Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
California's Anthem Blue Cross justified its whopping 39 percent insurance premium hike by citing rising medical costs. But, it turns out, its parent company Wellpoint, Inc. has been spending tens of millions on large executive bonuses and fancy retreats.Idiot. Don't piss your money away... You won't need to raise rates...
According to congressional investigators, Wellpoint dished out over $1 million in bonuses to each of 39 executives, and spent at least $27 million on 103 lavish company trips, McClatchy reports.
The revelation throws something of a wrench into the claim by WellPoint's president and chief executive officer Angela Braly that the rake hikes were an effort to remain financially solvent, which she said before the House committee.
The NHS should stop funding all homeopathic medicine, the House of Commons science watchdog said yesterday. The cross-party group said there was no evidence that homeopathic remedies had anything other than a placebo effect.So, basically homeopathy is not any more effective than sugar pills. No surprise there.
The NHS spends about £4 million a year on homeopathy, paying for prescriptions and supporting the running of four homeopathic hospitals.
Phil Willis, the chairman of the Science and Technology Select Committee, said that government policies on homeopathy were not based on sound evidence: “It sets an unfortunate precedent for the Department of Health to consider that the existence of a community which believes that homeopathy works is ‘evidence’ enough to continue spending public money on it.”
Homeopathy uses highly diluted substances to relieve a range of ailments including bruising, colds and flu, and anxiety. But the MPs said that homeopathic remedies were sugar pills that only worked because patients believed that the treatment was going to make them feel better.
The NHS spends £152,000 a year — 0.001 per cent of its total drug budget — on homeopathic prescriptions. The Government was unable to provide figures for how much it contributes to the running costs of four homeopathic hospitals — one in Glasgow and three in England. Mike O’Brien, the Health Minister, said that the budget was probably less than £12 million.
If the report’s recommendations are accepted by the Government it would spell the end of state support for the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. The committee also said that homeopathic products should no longer be labelled with medical claims without evidence of efficacy, and should not be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
The report is likely to anger complementary medicine advocates, including the Prince of Wales. Michael Dixon, the medical director of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health, said: “We should not abandon those we cannot help with conventional scientific medicine. If homeopathy is getting results for those patients, then of course we should continue to use it.”
Professor Edzard Ernst, a specialist in alternative medicine who gave evidence in the inquiry, said: “The foundation is a lobby group for unproven treatments which has repeatedly tried to mislead the public.” The committee said doctors who prescribe placebos risk damaging the trust between them and their patients. “There’s a real ethical question. It’s caustic to a system that is supposed to be evidence based,” said Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat science spokesman.
Bill Noble, president of the Association for Palliative Medicine, said that the NHS needed to review its funding position. “I would never ever prescribe something in the knowledge that it was purely placebo, particularly when the NHS is facing such financial difficulties, it is a luxury that we can’t afford,” he said.
Robert Wilson, chairman of Nelsons, Britain’s largest manufacturer of natural healthcare products, said: “There is good evidence that homeopathy works beyond placebo, for example in animals and babies.”
Measure for measure
• Samuel Hahnemann, a German, is crediting with inventing homeopathic medicine in 1796
• Remedies are prepared by repeated dilution of an active ingredient. The most dilute preparations are meant to be the most potent
• Doses are measured on the centesimal or “C scale”, whereby a substance is diluted by a factor of 100 at each stage. Typical strength is 30C — diluted by a factor of 10 followed by 60 zeros
• Poisons, including arsenic and deadly nightshade, are used as remedies but in such dilute form that even a large dose would be harmless
• The European homeopathy industry is valued at £1.5 billion
Just look at the ridiculous dillution. There are just over 375 "10cc doses" in a gallon of water. There are 1.27x 10^26 molecules in a gallon of water. The "medicine" has been diluted to one molecule of medicine for every 1.0x 10^60 molecules of water.
That means, if I did my math right, there is 1 molecule of "medicine" for every [1x10^60/(1x10^26/375)] = 3.75x10^36 doses. There is so little of the medicine that, statistically speaking, you didn't get that molecule. That is:
1 molecule per 3,750,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 doses.
Now, I know the libnuts think it's perfectly okay to sell people water as a "cure." And, no doubt, huge swaths of them think it'd be wrong for government to regulate this unethical, immoral business. I know the goofballs who believe in homeopathy think it's a cure. They're as bad as the most delusional Christianista.
Me, I just think it's water. Because, stastically, that's all it is.
Liberals and Atheists Smarter? Intelligent People Have Values Novel in Human Evolutionary History, Study FindsI just thought it was because I was weird... But the article goes on, take it for what you will:
ScienceDaily (Feb. 24, 2010) — More intelligent people are statistically significantly more likely to exhibit social values and religious and political preferences that are novel to the human species in evolutionary history. Specifically, liberalism and atheism, and for men (but not women), preference for sexual exclusivity correlate with higher intelligence, a new study finds.
The study, published in the March 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Social Psychology Quarterly, advances a new theory to explain why people form particular preferences and values. The theory suggests that more intelligent people are more likely than less intelligent people to adopt evolutionarily novel preferences and values, but intelligence does not correlate with preferences and values that are old enough to have been shaped by evolution over millions of years."
"Evolutionarily novel" preferences and values are those that humans are not biologically designed to have and our ancestors probably did not possess. In contrast, those that our ancestors had for millions of years are "evolutionarily familiar."
"General intelligence, the ability to think and reason, endowed our ancestors with advantages in solving evolutionarily novel problems for which they did not have innate solutions," says Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science. "As a result, more intelligent people are more likely to recognize and understand such novel entities and situations than less intelligent people, and some of these entities and situations are preferences, values, and lifestyles."
An earlier study by Kanazawa found that more intelligent individuals were more nocturnal, waking up and staying up later than less intelligent individuals. Because our ancestors lacked artificial light, they tended to wake up shortly before dawn and go to sleep shortly after dusk. Being nocturnal is evolutionarily novel.
In the current study, Kanazawa argues that humans are evolutionarily designed to be conservative, caring mostly about their family and friends, and being liberal, caring about an indefinite number of genetically unrelated strangers they never meet or interact with, is evolutionarily novel. So more intelligent children may be more likely to grow up to be liberals.
Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) support Kanazawa's hypothesis. Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as "very liberal" have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence while those who identify themselves as "very conservative" have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence.
Similarly, religion is a byproduct of humans' tendency to perceive agency and intention as causes of events, to see "the hands of God" at work behind otherwise natural phenomena. "Humans are evolutionarily designed to be paranoid, and they believe in God because they are paranoid," says Kanazawa. This innate bias toward paranoia served humans well when self-preservation and protection of their families and clans depended on extreme vigilance to all potential dangers. "So, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to go against their natural evolutionary tendency to believe in God, and they become atheists."
Young adults who identify themselves as "not at all religious" have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as "very religious" have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.
In addition, humans have always been mildly polygynous in evolutionary history. Men in polygynous marriages were not expected to be sexually exclusive to one mate, whereas men in monogamous marriages were. In sharp contrast, whether they are in a monogamous or polygynous marriage, women were always expected to be sexually exclusive to one mate. So being sexually exclusive is evolutionarily novel for men, but not for women. And the theory predicts that more intelligent men are more likely to value sexual exclusivity than less intelligent men, but general intelligence makes no difference for women's value on sexual exclusivity. Kanazawa's analysis of Add Health data supports these sex-specific predictions as well.
One intriguing but theoretically predicted finding of the study is that more intelligent people are no more or no less likely to value such evolutionarily familiar entities as marriage, family, children, and friends.
For 30 years, major changes to health care laws have passed via the budget reconciliation process. Here are a few examples:This is just health care. Many other pieces of legislation have passed via this process, as well. Those that are in bold occurred when the Republicans held one, or both, of the legislative entities.
1982 — TEFRA: The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act first opened Medicare to HMOs
1986 — COBRA: The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act allowed people who were laid off to keep their health coverage, and stopped hospitals from dumping ER patients unable to pay for their care
1987 — OBRA '87: Added nursing home protection rules to Medicare and Medicaid, created no-fault vaccine injury compensation program
1989 — OBRA '89: Overhauled doctor payment system for Medicare, created new federal agency on research and quality of care
1990 — OBRA '90: Added cancer screenings to Medicare, required providers to notify patients about advance directives and living wills, expanded Medicaid to all kids living below poverty level, required drug companies to provide discounts to Medicaid
1993 — OBRA '93: created federal vaccine funding for all children
1996 — Welfare Reform: Separated Medicaid from welfare
1997 — BBA: The Balanced Budget Act created the state-federal childrens' health program called CHIP
2005 — DRA: The Deficit Reduction Act reduced Medicaid spending, allowed parents of disabled children to buy into Medicaid
Sunday, February 21, 2010
No miracle as brain-damaged patient proved unable to communicateIt's not enough for me. What's enough for me are significant professional consequences to the attention seeking jackass who was using the brain-dead victim as a sock-puppet for a 'miracle' book from which she hoped to make millions. Losing her license should only be the beginning. Malpractice and punitive damages should follow.
It seemed to be a medical miracle: the car crash victim assumed for 23 years to be in a coma who was suddenly found to be conscious and able to communicate by tapping on a computer.
The sceptics said it was impossible – and it was. The story of Rom Houben of Belgium, which made headlines worldwide last November when he was shown to be "talking", was today revealed to have been nothing of the sort.
Dr Steven Laureys, one of the doctors treating him, acknowledged that his patient could not make himself understood after all. Facilitated communication, the technique said to have made Houben's apparent contact with the outside world possible, did not work, Laureys declared.
"We did not have all the facts before," he said. "To me, it's enough to say that this method doesn't work." Just three months ago the doctor was proclaiming that Houben had been trapped in his own body, the victim of a horrendous ?misdiagnosis, and only rescued from his terrible plight thanks to medical advances.
Facilitated communication can be used with some patients but should be avoided with patients such as Houben who are severely brain injured, said Tom McMillan, a professor of neuropsychology at Glasgow University. "It has an inter?mediary who can exert control and that can affect the outcome," he said.Some patients. Like those that are clearly conscious, and have voluntary, but very limited, control of themselves. Not people in a persistent vegetative state.
And to all the Christianistas who stunk up the Internet by grabbing this "miracle cure at the hands of the Lord..." LMAO loudest at you. Go back to Toast Jesus.
Friday, February 19, 2010
For as long as I can recall, this has been one of the clarion calls of the autism/antivaccine/pro-disease groups – that the only way to know if vaccines cause autism is to do a ‘simple’ study of vaccinated vs unvaccinated populations. Indeed, Generation Rescue carried out an ill-fated phone survey that in reality meant absolutely nothing so badly was it put together and carried out. But even if it had been well designed and carried out the results were not good for pro-disease anti-vaccine autism believers:I read the study he criticizes as it really made the anti-vax crowd happy and they spammed many places I read. Even though I'm not a statitician, I noticed that it was a pretty crappy study due to its poor design. First of all, because the populations were WAY TOO SMALL. Nine-thousand boys sounds like a lot, but there should have been (approximately) only 54 with any form of autism (1/166). Further, with a 77% immunization rate in the target population, we're looking at just a dozen or so potential autistic children in the non-vaccinated population. In a population that potentially small, just the slightest bit of bad luck in the survey could make a significant difference in the results.
Number of boys and girls with Aspergers
Unvaccinated: 1% of total
Partially vaccinated: 2% of total
Fully vaccinated: 1%
Fully and Partially combined: 2%
Conclusion: you are 1% more likely to have Aspergers if you have been partially vaccinated than unvaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated your chance of being Aspergers is no greater than if you were unvaccinated.
Number of boys and girls with PDDNOS
Unvaccinated: 2% of total
Partially vaccinated: 2% of total
Fully vaccinated: 1%
Fully and Partially combined: 1%
Conclusion: you are 1% more likely to have PDDNOS if you are unvaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated your chance of being PDDNOS is 1% less than if you were unvaccinated.
Number of boys and girls with Autism
Unvaccinated: 2% of total
Partially vaccinated: 4% of total
Fully vaccinated: 2%
Fully and Partially combined: 2%
Conclusion: you are 2% more likely to have autism if you have been partially vaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated your chance of being autistic is no greater than if you were unvaccinated.
Number of boys and girls with all ASD’s
Unvaccinated: 4% of total
Partially vaccinated: 6% of total
Fully vaccinated: 3%
Fully and Partially combined: 3%
Conclusion: you are 2% more likely to have an ASD if you have been partially vaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated your chance of being autistic is 1% less than if you were unvaccinated.
Overall conclusion: the best way to avoid being diagnosed with an ASD is to be fully vaccinated according to the CDC schedule.
If they'd have thought about it... The good luck in missing an autistic child or two... Or the bad luck of getting a couple of extra could dramatically skew the results as we saw. There was, I think quite obviously, some sort of statistical noise in the population and the "partially vaccinated" had significantly increased negative results in many areas. Whereas the "fully vaccinated," in most cases, was as "good," or better, than the non-vaccinated population.
A second problem is self-reported surveys like this can run afoul of the "true-believer" syndrome. That is, you will find people just flat-out lying about these matters because they're not going to admit their contrarian position failed to deliver the results they were expecting.
What I think would be better would be a study using voluntary non-vax as a control to full-vax populations. Enrolling a couple of hundred thousand children in the study and following the birth-cohorts. This would bypass the ethical constraints that would otherwise surround this kind of test because these parents are withholding vaccination, not the doctors, while giving us the data we need to make rational, informed decisions.
But, with all that said... Once again, the "vaccines = autism" meme has been shot down in flames. Even if Generation Rescue lied about their results.
You mean like the 3,000 in the World Trade Center? Or have we forgotten these stories from the Congressional Investigation:
"CBS reporter David Martin revealed that weeks before the attacks, the
CIA had warned Bush personally of Osama Bin Laden's intent to use hijacked planes as missiles. That followed the damaging exposure by The
Associated Press's John Solomon of a pre-9/11 FBI memo from an officer in
Phoenix warning of suspicious Middle Eastern men training at flight schools' a
warning that went unheeded."
"One such CIA briefing, in July 2001, was particularly chilling and prophetic. It predicted that Osama bin Laden was about to launch a terrorist strike 'in the coming weeks,' the congressional investigators found. The intelligence briefing went on to say: 'The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.'"
But, more important, what makes HER an expert? She's never had a real job, though she was the GLBT out-reach person for Coors who hired her because of her RIGHT-WING political CONNECTIONS and not any competency.
You may as well listen to the crazies pushing shopping carts downtown, for all that it matters, as to Liz Cheney.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Best commercial of the superbowl...
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
FEBRUARY 9--Felony snowball throwing charges have been leveled against two Virginia college students for allegedly pelting a city plow and an undercover police car during Saturday's blizzard. Charles Gill and Ryan Knight, both 21, were nabbed by cops in Harrisonburg, where they attend James Madison University. According to police, the pair first targeted a city plow last Saturday afternoon. The driver responded by calling cops to report the frosty fusillade. When police responded to the scene in a bid to identify the assailants, their unmarked vehicle also came under an icy assault. Gill and Knight, a guard on JMU's basketball team, were then apprehended and booked into jail for throwing missiles at occupied vehicles, a felony. Gill (top) and Knight are pictured below in Rockingham County Sheriff's Office mug shots. If convicted of the felonious snowball tossing, the men each face between one and five years in prison, and a maximum $2,500 fine.This is the complete statute:
Any person who maliciously shoots at, or maliciously throws any missile at or against, any train or cars on any railroad or other transportation company or any vessel or other watercraft, or any motor vehicle or other vehicles when occupied by one or more persons, whereby the life of any person on such train, car, vessel, or other watercraft, or in such motor vehicle or other vehicle, may be put in peril, is guilty of a Class 4 felony. In the event of the death of any such person, resulting from such malicious shooting or throwing, the person so offending is guilty of murder in the second degree. However, if the homicide is willful, deliberate and premeditated, he is guilty of murder in the first degree.It's a fucking snowball. No reasonable or intelligent person could properly conceive of a plain old snowball as a dangerous missile that is putting someone "in peril of their life."
If any such act is committed unlawfully, but not maliciously, the person so offending is guilty of a Class 6 felony and, in the event of the death of any such person, resulting from such unlawful act, the person so offending is guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
If any person commits a violation of this section by maliciously or unlawfully shooting, with a firearm, at a conspicuously marked law-enforcement, fire or rescue squad vehicle, ambulance or any other emergency medical vehicle, the sentence imposed shall include a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one year.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
I so had a crush on Penny... She was my kind of girl, not Judy. Judy was helpless. I hated that. Penny, she could do things...
Monday, February 1, 2010
...Well, first, it's not so green. Never mind radioactive nuclear waste, but mining uranium is very destructive to the environment, as well.
But the leaks have the potential to slow, if not stop, the bandwagon. Crucial voices are calling for caution. “I am appalled by the safety procedures not only at Vermont Yankee, but at other nuclear facilities across the country who have failed to inspect thousands of miles of buried pipes at their facilities," US Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, the chairman of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee, said last week. Earlier this month, Markey asked the US Government Accountability Office to investigate the integrity, safety, inspections, and maintenance of buried pipes at nuclear plants.
Critics say the problems with buried pipes are evidence the plants are too old and poorly maintained to continue to safely operate as many - including plants in Seabrook, N.H., and Plymouth - seek extensions of their original 40-year operating licenses. Nuclear advocates, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, say that while the leaks of a radioactive form of water containing tritium are serious, those that have contaminated groundwater have not exceeded regulatory limits or harmed the structural integrity, operation, or safety of the plants.
“No leak of tritium has ever had a negative impact on the health and safety of the public," said Tom Kauffman, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, a prominent industry group. In 2006, the industry took it upon itself to search more aggressively for problems with buried piping and tritium leaks.
“These are the most highly regulated, highly monitored industrialized [power plants] in the nation," Kauffman said. He said the nation’s 104 nuclear plants are some of the greenest sources of energy in the country. “It is very important to keep these plants working."
And there is one much, much better solution that avoids virtually all these problems, and more. What we need is willpower to bring the vision to fruition:
Dr. Neville Marzwell of NASA states "We now have the technology to convert the sun's energy at the rate of 42 to 56 percent... We have made tremendous progress. ...If you can concentrate the sun's rays through the use of large mirrors or lenses you get more for your money because most of the cost is in the PV arrays... There is a risk element but you can reduce it... You can put these small receivers in the desert or in the mountains away from populated areas. ...We believe that in 15 to 25 years we can lower that cost to 7 to 10 cents per kilowatt hour. ...We offer an advantage. You don't need cables, pipes, gas or copper wires. We can send it to you like a cell phone call—where you want it and when you want it, in real time."What he is talking about is Space-Based Solar Power. Something that was within our technological grasp in the 1970s. So, beyond lacking the will and vision, we could do it today.
It wouldn't be any more costly than building nuclear power plants. It could reduce pollution, get rid of most carbon-generating power applications and make the United States the energy exporting country of the world.
Which would have some very solid non-energy benefits, as well, like getting us out of the Mideast...