Saturday, July 26, 2014

Random charts - health costs


"In recent reports we have outlined the continuing historic slowdown in the growth rate of health care spending driven in large part by emerging structural changes in the health care system. Recent evidence suggests that the cost curve has continued to bend, with health care spending declining in the first quarter of 2014. 

Despite this continuing trend in health care spending growth, consumers are increasingly concerned that they are ever more financially burdened by spending on their own health care. This consumer perception is largely a factor of the “new normal” being established through health insurance, which includes: 
  • Benefit plan designs, used by employers and insurers to shift greater financial risk to consumers through higher out-of-pocket spending (i.e., deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance); and,
  • Health insurance premiums, which continue to rise faster than the average person’s income.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Random charts - Iraqi opinion


Surveys of Iraqi public opinion over the years show that Sunni support for secular government "...has increased from 60% in 2004 to more than 81% in 2013..." while for the Shia it "... went up from 44% in2004 to 63% in 2011, and then dropped to 34% in 2013." However, both groups "...converge in defining selves as Iraqi, rather than Muslim or Arab, above all."

Iraqis apparently that keen on Iranians... or Americans for that matter.

Source: Is Iraq Falling Apart? Findings from Values Surveys (5-pg PDF)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Random picture - trash

Salon reports: "...The United States has a trash problem. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces more than 4 pounds of garbage per day. That’s more than double the amount produced in 1960, and it’s 50 percent more than the amount produced by Western Europeans. In January, photographer Gregg Segal decided to put some imagery to those numbers. His ongoing series, “7 Days of Garbage,” shows Californian friends, neighbors, and relative strangers lying in the trash they created in one week..." Go to the site to see the full picture and a number of others...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Random picture - solar flare

Click to enlarge

"A solar flare bursts off the left limb of the sun in this image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on June 10, 2014, at 7:41 a.m. EDT. This is classified as an X2.2 flare, shown in a blend of two wavelengths of light: 171 and 131 angstroms, colorized in gold and red, respectively..."

Monday, July 7, 2014


In September 2013 we were treated to an expose of the "... very mysterious..., very powerful..." commander of Iran's Quds Force, General Qassem Suleimani. The Shadow Commander ostensibly stripped the mask off this shadowy figure involved in acts of terrorism around the world, many targeting Americans.

However, there had already been plenty of coverage of this "shadow commander" characterized as being the "... single most powerful operative in the Middle East today, and no one’s ever heard of him.", including for example:

An exhaustively sourced and foot-noted three-part report on Suleimani, from January, March, and July of 2011:

And now, almost a year later, we get  Iran’s Top Spy Is the Modern-Day Karla, John Le Carré’s Villainous Mastermind, which recycles the "... single most powerful operative in the Middle East today, and no one’s ever heard of him" quote/meme while also throwing in film and literary allusions ("Keyser Soze", John le Carré’s characters...)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

More nonsense

Came across this article, How the Pentagon Can Track the Taliban 5 Apparently releasing the five Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bowe Bergdah is no big deal, because:

 "... researchers say not to worry, big data and a formula that predicts terrorists’ movements gives the U.S. the ability to forecast some of the key places where the dangerous former detainees would go next... 

Subrahmanian said that the U.S. should be able to track the Taliban 5 by combining the techniques in the Lashkar-e-Taiba study with new data on the family, friends, and associates of the former prisoners... 

That predictability is borne of a key network theory phenomenon, our habits become more predictable when we visit people who also have habits, which are predictable. As the Taliban 5 return to their old ways in Afghanistan, their movements will become easier to anticipate because they will have to re-establish contact with known associates...  

So long as U.S. had some idea of who the Taliban 5 were, the networks and the people that they worked with, there is no reason why the U.S. shouldn’t be able to predict the likelihood of the gang going to certain key places, or meeting up with certain associates, with as high as 80 percent accuracy, Subrahmanian said..."  

What malarkey!

This blogger has already pooh-poohed FAST ("Future Attribute Screening Technologies") to detect 'malintent',  or PCASS ("Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System") to detect truth/lies, "Robocop glasses" for facial detection and the distance identification of suspects, and thermal imaging cameras w/software to detect lies... Along with the "Predictioneer" Bruce Buena de Mesquita to forecast the future and Palantir Technology software to investigate terrorist networks, this latest technological silver bullet is probably more sales job than anything else!

Random charts - SWAT


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Drug mix-ups - follow-up

In earlier blog entries - see 'Color coding - is this a good idea?' and 'Color coding and safety...' - this blogger had taken issue with calls for the color-coding of vials to help prevent drug errors and argued that the use of color coding could "...contribute to the natural tendency of folks to use color and/or shape and size as a proxy or 'shortcut'. It could well be argued that making every label color uniform would improve patient safety, as providers would then be obliged to actually read the label and confirm the drug/dose rather than rely on color or some other visual cue..."

A recent ISMP Medication Safety Alert reports a drug error where "... a Naropin (note: ropivacaine for epidural injection) glass vial was confused with OFIRMEV (acetaminophen injection), which is also in a glass bottle but intended for IV administration..."  While the acetaminophen injection had been ordered IV, the ropivicaine was administered (note: IV) in error.

OK, so the names are nowhere close, nor are the colors used, nor are the label layouts, etc. These drugs are even labelled to be administered by different routes!  Yet they were confused, apparently because "... in some areas of the hospital, these may be the only two products in glass infusion containers with a similar shape."  As such it is recommended that they not be stored in proximity to one another....  Wow!

OK, so an argument that all hospitals should be using bar-code scanning for medication administration (which would presumably ensure that the right medication is used) is totally valid. However, in the absence of bar-code scanning it seems a bit much to expect that the pharmacy department not only needs to ensure that they buy every drug with a different "dress" but also needs to keep glass (and presumably the same could be said for plastic) vials separate from one another... What's the next confusing factor, that different drugs are both in vials or ampoules?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Random charts - jobs


Gabriel - update

The June 30th 2008 blog entry 'Gabriel' noted the re-election of Robert Gabriel Mugabe, while commenting on the appropriateness of his middle name... Alas, he continues to preside over the destruction of his nation:

"... After blowing about £3 million on his daughter’s wedding earlier this month, Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe says he wants a pay rise.." (link).

"...  Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, has warned that in future “no white person will be allowed to own land”..." (link)

It looks like he will stick around in power until he dies. Unfortunately that may still be a while:

"...I am made to feel youthful and as energetic as a boy of nine," a smiling Mr Mugabe told thousands of supporters at the party, held a few days after his birthday due to the Singapore trip..." (link).

"...Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, was given a one-ton, gold and diamond-studded stone "Royal throne" by his staff as a birthday present, state media reported. The chair, which is covered with leopard and crocodile skins, lion furs and two huge claws, was presented to Mr Mugabe at a party hosted by staff in the Office of the President and Cabinet at State House on Saturday, the day after his birthday. The chair is known as a Simbahwe in the local Shona language. It was carved from a solid block of stone and took three artists almost two years to create..." (link)