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Chelsea Peretti and Jordan Peele Eloped and Their Only Wedding Guest? This Ridiculous Dog

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Is a wedding legal if the only one who witnesses it is a dog? Just kidding. That just makes it more legal. Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Chelsea Peretti and Jordan Peele of Key & Peele have formally joined each other in the bonds of holy matrimony, a fact you already picked up ... More »
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nsanch
934 days ago
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click through for a good dog picture.
dbentley
934 days ago
Who's a good dog picture? You're a good dog picture!
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The Rest of the Story on Arizona Anecdote

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Conservative groups are highlighting the case of an Arizona man with leukemia whose insurance plan was canceled because it didn’t comply with the Affordable Care Act. A news report quoted the man as saying he would need to pay $26,000 to keep the same doctor. It turns out, he was able to get a new plan, which has his doctor in its network, for a lower premium and a lower out-of-pocket maximum than his old plan.

Michael Cerpok, from Fountain Hills, Ariz., was featured in a local TV news segment on Oct. 3. The ABC15 report said that Cerpok, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006 and requires ongoing treatment, had received a letter from his insurer, Celtic Insurance Company, saying that his policy wasn’t “fully compliant” with the Affordable Care Act and would be canceled. Cerpok, a self-employed businessman, was paying $855 per month for the policy for himself.

The report said his out-of-pocket costs in 2012 were only $4,500, even though his treatment for leukemia totaled more than $350,000. Cerpok wanted to keep the same doctor he had at the Mayo Clinic. He told ABC15: “Now it doesn’t mean I can’t go see my current doctor, but my $4,500 out-of-pocket, is going to turn into a minimum of $26,000 out-of-pocket to see the doctor that I’ve been seeing the last seven years.”

That local Phoenix news segment has gone viral. Cerpok’s plight now has been highlighted by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank; cited in an ad from Americans for Prosperity, as the announcer says “Arizonans are losing the health care plans they love, the doctors they know”; and featured on many other conservative websites. Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint wrote a letter in early October to President Obama that said: “We are fighting for people like Michael Cerpok, a leukemia patient in Arizona, who recently learned he will lose his current health insurance due to this misguided law. He notes that ‘my $4,500 out-of-pocket [expense] is going to turn into a minimum of $26,000 out-of-pocket to see the doctor that I’ve been seeing the last seven years,’ and he worries that he and his wife might need to take second jobs to stay afloat.”

But this story has a happy ending. We spoke with Cerpok a month after the TV report aired, and things have changed. Cerpok told us he was able to sign up for a new plan that has his current oncologist and hospital in its network. He said the policy was less expensive, but didn’t have some of the same benefits — such as a specialty prescription drug benefit for cancer drugs. “I will say that my premiums went down, as did my yearly total out of pocket maximum, commensurate with the benefits I lost,” he said in an email to FactCheck.org. “My policy contains MANY things that I will never use.” He didn’t want to reveal how much money he was saving with the new policy or other details on the coverage, saying that he had received a lot of criticism after the ABC15 report aired.

That report, however, is what led him to a new plan. Cerpok had a career as a martial artist, and one of his former student’s parent, who owns an insurance agency, contacted him after seeing the news report, Cerpok said, and helped him find comparable insurance. “He did a lot of research,” Cerpok said, and “found a plan for me which I have now signed up for.”

It’s an individual market plan, but it is not through the federal exchange. “I didn’t want my new plan to be a part of a subsidized government-mandated health care,” he told us. He said he had no problem with Americans getting subsidies to help them buy insurance, but he was opposed to the individual mandate, requiring everyone to buy coverage. “This is about freedom to choose,” Cerpok said.

He said he did not look at health plans on the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov. Estimates available on the exchange website show significantly lower rates than the $855 Cerpok had been paying. Coverage for a single person over 50 — Cerpok is 52 — starts at $237.04 per month for a bronze plan. The highest-priced plan was an estimated $576.62 in Maricopa County, Ariz.

His old insurer, Celtic, did not offer him a new plan and is no longer selling individual market plans in Arizona, according to its website. We contacted Celtic’s parent company, Centene, but haven’t received a response to our questions. The $26,000 figure Cerpok cited in the news report comes from him looking into joining his wife’s employer-based plan, which is through Blue Cross Blue Shield and doesn’t include Cerpok’s doctor and the Mayo Clinic in its network. He said Blue Cross Blue Shield told his wife he could continue to see his doctor on that plan, but the out-of-network costs would total $26,000 for the year.

The $855 Cerpok is paying for the soon-to-be-canceled Celtic policy is a high price, but he said he was happy it covered the bulk of his leukemia treatment. Individual market premiums vary — and as his premium shows, can vary greatly. The average price for Arizona, as calculated by the conservative Manhattan Institute, adjusting for preexisting conditions, was $127 per month for a 40-year-old and $386 for a 64-year-old male before the Affordable Care Act. The Kaiser Family Foundation found an average individual market premium of $241 per person per month in 2010 in Arizona, noting that was an average for all adults and children.

The cost estimates aren’t what’s important to Cerpok, however. It’s about the right to choose to buy whatever you want. “The health insurance industry certainly needed to be put in check, and we certainly needed to provide affordable care for low income earners,” he told us in an email. “But, I should not have had a product that I was willing to pay for, and that I had been very happy with, taken away from me by a government mandate and then taxed…er, I mean fined…if I chose not to replace it with a product I don’t like.”

The cost of insurance has been the focus of political claims, and it was the focus of the local Arizona news report, which said the insurance switch could cost Cerpok “tens of thousands of dollars.”

In the end, Cerpok isn’t facing such an increase, and instead lowered his monthly payments. He wasn’t able to keep his plan, but he was able to keep his doctor.

– Lori Robertson

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nsanch
1830 days ago
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Meet the most determined mouse in the world

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A mouse finds a cracker about his own size and thinks, "this is great, I'll be able to eat for a week!" But he can't quite get the cracker up and over the short ledge that leads back to his hole. But he doesn't give up that easily:

(via ★interesting)

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nsanch
1841 days ago
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The myth of NASA's expensive space pens

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Space Pen

There's a story about NASA's incredibly expensive space pen and Russia's simpler solution that gets trotted out every time some large organization introduces some complex, bloated, over-engineered product or process. The story goes like this:

During the space race back in the 1960's, NASA was faced with a major problem. The astronaut needed a pen that would write in the vacuum of space. NASA went to work. At a cost of $1.5 million they developed the "Astronaut Pen". Some of you may remember. It enjoyed minor success on the commercial market.

The Russians were faced with the same dilemma.

They used a pencil.

Fantastic story, right? Except that's not what happened. NASA originally used pencils in space but pencils tend to give off things that float in zero-g (broken leads, graphite dust, shavings) and are flammable. So they looked for another solution. Independent of NASA, the Fisher Pen Company began development of a pen that could be used under extreme conditions:

Paul C. Fisher and his company, the Fisher Pen Company, reportedly invested $1 million to create what is now commonly known as the space pen. None of this investment money came from NASA's coffers -- the agency only became involved after the pen was dreamed into existence. In 1965 Fisher patented a pen that could write upside-down, in frigid or roasting conditions (down to minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit or up to 400 degrees F), and even underwater or in other liquids. If too hot, though, the ink turned green instead of its normal blue.

After testing, NASA ordered 400 Fisher pens for use on space missions at a cost of under $1000. Russia switched to using the pens a year later. Fisher still sells the original Space Pen and you can get it on Amazon for about $32.

Tags: NASA
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nsanch
1863 days ago
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it is so hard to not buy this.
dbentley
1863 days ago
They have cheaper options: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Doffice-products&field-keywords=space%20pen&sprefix=space+p%2Coffice-products&rh=i%3Aoffice-products%2Ck%3Aspace%20pen
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digdoug
1863 days ago
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There's also a Field Notes branded Space Pen. Ya know, if you're into looking like a hipster nerd.
Louisville, KY

Mad Jack Churchill

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Every few months on the web, a new candidate emerges for the Bad-Ass Hall of Fame, a collection of amazing people who lived large, walked their own path, and left their mark on history with flair. Today's candidate is Mad Jack Churchill, a British Commando leader during World War II who died in 1996. Churchill fought in the war armed with a bow & arrows, a broadsword, and occasionally even bagpipes. Here's a photo of him (far right) during a training exercise in Scotland, sword in hand as he storms the beach:

Mad Jack Churchill

What a sight he must have been, leading charges branishing a sword and sucking on his pipes. Churchill even killed a German soldier in France with an arrow, recording the only known kill by bow in the war for the British. From a profile in WWII History magazine:

During the BEF's fighting retreat, Churchill remained aggressive, unwilling to give up a yard of ground while extracting the maximum cost from the enemy. He was especially fond of raids and counterattacks, leading small groups of picked soldiers against the advancing Germans. He presented a strange, almost medieval figure at the head of his men, carrying not only his war bow and arrows, but his sword as well.

As befitted his love of things Scottish, Churchill carried the basket-hilted claymore (technically a claybeg, the true claymore being an enormous two-handed sword). Later on, asked by a general who awarded him a decoration why he carried a sword in action, Churchill is said to have answered: "In my opinion, sir, any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed."

The war-diary of 4th Infantry Brigade, to which Churchill's battalion belonged, commented on this extraordinary figure. "One of the most reassuring sights of the embarkation [from Dunkirk] was the sight of Captain Churchill passing down the beach with his bows and arrows. His high example and his great work ... were a great help to the 4th Infantry Brigade."

And this bit sounds totally made up:

Churchill himself was far in front of his troopers. Sword in hand, accompanied only by a corporal named Ruffell, he advanced into the town itself. Undiscovered by the enemy, he and Ruffell heard German soldiers digging in all around them in the gloom. The glow of a cigarette in the darkness told them the location of a German sentry post. What followed, even Churchill later admitted, was "a bit Errol Flynn-ish."

The first German sentry post, manned by two men, was taken in silence. Churchill, his sword blade gleaming in the night, appeared like a demon from the darkness, ordered "haende hoch!" and got results. He gave one German prisoner to Ruffell, then slipped his revolver lanyard around the second sentry's neck and led him off to make the rounds of the other guards. Each post, lulled into a sense of security by the voice of their captive comrade, surrendered to this fearsome apparition with the ferocious mustache and the naked sword.

Altogether, Churchill and Corporal Ruffell collected 42 prisoners, complete with their personal weapons and a mortar they were manning in the village. Churchill and his claymore took the surrender of ten men in a bunch around the mortar. He and his NCO then marched the whole lot back into the British lines.

As Churchill himself described the event, it all sounded rather routine: "I always bring my prisoners back with their weapons; it weighs them down. I just took their rifle bolts out and put them in a sack, which one of the prisoners carried. [They] also carried the mortar and all the bombs they could carry and also pulled a farm cart with five wounded in it....I maintain that, as long as you tell a German loudly and clearly what to do, if you are senior to him he will cry 'jawohl' and get on with it enthusiastically and efficiently whatever the ... situation. That's why they make such marvelous soldiers..."

Crazy! After the war, he took up boat refurbishing, river surfing, and freaking out train passengers:

In his last job he would sometimes stand up on a train journey from London to his home, open the window and hurl out his briefcase, then calmly resume his seat. Fellow passengers looked on aghast, unaware that he had flung the briefcase into his own back garden.

Rest in peace, Mad Jack. (via today i found out)

Tags: Jack Churchill   obituaries   war   WWII
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nsanch
1889 days ago
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1. this can't be real
2. how is this not a tv show starring bruce campbell
3. enter does not hit submit in the 'share with comment' text input
dbentley
1889 days ago
Yeah; the UI is confused about what's important.
Romanikque
1889 days ago
Spot on about Bruce Campbell!
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angelchrys
1890 days ago
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Damn. Sounds like one of those people it's fun to know of, but probably not know in real life.
Overland Park, KS
adamcole
1890 days ago
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What a story.
Philadelphia, PA, USA

The night light

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Paul Bogard recently published a book on darkness called The End of Night. Nicola Twilley and Geoff Manaugh interviewed Bogard about the book, the night sky, astronomy, security, cities, and prisons, among other things. The interview is interesting throughout but one of my favorite things is this illustration of the Bortle scale.

Bortle Scale

Twilley: It's astonishing to read the description of a Bortle Class 1, where the Milky Way is actually capable of casting shadows!

Bogard: It is. There's a statistic that I quote, which is that eight of every ten kids born in the United States today will never experience a sky dark enough to see the Milky Way. The Milky Way becomes visible at 3 or 4 on the Bortle scale. That's not even down to a 1. One is pretty stringent. I've been in some really dark places that might not have qualified as a 1, just because there was a glow of a city way off in the distance, on the horizon. You can't have any signs of artificial light to qualify as a Bortle Class 1.

A Bortle Class 1 is so dark that it's bright. That's the great thing-the darker it gets, if it's clear, the brighter the night is. That's something we never see either, because it's so artificially bright in all the places we live. We never see the natural light of the night sky.

I can also recommend reading David Owen's 2007 NYer piece on light pollution.

Tags: astronomy   books   Geoff Manaugh   interviews   Nicola Twilley   Paul Bogard   space   The End of Night
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nsanch
1891 days ago
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anthonylatta
1889 days ago
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I grew up in "3" on this chart. I miss it. I love the night sky.
Washington, DC
bnet21
1888 days ago
We should rent a cabin in the black area here: http://www.fairfaxunderground.com/forum/read/2/247386.html
anthonylatta
1887 days ago
Family adventure.
cjmcnamara
1892 days ago
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When I was home this summer (rural northern MI, closest city over an hour away), my parents were surprised at how excited I was to see so many stars. '3' on this chart looks about right. Seeing a '1' would be, well, stellar.
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