Nov 25 2012
This is a counterpart to the more recent finding of even more abusive use of a worthless screening test for prostate cancer that I have recently posted about.
By Igor Volsky on Nov 23, 2012 at 11:17 am
Routine mammograms have caused more than a million U.S. women to receive “unnecessary and invasive cancer treatments over the last 30 years,” a new study finds, detecting tumors that are harmless. The results come after the government’s Preventive Task Force issued recommendations in 2009 advising primary care physicians against recommending mammograms to women under 40 years of age. Those guidelines stirred political outcry on both sides of the aisle and slowed down work on President Obama’s health care law.
But the study shines new doubt “over the effectiveness of an already controversial cancer screening tool that is aimed at detecting tumors before they spread and become more difficult to treat”:
Their analysis showed that, since mammograms became standard in the United States, the number of early-stage breast cancers detected has doubled – in recent years, doctors found tumors in 234 women out of 100,000. But in that same period, the rate of women diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer has dropped just eight percent – from 102 to 94 cases out of 100,000…
Igor doesn’t mention, probably because nobody bothered telling Igor, that there are some answers to better diagnosis. GE, Abbott Laboratories and Quest Diagnostics know all about it but they are saving money for the financial cliff we are throwing grandma off. Maybe they think it would depress the economy further if all the doctors and hospitals and suppliers, like themselves for instance, were further hurt by advanced testing.
Besides maybe some men think women look better without a breast or two. Mostly we men make the decisions you know.
Nov 25 2012
I did not spend Thanksgiving evening with my wife and my five children. I spent it, instead, handing out turkey sandwiches to workers in Walmart. And showing my support for one brave soul who walked off the job in protest against exploitation…
I am a little curious how other liberals feel about Alan Grayson, who I regard as something of a modern Huey Long.
I don’t mean to hint in any way that Alan Grayson is corrupt nor remotely as brazen, uneducated and as ugly talking as Huey Long:
If you can’t take their money, drink their liquor, eat their food and screw their women and then look them in the eye and tell them your agin them, you aren’t man enough to be in the Senate.
– Huey Long
Huey Long’s racist diatribes would have made a George Wallace blanch but the descendants of slaves in Louisiana at the time were apparently intelligent enough to see through the awful noise. It was reported that Huey Long would undoubtedly have garnered a hefty vote from the descendants of slaves had they been allowed to vote in the old segregationist South. The Longs as a whole were remarkable for never supporting segregation.
FDR hated Huey Long with a purple passion. Long’s successful attack on FDR’s draconian cut of veterans pensions was a stinging defeat that FDR never forgave nor forgot.
Huey had a unique and powerful debating style. A fellow senator standing alongside Huey Long at a urinal in the Senate restroom began telling Huey why he was against a bill of Huey’s. Huey turned sidewise without saying a word. I don’t imagine any other senator again chose to debate Huey Long in a public restroom anywhere.
So how does Grayson remotely compare to Huey Long and Long’s Share Our Wealth with Long first to the trough?
– The noise level, the demos, some rough edges that horrify conservative kossacks on the Orange Satan are part of the pattern of an actual progressive.
Nov 23 2012
Forgetaboutit, mommies and daddies.
Important interests don’t care if your brat dies. There already is at least a partial cure but it isn’t PC.
Dick lay in a hospital bed under heavy sedation as a common virus gone mad raced up his arm an inch or two an hour. Nurses and doctors poured on the most powerful antibiotics known as they cut away the gangrenous flesh. His wife could hear the groans and cries in the waiting room for three days though Dick lost three days of memory from delirium and sedation. Nobody knows how to deal with necrotizing fasciitis (“flesh-eating bacteria”). The old veteran years later died from something more preventable, murder-suicide, that claims far more victims, especially among veterans, but nobody much cares about that either. Dick’s pictures of war casualties horrified readers of magazines like Look but few care to stop war either. There are great profits to be made as well as glory and reputations.
What people could do is stop some kids from strangling on peanut allergies, and even a few adults who have not outgrown a mostly childhood allergy, but it would require letting growers plant GMO peanuts. A vial of epinephrine and some bottles of medicine that probably couldn’t be found in an extreme emergency would save a fraction at best.
Bananas and plantain are a true “frankenstein” cross-species sterile hybrid of inedible parents that we have become accustomed to. Big Mike was better tasting and superior in all manner of ways than today’s Cavendish banana that comes from a single plant because Big Mike was lost to the blight. What you can’t have any longer was always better. There is word going around that Big Mike is still available in Jamaica and elsewhere but it may or may not have been a protected specimen. Clones are obviously more vulnerable than the feared one-crop gardening that has some differentiation in genes.
So why not protect the Cavendish and other bananas and plaintain with death-defying genes conserved in all plants and animals, from yeast to humans? Well you see it would take bioengineering for the bananas and lengthy experimentation with other plants. There are some “naturally bred” plants by standard natural hybrid methods which are anything but natural but they still carry the stigma.
So multitudes can starve, the land, sea and water be poisoned and polluted, the consumers ripped off for profit and fun – science and common decency be damned.
We gots to be natural people eating meat and produce vastly different from its wild ancestry at high prices because its good to be better.
“What would it benefit a rich man to have a feast if there were not hungry and starving poor people?” – Aldous Huxley
BTW this is not a defense of Monsanto or Dow but rather the reverse. But who cares about that when there is money to be made and fun to be had?
Nov 19 2012
From Rolling Stone:
Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math
By Bill McKibben
…here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.
The minus 99 above is a factorial in scientific number notation. Mr. McKibben hasn’t shared any basis of the math with us that would allow anyone to verify the figure but I am not in the denial business. I assume that Mr. McKibben is simply accepting the math done by geophysicists.
Rather surprisingly, one of the denialists is the new math superstar, Nate Silver.
Thereby hangs a tale showing that survival of the human species and maybe all species on earth is threatened as much by Mr. McKibben as by the Koch Brothers, Exxon and any number of bad guys.
The math is quite easy. You need not be a Tennessee inbred with extra digits giving him higher mathematical powers to see the problem.
To people like Mr. McKibben the primary answer is solar, the ultra-expensive energy source that gobbles up scarce resources in money, materials and labor and fails when it is most needed because the sun goes out every night. It is not the only intermittent (sometime) power source that the new environmentalists push and they even give a call out to the greatest power source on earth, geothermal, but only that which requires cutting edge technology that has been pursued going on a century or so with the most meager results to date. They fiercely attack thermal biomass that could save the forests and eliminate waste that pollutes land, air and water without any addition to carbon above ground while destroying far more potent greenhouse gases than CO2.
Here’s your math. You will need only two fingers or two toes or whatever pair you have available, even two heads that the Bill McKibbens of the world fear you will get from eating GMO’s.
Experts looking at the energy supply figure that solar and wind can supply 20% of the power needed by humans to maintain civilization, 40% at most. Let us call it 50%.
For the rest you need baseload renewables to replace fossil fuels.
Take away one of your two fingers or toes or heads or whatever and the remainder can end human life and perhaps all life on the planet.
Then Mother Earth, a most bounteous lady who can turn into a mass killer beyond compare (and has) when her simple rules are disobeyed, can try again to evolve an intelligent species if she is still up to it. She has obviously failed this time.
Nov 17 2012
It was a time of gaiety and dancing and singing and fighting and drinking and – well not so much the naughty because Mother Church frowned on such goings on except with the scarlet ladies beyond the pale that my father told me about in Ireland.
A typical household consisted of a straw hut, a mother, father, passel of kids and a pig. Not only was furniture rare (rocks sufficed for chairs) but so were utensils and dinnerware. Just outside the front entrance was a pile of pig shit. If you never smelled pig shit, count yourself blessed.
An Irish peasant with much more than the usual amount of land allowed the Irish peasantry by the English overlords for growing potatoes sadly noted that he had to hire a maid because his wife got so lonely for the gaiety of the commons.
This is part of the beginning of a book on the Irish Potato Famine told largely through drab documents and letters and other tedious products of deep research that puts a lie to the usual apocryphal notions of the famine. It is a horror far beyond the artistry of even the master of horror, Edgar Allan Poe. It is some hard reading and I will probably never finish the book.
The problem was not so much the hatred and contempt for the Irish by the English, though there is no shortage of that and vice versa to this day, but a misunderstanding of the genius of Adam Smith along with a benevolence that often did more harm than good. Who can top the widely circulated pamphlet on how to cook rotten potatoes? The Irish were already and are the only people on earth with worse cuisine than the English.
One has to be insensate not to notice the relief, even among Republican stalwarts, that Romney, who is now revealing himself plainly for what he always was, did not attain the reins of power. Instead, says Cornell West, we got Romney in blackface. You don’t have to agree fully even if you can get past the – ahh, umm – insensitivity of Mr. West but how to explain glowing promises that the U.S. will be pumping more oil out of the ground in the near future by a fine fellow who says he accepts the science of global warming which decrees Sandy is just a red-haired stepchild of what is to come?
Contrary to crazed popular notions, America was not founded on Christian-Judaic doctrine (whatever that is supposed to be) but on contempt for the hatred espoused by religions, including atheism. George Washington and, I think, Adams were Deists. Deists decreed that God created the world but God takes care of God and man can damn well take care of himself. Man isn’t doing so hot at the task.
Jefferson was a Unitarian, which is little different but far more elaborate and colorful. Kinda funny that Jefferson would go for the pomp and circumstance. But he, like all the others with the usual human failings, wanted real change and respected science and learning.
That was then. This is now. Hope there is a tomorrow for the kids and grandkids.
Nov 17 2012
Tex, a tall, lean, hard tanned, leathery westerner with the clear glaze of a fellow who spent his life on horseback on the open range said pleasantly to the two ladies sitting next to him in the courtroom, “Just not right what they do to a fellow minding his own business.”
The two ladies were the widows of game wardens killed in cold blood by psychopathic “mountain man” Claude Dallas, when Dallas was caught poaching a wide variety of endangered species. The circus trial of the purported mountain man, who spent much of the early days of the manhunt searching mountain and desert hiding under the bed of a trailer of a friend, featuring the “Dallas Cheerleaders” among hordes of supporters and fawning press is told inimitably in Give A Boy A Gun by Jack Olsen.
I applied the name “Tex” ironically because in our west where Coloradans were called “easterners,” drugstore cowboys who wouldn’t know a horse from a billy goat were called Tex. But this Tex was a real cowboy with a handsome spread outside of town someplace near Winnemucca, NV. This was the west that near as I could tell bore little resemblance to Texas aside from Judge Roy Bean justice.
In the end, Claude Dallas was convicted on a minimal charge because of two intrepid lady jurors uncowed by the mob. A most “unfair” judge stretched his sentencing to normally absurd lengths.
Drive north from Winnemucca just past Paradise Valley, where you hang a left for 90 miles on the road to nowhere. Nowhere (AKA Adel named for a cow or a sweetheart – nobody knows which) is just past Buzzard Gap before climbing down the cliff featuring the greatest hang gliding jump off on the planet earth. If you have a car with bad brakes, like I did (at least at the bottom), your wife will hold you tight forevermore and shudder at the memory.
You are now in the large desert valley ruled by the mighty MC that single-handedly turned Oregon green and created a desolation of epic proportions.
To be continued if I stay vertical long enough for the epilogue and perhaps if anyone cares. I tire rapidly these days.