old geezers, and overruled those motherfuckers 5:4. Hell, most of them are dead anyway, what are they going to do about it?

The left-wing of SCOTUS dissented. It wasn’t so much that they were proving that they’re not the communists they think they are, but instead, that they think overruling a previous SCOTUS is in bad taste and leads to instability and insecurity within the court system.

Judgement for California. Too bad, so sad, Hyatt.

Read about the case and/or hear oral arguments here.

Framing and Perception: Using Skepticism to Avoid Being Deceived

We’ve all heard the expression there’s two sides to every story. It implies that one side is the truth, and the other side is lying. While that can be true, it can also be that both sides are right, and are both just leaving out crucial factors. It could be that neither side is right, and the truth is something else entirely. It could be that one side is right, and the other believes they’re right, but are simply mistaken. And most commonly, it could be a matter of opinion, and there simply isn’t a right or wrong in the first place.

The point of skepticism, is to be able to consume information in such a way that you are least likely to be deceived, or make bad assumptions. Thus leading to more intelligent decisions, and typically better outcomes for you. Let’s look at some examples.

In April of 2019, it was reported in several news outlets that just eating one slice of bacon can increase your risk of colorectal cancer by 20%. You can see one instance of this report from CNN here. CNN was not dishonest in this reporting, that data is true.

But when you click the actual study, and apply a little skepticism (and some math), you might look at it a little differently.

There were 475,581 participants in the study, and a mere 2609 case of cancer reported among all participants. So if one group is 20% higher than the other, that means it’s approximately 45.4/54.6 split (45.4/54.6 = 120.2%, or 20% more).

54.6% of 2,609 = 1,425 (0.29% of the total group)

45.4% of 2609 = 1,184  (0.24% of the total group)

So while 1,425 is indeed 20% more than 1184, out of the total group or people observed (475,581) a mere 0.55% contracted colorectal cancer. A total of 241 more were the bacon eaters, or a mere 0.05% overall increase (0.29% vs 0.24%).

An almost entirely insignificant 0.05% or 241 out of 475,581 people doesn’t sound nearly as scary as 20%, does it? But scary sells news media, and journalists are rarely scientists.

This problem isn’t entirely about science, because you can apply these same skills to a myriad of things you’ll read or see in the media.

Imagine a news story we’ll call statement A with a headline that reads, “Woman courageously does all that is needed to put food on the plate for her child.”

Female Shoplifter

But then imagine a different news outlet runs a different headline we’ll call Statement B that reads, “Woman fired for drinking while at work, stole unhealthy snacks and booze from a grocery store.”

Statement A makes her sound like a hero, but Statement B tells a very different story. Both can be 100% true, but the context changes how you feel about the story entirely.

The point of all this are to make you think about any news story you read, and maybe think about changing the way you consume information. So here’s a couple of ideas on how to improve how you consume information.

  • Avoid click-bait headlines from sources you’ve never heard of, or that you know are openly biased. You know they’re all almost entirely bullshit. So why waste your time on them? The good ones will link to credibly sources, and you should click on those to read the whole story, if you do go down that road. But in general, if people stop clicking on clickbait, the people doing it will respond to the lack of demand for it, by ceasing to make it.
  • Read the article and not just the headline. Even reputable sources have resorted to click-bait headlines just so you’ll read their stories over the nonsense from non-reputable sites. You’re missing a lot of context and nuance if you don’t read the story. Not to mention, you look silly when you add your own comment that clearly shows you didn’t read the article.
  • Any story that says something like, “The such-and-such that such-and-such doesn’t want you to know” or “Person A destroys person B” is bullshit. All of it. Like every single one of them.” Stop sharing that nonsense. Seriously.
  • If you see a story and it seems pretty amazing, but you aren’t seeing it on reputable sources, I assure you, some podunk website did not scoop Reuters or AP. It’s bullshit that they didn’t vet properly, or worse, that they just made up.
  • Check a second source. This one is huge. If you see a story on a site that’s kinda reputable but not great, look for it on a site like Reuters or AP. If you confirm from multiple reputable sources, then it’s probably true. But if it’s multiple sources with the same bias, you should probably still avoid it.
  • Think about what’s being said in the story, and could there possibly be another way of looking at it.  For instance, if I told you France gets 75% of its energy from nuclear, where the United States only gets 20%, you could easily assume that France is a leader in nuclear energy compared to the United States. But if I told you France has 58 nuclear power facilities whereas the United States has 98, you’d think the US is the leader. Both are true, but both tell a different story. So it pays to dig into the data when you can, and form your own opinion based on all the information.

    Nuclear Power Plant Emits Only Water Vapor

Hopefully this helps you think about how to consume news differently, and prevents you from being that embarrassing friend on social media always sharing bullshit articles everyone but you seems to know isn’t true. You’ll thank me later. 🙂

 

Average Joe SCOTUS – Obduskey v. McCarthy & Holthus LLP.

Some deadbeat named Obduskey financed a house in 2007. By 2009, he couldn’t be bothered to send in payments like the deadbeat that he was.

So Wells Fargo, the people who loaned the money to that deadbeat motherfucker, hired McCarthy & Holthus to do a non-judicial foreclosure on the home. (Non-Judicial just means they tried to privately collect the debt, vs take him to court and get a judgement against him.)

M&H did their thing, and Obduskey knew the jig was up. But this squirrely motherfucker was trying to avoid getting his ass kicked out. So he wrote some bullshit letter trying to dispute the debt. He wasn’t paying, yet somehow, he wanted to quibble over how much he owed them, instead of accepting that he just stopped paying altogether. I don’t even know this piece of shit, and I want to slap him.

Anyway, There’s some bullshit law called Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) which basically protects the consumers from harassing debt collectors. Never mind the poor debt holders that got screwed over by these dead beats—fuck them. What is wrong with our country that a dead beat has more protection under the law, than the people who loaned them money and got screwed by the deadbeat in the first place?

Sorry, I keep getting off track.

One of the rules of the FDCPA is that if the person sends written intent to dispute the debt, debt collections have to stop until it can be resolved.

But M&H said,

SCOTUS was asked to decide if the FDCPA apply to non-judicial foreclosure?

All nine told Obduskey to go fuck himself. A foreclosure is an attempt to recover the property so they can be made whole, not collect a debt. Meaning, they’ll sell his shit and get their money, and aren’t trying to get Obduskey to pay like a traditional debt collector.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.