Monday, March 31, 2014

Random chart - Ukraine

Beyond the potential military "scenarios" presented, interesting information of Ukrainian-Russian co-dependance in a number of areas...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Random chart - DOD IT programs

"... Of the 15 selected Department of Defense (DOD) major automated information system (MAIS) programs, 13 had cost information available (2 did not, due to revisions to requirements and changes in scope). Of these 13 programs, 11 experienced changes in their cost estimates, including 7 that experienced increases ranging from 4 to 2,233 percent and 4 that experienced decreases ranging from 4 to 86 percent. Two programs remained unchanged in their cost goals. Additionally, of 14 programs that had schedule information available (1 did not due to revisions to requirements), 13 experienced schedule changes — including 12 that had slippages ranging from a few months to 6 years, and 1 that accelerated its schedule. One program remained on schedule..."

Random charts - charity care


"... A new analysis released today by the Alliance for Integrity and Reform of 340B (AIR 340B) indicates that a substantial portion of hospitals enrolled in the 340B program provide only a minimal amount of charity care; as such, they may not be fulfilling Congress’ expectations. The study, compiled from newly available public data analyzed by Avalere Health, noted that the 340B drug discount program was designed by Congress to help safety net providers improve access to prescription medicines for uninsured, vulnerable patients in the outpatient hospital setting. Yet, the analysis shows, most hospitals that benefit from the program provide less charity care than the national average for all hospitals, and charity care in about a quarter of all 340B hospitals represents 1% or less of total patient costs. A small number of 340B hospitals provide the lion’s share of all charity care delivered by 340B hospitals. These findings raise pressing questions about the 340B eligibility criteria for DSH hospitals. “340B is a valuable program, but it doesn’t always work the way Congress intended”

The Alliance styles itself "... a coalition of patient advocacy groups, clinical care providers and biopharmaceutical innovators dedicated to reforming and strengthening the 340B program to ensure it directly supports access to outpatient prescription medicines for uninsured indigent patients...." but critics point out the large number of drug companies that are members... 

While criticizing the report, America's Essential Hospitals' senior vice president, policy and advocacy, said people should "consider the source behind it." (see here).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Random charts - cigarette warnings


Health warning labels on cigarette packages are one way to reach youth thinking about initiating tobacco use. The purpose of this study was to examine awareness and under-standing of current health warning labels among 5 and 6 year old children.
Subjects and methods
Researchers conducted one-on-one interviews with urban and rural 5 and 6 year olds from Brazil,China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Russia.
Among the 2,423 participating children, 62 % were unaware of the health warnings currently featured on cigarette packages, with the lowest levels of awareness in India and the highest levels in Brazil. When shown the messages, the same percentage of participating children (62 %) showed no level of message understanding.
While youth are receiving social and informational messages promoting tobacco use, health warning labels featured on cigarette packages are not effectively reaching young children with anti-smoking messages."

Random pictures - anime plus

Crimean Attorney-General Natalia Poklonskaya has gone viral... "... Poklonskaya’s fans from all over the world call her “Prosecutie” and even invented a name for themselves – “Nataliaites.” (source)

The government in Kiev issued a warrant for her arrest, with predictable results:

Not exactly sure what this says about people/culture...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Random charts - animal rights


"... The use of animal models in biomedical research is essential to our ability to develop treatments and cures for those suffering from debilitating diseases. Breakthroughs in treatments for illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Parkinson’s disease would not have been possible without the use of animals in research. Moreover, biomedical research directly benefits animals themselves. The majority of veterinary advances are a direct result of research involving animal models..."

Random chart - phone subsidies

"... The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) subsidizes phone service for low-income households, funded by the universal service charge assessed on all consumers’ phone bills. The cost of this program ballooned from $819 million in 2008 to $2.19 billion in 2012..."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Great quotes - proven correct

Picture Credit:Wikipedia

''I think it is the beginning of a new cold war.  I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.

What bothers me is how superficial and ill informed the whole Senate debate was. I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don't people understand? Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

And Russia's democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we've just signed up to defend from Russia. It shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are -- but this is just wrong...''

- George Kennan, "father of containment", in 1998 on earlier NATO expansion. Eventually proven correct.

Tom Friedman, reporting this, added: "... Yes, tell your children, and your children's children, that you lived in the age of Bill Clinton and William Cohen, the age of Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger, the age of Trent Lott and Joe Lieberman, and you too were present at the creation of the post-cold-war order, when these foreign policy Titans put their heads together and produced . . . a mouse."  

Add additional luminaries to this list -  Barack Obama, John Kerry, Samantha Powers, Joe Biden, John McCain, others. Oh, and the European leaders who went along with varying degrees of enthusiasm - Merkel, Fabius,  and a gaggle of lightweights such as Cameron, Abbott, Harper...

A different perspective?

The October 20th, 2013 blog entry 'So how bad is it (healthcare)?' reprised a 2009 blog entry that tried to catalog some reasons for high U.S. healthcare costs; took issue with the prevailing wisdom that the U.S. is spending so much more than other countries while obtaining poorer outcomes; noted that it had "now become fashionable or de rigueur to criticize various aspects of hospitals and the health care system" (while providing a couple of examples); and referenced a study that 'explained' high health care costs as directly related to items that result from poverty and income inequality - "Thus, while the US spends more than twice as much on health care than the mean of other OECD countries, its greater GDP and higher prices explain most of it, and income inequality offers an explanation for the rest..."  

The study also noted that U.S. spending on social programs appeared to 'mirror' health care spending i.e. they are on the low side compared to other OECD countries by a very similar order of magnitude to which health care costs are on the high side (as demonstrated by the graphic below). This blogger observed that "...this study as of yet has not been picked up and uncritically "megaphoned' by the usual suspects... perhaps because it does not support the current health care zeitgeist."

Next the January 20th, 2014 blog entry 'Add it up...' linked to Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities. Recommendations From the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America (120-pg PDF), and cited its observation that "In their search for solutions, the Commissioners found that there is much more to health than health care and that where we live, learn, work, and play profoundly influence our health..." (note: underline emphasis mine)

This blogger noticed that a guest blogger at The Incidental Economist has written a book review of a book (The American Health Care Paradox) which looks at the same issue i.e. poor healthcare outcomes despite the 'high' U.S. healthcare spend.

Per the review the book's authors "... took two decades of commonly-used OECD data on healthcare spending, social-services spending, and health outcomes, and tried to make sense of it all.  The key finding is buried a bit in the figure below (click to enlarge):

Look closely and you’ll see that the United States is not exceptional in terms of its total spending on health and social services. But it is exceptional in how little it spends on social services relative to health... In terms of total spending that affects health, America’s actually right in the middle of the pack—implying a gross misallocation of spending: too much spending in health services, and too little in social services. This is the core assertion of the book: implicating the social determinants of health as a central player in the problems of American healthcare..." (note: underline emphasis mine)

A finding that jibes perfectly with the studies referenced above. The book reviewer's conclusion - "... for anyone interested in health policy, especially those who rarely think about the social determinants of health, it’s an important step down the road towards addressing it by reframing the issue with a wider lens..."  - is absolutely right on the mark. However, it remains to be seen if this sensible advice will gain traction in the current political environment. 

This blogger is not optimistic on this count...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Random pictures - air traffic

Click to enlarge:

"...  Some 30,000 flights criss-cross Europe’s airspace on a typical summer day. In this video, you can watch them all in just under two minutes..."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Great quotes - did we say that?

"The European Parliament... Is concerned about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda Party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada; recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU's fundamental values and principles and therefore appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party..."

That was then, this is now... Svoboda now has three members in Ukraine's interim cabinet - the Deputy PM (!), the Defense Minister (!), and the National Security & Defense Council Secretary.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Great quote - independence

 "... the General Assembly has asked whether the declaration of independence was “in accordance with” international law.The answer to that question turns on whether or not the applicable inter-national law prohibited the declaration of independence. If the Court concludes that it did, then it must answer the question put by saying that the declaration of independence was not in accordance with international law. It follows that the task which the Court is called upon to perform is to determine whether or not the declaration of independence was adopted in violation of international law. The Court is not required by the question it has been asked to take a position on whether international law conferred a positive entitlement on Kosovo unilaterally to declare its independence or, a fortiori, on whether international law generally confers an entitlement on entities situated within a State unilaterally to breakaway from it. Indeed, it is entirely possible for a particular act — such asa unilateral declaration of independence — not to be in violation of inter-national law without necessarily constituting the exercise of a right conferred by it. The Court has been asked for an opinion on the first point,not the second..."

- International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion of 22nd July 2010  The ICJ concluded that nothing specific  in international law prohibited the Kosovo declaration of independence.

"The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law

- President Obama, see Obama: Crimea Referendum Would Violate International Law. No specifics or particular law actually cited...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Random picture - travel

Source: 13 Gorgeous Travel Posters From 1930s Japan

Great quotes - extraordinary threat?

"I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the actions and policies of persons -- including persons who have asserted governmental authority in the Crimean region without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine -- that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat..."

Random chart - nutrition labels

Source: Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels

Friday, March 7, 2014


With an Asian father and a European mother I can't say the results from this DNA profile is much of a surprise, except where did the Melanesian component come from? Also, the European side seems to be a bit of a mix...

Some more NEC Medias W N-05E

Yet more NEC Medias W N-05EFeb 23rd, 2014
More NEC Medias W N05-E - Feb 16th, 2014
NEC Medias W N-05E first look Jan 28th, 2014
NEC Medias W N-05-E second look- Feb 2nd, 2014

I googled to get APN settings for T-Mobile and AT&T and the above shows the connectivity I got i.e how the phone's frequency bands align with those used by the various carriers.  Note, I haven't got an LTE connection, not 100% sure if that's a frequency band issue or if I still don't have the 'best' APN values entered...

Applied the screen protectors I bought via eBay. They work real well, but I'm not sure if I'll hold onto them versus taking them off....


The bottom line? I've done what I didn't think would be possible, I've moved away from my keyboard BB! I really like this phone; the big screen (when open) is great, and no, the bevel doesn't bother me...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kisai Rorschach watch - first look

The Kisai Rorschach watch from Tokyoflash was inspired by the Rorschach inkblot test developed by the Swiss psychiatrist/psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach. The watch has a ePaper display from E-ink, and the time can be displayed in 3 levels of difficulty.... 

Per the web site: "... In all 3 modes the hours are shown in the top-right, the minutes in the bottom-left, the rest of the screen is a reflection of these digits which creates the inkblot effect. You can easily switch between the difficulty modes by holding the top button...", illustrated by the graphic below (which shows what 12:45 PM looks like in all three modes:


The technical specifications:

Other reviews: 
The TokyoFlash Kisai Rorschach
Kisai Rorschach Smartwatch Uses Cryptic Inkblot Marking to Depict Time

Kisai Rorschach EPaper Watch Overview (YouTube)
Kisai Rorschach ePaper Watch Design from Tokyoflash Japan (YouTube)

Narrative - first look

The Narrative Clip is a small (dimensions: 36x36x9mm , or 1.42x1.42x0.35 inch), light (20 gm, or 0.7oz) 5MP camera that takes pictures automatically every 30 seconds for 'life-logging.' The camera can hold approximately 4,000 pictures and is supposed to last two days between battery charges...


Charge your Narrative, download/install the desktop software (Windows for now),setup your account, and activate the camera...


The tech specs:

Other Narrative reviews:
Nice To Meet You. I've Already Taken Your Picture
Narrative Clip Review – A wearable camera with context
Very Candid Cameras: Autographer and Narrative Clip Are Watching You
Narrative Clip: Wearable Camera Records Your Life at Two Shots per Minute

Narrative Clip Unboxing and Initial Review (YouTube)
New Technology Review: Narrative's Wearable Automatic Camera (YouTube)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Great quotes - w/a straight face

"... You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext..."

- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaking about Russian actions in Ukraine...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Error 404, cleaning up?

The Feb 8th, 2014 blog entry 'Random picture - pro-democracy?' pointed out and cited a very few of the points in Svoboda's "Program for the Protection of Ukrainians" that the U.S. was apparently happy to overlook, given their other anti-Russian program articles....

Well, the link now no longer works (at least as of this attempt), see above. Some "scrubbing" appears to have occurred. Oh well, off to the 'wayback machine" a.k.a. Internet Archive, to find a December 6th, 2013 cached version of the page! And here they are:

Click to enlarge:

Note the call to "Criminalize promotion... of sexual perversion." Perhaps John Kerry will have to update the entry on Ukraine... which incidentally also (oops!) already cites activities by Svoboda!