Tuesday, April 30

Illinois Speed Limits

"On April 23, the Senate approved legislation I sponsored with Transportation Committee Chairman Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero) that will increase Illinois’ speed limit to 70 miles per hour (mph) on tollways and interstate highways. This change will bring Illinois in line with most of the rest of the country. The interstates were designed for a higher rate of speed, and currently, there are 34 states with speed limits of 70 mph or higher. All of Illinois’ neighboring states, except Wisconsin, have speed limits of 70 mph. Fifteen states have speed limits of 75 mph and one state has a speed limit of 85 mph." - Illinois State Senator Oberweis

Sunday, April 28

The Law and Faith

"The Law requires that we perform something for God. Faith does not require our doing; it requires that we believe the promise of God and accept something from Him. Therefore the function of the Law, at its highest level, is to work, just as that of faith is to assent. Thus the Law provides doing, and faith provides believing; for faith is faith in the promise, and the work is the work of the Law."

Luther, M. (1999, c1963). Vol. 26: Luther's works, vol. 26 : Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (26:272). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Saturday, April 27

Current Composition of U.S. House, Senate, Governors

(Senate - 53 D*, 47 R)

(House - 232 R, 200 D, 3 V)

(Governor - 29 R, 20 D, 1 I)

* = 2 Independents caucus with the democrats

Friday, April 26

Had Lunch with These Fine Ladies Today

Today's Speed Picks

race 1 Belmont #7 (3/1)
race 5 Belmont #2 (3/1)
race 6 Belmont #2 (8/5)
race 9 Belmont #11 (10/1)
race 4 Charles Town #2 (9/2)
race 6 Fairmount #4 (2/1)
race 9 Fonner #10 (6/1)
race 1 Hollywood #1 (9/5)
race 5 Hollywood #1 (4/1)
race 3 Indiana #7 (9/2)
race 3 Los Alamitos #1 (5/2)
race 7 Mountaineer #7 (5/1)
race 3 Pimlico #1 (7/2)
race 4 Prairie Meadows #7 (4/1)
race 8 Sun Ray #4 (5/2)
race 5 Woodbine #8 (3/1)

Thursday, April 25

Wednesday, April 24

John Paul II to be Canonized

"It is still premature to talk about dates for the canonization, but the rapidity with which the examination of the miracle process is happening still leaves open the possibility of celebrating it on Sunday October 20th, very close to the liturgical holiday assigned to the blessed Wojtyla, which is on October 22nd."

-from The Vatican Insider

Tuesday, April 23

How Illinois Can Turn its Economy Around

According to Governor Rick Perry of Texas, here is the blueprint for success:

1. Keep the tax burden as light as possible, and still maintain the services the people require

2. Have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable

3. Develop a legal system that doesn't allow for over-suing

4. Maintain accountability in your public schools to assure a skilled workforce

5. Get out of the way and let the private sector do what the private sector does best, which is create job, which, in turn, creates wealth that flows into the coffers of the government.

Monday, April 22

Conspiracy Theory of Marathon Bombers

Were they double agents?

Debka File

Sunday, April 21

Sunday Luther

"...someone will say: “But the Law is divine and holy.” Let the Law have its glory. But no Law, no matter how divine or holy, has the right to tell me that I obtain justification and life through it. I will grant that it can teach me that I should love God and my neighbor, and live in chastity, patience, etc.; but it is in no position to show me how to be delivered from sin, the devil, death, and hell. For this I must consult the Gospel and listen to the Gospel, which does not teach me what I should do—for that is the proper function of the Law—but what someone else has done for me, namely, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death. The Gospel commands me to accept and believe this, and this is what is called “the truth of the Gospel.” It is also the main doctrine of Christianity, in which the knowledge of all godliness is comprehended. It is, therefore, extremely necessary that we come to know this doctrine well and constantly inculcate it."

Luther, M. (1999, c1963). Vol. 26: Luther's works, vol. 26 : Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (26:91). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Saturday, April 20

20 Questions for Liberals

1) A few days ago, we were hearing that the Boston Marathon bombers COULD BE conservative, which proved that the Right is evil. Now, when we know that the terrorists are Muslims, how can the same liberals be saying that it means nothing?

2) If you believe we have a "right" to things like health care, food, shelter and a good education, then doesn't that also mean you believe we also have a right to force other people to unwillingly provide those things at gunpoint?

3) How can you simultaneously want a big government that will make decisions that have an enormous impact on the lives of every American while also saying that the character and morals of our politicians don't matter?

4) What exactly is the "fair share" of someone's income that he’s earned that he should be able to keep?

5) Why is it that time and time again, revenue paid to the treasury has GONE UP after we've cut taxes?

6) Are you pro-choice or pro-abortion? If it's pro-choice, do you feel people should be able to choose to have an assault weapon, what kind of light bulb they use in their house or whether they'd like to put their Social Security funds into a private retirement account?

7) If corporations are so awful, greedy and bad for the country, then shouldn't we be celebrating when they decide to close their plants here and move overseas?

8) How can liberal economists like Paul Krugman be right when they claim that our economy isn't doing well because we aren't spending enough money when we're already running massive, unsustainable deficits and spending is going up every year?

9) If Republicans don’t care about the poor, why do studies consistently show that they give more to charity than Democrats do?

10) Give us a ballpark estimate: If something doesn't change dramatically, how long do you think it will be until we have an economic crash in this country similar to the one we're seeing in Greece or Cyprus?

11) Since we "all agree" with the idea that our level of deficit spending is "unsustainable," what would be wrong with permanently freezing federal spending at the current level until we balance the budget by increasing revenue, cutting spending or some combination thereof?

12) If we change God's definition of marriage to make gay marriage legal, then what's the logical argument against polygamy or even adult siblings supposed to be?

13) In a world where people can easily change states and can, with a bit more difficulty, permanently move to other roughly comparable parts of the globe, do you really think it's feasible over the long haul to have a tax system where 86% of the income taxes are paid by the top 25% of the income earners?

14) If you win a lawsuit that's filed against you, why should you have to pay huge legal bills when you did nothing wrong while the person who filed the suit pays no penalty for wrongly accusing you?

15) How can you oppose putting murderers to death and be fine with killing innocent children via abortion?

16) A minimum wage raises salaries for some workers at the cost of putting other workers out of jobs entirely. What's the acceptable ratio for that? For every 10 people who get a higher salary, how many are you willing to see lose their jobs?

17) The earth has been warming and cooling for thousands of years with temperature drops and increases that are much larger than the ones we've seen over the last century. Since we can't adequately explain or model those changes, what makes us think we can say with any sort of confidence that global warming is being caused by man?

18) We live in a world where people have more choices than ever before in music, entertainment, careers, news sources and what to do with their time. Shouldn't government mirror that trend by moving towards federalism and states’ rights instead of centralizing more and more power in Washington, DC?

19) If people in the middle class aren't willing to pay enough in taxes to cover the government services that they use because they don't think it's worth the money, shouldn't we prune back government to a level people do feel comfortable paying for in taxes?

20) If firms can get by with paying women 72 cents on the dollar for the same quality of work as men, then why don't we see any firms with all female labor forces using those lower costs to dominate the marketplace?


Friday, April 19

Thoroughbred Handicapping 4-19-13

3 Aqueduct #2 (2/1)

8 Fairmount #1 (8/1)

3 Golden Gate #6 (2/1)
5 Golden Gate #1 (3/1)
6 Golden Gate #5 (6/5)

5 Hawthorne #4 (9/2)
9 Hawthorne #1A (5/1)

2 Keeneland #5 (6/1)
4 Keeneland #4 (7/2)
8 Keeneland #8 (9/2)

2 Oaklawn #1 (2/1)

1 Pimlico #2 (7/5)
10 Pimlico #2 (2/1)

1 Santa Anita #5 (1/1)
7 Santa Anita #2 (5/2)

Monday, April 15

Social Security

"As of now, Social Security has enough money to pay benefits in full through 2033, after which time recipients will receive only about three-quarters of what they should. Currently, 56 million Americans receive Social Security payments. That includes senior citizens, people with disabilities, and children whose working parents have died.

More than 40 percent of people 65 and older would live below the federal poverty line of $11,490 were it not for Social Security payments, according to estimates from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. As of June 2012, the average monthly retirement check was $1,234 a month. For one-quarter of elderly Social Security recipients, that check represents their lone source of income.

Really, there are only two ways to tweak the Social Security program, says Henry Aaron, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution: “Raise the rate of payroll taxes, or cut benefits and decide for whom and how much.”


Sunday, April 14

GDP Growth

"Looking at the economy in 10-year increments starting from 1948 (when declines from wartime spending had ended), averaging GDP’s annual growth percentage shows the following:

1948-57: 3.80%
1958-67: 4.28%
1968-77: 3.18%
1978-87: 3.15%
1988-97: 3.05%
1998-2007: 2.99%
2008-2013: 0.73%

Even if 2008 (-0.3%) and 2009’s (-3.1%) negative annual GDP percentages are dropped (something undone for the other periods) and only the 2010-13 period is averaged, the result is just 1.95% – still over a full percentage point below the previous decade’s."


Friday, April 12

Today's Picks

5 Fonner #2 (2-1)
2 Hawthorne #2 (2/1)
5 Hawthorne #1 (3/1)
6 Hawthorne #3 (5/2)
8 Keeneland #7 (3/1)
9 Keeneland #5 (3/5)
10 Keeneland #6 (3/1)
11 Sunland #11 (12/1)

Thursday, April 11

Today's Thoroughbred Picks

Race 2 Aqueduct #1 (8/5)
Race 3 Aqueduct #6 (9/5)
Race 4 Aqueduct #2 (5/2)

Race 4 Keeneland #8 (2/1)
Race 8 Keeneland #6 (7/5)

Race 2 Pimlico #2 (8/5)
Race 6 Pimlico #5 (6/1)

Wednesday, April 10

Hospital Consolidation Rising

The highest level of healthcare consolidation since the turn of the millennium occurred during 2012 and it is expected to continue - if not accelerate - going forward, a new report from Chicago-based Fitch Ratings contends.

The main spark for the new wave of consolidation is healthcare reform, report author Adam Kates told Healthcare Finance News. Eyeing reimbursement reductions and a changing business model that places more risk on the provider sector, healthcare organizations are looking to gain leverage from combining assets, staff and resources, he said.

"Hospital executives are seeing the fabric of operations changing from a fee-for-service format that rewards patient volume to a managed system that rewards patient outcomes," said Kates, director of Fitch's public finance group. "It is a very significant change in their operations and there is going to be a difficult period when they will have to operate in both worlds."

Fitch's study focused on not-for-profit hospitals, but Kates said consolidation has been active in the for-profit hospital and physician sectors as well. In spending more than a year conducting his market study, Kates said he has identified a definite trend of hospitals taking steps to build economies of scale to better withstand the revenue pressures they expect with the advent of the Affordable Care Act.

Ben Rooks, founder of San Francisco-based ST Advisors, said the wave of hospital mergers is a logical response to the value-based purchasing business model touted by the ACA.

"It's a numbers game," he said. "To effectively take on the financial risk providers are being told to assume, they need a certain amount of critical mass. The bigger you are, the more the numbers work to your advantage."

When two hospitals that previously competed in one region suddenly join forces, they not only gain economies of scale and double their market share, experts agree they also gain valuable leverage in negotiating for insurance contracts, product pricing and talent recruiting as well as assuming more control over emerging accountable care organizations.

-from Healthcare Finance News

Tuesday, April 9

88K Jobs

Only 88,000 new jobs were created in the month of March. The real news was that the decline in the unemployment rate was explained by the separation of nearly half a million people from the workforce, so that labor-force participation shrunk from about 67.3 percent in early 2000 to about 63.3 percent today.

Monday, April 8

Early Experiments with Telepathy

We've made progress.

"In a lab at Harvard Medical School, a man is using his mind to wag a rat’s tail. To send his command, he merely glances at a strobe light flickering on a computer screen, and a set of electrodes stuck to his scalp detects the activity triggered in his brain. A computer processes and relays the electrodes’ signal to an ultrasound machine poised over the rat’s head. The machine delivers a train of low-energy ultrasound pulses into the rat’s brain, stimulating its motor cortex – the area that governs its movements. The pulses are aimed purposely at a rice-grain-sized area that controls the rat’s tail. It starts to wag.

This link-up is the brainchild of Seung-Schik Yoo, and it works more than 94% of the time. Whenever a human looks at the flickering lights, the rat’s tail almost always starts to wag just over a second later. The connection between them is undeniably simple. The volunteer is basically flicking a switch in the rat’s brain between two positions – move tail, and don’t move tail. But it is still an impressive early example of something we will see more of in coming years – a way to connect between two living brains."


Candidate Chelsea Clinton?

Oh, spare me.

"Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton said Monday she would consider running for office if she could make a "meaningful" impact on the country.

'Right now, I’m grateful to live in a city and a state and a country where I strongly support my mayor, my governor, my president and my senators and my representative,' Clinton, who lives in New York City, said on NBC’s “Today.” 'If at some point that weren’t true and I thought I could make a meaningful and measurably greater impact, you know, I’d have to ask and answer that question.'"

Chelsea Clinton

Wrestlemania 29 Results

John Cena pinned The Rock to regain the WWE championship
Triple H defeated Brock Lesnar in a No Holds Barred Match
The Undertaker defeated CM Punk
Alberto Del Rio defeated Jack Swagger via submission to retain the WWE WHC
Fandango defeated Chris Jericho
Team Hell No retained the WWE world tag team titles defeating Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston
Mark Henry defeated Ryback
The Shield defeated Randy Orton, Sheamus, and The Big Show
The Miz defeated Wade Barrett to win the WWE I-C title

"Iron Lady" Passes Away

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the "Iron Lady" who led a conservative resurgence in her home country and forged a legendary partnership with President Ronald Reagan, died Monday following a stroke, her spokesman said. She was 87.

Thatcher led Britain from 1979 to 1990, the first woman to hold the job and longest-serving prime minister of the postwar era.

Sunday, April 7

Today's Thoroughbred Picks

Race 9 Aqueduct #13 Bizarroworld (3/1)
Race 7 Golden Gate #3 Classic Crusader (9/5)
Race 8 Keeneland #10 Adriani (4/1)
Race 5 Oaklawn #4 Stay Foolish (6/1)
Race 9 Sunland #6 Grand Slam Andre 4/1)
Race 9 Turf Paradise #9 Tpsi magic (5/2)

Saturday, April 6

Today's Thoroughbred Picks

Race 4: Aqueduct #4 Funnys Approval (7/2)
Race 7 Aqueduct #14 Beyond Empire (6/5)
Race 10 Aqueduct #4 Sahara Sky (2/1)
Race 7 Beulah #1 Significant Bling (2/5)
Race 8 Golden Gate #8 Bourbon Boy (3/1)
Race 5 Keeneland #8 Winning Cause #8 (7/2)
Racce 6 Oaklawn #11 Rattlesnake Holler (15-1)
Race 8 Oaklawn #5 Rhetorical (5/2)
Race 9 Oaklawn #2 Bobcat Jim (4/1)
Race 5 Santa Anita #6 Beholder (3/5)
Race 8 Santa Anita #6 Scarlet Strike (7/2)
Race 6 Turf Paradise #3 Lady Jila (2/1)

Home Prices

U.S. home prices jumped in February by the largest amount in seven years, evidence that the housing recovery strengthened ahead of the all-important spring-buying season.

Prices rose in 47 of 50 states and in all but four of the nation's 100 largest metro areas. Delaware, Alabama and Illinois were the only states to report price declines.

Tuesday, April 2

Reading Books

According to the Codex Group, just 19 percent of Americans do 79 percent of all non-required book reading.

Belief in the Resurrection

A study released by the Rasmussen Reports polling firm on Good Friday found that 64% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

While Americans who believe in the resurrection remain in the majority, that number is down significantly when compared to a Rasmussen Poll that asked the same question, released a year ago.

On April 7th, 2012 Rasmussen released a poll finding that 77% of Americans believed the resurrection of Christ to be historical fact.

Monday, April 1

States with Highest Unemployment

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Illinois was among six states with the highest unemployment rate in February 2013. California, Mississippi and Nevada tied at 9.6, Illinois came in next with 9.5. Rhode Island and North Carolina came in at 9.4 and New Jersey at 9.3. March's number will come out April 19, 2013.