Today comes news that the vast spectrum of disorders we lump together as "schizophrenia" arise from a very diverse array of unrelated mutations.
Sounds like a disorder of evolution.
File this one under ‘life is best drunk black’.
We know phishing scams are getting more sophisticated. It’s the age old story – target the vulnerable. Mostly the vulnerable are the cognitively disabled, including the ever growing population of once sophisticated adults with new pre-dementia. (Emerging trend: children filtering their parent’s email.)
There are other vulnerables though. People facing medical or financial crises, where desperation trumps judgment. Or people with a missing loved one.
Recently I received a phishing email promising information on my brother. It wasn’t all that well done (no, I won’t point out how the scum could improve); I presume it was an amateurish attack from some online registry.
Coincidentally it came in around the 6th anniversary of my return to Saint Paul from Whistler Canada. Nice timing!
Ironically, the crooks did me a favor. They made me check the old domain I setup years ago. I was shocked to find it pointing to my hosting service – Lunarpages. Turns out a credit card had expired, and the registration had lapsed. Lunarpages still held the domain, so once I fixed the card they restored the service. (Now I have to figure out what happened to their missing notifications, and whether I want a different host.)
So here’s a thanks to the scum-sucking lice running phishing scams against the families of disappeared persons. You did me a good turn. Tell me where you live, and I’ll return the favor …
Pharma has a problem – they’re not coming up with any great ideas…
Name a drugmaker that isn’t struggling to come up with breakthrough medicines. Research costs have ballooned while output at many companies has slowed to a trickle. Technology that was supposed to make drug research more predictable seems to have instead made it easier to come up with more drug failures faster.
“The molecular revolution was supposed to enable drug discovery to evolve from chance observation into rational design, yet dwindling pipelines threaten the survival of the pharmaceutical industry,” say consultant David Shaywitz and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.”
“What went wrong?” they ask in the opinion pages of the Financial Times. “The answer, we suggest, is the mismeasure of uncertainty, as academic researchers underestimated the fragility of their scientific knowledge while pharmaceuticals executives overestimated their ability to domesticate scientific research.”
When you get right down to it, Shaywitz and Taleb say, we still don’t understand the causes of most disease. Even when we think we do, because someone found a relevant gene, we’re not very good at turning the knowledge into a treatment. “Spreadsheets are easy; science is hard,” they tell Big Pharma…
I can vouch for the lack of progress. I’m wrapping up a review of roughly the last 7 years of changes in medical practice.
To put it delicately, progress has sucked. If you put a good physician to sleep 7 years ago, and woke her up today, she’d be reasonable competent on day one. A week later she’d be fully up to speed.
Every so often I read stories about how physicians are demoralized by financial pressures or lack of social support. I can see that, but maybe we should start asking real physicians (not industry types like me) if they’re feeling discouraged by the lack of medical progress.
It’s a lot more fun to practice medicine when you’re able to do new things to help people, not so much fun when there’s no more magic in the hat …
Amazon payments is even more interesting. It allows phone-to-phone cash transfers and online cash transfers to any person.
For Transactions >= $10:
- 2.9% + $0.30 for all transactions
For Transactions < $10:
- 5.0% + $0.05 for all transactions
I have reviewed our previous correspondence with you, and I offer my sincere apologies for any misunderstanding thus far.The problem arose because one of the credit cards on my Amazon account belonged to a corporate admin, that happened to be the name Payments randomly picked for a "greeting name".
I'm sorry to hear about the difficulty you experienced with the name on your Amazon Payments account.
At this time, I do see that the name listed for your Amazon.com account is John G Faughnan, and your Flexible payments account may be showing as xxxxx.
We are aware that the Payments website may greet you by the name associated with a credit card rather than the name on your Amazon.com account. I have passed this feedback along to our developers. We are always happy to get this type of feedback from our members.
We will update the display name for your Amazon Payments account for you. This change should be completed within 1-2 weeks.
Please be assured that in the meantime your Payments account will operate correctly in spite of the name difference...
I reviewed your Payments account and saw that the name associated with credit card on the account is "xxxxxxxxxxxxx" and the one associated with Amazon Payment is "yyyyyyyyyyyyyy". Please advise which one needs to be changed/updated on the account.Of course all my prior correspondence was clear on which was the correct name, and, as noted above, there's no way to respond to the message.
As always, please feel free to contact us should you have future questions or comments. If you need to contact us back, you can do so by using the secure form at the following specialized link to assure we receive your message:
The Evidence Gap - Experts Seek a Data Safety Net for Joint Replacements - NYTimes.comIf I were the governor of MN, I'd use the Swedish and Kaiser registries. How big a registry do we really need?
.... The use of joint registries has proven beneficial abroad. In Australia, regulators use such data to force manufacturers to justify why poorly performing hips or knees should remain available, and products have been withdrawn as a result. In Sweden several years ago, surgeons alerted by their national registry stopped using a badly flawed hip long before their American counterparts did. A few medical organizations here, like Kaiser Permanente, operate their own registries to good effect and the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York has recently set up a registry....
Editorial - Low-Road Express - Editorial - NYTimes.comObama is a Chicago pol, so this can't be unexpected. We know the low road works on Americans.
On July 3, news reports said Senator John McCain, worried that he might lose the election before it truly started, opened his doors to disciples of Karl Rove from the 2004 campaign and the Bush White House. Less than a month later, the results are on full display. The candidate who started out talking about high-minded, civil debate has wholeheartedly adopted Mr. Rove’s low-minded and uncivil playbook...
Gordon's Notes: The pain is all in your headOk, I have to also thank my son, who has an extremely tight connection between psyche and soma. I watched a recent shoulder problem wax and wane in proportion to psychic stress, and I realized what's wrong with both my tag and my prior post.
... The ideas aren't quite as novel as Gawande suggests. I recall fifteen years ago veteran physicians, with lots of experience with intractable pain and chronic fatigue, had begun to think the problems were 'all in the patient's head'. By which we meant, with intentional irony, that the problem was 'malwiring' of the brain.
The good news is, the brain is plastic. We can't easily alter it directly, but we can slowly reprogram it through the mind. That's how the mirror-box therapies Gawande describes work, and presumably that's how exercise therapy works for chronic fatigue syndrome (albeit both imperfectly)...
Apple - MobileMe - Status
... One issue we encountered was a mail outage affecting 1% of our members. Last Friday a serious problem with one of our mail servers blocked those members’ access to their MobileMe mail accounts. As of today a team was able to restore limited web access to those accounts so the affected members can use their browsers to read mail that has arrived since last Friday (though not before) as well as send and receive new mail. The team has already begun rolling out restoration of full access for all the accounts and expect to finish by the end of next week. We particularly regret to report the loss in the affected accounts of approximately 10% of the messages received between July 16 and July 18.
.... fixed over 70 bugs including one that was preventing MobileMe IMAP mail folders from syncing correctly between the web app and Mac OS X Mail or Outlook, plus others correcting display issues in Calendar and in general enhancing the performance of our web apps...
This would be the third time I recall that a major vendor has shut down a DRM service and stripped customers of all their products.
... Yahoo did its best to stage a rival to Apple Inc.'s iTunes, but after three years of lagging results, the Internet icon is putting its Yahoo! Music service to rest and leaving subscribers with copy-protected music libraries that can't be transferred to new computers...
Due the vagaries of computer life, within a year much of that music will be gone. Yahoo is telling users to burn CDs from the music. Anyone who's ever tried to do this will know what an inane idea that is. It's prohibitively time consuming, and future lossy compression of that music will generally produce awful results.
When Microsoft/MSN (? or was it AOL?) did something similar I think they refunded customer money, though that only works for people with current accounts.
They key lesson is that when you buy a used CD for $3 you have access to that material for an unlimited amount of time. When you buy the same CD new on iTunes for $14 you have use until Apple closes its FairPlay servers, or until it changes your iTunes contract.
We live in an age of transience. I suspect a younger generation will simply accept this as the way things are.
Incidentally, there's a cruel surprise slowly being uncovered. A surprise, that is, to the vast majority of people who don't bother thinking about DRM.
They'll expect they can sync all their iPhones to what they think of as the family music and video library.
Cue evil laughter.
They'll discover then that an iPhone is a personal device, and it must sync to an individual user account. They will also discover that Apple's DRMd music and videos are owned by an Apple username, not a family. Lastly, they'll discover that iTunes libraries are personal libraries, not family libraries.
Slowly they'll realize the jaws are closing around them. They need to buy a copy of each video and song for each member of the family.  Eventually, they'll see the shape of a BrainLocked future, where we pay to keep access to our own memories...
 There used to be a workaround for non-DRMd iTunes media, but I've not tested it on iTunes 7.7. Sooner or later Apple will close the door on this; my transient DRM optimism has faded. I don't think Americans are going to figure this one out. Maybe the EUs will twig to this, and put some serious laws in place.
Update: Recently Apple terminated its .Mac web page authoring tools. All .Mac web pages are now inaccessible. For a scary moment I thought Google had done the same thing with my old Google Pages. Turns out they're only close to gone. Dang, but I sure as shootin' don't trust that cloud.
A google search took me to a caustic discussion of a Hofstadter book:
…Continuing my review of I Am a Strange Loop, today I get to tackle metamathematics. Hofstadter tackles it too, and finds it rich in philosophic insight. Strangely rich, actually.
I suppose I ought to explain who Kurt Gödel is and why he is a hero of many, many nerds today (I am among those ranks). And that tale doesn't start with Gödel, so stay patient while I explain the background…
Caustic and opinionated, but interesting. I started to look at the archives. Should I grab this feed?
Then I saw the “links of note”: national review, weekly standard, rush… savage … beck …
On closer inspection, the stranger in the night wears a necklace of human noses.
Backing slowly away …
Thank heavens for the link list – who knows what horrors I might have been exposed to!
Of course that assignment might also shrink the class size ...
PHYS771 Lecture 17: Fun With the Anthropic Principle
... So if Bayes' Theorem seems unobjectionable, then I want to make you feel queasy about it. That's my goal. The way to do that is to take the theorem very, very seriously as an account of how we should reason about the state of the world...
David Pogue is a sympathetic journalist, but even he has lost patience with Apple’s MobileMess flop. I hope Microsoft gets some kicks in, Apple clearly needs more pain.
In addition to seeing Apple’s executive failures in motion, we more education on how disastrous synchronization bugs can be.
… a strange note showed up on the MobileMe support Web site: “1% of MobileMe members cannot access MobileMe Mail. We apologize for this service interruption and are working hard to resolve the problem.”
Now, even if 1 percent is accurate, Apple has 2 million .Mac/MobileMe customers. So that’s at least 20,000 people…
… For most of them, the e-mail features of MobileMe just don’t work. The online Mail program at Me.com shows up empty; mail you try to send from your e-mail program never goes out; and messages sent to you get bounced.
For a few, it’s a lot worse. “This morning, I woke up and turned on my computer,” wrote one reader. “Happily, it seemed that the MobileMe e-mail service was back up. However, a few seconds later, when my computer synced with .Mac/MobileMe, ALL of my e-mail — every single e-mail I’ve ever sent, received, and filed on .Mac — disappeared. Every e-mail file on my hard drive (in the Mail library) was gone. I immediately went to Me.com to make sure that all my e-mail was still saved to Apple’s server. It wasn’t. All of the mail was gone.”
Apple escalated her case and dedicated top technicians to it, for which she was grateful. In the end, however, they recovered only 43 messages. The rest are gone forever…
… MobileMe tech support, my correspondents tell me, is nearly impossible to reach; the recording says that the support team is “unavailable due to the overwhelming interest in MobileMe.” (Somehow I doubt that “overwhelming interest” is the problem.) When you do reach them, they’re apologetic but can do nothing to help.
…the real problem is how Apple is responding. For a company that’s so brilliant at marketing, it seems to have absolutely no clue about crisis management…
…This is an airplane that’s stuck on the runway for hours with no food or working bathroom. And the pilot doesn’t come on the P.A. system to tell the customers what the problem is, what’s being done to fix it, how much longer they might be stuck, and how he empathizes with their plight. Instead, he comes on once every three hours to repeat the same thing: “We apologize for the inconvenience.”…
I wonder if people who’ve lost all their email have grounds for litigation. A nice class action suit might concentrate Apple’s mind. I also wonder how many of the victims are running an older version of OS X desktop (ex. 10.4).
Unlike Apple’s victims, I have backups, and I haven’t dared active Mail.app email synchronization. My trial account simply forwards any MobileMe email I get.
Apple needs to grovel, and they’re not good at groveling.
Novak cited after hitting pedestrian - Jonathan Martin and Chris Frates - Politico.com
...The bicyclist was David Bono, a partner at Harkins Cunningham, who was on his usual bike commute to work at 1700 K St. N.W. when he witnessed the accident.
As he traveled east on K Street, crossing 18th, Bono said "a black Corvette convertible with top closed plows into the guy. The guy is sort of splayed into the windshield.”
Bono said that the pedestrian, who was crossing the street on a "Walk" signal and was in the crosswalk, rolled off the windshield and that Novak then made a right into the service lane of K Street. “This car is speeding away. What’s going through my mind is, you just can’t hit a pedestrian and drive away,” Bono said.
He said he chased Novak half a block down K Street, finally caught up with him and then put his bike in front of the car to block it and called 911. Traffic immediately backed up, horns blaring, until commuters behind Novak backed up so he could pull over.Novak is wealthy, but it's bad luck to run over a lawyer on K street and be witnessed by another lawyer. His best defense will be to plead dementia. He's on record as hating pedestrians, I bet he's not to keen on bicyclists either.
Bono said that throughout, Novak "keeps trying to get away. He keeps trying to go.” He said he vaguely recognized the longtime political reporter and columnist as a news personality but could not precisely place him.
Finally, Bono said, Novak put his head out the window of his car and motioned him over. Bono said he told him that you can't hit a pedestrian and just drive away. He quoted Novak as responding: “I didn’t see him there.”...
Today, a Bloglines UI flaw meant I accidentally displayed his past 100 posts. This is an unrecoverable error, I need to either scan them or give up on reading ‘em.
I could not let them vanish – I had to scan and mark those for future reading.
Too much knowledge … brain hurting … overload …
Take a vacation so I can catch up. My brain hurts.
Google LatLong: Pound the pavementIf you're an urban skater, however, these are a good guide for skate transit. (When pedestrians are present, it's not hard to either use the street or stand aside while they pass.)
.... Starting today, you can tell Google Maps that you want walking directions, and we'll try to find you a route that's direct, flat, and uses pedestrian pathways when we know about them. Just get directions as you normally would. If you're going 10 km or less (some call this 6.2 miles), we'll show you a link that you can click to get 'Walking' directions...
Hoping Two Drugs Carry a Side Effect - Longer Life - NYTimes.comYep, that's the medical ideal. The only caveat being that we'd like a month or so of disability, so family members get to say good-bye. Dropping over suddenly is not so good for families.
...Mice on the drugs generally remain healthy right until the end of their lives and then just drop dead...
BBC NEWS | Europe | Serbia captures fugitive KaradzicThis is a great day for justice.
... Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, one of the world's most wanted men, has been arrested in Serbia after more than a decade on the run.
He has been brought before Belgrade's war crimes court, in accordance with a law on cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, the Serbian presidency said....
Emily knows that when I received a podast invite from Jon Udell I yipped out loud. I’m a longtime fan of Jon’s writing and thinking; it’s timeless work. His writing from ten or fifteen years ago is still very relevant today.
The podcast is online. I’m going to make myself listen to it, though I have the not unusual aversion to hearing myself speak.
Although I’ve conversed online with John …. since my days at BYTE, we’ve never met, and we had not even spoken on the phone until last week when he joined me on an episode of my Interviews with Innovators podcast…
Jon interviewed me under my not-so-top-secret true name, rather than my John Gordon pseudonym. So if you follow the link you can learn the name I answer to.
The odd thing about the interview is that Jon’s voice and manner seemed very familiar. He writes as he is – curious, enthusiastic, smart, open, friendly and a pleasure to talk with.
We covered a bit of ground, so I’ve tagged this post with some of the topics we discussed.
Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that mattersThe FBI's fondness for lie detectors and watch lists, not to mention abundant stories of incompetence over the past decade, gives them zero credibility. Not quite the negative credibility of the Bushies, but zero.
...'The Los Angeles Times reports that an Arizona crime lab technician found two felons with remarkably similar genetic profiles, so similar that they would ordinarily be accepted in court as a match, but one felon was black and the other white. The FBI estimated the odds of unrelated people sharing those genetic markers to be as remote as 1 in 113 billion. Dozens of similar matches have been found, and these findings raise questions about the accuracy of the FBI's DNA statistics. Scientists and legal experts want to test the accuracy of official statistics using the nearly 6 million profiles in CODIS, the national system that includes most state and local databases. The FBI has tried to block distribution of the Arizona results and is blocking people from performing similar searches using CODIS. A legal fight is brewing over whether the nation's genetic databases ought to be opened to wider scrutiny. At stake is the credibility of the odds often cited in DNA cases, which can suggest an all but certain link between a suspect and a crime scene.'
My (lousy) experience with moving PIM (personal information manager) type data (tasks, notes, calendar, address book) from Outlook/Palm to MobileMe(ss), OmniFocus, Evernote and Remember The Milk have given me that lonely pioneer feeling. I'm even starting to miss my old Nemesis.
I feel the jaws of the Data Lack trap ...
Every method of selling software has its own Dark Side.
Microsoft's traditional model favored proprietary data formats (Data Lock), feature mania until competition died, then forced obsolescence every 2-3 years.
Ad-supported software has to get us to look at the ads. If we stop looking, it will get more and more obnoxious. Data Lock helps ensure we can't escape, even as the pain level rises.
Software as a service has technical issues (Gmail was down a few days ago - again), but, above all, Data Lock is a terribly strong temptation. At least on the desktop there are local files that conversion software might run against.
...while all three models suffer the Data Lock temptation, it's strongest in the "Software as Service" model...
I'm not completely alone though. Google not only supports Document Freedom Day, they've made some real moves towards data freedom. There's DataPortability.org, the cryptic microformats initiative, and good old OPML.
We need to push the "cloud" vendors towards the world of data freedom, or they'll make us nostalgic for the lost tyranny of Microsoft.
Update 5/15/10: Happily, we now have Google's Data Liberation Front. I have issues with Google, but the DLF is one reason they are lesser of all evils.
Schneier on Security: The Curse of the Secret QuestionI think the lesson is that even when something is an "ex-parrot" humans will keep it propped up in the corner for a very long time. I used to follow Schneiers "random answer" technique, but then some sites started asking me both my regular password and my "secret question".
....It's happened to all of us: We sign up for some online account, choose a difficult-to-remember and hard-to-guess password, and are then presented with a 'secret question' to answer. Twenty years ago, there was just one secret question: 'What's your mother's maiden name?' Today, there are more: 'What street did you grow up on?' 'What's the name of your first pet?' 'What's your favorite color?' And so on.
The point of all these questions is the same: a backup password. If you forget your password, the secret question can verify your identity so you can choose another password or have the site e-mail your current password to you. It's a great idea from a customer service perspective -- a user is less likely to forget his first pet's name than some random password -- but terrible for security. The answer to the secret question is much easier to guess than a good password, and the information is much more public. (I'll bet the name of my family's first pet is in some database somewhere.) And even worse, everybody seems to use the same series of secret questions.
The result is the normal security protocol (passwords) falls back to a much less secure protocol (secret questions). And the security of the entire system suffers.
What can one do? My usual technique is to type a completely random answer -- I madly slap at my keyboard for a few seconds -- and then forget about it. This ensures that some attacker can't bypass my password and try to guess the answer to my secret question, but is pretty unpleasant if I forget my password. The one time this happened to me, I had to call the company to get my password and question reset. (Honestly, I don't remember how I authenticated myself to the customer service rep at the other end of the phone line.)
Which is maybe what should have happened in the first place. I like to think that if I forget my password, it should be really hard to gain access to my account. I want it to be so hard that an attacker can't possibly do it. I know this is a customer service issue, but it's a security issue too. And if the password is controlling access to something important -- like my bank account -- then the bypass mechanism should be harder, not easier.
Passwords have reached the end of their useful life. Today, they only work for low-security applications. The secret question is just one manifestation of that fact.
...Unfortunately, we don't have An App Store, we have The App Store. The difference is exclusivity. With An App Store, software can be put on the iPhone through some other method. The App Store, however, is the sole way to get software on the iPhone. This leads to some major problems all around. Users who want software that Apple doesn't approve of can't get it, because it's obviously not listed by Apple in the App Store. Developers who aren't accepted into Apple's program, for whatever reasons, can't get on the iPhone at all and thus can't sell to customers. Developers who are accepted are still running into immense issues with updates, bug testing, and more. Ultimately, that's bad for Apple too, as it means those users and developers are unhappy and will aim their frustrations squarely at Apple.
Presumably, Apple has considered all this. If so, they've determined that they'd rather have complete control over the applications available on the iPhone than have more flexibility for developers and customers alike. I can see how this could be good for Apple itself - a dictatorship tends to serve the dictator quite well. I can't, however, see why developers would support it, nor customers...Android, Please get well soon. We Apple customers need you give the gift of Fear to Apple.
... Perhaps it is no surprise that traders in the credit-default swaps market have recently made bets on the unthinkable: that America may default on its debt.
Annals of Medicine: The Itch by Atul Gawande for The New YorkerThe ideas aren't quite as novel as Gawande suggests. I recall fifteen years ago veteran physicians, with lots of experience with intractable pain and chronic fatigue, had begun to think the problems were "all in the patient's head". By which we meant, with intentional irony, that the problem was "malwiring" of the brain.
...This may help explain, for example, the success of the advice that back specialists now commonly give. Work through the pain, they tell many of their patients, and, surprisingly often, the pain goes away. It had been a mystifying phenomenon. But the picture now seems clearer. Most chronic back pain starts as an acute back pain—say, after a fall. Usually, the pain subsides as the injury heals. But in some cases the pain sensors continue to light up long after the tissue damage is gone. In such instances, working through the pain may offer the brain contradictory feedback—a signal that ordinary activity does not, in fact, cause physical harm. And so the sensor resets....
They're not a pretty sight.
Ok, so they're not quite as bad as a naked middle-aged emperor, but they still hurt the eyes.
The problem is they try to reconcile two different risk models. One risk model attempts to stratify people based on their similarity to a large population study - the Framingham model.
Another risk model is based on different research data sets, and tries to estimate risk based on a changing set of predictive "risk factors", such as Diabetes mellitus, and family history of heart disease.
Problem is, those two latter two big risk factors weren't a part of the Framingham model. In fact the Framingham model doesn't incorporate LDL cholesterol directly, it estimates it from Total and HDL cholesterol.
The two models look like this (table stolen from my obsolete online medical notes, this part was updated):
|Item||Risk calculation model||Risk factor approach|
The guideline writers try to glue the two models together in a way that seems logical, but they really don't work that well. For example (LDL level in this table is the level where the statins start).
|LDL Level||Risk Factor||Framingham 10 yr risk|
|> 100||CHD or "equivalent"*||> 20%|
|> 130||2 + (ex. 46 yo male smoker)||10 - 20%|
|> 160||2 + (ex. 46 yo male smoker)||< 10%|
|> 190||Treat based on LDL alone.|
I played around with the online calculator, it wasn't hard to create a plausible patient with a Framingham risk of < 10% but a Risk Factor Model if CHD equivalent (basically a healthy diabetic patient, the right answer is clinical judgment with a bias towards treating if either of the risk models meet criteria. So treat if column A + either (B or C).
We really need a single integrated model of risk, not trying to juggle and compare two different models that can give contradictory answers.
Of course it may turn out that this single integrated model doesn't lend itself to memorization, but needs to be implemented as an electronic tool. Wouldn't be the first time that's happened.
The Loom's "Festooning The Tree Of Life" tells how biologists have visually represented the history of E. Coli gene transfer. It's an example of "scientific visualization" and knowledge representation that belongs to any class or course on visualization and representation -- not to mention a future Tufte book.
... As of January 2008, some 24,000 people had used TRIP to appeal their inclusion on the lists. The TSA hasn’t revealed how many applicants have been officially cleared or whether clearance has actually resulted in no-hassle flying. Anecdotal reports from frequent fliers maintain that many travelers who were told they were cleared continue to be stopped in airports.
The TSA press office in Washington, D.C. declined to take questions about TRIP from an Aviation.com writer, referring the writer to TSA spokesman Nico Melendez in Southern California. Melendez didn’t return the reporter’s telephone call or reply by e-mail for this story.
In past years, TSA spokespeople suggested that aggrieved travelers contact the TSA ombudsman to set things right, but TRIP has largely superseded the earlier procedure. Perhaps that’s for the best, as the TSA ombudsman’s office has received scathingly bad reviews from TSA employees, as related by a report made public in late June by the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security. Complaining of poor training and tone-deaf management, some 20 percent of TSA screeners quit their jobs last year.
Physicians would recognize the Watch List as one of those stupid lab tests that come out every few years claiming to find some nasty cancer, but ends up sending vast numbers of healthy people for misguided surgical procedures.As it stands, TRIP consists mainly of an online form. Travelers who want to tap into TRIP should go to the TSA’s Web site, look for the "Resource Center" section on the right-hand side of the page and follow the prompts...
... We match (50 + 6) / (444 + 50 + 6) = 11.2% of terrorists using this scheme.
Of the people matched, (50 + 6) / (990,000 + 50 + 6) = 0.006% are terrorists. Put another way, 99.994% of all people matched are innocent...In medicine, this is what's known as a "worse than useless test". Lousy sensitivity, impossibly miserable specificity.
The (Annotated) Gore Energy Speech - Dot Earth - Climate Change and Sustainability - New York Times BlogYep, that's the ticket.
...I have long supported a sharp reduction in payroll taxes with the difference made up in CO2 taxes. We should tax what we burn, not what we earn...
Help and How-To for Microsoft for Mac Office Products | MactopiaSure, that's the ticket! Microsoft could create a Task and Notes app for the iPhone, and sync with Entourage and Outlook ...
....By using Sync Services, you can synchronize your Entourage contacts and calendar events with an iPod, iPod touch, or iPhone.
Sync Services is a central database on your Macintosh computer that keeps track of programs and devices that share information. After synchronizing an Entourage address book and calendar with Sync Services, the information is also synchronized with your Macintosh Address Book and iCal. Then you can use iTunes to synchronize the information with your iPod or iPhone...
... Phil Libin was the CEO of CoreStreet when he appeared as the first guest on Interviews with Innovators. Now he's back as CEO of EverNote, a company that aims to build the memex, or personal outboard memory, that Vannevar Bush famously imagined in his 1945 article "As We May Think."...I criticized Evernote recently for a 'complete fail' on the first test I apply to anything that will manage my extended memory -- can I move the data ...
Gordon's Tech: Evernote fails the critical software as service import/export testPhil Libin responded in a comment:
...So Evernote is not an option for my Palm to iPhone conversion, and I'd say it's not an option for anyone on any platform until they demonstrate Data Freedom...
Data Freedom is vital to our plans. We're serious about Evernote as an "external brain" and that means users have to have confidence that their memories will always be accessible. Part of that accessibility is making sure that users can import/export Evernote data in standard formats with no restrictions. Our current limitations on import/export capabilities are due to developer resource constraints, not any philosophical or business reasons; we can't afford to do import/export poorly because that could muck with your data and flood our support lines. Doing it well takes time.Now that I know Evernote is explicitly targeting the Memex/Xanadu vision, I'm even more interested in the product/service -- but I'm also even more demanding.
We're currently testing a full set of Evernote APIs that will give people a lot of options for getting data in and out. We'll roll these out publicly later in the summer. We'll also be expanding the structured import/export capabilities on the local clients, though I don't have a specific date on that yet. We're doing this because data freedom is good for more than just peace of mind - it'll let us build lots of great functionality that we couldn't accomplish with a "walled garden" approach.
BBC NEWS | Americas | US slips down development indexMost powerful army though, so we could always conquer Sweden and improve our numbers. Heck, last time I looked my Canadian homeland could probably be taken by the National Guard.
...If the US infant mortality rate were equal to first-ranked Sweden, more than 20,000 babies would survive beyond their first year of life...
Congressional Do's and Don't Do's | Britannica BlogIt's an interesting list of inactive topics. Here's my take at why nothing can happen, and as usual the fault is not Congress. In fact, it's not even all the GOP's fault. The fault lies in us:
A recent poll of Americans turned up the fact that just nine percent approve of the job the present Congress has been doing...
I consulted the online calendar of the House of Representatives for the day I write this, Friday, July 11, and found that the House was in recess. They’ll be back to work on Monday, they promise, though not until 12:30 in the afternoon. The day before, it seems that the bulk of the day was spent discussing the creation of a new historic trail commemorating something from the Revolutionary War. A bit of time was given over to congratulating NASA for some anniversary, and some more time to something to do with flood insurance. Heady and very patriotic stuff, to be sure.
Over in the Senate, David Vitter – he whose phone number somehow got into the hands of the so-called “D.C. Madame” – and Larry Craig – he of the unfortunate “wide stance” in men’s rooms – are cosponsoring a “Marriage Protection Amendment” to the Constitution. Mere ridicule fails before such gall. I doubt that even that master of political shiv work, Mort Sahl, could have adequately satirized these two buffoons...
... Now, it’s unfair, I know, to criticize on the basis of one day’s record of floor proceedings in the House. There are committee hearings – on major league baseball, for example – and staff work and constituent assistance and such things going on in the background. And fund-raising, Lord knows. My local newspaper carries a report on the recent activities of our congresspersons which can be summarized thus: No sweat.
So let’s go to the tape:
- Health care: Nothing
- Social Security: Nada
- Energy policy: Zip
- Immigration: Bupkes
- Earmarks: You kidding?
It could be argued that we the citizenry are actually better off for congressional inaction. This might well be true but for the fact that inaction now simply leaves in place the bad policies already on the books. Having mandated that gasoline contain a certain proportion of ethanol, for example, certainly counts as a stab at an energy policy, while forbidding the import of cheap sugar-based ethanol in favor of the domestic kind, which drives up the price of corn and myriad other corn-based food and non-food products, counts as reelection-inspired stupid policy.
Know what Congress is really good at? Creating federal crimes...
My Take : Discovery Channel - Bruce SchneierEssential reading. Schneier is a fellow Minnesotan, btw.
... These hacker groups seem not to be working for the Chinese government. They don't seem to be coordinated by the Chinese military. They're basically young, male, patriotic Chinese citizens, trying to demonstrate that they're just as good as everyone else. As well as the American networks the media likes to talk about, their targets also include pro-Tibet, pro-Taiwan, Falun Gong and pro-Uyghur sites.
The hackers are in this for two reasons: fame and glory, and an attempt to make a living. The fame and glory comes from their nationalistic goals. Some of these hackers are heroes in China. They're upholding the country's honor against both anti-Chinese forces like the pro-Tibet movement and larger forces like the United States.
And the money comes from several sources. The groups sell owned computers, malware services, and data they steal on the black market. They sell hacker tools and videos to others wanting to play. They even sell T-shirts, hats and other merchandise on their Web sites.
This is not to say that the Chinese military ignores the hacker groups within their country. Certainly the Chinese government knows the leaders of the hacker movement and chooses to look the other way. They probably buy stolen intelligence from these hackers. They probably recruit for their own organizations from this self-selecting pool of experienced hacking experts. They certainly learn from the hackers...
The official update feed from the Google Apps team: Google Calendar adds support for 8 new languagesLanguage support is feature 0 for most users (excluding the Dutch, who all speak and write six languages from birth). On the other hand, a port to Chinese doesn't get my Outlook 2003 sync working.
.... Google Calendar now supports Google Calendar now supports US English, UK English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, Russian, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Filipino/Tagalog, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Turkish, Hungarian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Latvian, Romanian, Lithuanian, Slovenian and Polish...
Ideas and Trends - When Human Rights Extend to Nonhumans - NYTimes.comIf we're still around fifty years from now, this will be an obscure event on a history exam, with the context of "of course this is obvious".
... the environment committee of the Spanish Parliament last month to grant limited rights to our closest biological relatives, the great apes — chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans.
The committee would bind Spain to the principles of the Great Ape Project, which points to apes’ human qualities, including the ability to feel fear and happiness, create tools, use languages, remember the past and plan the future...
If the bill passes — the news agency Reuters predicts it will — it would become illegal in Spain to kill apes except in self-defense. Torture, including in medical experiments, and arbitrary imprisonment, including for circuses or films, would be forbidden.
The 300 apes in Spanish zoos would not be freed, but better conditions would be mandated...
... Mr. Singer ... left out lesser apes like gibbons because scientific evidence of human qualities is weaker, and he demanded only rights that he felt all humans were usually offered, such as freedom from torture — rather than, say, rights to education or medical care.
... even in democracies, the law accords diminished rights to many humans: children, prisoners, the insane, the senile. Teenagers may not vote, philosophers who slip into dementia may be lashed to their beds, courts can order surgery or force-feeding.
Spain does not envision endowing apes with all rights: to drive, to bear arms and so on. Rather, their status would be akin to that of children.
... Spain’s Catholic bishops attacked the vote as undermining a divine will that placed humans above animals. One said such thinking led to abortion, euthanasia and ethnic cleansing...
In the course of a board review program I've been reviewing ten years of medication development ...
... I've long had an information-geek's admiration for the printed version of Monthly Prescribing Reference. Despite its evil ad-funded roots, there's a real genius to the density and layout of the content, refined by generations of customer feedback. It also has the virtue (and sin) of being always topical and exceedingly brief.
So I started my review by reading this cover to cover. Each time I come across a medication that's new to me, or a familiar one that unlocks a domain of forgotten knowledge, I add it to my core med review sheet. This sheet is also an interesting overview of what's changed in medicine over the past decade. There was more activity in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease, for example, than I would have guessed...
Other than observing the desperate attempts to find something Tumor Necrosis Factor inhibitors are good for, I was struck by the explosion of combination meds.
What explains this? Is it patient demand? Is it pharma desperation due to a shrinking development pipeline?
It was Emily who suggested a motivation that could explain the development all by itself.
The most common co-pay schemes strongly incent patients to minimize the number of their chronic prescriptions, with much less incentive to minimize the cost of prescriptions. On the other hand, combination meds are very profitable for pharmaceutical companies.
I suspect the payors who designed co-pay schemes didn't have have these outcomes in mind.
BBC NEWS | Health | Exercise 'slows down Alzheimer's'Hmmphh. Still not a randomized study, so it's not very persuasive. These associative studies are more wrong than right.
... While there was no relationship between brain size and exercise in people tested who did not have Alzheimer's, Dr Burns said the four-fold difference in those who did was evidence that exercise might help.
He said: 'People with early Alzheimer's disease may be able to preserve their brain function for a longer period of time by exercising regularly and potentially reducing the amount of brain volume lost.
'Evidence shows decreasing brain volume is tied to poorer cognitive performance, so preserving more brain volume may translate into better cognitive performance.'...
Still voluntary exercise. I'd have preferred they forced the mice to exercise, say a treadmill that dumps the non-runners into water.
... To directly test the possibility that exercise (in the form of voluntary running) may reduce the cognitive decline and brain pathology that characterizes AD, the study utilized a transgenic mouse model of AD rather than normal mice. The transgenic mice begin to develop AD-like amyloid plaques at around 3 months of age. Initially, young mice (6 weeks or 1 month of age) were placed in cages with or without running wheels for periods of either 1 month or 5 months, respectively. Mice with access to running wheels had the opportunity to exercise any time, while those without the wheels were classified as “sedentary.”
On 6 consecutive days after the exercise phase, the researchers placed each mouse in a Morris water maze to examine how fast it could learn the location of a hidden platform and how long it retained this information ... the mice that used the running wheels for 5 months took less time than the sedentary animals to find the escape platform. The exercised mice acquired maximal performance after only 2 days on the task, while it took more than 4 days for the sedentary mice to reach that same level of performance...