Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
A state official with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks confirmed Friday morning that Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., and four other individuals were injured Thursday night when their 22-foot motor boat ran aground on Flathead Lake.At a minimum they were driving too fast at night with little in the way of skills or training. And certainly without the sense God gave a goose. Something I have found to be very common with the typical idiots that operate small sporting craft, snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles...
"There was a serious boating accident near Wayfarers State Park between 10 p.m. and midnight," said Jim Satterfield with FWP. "There were five occupants on the boat, including two public officials."
The occupants of the boat included Rehberg and state senator Greg Barkus, a Kalispell Republican. Satterfield said nearby campers heard the crash when the boat hit rocks at Wayfarers State Park near Bigfork.
All five occupants were injured in the crash, Sattefield said. Three were transported to the hospital by life flight and two by ambulance. All five victims, including Rehberg, were listed in stable condition at 9:45 a.m., according to Satterfield. Two were members of Rehberg's staff, according to FWP officials."The park is closed pending an official investigation, and will remain closed tomorrow," Satterfield said.
By early Friday afternoon, onlookers in boats were beginning to gather near the accident site, staring at the wrecked boat, which sat completely out of the water at about a 45-degree angel at the southern end of the park, where the shore is extremely rocky.
Satterfield said investigators will look at a variety of factors including the boat itself and who was driving it. Other factors will include speed, lifejackets, and whether drugs or alcohol were involved.
"Those are common in any accident investigation," he said.
Rehberg's office has yet to comment on the incident and the Flathead County Sheriff's Office is refer-ring all calls to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
And while it wasn't mentioned as anything more than an investigative area, I'm sure they were drinking. Because, as we know, alcohol and boats go together like macho and stupid.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Dallas’s police department changed the way it lines up its suspects for identification. Instead of the common “six pack” method where the victim looks at six photos at once, detectives (blind to who the suspect is) started showing the photos one at a time, reports the Associated Press. This small change, according to the AP, can lower misidentification rates by 39 percent.Not to be particularly uncharitable... But there are times I really wish Scalia, and his puppet Thomas, would die...
Law and justice are too important for ideologues like them...
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
In the LA Times, Megan Daum has an interesting reflection on the late comedy director John Hughes, and his eccentric cinematic representations of adolescence:Yes, where do you draw the line? When is eccentric merely eccentric instead of some dangerous condition requiring medication or some idiotic, inhumane punishment regime?Vaughan, over at MindHacks, add his own commentary:
If the brooding, solitary Andie played by Ringwald in "Pretty in Pink" were in high school in 2009, it's hard to imagine she wouldn't be a candidate for anti-depression therapy. Likewise, if "The Breakfast Club," which is about five teens serving time in Saturday detention, took place in a post-Prozac, post-Columbine America, Ally Sheedy's mostly mute, kleptomaniac misfit would have undoubtedly been medicated, and Anthony Michael Hall's character would have received a lot more than detention for bringing a flare gun to school. As for Ferris Bueller, the kid obviously needed Ritalin.
I'm not suggesting that any of us were better off when legitimate disorders went unrecognized and untreated. But in a culture in which diagnoses sometimes seem to get handed out like conservation-awareness fliers in front of the supermarket, it's worth asking ourselves if old-fashioned eccentricity -- of the teen or adult variety -- can too easily be supplanted by the ease of assigning a code from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Hughes, who left the movie business in the early 1990s because he feared the impact Hollywood would have on his children, should be remembered not just for the way he appreciated weirdness but for the way he normalized it -- not with pills but with paisley.One larger problem with relying on vague psychiatric diagnoses, such as "difficulty paying attention," is that they're subject to the classic slippery slope. Imagine a classroom with five disorderly kids, who are then given a drug for ADD. Let's also imagine that this drug is extremely effective, and transforms the unruly students into well-behaved pupils. (In real life, of course, Ritalin is no miracle cure.) This raises the obvious problem: what about the next five most disorderly kids? Do they now have difficulties regulating attention? Compared to whom? Define unruly.
The monologue that bookmarks The Breakfast Club, with the line "You see us as you want to see us - in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions", succinctly captures how society's view of youth changes and yet always stays the same.
For the current younger generation, the simplest terms are mostly taken from psychiatry. This will eventually change and our recurrent anxieties about the young will largely be expressed in the next most convenient definition.
The danger isn't just that we've medicalized Ferris Bueller. It's that we've turned a large percentage of children into psychiatric patients without a clear understanding of where to draw the line. (And I think this will become an even bigger problem once we develop effective interventions, which can shift the bell curve of behavior and make Ritalin look like a crude sledgehammer.) But then this is a recurring problem with the brain, which rarely obeys our neat schematics and categories. Human behavior is a smear, a spectrum; it rarely gives us simple answers to yes or no questions. This is what great art, and even mediocre Hollywood comedies, can remind us.
I don't have an answer, but I do think we've gone way to far. Especially with the punishment.
Monday, August 24, 2009
hoosiermama:Seriously. Obama is as American as you are stupid. And, as we can see, the stoopid runs far and deep with you...
The only other thing that hit me was that Sinclair said BO was not circumcised. When my son was born in a hospital that was done as a matter of routine without even consulting us. Would the same be for Hawaii? OTOH People born at home or in some other cultures are not circumcised.
A relative of mine was born (in a hospital) a couple of years after BO's alleged birth date. He was circumcised also (as a matter of routine, not according to any family request).
My son was born in June of 1961 in a hospital in CA, and the nurses released us because of miscommunication in a day and a half before the circumcision was done. We had to go back to the doctor’s office to have it done a week later, and the doctor was NOT HAPPY. My second son was born in the same hospital 4 years later. I don’t remember them asking me about it. Routine procedure for little boys.
Wish we had someone to make a phone call to the hospitols in HI and ask if they routinely do circumcism and when that practice started.
You might want to make that call to a Canadian hospital ...
No...it would have been in Kenya....not Canada.
Natural Born 54
I am having a vision of a court room scene. The judge turns to O sitting in the witness chair to his left and says “I am sorry, Mr. President, but I am going to have to ask you to stand and drop trou .....”
Sunday, August 23, 2009
1. You're more likely to die from malpractice than an automobile accident. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, found that medical errors cause between 44,000 and 98,000 deaths in hospitals each year. Even when using the lower estimate, deaths due to medical errors exceed the number attributable to the 8th leading cause of death. More die in a given year as a result of medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents (43,458), breast cancer (42,297) or AIDS (16,516).So, long-before tort reform, we need medical reform to get rid of the incompetent 5%. The killer/dangerous doctors that drive the 2% of costs. If we get rid of them by having doctors rat them out instead of hiding them we'll have won half the cost battle and saved a lot of lives.
2. Only one in eight preventable medical errors committed in hospitals results in a malpractice claim. The fact is most people don't even realize when malpractice has been committed, and when they do, they're more likely to forgive instead of sue. (Harvard Medical Practice Study Group, Patients, Doctors and Lawyers: Medical Injury, Malpractice Litigation, and Patient Compensation in New York, 1990.)
3. Malpractice lawsuits, insurance and payouts are only 2% of all medical care. Malpractice payouts by physicians and their insurers were a mere $4.5 billion in 2001 – less than 1 percent of the country’s overall health care costs of $1.4 trillion. (National Practitioner Data Bank, as quoted in Business Week, March 3, 2003.)
4. Only 5 percent of doctors (1 out of 20) are responsible for 54 percent of malpractice payouts. (National Practitioner Data Bank, Sept. 1, 1990 – Sept. 30, 2002.)
5. The rise in cost of medical malpractice insurance is due to factors other than awards, which have been stagnant in scope for decades. Premiums charged do not track losses paid, but instead rise and fall in concert with the state of the economy. When the economy is booming and investment returns are high, companies maintain premiums at modest levels; however, when the economy falters and interest rates fall, companies increase premiums in response. (J. Robert Hunter, Americans for Insurance Reform, "Medical Malpractice Insurance: Stable Losses/Unstable Rates," October 10, 2002. See also: http://www.insurance-reform.org/StableLosses.pdf.)
6. Medical malpractice cases have been dropping not increasing. The number of new medical malpractice claims declined by about four percent between 1995 and 2000. There were 90,212 claims filed in 1995 and 86,480 claims filed in 2000, despite more medical treatments and actual cases of malpractice. (National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Statistical Compilation of Annual Statement Information for Property/Casualty Insurance Companies in 2000, 2001.)
Then we can talk about unnecessary tort reform.
There are more than a few Democrats who believe, in practice, that government should be run for the benefit of government employees’ unions. There are Democrats who are so solicitous of civil liberties that they would undermine legitimate covert intelligence collection. There are others who mistrust the use of military power under almost any circumstances.Who Joe? Where are these Democrats of whom you speak? What are their names? Which districts do they represent? Where are their policy papers, their quotes, their blogs or interviews where they espouse these beliefs?
Because, in all honesty, I haven't seen or heard this from any actual Democrat. And if there are any caricature, strawman Democrats like that they're only fringe lunatics who have neither place or voice in the Democratic party.
No, you wrote an article on the GOP that you turned into a Concern Troll attack on Democrats because you, being a coward and not willing to stick by the truth of what you wrote (and risk you fat salary as a "journalist" by pissing off the Corporation that owns you) had to create a Democratic strawman to preserve your "independence" and "integrity." And by doing so demonstrated you have neither.
And, thus, you are shown to be worthless. But I kind of got that drift over the past few years.
Greene and Paxton have just published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that attempts to get at the subconscious underpinnings of morality by recording subjects’ brain activity as they make a decision to lie. Under the fMRI, subjects were asked to predict the result of a coin toss and were allowed to keep their predictions to themselves until after the coin fell, giving them a chance to lie. As motivation, they were paid for correct predictions. For comparison, the researchers ran tests in which they asked subjects to reveal their predictions before the coin toss. The scientists then analyzed the subjects’ success rates using statistics: The dishonest were identified as those who guessed the results of the coin toss more times than chance would dictate.This is why politics, for me, is an impossibility. Even though when I was younger I did dabble in HS and Collegiate politics. I just couldn't be an oily, lying bastard. And while my obvious honest attracted a lot of people... The lying, oily bastards out-numbered me and preferred their own type.
Greene and Paxton had hypothesized that if deciding to be honest is a conscious process—the result of resisting temptation—the areas of the brain associated with self-control and critical thinking would light up when subjects told the truth. If it is automatic, those areas would remain dark.
What they found is that honesty is an automatic process—but only for some people. Comparing scans from tests with and without the opportunity to cheat, the scientists found that for honest subjects, deciding to be honest took no extra brain activity. But for others, the dishonest group, both deciding to lie and deciding to tell the truth required extra activity in the areas of the brain associated with critical thinking and self-control.
Their findings—that honesty is automatic for some people—is part of a growing body of work that shows that many, if not most, of our daily actions are not under our conscious control. According to John Bargh, a Yale social psychologist who studies automaticity, even our higher mental processes, ranging from persistence at an activity to social stereotyping to stopping to help a person in need, are performed unconsciously in response to environmental cues. And Jon Haidt of the University of Virginia has found through numerous studies that we make some moral judgments, like those involved in the trolley problem, based entirely on our emotions and are unable to explain logically why some things are right and others wrong.
It's as if being reflexively honest has an invisible mark that can be seen by the dishonest.
OTOH, I can see the morally ambiguous much easier than most people. Their dissembling and prevarications are as obvious to me as I suppose my reflexive honesty is to them. That's one of the things I hated about Obama. He wasn't honest. He was a manipulator. And the damn Obama-bots couldn't see it, despite the evidence being plain in his record.
And, now, of course, the buyers remorse has set in...
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
The Truth About Death CounselingWe start off with a wonderful premise. Let's get rid of the fire-breathing moron -- we can start with Palin then add in virtually all of Fox News, virtually all of the Washington Post editorial page, at least two-thirds of all Republicans and the whole fringe-lunatic crowd exemplified by the birthers, the Limbaugh audience, etc. I estimate that to be close to thirty-percent of all Americans.
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, August 21, 2009
Let's see if we can have a reasoned discussion about end-of-life counseling.
We might start by asking Sarah Palin to leave the room. I've got nothing against her. She's a remarkable political talent. But there are no "death panels" in the Democratic health-care bills, and to say that there are is to debase the debate.
We also have to tell the defenders of the notorious Section 1233 of H.R. 3200 that it is not quite as benign as they pretend. To offer government reimbursement to any doctor who gives end-of-life counseling -- whether or not the patient asked for it -- is to create an incentive for such a chat.Any reimbursement, for anything, has the potential to create an incentive and over-use of the resource, whether it's "end-of-life counseling," antibiotics or an MRI. Which gets me to my "just so" MRI story: Six months ago my wife had a very mildly sprained shoulder. Twenty years ago they'd have put her in a sling and told her to take aspirin for the pain. This time they wanted to MRI her.
I strenuously objected to the MRI because it was clear there was no bonafide medical necessity and I didn't want to play "insurance denial" roulette and be stuck for a pointless, unnecessary $5,000 procedure. A procedure necessitated, not because there was anything seriously "wrong" with my wife that would require this procedure, but in great part because hospitals require their doctors to "make their numbers" for these kinds of tests. Woe to the doctor who doesn't make his quota and marginal (and I'm being charitable in my wife's case) cases are frequently referred. Anyway, she didn't get the test and after about a month-and-half she was better -- just like you'd expect from a very mild shoulder sprain.
And this goes on, through-out medical care. It's not just my wife. It's not just my grandmother who would have preferred to die (and was committing slow suicide in any case) instead of being kept alive by respirator, etc., for almost two months as she just started failing, system after system. The reality of over-medicalization is rampant in the medical industry. It's at all levels and we know it! So, does anyone in their right mind think that doctors are going to forgo lucrative, reimbursable medical treatments for a crappy "Death-With-Dignity" consult?
So, to pretend, as is implied by Krauthammer, that it would create an irrational, abusive incentive in lieu of bonafide medical care is laughable. Virtually all of "for profit" medicine has these problems. As does most everything when money gets attached to it.
But, of course, that's not the only fear-monger that Krauthammer has...:
What do you think such a chat would be like? Do you think the doctor will go on and on about the fantastic new million-dollar high-tech gizmo that can prolong the patient's otherwise hopeless condition for another six months? Or do you think he's going to talk about -- as the bill specifically spells out -- hospice care and palliative care and other ways of letting go of life?I think it would be frank. And I do not believe that the doctor would fail to sell a whirl-about in his "new million-dollar high-tech gizmo." I think it's absurd to think that the doctor who is either trying to preserve a life, or callously generating billings as so many do, is going to withhold this information. The first wouldn't because of his/her overwhelming ethical persona. The second because he's a greedy ass like so many doctors and no way would he fail at the chance to up his billings.
Which gets me to my ex-mother-in-law. She died of a particular glial cell carcinoma. This cancer is known to be 100% fatal within two-months of diagnosis and is usually fatal within one-month. There is no know cure and surgery, chemotherapy, etc., have not shown to be effective.
From the day of diagnosis to her death was less than thirty days. The doctors, knowing nothing would work, still flew her to Arizona from her hospital in Reno. They scooped out a huge chunk of her brain and she was, after a week, sent home to die. She didn't die with dignity. She didn't die any later. She died with a substantial loss of motor control, including her bladder and bowels, and he husband had to change her diapers for the last two weeks of her life as she laid there and died in her own piss and shit.
So don't pretend, at least to me, that doctors don't perform "health care" for any purpose but to to bill. These doctors knew it wouldn't work. But they did know they could collect as my ex-mother-in-law was on medicare. That she died, in her piss and shit unable to control her bowels was obviously of no matter. They got paid for a pointless surgery on an incurable, aggressive cancer.
So, by this point I think rational people can see Krauthammer's argument is self-defeating. It's really a dishonest slight-of-hand where he constructs a strawman medical professional who will fore-go other, more lucrative, options to hop on the "death counseling" boat. It's simply ludicrous. But if that wasn't enough fear mongering for you, he goes for other fear-mongering by attacking people through primal horrors:
No, say the defenders. It's just that we want the doctors to talk to you about putting in place a living will and other such instruments. Really? Then consider the actual efficacy of a living will. When you are old, infirm and lying in the ICU with pseudomonas pneumonia and deciding whether to (a) go through the long antibiotic treatment or (b) allow what used to be called "the old man's friend" to take you away, the doctor will ask you at that time what you want for yourself -- no matter what piece of paper you signed five years earlier.Nobody says you can't revoke this course of action. A living will is not an unbreakable contract with suicide. To pretend so is intellectually lazy and dishonest. But beyond that, this is what (those of us who are rational) envision beyond the rest of the crappy strawman and ghostly death images of Krauthammer's fevered imagination:
This past spring, the Death with Dignity Act was widely recognized and lauded for being a safe, compassionate law providing comfort and peace of mind to terminally ill adults. The Oregon Department of Human Services’ (DHS)11th annual report detailing usage of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act demonstrates that this praise is well deserved.This is what we're talking about Charles. Having a say in how you go. Without noisome, meddling relatives or the State sticking their noses into our last decisions, for whatever petty or noble reason they believe. Death-with-dignity is an on-going issue and nothing written by Charles, or any of the other right-wingers, is anything but the bogeyman spectre of the right-wing.
This year’s statistics are largely in keeping with the data collected over the past 10 years. 88 people received ODWDA prescriptions in 2008, and 60 people died under the terms of the Act. The typical participant was 72, college educated, and suffering from cancer. Over the years, participants have listed quality-of-life issues as their main reasons for using the Act, and this year was no different. The top concerns included an inability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable, loss of autonomy, and loss of dignity.
There were some categories in which the statistics made a more noticeable shift. In 2008, 98% of patients were enrolled in hospice care, which is a significant increase from previous years when hospice enrollment was at 86%. In addition, in 2008 more patients had private health insurance (88%) than in previous years (63%).
The report also indicates that the dire predictions of Death with Dignity opponents have not materialized. This year, as in all previous years of the Act’s usage, there was not a single report of coercion, abuse, or misuse of the law. For the 11th year in a row, Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act has proven to be a safe and effective law. Read DHS’ report and table.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Perfectly Rational Karl Smith points out that there may not be a conflict here at all. When it comes to no-money-down liars loans, or leveraged investments more generally, the effect for consumers might be a “heads-you-win, tails-nothing-happens” coin flip. If someone offers you a giant mortgage, and the upside that your new house may become worth a lot more than the fees and interest jumps, and the downside is that you got to live in a nicer house than normal for a year or two and lost your rent, that’s a perfectly rational bet.
There are problems with this "might" -- problems I never see properly addressed from the idiotic, theoretical excuse-machine -- nobody can time the market for the upside reward and the downside was not just "losing some rent money." Seriously folks, for all your tarting it up in silly economic "rational consumer" theory, you ignore that consumers (everyone) can't time, can seldom measure the total downside and are, simply put, not "rational."
First, as I said, you can't time a market. We know this. We've got decades of studies showing this... Plus, traditionally, when a market heats up, the people who be low-resource people who'd take liar loans will be the last-ones-in and the first-ones-burnt. We see that all the time, too. We call it "stupid money."
Second, unlike a bad stock, the investment isn't "near cash" or "cash equivalent" and it takes quite some time to sell, often months or years. Plus, unlike stocks and other rational short-term investments that can be flipped in hours, it costs real money to hold these long-term positions, and, even if you walk away from the investment those costs and debts still accrue through interest and legal fees.
Just to make it more fun, even if you can get out relatively rapidly, in a month or so, and you don't get burned by the downside, you still can't get out of real-estate for less than eight-to-ten percent of selling price so your upside isn't as high as you thought. So your profits aren't going to be nearly as big as you believe.
For example, in 2006 you buy a house for $400,000 and put 5% ($20,000) down. In 2007, you sell it for $440,000 because you're in a hot market. Reality sets in immediately -- you don't walk away with $40,000 because you (at 8% commissions, etc.) just paid slightly over $35,000. You, in reality, made just under $5,000 profit despite your $40,000 in appreciation. That's still about a 25% return on your money, which is pretty good. But it's a fool's paradise and understanding, because your losses can, when the market turns on you, overwhelm your modest (absolute) gains.
Now, let's say in 2007, you play the game again. You spend $400,000 and put 5% ($20,000) down. But now you're in trouble. You walk away and lose everything. But there was, until recently with the tax law reform, even more risk. Risk that made this "rational position" even worse.
While you can walk away from a mortgage and not pay it back, there were some nasty provisions in the tax law to make you pay for your errors -- forgiveness of indebtedness income. (Except for primary residences, these are still in effect, however, as this example is residential, primary residence I won't deal with other non-personal-residence scenarios).
Today, in my client base, I went through the A-L in individual tax returns just to see how many of my "liar" speculators are in trouble. I have, in that sub-set, at least nine "liar loans," possibly more. Every single one of those loans is so upside down that he, or she, was going to have a significant tax impact from the "forgiveness from indebtedness" income they were going to get. For some of them, who were making $50K, or significantly less, per year, the forgiveness of indebtedness was going to generate income that would substantially increase their normal gross income leaving them with potential tax bills in the tens-of-thousands of dollars.
Lucky for them, the rules to primary residence forgiveness have been substantially liberalized. But those rules were NOT in place when they made these stupid bets. And there was no rational reason to believe that such a provision, considering the history of tax legislation in America, would be enacted. To include this post hoc provision forgiving this downside in arguments (as I've seen around the Internet) is a fallacy. The rules changed favorably today because so many fools made the bet under the old rules and it was going to cause huge issues for large swaths of middle-class America.
So, back to our example, you lose your $20,000 you put down. You also run up $100,000 in legal fees, accrued interest, etc. That $100,000 would have shown up on your return as income. Ordinary income. Which means you could easily have another, maybe, $25,000 in taxes owed to the IRS. Which, if you can't pay it off on April 15th, would be charging you penalties and interest at about a twelve-percent rate as well.
So, for a small reward of $5,000 (a whole 25% ROI(Return on Investment)) in one year, you're essentially taking the downside risk of $45,000 (lost capital plus additional taxes) which is insane in my book...
In finance and accounting we talk a lot about leverage. Leverage is a wonderful thing. So is debt. When used by people who fully understand debt-related leverage can lever you right into huge losses.
Something not discussed by the mavens of the real-estate bubbles.
On one side are those who inquire, examine, experiment, research, propose ideas and subject them to scrutiny, change their minds when shown to be wrong and live with uncertainty while placing reliance on the collective, self-critical, responsible and rigorous use of reason and observation to further the quest for knowledge.I've often felt that Stalinism and Marxism simply replaced one religion with another. But I feel much the same about the Libertarians and their Laissez-Faire, Market-Worshiping capitalism.
On the other side are those who espouse a belief system or ideology which pre-packages all the answers, who have faith in it, who trust the authorities, priests and prophets, and who either think that the hows and whys of the universe are explained to satisfaction by their faith, or smugly embrace ignorance. Note that although the historical majority of these latter are the epigones of one or another religion, they also include the followers of such ideologies as Marxism and Stalinism – which are also all-embracing monolithic ownerships of the Great Truth to which everyone must sign up on pain of punishment, and on whose behalf their zealots are prepared to kill and die.
If anyone does not know how to pluck from history and the contemporary world examples of these opposing mindsets and their operation then he is either deaf, dumb, blind and illiterate – or he is one of the creatures of faith.
We will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote."Funny, but they were all for "majority rules" when they were the majority. Assholes.
Let me clarify: Idiotic, ignorant, crankish, fear-mongering assholes.
And they're proud of it.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Early Risers Are MutantsSo, bow down to your non-sleepy over-lords!
By Cassandra Willyard
ScienceNOW Daily News
13 August 2009
Don't hate those people who are perky and efficient after only a few hours of sleep. They can't help it. New research suggests that a genetic mutation may explain why some people sleep less.
Researchers don't know exactly why some people do fine with as little as 4 hours of sleep a night, while others need 12. "We've believed for a long time that there's a genetic basis," says Paul Shaw, a neurobiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. But scientists have only recently begun to ferret out which genes are responsible.
In 2001, geneticist Ying-Hui Fu and colleagues identified a mutation in a gene called Per2 that appeared to cause familial advanced sleep-phase syndrome (FASPS). People who have this condition sleep a normal 8 hours, but they go to bed earlier than most people, retiring at 6 or 7 in the evening and waking at 3 or 4 in the morning. "After that was published, a lot of these people [with unusual sleep schedules] came to us," says Fu, who is now at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. "So we started to collect DNA samples." The team now has genetic information from more than 60 families.
Fu and her colleagues have spent the past several years mining this vast genetic storehouse for more mutations that might affect sleep patterns. In 2005, they uncovered another mutation associated with FASPS. And now they say they have found the first genetic mutation in humans that appears to affect sleep duration rather than sleep timing. The mutation lies in DEC2, a gene that codes for a protein that helps turn off expression of other genes, including some that control circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates a person's sleep-wake cycle. The mutation occurred in just two people, a mother and her daughter. The women sleep an average of only 6.25 hours, whereas the rest of the family members sleep a more typical 8 hours.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Obama killed Vince Foster as part of his super-Kenyan sleeper-agent conspiracy to destroy Christian America... And his MULSIM father funded the Weathermen... It all fits... Details to follow -- trust me...
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Q: When is a crack in a tooth not a crack? A: When it's a craze!A good dentist will explain crazes to you... A bad dentist will want to crown your teeth and, if he's smart, will convince you just what a great guy he is for fixing these terrible problems!
Crazes are visible cracks in the enamel of the teeth. They are always painless and generally they are vertical (but not always). They are most noticeable in the front teeth, and frequently cause patients a lot of concern. They tend to form as we get older, and are considered by dentists to be a part of the normal anatomy of the teeth. Crazes happen because of the differences between the coefficients of thermal expansion of the enamel and the underlying dentin. When a person switches quickly between eating and drinking hot and cold foods, these two components expand and contract at slightly different rates causing cracks in the more brittle outer layer of enamel. The underlying dentin is less brittle and does not crack. Since the enamel and the dentin are bonded to each other molecule for molecule, there is no danger of the enamel or the tooth breaking. The image below shows numerous vertical crazes in several of the lower incisors and the right lower canine (the one on the left of the image).
So, if you're not inherently suspicious, like I am, to the underlying motives of the dentist ($$$$$) you just may fall for it...
So, rule of thumb: If a dentist ever tells you that your teeth are cracked and need to be crowned, ask yourself: DO THEY HURT LIKE THE DICKENS? If you have PAIN, you could have a cracked tooth and need actual reconstructive dentistry. If they don't hurt, you probably just have crazes, like many do, and your dentist is a rip-off artist. Which means you need to find a new dentist. One who cares about you and your mouth more than his (or her) pocketbook.
Also, a second rule of thumb, if they have Fox News running on the TV... They're almost certainly going to fall into the "bad xxxxxxxxxxxx" category. Watching Fox News in public is, generally speaking, a declaration of your massively defective character...
Monday, August 10, 2009
The U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) basically figures out who deserves treatment by using a cost-utility analysis based on the "quality adjusted life year."Hawking is, of course, a British citizen and does receive fantastic health care from British National Healthcare... In America, the hospital would tell you how much it'd cost. And since Dr. Hawking can't qualify for insurance, wouldn't have the money to pay for his medical care, sure as Bob's your uncle, Dr. Hawking would be dead in short order without Medicare or some other government assistance to take the load.
One year in perfect health gets you one point. Deductions are taken for blindness, for being in a wheelchair and so on.
The more points you have, the more your life is considered worth saving, and the likelier you are to get care.
People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.
And, for the record people, it's insurance reform. The goal is to cut out the bloated, wasteful insurance companies that add 40% to the cost of medicine while being unaffordable for nearly one-quarter of all Americans.
AP410 This is the undegrad course. You have three things to do: (1) take the final exam (worth 40% of your grade); (2) write a 3,000-word essay on the theological significance of intelligent design (worth 40% of your grade); (3) provide at least 10 posts defending ID that you’ve made on “hostile” websites, the posts totalling 2,000 words, along with the URLs (i.e., web links) to each post (worth 20% of your grade).If Intelligent Design is, as Dembski constantly lied about during the past decade or so, science then there is no theological significance save for how it would support or dismiss any particular, specific religious claim. If it's just apologetics, then it would make sense to discuss it in the context of religion. As Dembski once again demonstrates, by his behavior, Intelligent Design is nothing more than religious (Christian really, though they'll tent in a few Muslims and Jews in faux diversity) apologetics.
But not only is it not just air-head course that should only be taught as a survey "easy credit" course to gullible freshmen, it has two more iterations:
AP510 This is the masters course. You have four things to do: (1) take the final exam (worth 30% of your grade); (2) write a 1,500- to 2,000-word critical review of Francis Collins’s The Language of God -- for instructions, see below (20% of your grade); (3) write a 3,000-word essay on the theological significance of intelligent design (worth 30% of your grade); (4) provide at least 10 posts defending ID that you’ve made on “hostile” websites, the posts totalling 3,000 words, along with the URLs (i.e., web links) to each post (worth 20% of your grade).A book report on a crap-woo book? Trolling on the Internet? As part of a Master's Degree? Are we kidding? But, as I implied above, it gets so much better (worse). They have a Doctorate in Divinity Program with the same idiotic course:
AP810 This is the D.Min. course. You have four things to do: (1) take the final exam (worth 30% of your grade); (2) write a 1,500- to 2,000-word critical review of Francis Collins’s The Language of God -- for instructions, see below (20% of your grade); (3) write a 3,000-word essay on the theological significance of intelligent design (worth 30% of your grade); (4) develop a Sunday-school lesson plan based on the book Understanding Intelligent Design (worth 20% of your grade).A book report on a for-crap, non-science book full of woo and Internet forum trolling. As part of a Doctoral program. This isn't education. This is an embarrassment.
This ID course, trolling, pop-culture pseudo-science, and general religious woo is on par the low-hanging fruit you'd expect from one of those unaccredited diploma mills that give out PhDs for "life experience." Not from a real college or even a real "bible" college. And, frankly, I expect more than this out of my daughter, who is 12 and homeschooled!
I would be embarrassed to tell someone I was an alumni of this school. After all, with courses like this, anyone who knew I was getting a comfy sham-education would hold my degree to be so cheap as to be worthless.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Your obvious shock and dismay at the sheer angry ignorance of the health care teabaggers reiterates my largest problem with your rosy immigrant's view of America. You have often underestimated just how poisonously dangerous the American populist right is.I am far less optimistic. I think this country is doomed as the rest of the world continues to pull further away from us in science and technology as we back-slide into our relgious, conservative, no-nothing mess.
I don't blame you. You came to America after the rise of Reagan. Most of your life in America, you have lived under different Republican presidents who placated these folks with platitudes and campaign rhetoric. The one period when the populist right didn't feel they had a fellow traveler in charge was when Bill Clinton was elected (thanks to the reactionaries splitting their votes). You remember, no doubt, the level of crazy Clinton had to defuse and dodge, and this was a man who had the advantage of being a Southern bubba who has dealt which such people all his life.
For most of your time in America, this insanity has been muted by the success of conservative politics. Since you live in Washington, you probably saw daily the face of the successful conservative political establishment that milked the populist right, and by milking them kept their bitterness at a manageable level. That safety valve was stuffed up by George Bush's failed presidency.
So now, these people are facing their worst fears; actual change.
A political and demographic re-alignment is happening before their eyes, and they are reaching back into their old bag of tricks of intimidation, violence, and apocalyptic fearmongering. You are British, Andrew. You love this country, and we love you for it. But you didn't grow up around these folks, and you don't realize what a permanent and potent part of the American political landscape they are.
They have always been with us, the people who believed in manifest destiny, who delighted in the slaughter of this land's original inhabitants, who cheered a nation into a civil war to support an economic system of slavery that didn't even benefit them. They are the people who bashed the unions and cheered on the anti-sedition laws, who joined the Pinkertons and the No Nothing Party, who beat up Catholic immigrants and occasionally torched the black part of town. They rode through the Southern pine forests at night, they banned non-European immigration, they burned John Rockefeller Jr. in effigy for proposing the Grand Tetons National Park.
These are the folks who drove Teddy Roosevelt out of the Republican Party and called his cousin Franklin a communist, shut their town's borders to the Okies and played the protectionist card right up til Pearl Harbor, when they suddenly had a new foreign enemy to hate. They are with us, the John Birchers, the anti-flouride and black helicopter nuts, the squirrly commie-hating hysterics who always loved the loyalty oath, the forced confession, the auto-de-fe. Those who await with baited breath the race war, the nuclear holocaust, the cultural jihad, the second coming, they make up much more of America then you would care to think.
I'm always optimistic about America. We're a naturally rich and beautiful place. Every generation we renew ourselves with a watering of immigrants committed to the American dream, immigrants like you. But please, Andrew, do not for a second underestimate the price in blood and tears we've always paid here for progress.
I voted for Obama with my fingers crossed, because I knew that as the populist right lost power, they would become more extreme, more concentrated, and more violent. As to dismissing them as only a quarter or so of America, please remember that it only took a quarter or so of Americans to actively support the Confederacy.
This person should have run his blog when Andrew was on vacation. Not that idiot Connor Friedersdorf or whatever the hell his name was...
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil. -- Sarah PalinI'm baffled that people still take her, and her delusions, seriously. She's just nuts. Beyond stupid. She's just nuts.
Friday, August 7, 2009
On August 6, 2009, The Colonial BancGroup, Inc. (the Company or BancGroup) was informed by the U.S. Department of Justice that it is the target of a federal criminal investigation relating to the Company’s mortgage warehouse lending division and related alleged accounting irregularities. The Company has been informed that the alleged accounting irregularities relate to more than one year’s audited financial statements and regulatory financial reporting, and the Company’s Board of Directors and Audit Committee are making every effort to determine the impact of these alleged accounting irregularities on the Company’s financial statements and regulatory financial reporting. The Company intends to cooperate with the investigation.And to think, they'd be getting away with it still in Libertarian Paradise...
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Just beautiful, baby!
Newly unveiled court documents show that ghostwriters paid by a pharmaceutical company played a major role in producing 26 scientific papers backing the use of hormone replacement therapy in women, suggesting that the level of hidden industry influence on medical literature is broader than previously known.Because things like this were not reported in these phony papers:
The articles, published in medical journals between 1998 and 2005, emphasized the benefits and de-emphasized the risks of taking hormones to protect against maladies like aging skin, heart disease and dementia. That supposed medical consensus benefited Wyeth, the pharmaceutical company that paid a medical communications firm to draft the papers, as sales of its hormone drugs, called Premarin and Prempro, soared to nearly $2 billion in 2001.
But the seeming consensus fell apart in 2002 when a huge federal study on hormone therapy was stopped after researchers found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. A later study found that hormones increased the risk of dementia in older patients.In other words, not nearly benefits touted and the results (especially with dementia) were opposite of what was being claimed. Honestly, anyone who thinks medical care should not be reformed, or that 'the market' can somehow suss this crap out and eliminate the cheaters, is just plain delusional.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
- The Federal Reserve Board on Monday approved a final rule for home mortgage loans to better protect consumers and facilitate responsible lending. The rule prohibits unfair, abusive or deceptive home mortgage lending practices and restricts certain other mortgage practices. The final rule also establishes advertising standards and requires certain mortgage disclosures to be given to consumers earlier in the transaction.
The final rule, which amends Regulation Z (Truth in Lending) and was adopted under the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA), largely follows a proposal released by the Board in December 2007, with enhancements that address ensuing public comments, consumer testing, and further analysis.
"The proposed final rules are intended to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive acts and practices in mortgage lending, while keeping credit available to qualified borrowers and supporting sustainable homeownership," said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. "Importantly, the new rules will apply to all mortgage lenders, not just those supervised and examined by the Federal Reserve. Besides offering broader protection for consumers, a uniform set of rules will level the playing field for lenders and increase competition in the mortgage market, to the ultimate benefit of borrowers," the Chairman said.
The final rule adds four key protections for a newly defined category of "higher-priced mortgage loans" secured by a consumer's principal dwelling. For loans in this category, these protections will:
Prohibit a lender from making a loan without regard to borrowers' ability to repay the loan from income and assets other than the home's value. A lender complies, in part, by assessing repayment ability based on the highest scheduled payment in the first seven years of the loan. To show that a lender violated this prohibition, a borrower does not need to demonstrate that it is part of a "pattern or practice."
Require creditors to verify the income and assets they rely upon to determine repayment ability.
Ban any prepayment penalty if the payment can change in the initial four years. For other higher-priced loans, a prepayment penalty period cannot last for more than two years. This rule is substantially more restrictive than originally proposed.
Require creditors to establish escrow accounts for property taxes and homeowner's insurance for all first-lien mortgage loans.
"These changes have made for better rules that will go far in protecting consumers from unfair practices and restoring confidence in our mortgage system," said Governor Randall S. Kroszner.
In addition to the rules governing higher-priced loans, the rules adopt the following protections for loans secured by a consumer's principal dwelling, regardless of whether the loan is higher-priced:
Creditors and mortgage brokers are prohibited from coercing a real estate appraiser to misstate a home's value.
Companies that service mortgage loans are prohibited from engaging in certain practices, such as pyramiding late fees. In addition, servicers are required to credit consumers' loan payments as of the date of receipt and provide a payoff statement within a reasonable time of request.
Creditors must provide a good faith estimate of the loan costs, including a schedule of payments, within three days after a consumer applies for any mortgage loan secured by a consumer's principal dwelling, such as a home improvement loan or a loan to refinance an existing loan. Currently, early cost estimates are only required for home-purchase loans. Consumers cannot be charged any fee until after they receive the early disclosures, except a reasonable fee for obtaining the consumer's credit history.
For all mortgages, the rule also sets additional advertising standards. Advertising rules now require additional information about rates, monthly payments, and other loan features. The final rule bans seven deceptive or misleading advertising practices, including representing that a rate or payment is "fixed" when it can change.
The rule's definition of "higher-priced mortgage loans" will capture virtually all loans in the subprime market, but generally exclude loans in the prime market. To provide an index, the Federal Reserve Board will publish the "average prime offer rate," based on a survey currently published by Freddie Mac. A loan is higher-priced if it is a first-lien mortgage and has an annual percentage rate that is 1.5 percentage points or more above this index, or 3.5 percentage points if it is a subordinate-lien mortgage. This definition overcomes certain technical problems with the original proposal, but the expected market coverage is similar.
One element of the original proposal has been withdrawn. The Federal Reserve Board had proposed for public comment certain requirements pertaining to so-called "yield-spread premiums." During the intervening period, the Board engaged in consumer testing that cast significant doubt on the effectiveness of the proposed rule. As part of its ongoing review of closed-end loan rules under Regulation Z, however, the Board will consider alternative approaches.
In finalizing the rule, the Board carefully considered information obtained from testimony, public hearings, consumer testing, and over 4,500 comment letters submitted during the comment period. "Listening carefully to the commenters, collecting and analyzing data, and undertaking consumer testing, has led to more effective and improved final rules," Governor Kroszner said.
The new rules take effect on October 1, 2009. The single exception is the escrow requirement, which will be phased in during 2010 to allow lenders to establish new systems as needed.
In a related move, the Board is publishing for public comment a proposal to revise the definition of "higher-priced mortgage loan" under Regulation C (Home Mortgage Disclosure), which requires lenders to report price information for such loans, to conform to the definition the Board is adopting under Regulation Z.