And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Linkee-poo, with a little help from my friends

In case you feel like (health care) things will get worse before they get better, if they ever get better, you aren't alone.

There's this news cycle where there is some Big Medical Discovery that's going to change all of our lives and make it so much better. Only the discovery doesn't pan out, or survive the animal models, or really do anything better, or ends up killing the patient faster than the disease it's meant to treat. Whelp, hang on to your hats, folks. Here we go again. "With clever chemical tweaks, an old antibiotic can dole out any of three lethal blows to some of the deadliest bacteria—and give evolution one nasty concussion." Researchers have tweaked Vancomycin (one of the "drugs of last resort") to increase it's potency and efficacy. The article is pretty good for laying out how antibiotics work, but I wouldn't get sucked in by the breathlessness of the reporting. One, it hasn't even made it to the mouse model studies yet. And two, it doesn't actually stop evolution (it's just that the microbes take longer to respond). As Ian Malcolm in Jurrasic Park states, "Life finds a way." It could be that these changes make Vancomycin too hepatotoxic or nephrotoxic to actually use in living beings. It could turn out that in the wild, bacteria form resistance faster (petri dish experiments typically use a monoculture of bacteria to test against). Or it could be so damn effective, it spurs opportunistic infections in it's wake which end up worse than the initial disease (Ciprofloxacin and c-dif anyone?). So while it's "Good News", I'd keep the champaign on chill for the time being.

"Trying to make out what someone is saying in a noisy environment is a problem most people can relate to, and one that gets worse with age." Yes. I have this. It's called the cocktail-party effect. Oddly, I am pretty well trained in music. For instrumental music I can still tease out individual instrumental lines (but then I also don't play my music incredibly loud). So this is why, in BarCon, if it looks like I'm not following the conversation, or have checked out, it's because I can't hear what you're saying because of the background noise. I might need you to repeat something. You may see me touching or cupping my ears. And yes, I've left BarCon early because I can no longer follow what people are saying. And sometimes the background noise level is so high (or of a particular quality, I haven't worked it all out) that it becomes physically uncomfortable and occasionally painful. But I've already been singing more (when I'm in the car by myself and nobody can hear me crack a note). I didn't know it could help with this. It's just because I've noticed my range isn't acceptable anymore. And, yes, when you sing, you should do it full throatily. One time when I had a 2 hour drive and I was belting out some classic Billy Joel I came home a little hoarse. Yeah, I'm way outa practice.

A successful ICBM intercept test. Except, didn't we do this before? See, that's the problem. We keep touting our "success on the first (real) test" until you remember we had those before. Which leads you to realize, these are "real world" tests, but shows for domestic and international consumption. Note the through line of "Ha ha, North Korea! See, you can't strike us anyway. Neener neener." Yeah, I'm not buying it. Why? Because they aren't real "tests", they're tests of the interceptor system. Both the launch team and the intercept team are on the same side, and they have the same goal, a successful intercept. Now, set it up as a competition with incentives for the launch team to get past the intercept team, add a "real world" twist of both not knowing when or where the ICBM will be launched (a little hard as you have to schedule them with advanced notice to the Russians and Chinese, who aren't going to cooperate with our testing) and then lets see how good it works.

On the top 20% of the country holding all the mechanics to achieve the American dream, "They are also disproportionately powerful and the fact that they are not only separate but unaware of the degree to which the system works in their favor strikes me as one of the most dangerous political facts of our time." I've seen this first hand. Good People support Good People. Hell, it's how I got my new full-time day thing. Yes, I've benefited from this, because I have been taught and have learned how to pass as Good People (also my work ethic and the known quality of my work had a little to do with it - but that's all my reputation). I benefited by someone who could help me to become a home owner. And I've paid back some of that, helping others up, which if I was completely honest with myself probably also fell into the Good People helping Good People category (although I didn't consciously make the decisions on whose family someone was from).

An insight into the president's mind from his spelling errors in tweets and the problem with the White House staff shakeup, "Trump doesn't think he needs advice. So changing the names of the people giving it to him doesn't really matter."

"Eight years ago, working in the department’s now-defunct Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Johnson authored a memo intended to warn law enforcement about the threat posed by right-wing extremists… Right-wing extremists, he wrote, could capitalize on 'racial and political prejudices' to reach a 'wider audience of potential sympathizers.'… The backlash to Johnson’s 2009 memo was swift. Some conservatives portrayed it as an Obama administration attack on the tea party movement. Under political pressure, the administration backed away from the memo. They dismantled Johnson’s team. He left the government." How did that work out for us? (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

Remember that whole "make it in America" part of the Trump philosophy? So… "Two Chinese labor activists are missing, and presumed to be detained by police. The two were investigating alleged labor abuses at a factory that makes shoes for Ivanka Trump's brands." Not only outsourcing, but using economic slave labor to do it.

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