Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Great quotes - military action

"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action."

- Senator Obama,  in an answer to the question: "In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress?"

Of course, this did not stop him unilaterally authorizing military action in Libya... and it looks like Syria is next. A 'road to Damascus' conversion en route to the Presidency?

Random charts - cancer

Source: A Snapshot of Brain and Central Nervous System Cancers (NCI)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Random chart - competitiveness

The highlights?  'The US has regained the No. 1 spot in 2013, thanks to a rebounding financial sector, an abundance of technological innovation and successful companies.

China (21) and Japan (24) are also increasing their competitiveness. In the case of Japan, Abenomics seems to be having an initial impact on the dynamism of the economy.

In Europe, the most competitive nations include Switzerland (2), Sweden (4) and Germany (9), whose success relies upon export-oriented manufacturing, diversified economies, strong small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and fiscal discipline. Like last year, the rest of Europe is heavily constrained by austerity programs that are delaying recovery and calling into question the timeliness of the measures proposed.

The BRICS economies have enjoyed mixed fortunes. China (21) and Russia (42) rose in the rankings, while India (40), Brazil (51) and South Africa (53) all fell. Emerging economies in general remain highly dependent on the global economic recovery, which seems to be delayed."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Random charts - guideline panels

Its conclusion? "For the common conditions studied, a majority of panels proposed changes to disease definitions that increased the number of individuals considered to have the disease, none reported rigorous assessment of potential harms of that widening, and most had a majority of members disclosing financial ties to pharmaceutical companies." Note that "... these findings do not establish a causal link between industry ties and proposals to change disease definitions"

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Follow-up (lessons learned)

The June 9th, 2013 blog entry, 'The right lesson?', took issue with some of Atul Gawande's musings in the wake of the Boston marathon bombing, especially his contention that the hospitals there were "ready." This blogger noted that : "... although the medical response was a success, clearly the emergency response systems of the various Boston hospitals were found to be wanting...  Some work is clearly needed there to ensure that they are more responsive and will work in any future emergencies."

Now, with the passage of time and further reflection a realization has been made that not all went quite so smoothly - "The day’s utter chaos made missteps inevitable, but in the months since, the hospitals have found lessons to be learned from the moments of confusion and occasional miscommunication...  In particular, the bombings brought forward a problem that has vexed trauma hospitals for years: the identification of victims." As exemplified by an unfortunate case where the family of a deceased victim was told that she was alive and in the hospital...

However, lessons are being drawn and preparations made to do better the next time there is an emergency - "... The trauma centers are developing strategies to more accurately identify patients and reunite them with families faster...   the city is working with hospitals to standardize the reporting of patient identities to a central office that works to reunite victims with families. Hospitals did not all provide the same information and some lagged in reporting on April 15th..."

This blogger also observed that sometimes an element of luck is involved, and that processes need to be made robust for the occasions when this is not the case - "OK, so  one really can't complain about success and things were done extraordinarily well resulting in the optimum outcome... as is very often the case in healthcare.  From Katrina to Sandy, and many incidents before, in-between and after, extraordinary efforts by ordinary (and extraordinary) people have often 'saved the day.' However, it is a realization that this has usually been the case (i.e. a reliance on extraordinary efforts plus often a good measure of luck) rather than planning, processes, and systems that has led to the adoption of systems and processes to respond to emergencies."

Apparently this was the case in Boston. However this has been recognized and s being taken into consideration while looking to improve the system - "Trauma doctors said Boston was fortunate that the bombs exploded at an event where dozens of medical and public safety personnel already were stationed, and at an hour when shifts changed at the hospitals, nearly doubling the number of medical staff on site. But next time might be different, said Walls, of the Brigham. “We are analyzing every step now,” he said, “and trying to eliminate the element of luck.’’

Follow-up (Raking it in)

The June 26th, 2013 blog entry "Raking it in..." rightly pointed out the incredible shallowness of some of the reporting in a ProPublica report - 'Top Medicare Prescribers Rake In Speaking Fees From Drugmakers' - that looked at pharma payments to physicians...

Now an article, 'Data Dive Finds Doctors For Rent'  references an analysis "First, Do No Harm: Financial Conflicts in Medicine" that does some real number-crunching. Its conclusion?

"... Using data from twelve drug companies, more than 330,000 physicians and nearly one billion prescriptions, we find that when a drug company pays a doctor he is more likely to prescribe that company's drugs... A payment from a pharmaceutical company corresponds to, on average, an additional 29 Medicare prescriptions per year, and this number rises to nearly 100 prescriptions if the payment is at least $1,000."

Follow-up (Bhutto)

The first entry on this blog back in January 2008 was related to the murder of Benazir Bhutto... Well, related to finding those responsible, news of a sort... Ex-General Pervez Musharraf has now been indicted and charged for her murder in 2007: 

"A Pakistani court indicted former president Pervez Musharraf for the 2007 murder of opposition leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in a move (AFP) that marks the first time a head of Pakistan's army has been charged with a crime. Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack after a campaign rally in Rawalpindi..."

Friday, August 16, 2013


Are these the same? Does disagreeing with the statement "this time, we will reach a final agreement that will put an end to the conflict" mean the same as "a peace deal with the Palestinians is impossible"?

Random charts - cleaning challenges

Source: Cleaning Industry Insights Survey: 2013 Findings

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Random charts - drug shortages

Source: Report on the ISPE Drug Shortages Survey (24-page PDF, International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering) 

Previous blog entries on drug shortages: 
Follow up (drug shortages) - Jul 5th, 2013
Random charts - drug shortages - Jan 31, 2013
Random charts - drug shortages - Jul 25th, 2012
Diagnosis - muddled thinking - Jan 21st, 2012
Polarization? - Dec 2nd, 2011
Help on the way? - Jul 31st, 2011
Random charts - Apr 6th, 2011
The why's of drug shortages - Mar 3oth, 2011

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Waiting... waiting...

Waiting to see if the following pan out: Central Standard Timing's CST-01 e-ink digital watch; Cybernetics Research Lab's tactical pen; the Canary home security device; eiMIM X, Y, and Z pens; Furviss augmented reality glasses; GlassUp augmented reality glasses; and a MVMT watch...  aah, gadgets!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Monday, August 5, 2013

Random picture - San Fermin

Les Toros - Jacques Brel

Les toros s'ennuient le dimanche
Quand il s'agit de courir pour nous
Un peu de sable du soleil et des planches
Un peu de sang pour faire un peu de boue
C'est l'heure où les épiciers se prennent pour Don Juan
C'est l'heure où les Anglaises se prennent pour Montherlant
Ah! Qui nous dira à quoi ça pense
Un toro qui tourne et danse
Et s'aperçoit soudain qu'il est tout nu
Ah!Qui nous dira à quoi ça rêve
Un toro dont l'oeil se lève
Et qui découvre les cornes des cocus

Les toros s'ennuient le dimanche
Quand il s'agit de souffrir pour nous
Voici les picadors et la foule se venge
Voici les toreros et la foule est à genoux
C'est l'heure où les épiciers se prennent pour Garcia Lorca
C'est l'heure où les Anglaises se prennent pour la Carmencita

Les toros s'ennuient le dimanche
Quand il s'agit de mourir pour nous
Mais l'épée va plonger et la foule se penche
Mais l'épée a plongé et la foule est debout
C'est l'instant de triomphe où les épiciers se prennent pour Néron
C'est l'instant de triomphe où les Anglaises se prennent pour Wellington
Ah! Est-ce qu'en tombant à terre
Les toros rêvent d'un enfer
Où brûleraient hommes et toreros défunts
Ah! Ou bien à l'heure du trépas
Ne nous pardonneraient-ils pas
En pensant à Carthage Waterloo et Verdun

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Five years on...

It's coming up on the fifth anniversary of the 2008 South Ossetia War (a.k.a. the Russia-Georgia War, the Five-Day War, etc.). Here is one remembrance. An interview with then-President Dimitri Medvedev. And a few other relevant links from a variety of sources:

Georgian attitudes towards Russia:


Source: Public Attitudes in Georgia (June 2013)

Some previous blog entries on Georgia:
Misc update - GeorgiaJun 1st, 2013
Misc update (Georgia) - May 18th, 2012
Misc update (Georgia) - Dec 28th, 2011
Misc update (Georgia) - May 15th, 2011
Misc update (Georgia) - Mar 26th, 2011
A little war II - Apr 22nd, 2010
A little war I - Mar 17th, 2010
An inconvenient truth - Nov 26th, 2008
Georgia update... - Nov 22nd, 2008
Georgia - Sept 7th, 2008
Immediate Response?!? - Aug 25th, 2008
Georgia (updated) - Aug 15th, 2008
Two-edged sword (South Ossetia) - Aug 11th, 2008

Even more Galaxy S4 - keyboard

In search of other keyboard possibilities I checked out the Cellulon Epic laser projection keyboard. Nice and small (70mm x 20mm x 35mm, weighing 60gm), it uses a red laser diode to project a QWERTY keyboard (width 240mm x height 100mm; pitch 19mm) onto a flat surface. After pairing the device with your S4 (or any other device that has Android v4.0 or later; Windows XP or later; iOs 4.0 or later; or Blabckberry v10) you can start typing. As your fingers reflect the infrared light it is detected by a sensor that calculates the appropriate keyboard key...

The Epic has a 650 mAh lithium-ion battery rated at approximately two hours of use. It has 5 sound feedback levels, 5 brightness levels, sensitivity adjustment, and power saving modes.

And some specifications:

It worked very well for me and was very accurate (unlike in the Gizmag review)... Of course I am a "hunt and peck" typist and do not 'touch type,' it is very possible that it is less accurate at higher rates although it is rated at a recognition rate of 350 characters per minute! Is it realistic for frequent use? I'm not so sure, but it is an epic gadget!

Other Cellulon keyboard reviews:
Review: Cellulon Epic projection keyboard (Gizmag)
Cellulon's Epic is a Mobile Projection Keyboard with Multi-touch Mouse Functions
Cellulon Epic Mobile Projection Keyboard (YouTube video)
Cellulon Epic Projection Laser Keyboard (YouTube video)

Previous S4 blog entries:
Yet more Galaxy S4
More Galaxy S4
Galaxy S4 second look
Galaxy S4 first look

The following show the lowest and highest brightness levels, with and without the lights on respectively: