Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Didn't do much yesterday. Put another few stitches in the table cloth, checked out the sourdough starter which is doing well and should be ready to use in another few days, decided to postpone bread baking since we are going to be having biscuits today and tomorrow. I didn't see anything I really wanted to comment on. Let's see what happens today.

An interesting article on the Zika virus, microcephaly, mosquito control and pyriproxyfen. At first I took it to be another manifestation of the "dueling sciences" problem. You know the situation: a phenomenon occurs that is traced (tenuously) to A (a mosquito borne virus in this case) followed by assertions that A isn't responsible but B (a larvicide linked, perhaps wrongly, to that great corporate villain, Monsanto). The argument for B is just as tenuous as for A. Supporting the case for A is the presence of the virus (hitherto not known to cause anything more than flu-like symptoms) in the blood, tissues, and amniotic fluid of a few affected mothers and babies. I stress "few" because the proportions of cases showing evidence of the virus versus those affected but not showing evidence of the virus is less than 10% so far. The evidence for B consists of a map overlay showing a large number of cases appeared in areas where the larvicide was applied. The first rule of statistics is "Correlation does not mean causation." And the author makes a very good point about the rush to stop using pyriproxyfen: if the mosquito population increases because no one uses the larvicide, will the number of cases of other definitely dangerous mosquito borne illnesses increase? What are those risks? As he points out risks are a part of life.

I have read a lot more stories on both sides of the statin issue. On one side are those who claim prescribing statins to more patients whose cholesterol is slightly higher that "normal" and who may or may not develop any condition related to high cholesterol will have long term benefits and on the other side are those who note that the side effects may be more prevalent and more serious than the conditions the drugs are supposed alleviate. This story is definitely on the second side of the issue. I love the quote from the one doctor: taking statins may change the cause of death listed on the death certificate but it won't change the date. I have a feeling that most of our medical treatments do the same which puts a spoke in our search for eternal youth.

When I saw this story my first thought was of the old custom of placing coins on a deceased person (sometimes on the eyes, sometimes on or in the mouth) to give them the means of paying Charon to ferry them across the River Styx. This is an interesting modern adaption.

As soon as I read about Justice Scalia's death I wondered when the conspiracy theories would erupt so this is no surprise.

There is a devious logic to this notion that had me smiling a the thought. The self-serving call from Repthuglicans for Obama to refrain from nominating a candidate is a hope he will absolve them of any blame for not doing their duty to vote on such a nomination and any election year consequences of voting a worthy candidate down. He should nominate and tell them to get on with their job. As I think he is doing.

Interesting story about health insurance and how badly served we consumers are by the current "system."

Dmitry Orlov has a good post describing the current election cycle. I would love to sign on as crew just to get away from the inane (s)news coverage.

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