Star Trek Comics Explain Nero’s Past

Before the Star Trek movie was released there was a set of comics which let into the events of the movie. I checked out the comics and found that they do clear up one of my questions about the movie–why a mining ship, even if from the future, would be so much more powerful than Federation Star Ships. After the destruction of Romulus, Nero found a secret Romulan military facility. Advanced weapons systems using retrofitted Borg technology was added to his mining ship as one of the last remaining Romulan ships so he could avenge the destruction of Romulus.

The comic also revealed why Nero didn’t look like the typical Romulan. He actually did until he shaved and painted his head following the destruction of Romulus. There was a Romulan tradition of painting one’s head with ancient symbols of love and loss during times of mourning.

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Mary-Louise Parker Goaded Into Nude Bathtub Scene

Recently I mentioned in passing the topless scenes on Weeds last season. I suspect this is coming out now to provide publicity for the upcoming season, starting on June 8, but there is suddenly more talk about Mary-Lousie Parker’s nude scenes. There were two scenes last season in which she wasn’t wearing much more than in the above picture, but was seen from the front. Parker discussed one, telling More magazine that she was goaded into appearing nude:

She’d been fine with the series’ wildly erotic sex scenes, she says, but the shot in the bathtub in which the camera lingered on her breasts seemed intended to titillate.  “I didn’t think I needed to be naked, and I fought with the director about it, and now I’m bitter,” she says. “I knew it was going to be on the Internet: ‘Mary Louise shows off her big nipples.’  I wish I hadn’t done that.  I was goaded into it.”  Weeds’ coexecutive producer, Roberto Benabib, defends the moment, saying that the nudity was necessary to convey the character’s vulnerability. “We felt at that point in her life, her defenses had been so thoroughly stripped away, there was a nonchalance to the nudity that informed the scene,” he says. “I thought it was wonderful, one of the five best scenes Mary-Louise has ever done [on Weeds].”

Isn’t it one of the jobs of the producer to goad actors and actresses into doing what is best creatively for the show? With all the hype over this scene, her topless sex scene earlier in the season was actually much racier than the bath tub scene, with far more explicit pictures than this floating around.

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More Bad Ideas From Conservatives On Health Care Reform

Another article demonstrates how little conservatives understand health care as they try to come up with arguments against health care reform. This is from the American Enterprise Institute (hat tip to Patrick Appel):

Health insurance should not cover basic or routine medical services, but instead should cover major illnesses, surgeries, etc. Moreover, the government should require that healthcare providers charge all patients the same fees for out-of-pocket medical procedures (insurance companies and the government should be free to negotiate discounted prices for the services for which they directly pay, but these preferred rates would not apply to the services paid out-of-pocket by their members). This would bring normal, competitive market forces to bear on the provision of routine medical services. Insurance would then provide (as it is properly intended) coverage against significant and expensive maladies. This helps the poor in two ways. First, routine services would be much cheaper, and so the poor and uninsured would be able to afford (out-of-pocket) basic services. Second, the price of catastrophic medical insurance would be within reach of many more Americans. While high-deductible insurance plans already exist (in which the insured pays the first $1,500 to $2,000 in medical expenses and the insurer pays everything above this amount), what is really needed is for Medicare and Medicaid along with most employer-provided plans to adopt this high-deductible model. Although the current system epitomizes the overuse or misuse of insurance, the Obama plan fails to recognize this, and instead seeks to expand the size and scope of this distorted system.

The major problem here is that a tremendous amount of health care costs do come from routine medical services which become major expenses for those with chronic diseases. Many people can now afford what is essentially catastrophic insurance, but it does them little good as they cannot afford the high deductibles and co-pays should they require medical care.

If people have to pay out of pocket, they will be less likely to pay for routine treatment diseases which are generally asymptomatic such as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. This will create a greater amount of “major illnesses” and surgery. It is far more cost effective to provide routine care to people with diabetes and hypertension than to perform coronary artery bypass surgery or dialysis, or to provide post-stroke care. Eliminating coverage for routine medical services will also reduce the likelihood that people will receive tests such as mammograms, pap smears, and colon cancer screening, increasing health care costs in the long run.

As I mentioned yesterday, an article in this week’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine has also noted how such market-based approaches to health care reform are not likely to be successful. This type of market-based argument, which we also heard from Republican candidates such as John McCain last year, will wind up increasing the cost of health care and do noting to achieve the goal of making health care coverage available to those who do not currently have it.  The arguments really make no sense if you have any concept of how health care works. They are just empty arguments to try to block actual reform.

Gallup Poll Shows Almost All Groups Abandoning GOP

In previous posts I have noted trends such as that affluent voters, educated voters, and young voters are increasingly deserting the Republican Party. A recent Gallup Poll shows that it is actually more accurate to say that pretty much all types of voters are moving away from the Republicans.  This includes college grads as well as, to a lesser extend, non-college graduates. This includes upper income voters, but also low and middle income voters. Republicans are losing support in all regions of the country, but to a lesser degree in the south. Republicans are even losing some support among conservatives, with only frequent church goers remaining to the increasingly theocratic party.

If these trends continue, the Republican Party will increasingly become a party of less-educated, elderly voters from the south who frequently attend church. In other words, the Gallup Poll shows exactly what has become obvious about the Republican Party.