Saturday, March 28, 2009

Samantha Power 2.0

samantha power talking

I saved this screenshot of Samantha Power nearly exactly one year ago, meaning to make some childishly silly yet trenchant point about her, and by extension about US foreign policy, at around the time she resigned from being an official Obama campaign advisor because of something or other. I don't remember what, but it which was covered pretty extensively at the time by Jonathan Schwarz of A Tiny Revolution and Dennis Perrin.

I remember thinking, "man, if I was a bigshot blogger I could have a caption contest. Sure seems like a shame I'm not, what with me having this screenshot which doesn't belong to me, of Sam Power making some kind of point, talking to an unseen audience member." (she was talking to Henry Kissinger.*)

Why do I mention this now? Because Jon Schwarz at ATR just posted about her again(last week), wondering if she'll resign again if Obama ends up waffling regarding his previous denunciation of the Armenian Genocide. I also left a stupid comment at ATR, based on confusing two Asia theater US airbases.(I threw that "Asia Theater" thing in there to sound smart, but you guessed that.)

Anyway, if you want to treat this as a caption contest you can, and you can even specify a different audience member, like Thomas Friedman or Dennis Perrin or Chaka Khan if that helps you to respond creatively. The prize is whatever I offered last time.

cross-posted at Dead Horse.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

****in' Blogrolling dot com

The two or three nice persons who read my wee blog may have noticed that I took down my main blogroll recently. This is because the host of my main blogroll( until recently) was, which allowed you to post a few lines of script to your template, whether in a blogger environment or elsewhere, and add or subtract or otherwise edit items on your blogroll at their site without having to potentially reformat your template each time, making it(again, until recently) a much appreciated free service.

I guess they have to do whatever they need to in order to remain profitable-- or to finally make a profit, as the case may be-- so apparently they decided to crappify their basic free service and make it a lot more difficult to use, both for the blog host and any random user who wants to click on a link. Now the link is set up to take you to an ad first, and won't let you see the actual url you are linking to, and editing the blogroll from their website is now substantially more difficult than before. Possibly I'm overreacting, and the subscription version of their service, which to be fair I must acknowledge I've never used, might be a lot better. And again, it's not as if I ever paid them anything, so I have no business being too annoyed by this development. It would've been nice if they'd emailed users of the free service regarding the changes-- and who knows, maybe they did, and the spamcatcher go my email and hence I never saw it.(When you post your email address in a public place, like on a page of a blog, even if not on the main page, almost inevitably you'll get far too much junk mail to slog through and read everything that lands in the junk folder, lest it be important, even if you're just restricting yourself to reading the titles.)

Anyway, I will repost a regular hand-coded blogroll in a few days, before the end of the month at any rate. If you've been linking here and want me to link to you, email me or leave a comment here, and I'll look at it(unless you're just selling stuff.).

from Blogbloke(2005): "why you shouldn't use" 2009), "More on BR2" 2009), " is evil"

NL 2009), "Blogroll complete"

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

from "Russia Today" Saturday's antiwar protest in D.C.

cross-posted at Dead Horse.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

the culture of blah blah blah

the politics of lyme disease

Sara Robinson of Orcinus has an exceptional essay on Lyme disease and the politics of restricting treatment, apropos of a recent shooting at a Baptist church in Illinois. It's a lengthy article, well worth reading in full. Here's an excerpt:

The shooter, Terry Sedlacek, had struggled for years with long-term, chronic Lyme disease, contracted after being bitten by a tick some years ago. Though this description of his symptoms seems extreme even among Lyme patients, his struggle to get treatment is an infuriatingly common one. The media debate over the role this disease may have played in the shooting has tapped into one of the most furious and tragic medical debates in modern medicine. On one hand: there are doctors on TV claiming that it's entirely possible that Lyme can create the kind of psychiatric problems that would lead to this kind of catastrophe. On the other are doctors saying that it's impossible -- Lyme is a relatively benign bacterial infection that's easily treated with a few weeks of antibiotics.

Infectious disease specialists-- represented by the Infectious Disease Society of American (ISDA) -- have for decades held to the firm position that Lyme is a spirochete that can be killed with a 28-day course of doxycycline. If you're still sick when the month is over, whatever you have isn't Lyme (and, in practice, is generally assumed to be psychosomatic). And this is true, as far as it goes: if you're lucky enough to catch the disease in the first few months after you're bit -- or you've got one of the many strains that's amenable to this treatment -- a short course of doxy usually does do the trick.

However, once some strains of Lyme get dispersed and embedded in the body's tissues, the standard treatment won't touch them. Worse: the standard Lyme tests won't, either, so the results will likely come back negative. The shady politics of how the approved Lyme tests were developed would take a whole separate post to explain; but suffice to say that they're only 70% accurate on their best day, which would make them patently unacceptable as a diagnostic tool were it any other disease. Far more accurate and sensitive tests are available, but insurance companies won't cover the $400 fee.

That's because the IDSA panel doesn't approve of these tests (even though the "controversial" proteins it tests for -- the only ones common to all Lyme strains -- are the same proteins some of these same doctors once tried to build a Lyme vaccine on). It also doesn't accept Lyme's shapeshifting nature; the existence of a chronic form of resistant Lyme that requires long-term treatment; the importance of seeking out and treating co-infections; or the neurological and cognitive issues it can cause. All of these facts are well-documented by the peer-reviewed science; but IDSA's Lyme panel has actually purged new members who brought these studies up for consideration.

All this is part of the background for the dueling doctor interviews we're seeing on TV this week.

The Great Divide
Why would ostensibly caring doctors be so resistant to accepting new and better data? As always, follow the money. The IDSA's minimalist view of Lyme is greatly favored by insurance companies, who really don't want to be on the hook for expensive testing or more than a month of treatment. On a broader note: they're absolutely terrified (with good reason) that Lyme could turn out to be another huge budget-busting epidemic like AIDS, and want to do everything they can to make sure they're not stuck with the bills for it. To that end, they've made sure that the ISDA's Lyme experts have been richly rewarded with grants, consulting fees, and so on for aggressively defending the narrowest possible case definition and the most limited treatment standards. For their part, IDSA's Lyme group has held up their end of the deal so reliably that last May, they became the first medical standards board in the history of American medicine to be successfully sued (by the attorney general of Connecticut, no less) for corruption.

I don't normally make a habit of quoting so extensively, but I want to encourage you to go read her essay in its entirety, here.

Cross-posted at Dead Horse.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Various items 15 Mar 09

iraqi boy circa 2007
from Dead Horse[Reuters video] Turkey: Skull found at suspected mass grave.

Foreign Policy, March 2009, "The Worst Kind of Stimulus: why a global weapons boom is the last thing we need" by
Travis Sharp

from Fora TV[video]: Does the US Spend Too Much on Foreign Aid? - Peter Singer(longer version here).

??AIDS and Germ warfare [video]

Two items from 2007; I never posted them and they merit being noted:

Gary Farber discusses the reputation of Gregg Easterbrook, which he deems inflated.

CNN's Arwa Damon on prostitution in Iraq

finally, from Slate, Feb. 2003: "who's for the war, who's against it"

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Monday, March 09, 2009

More from Jim Rogers

More from Jim Rogers, this time sans bowtie:
"Britain & America have no clothes", part 1 of 3.

And, Part 2 and part 3.

I don't entirely agree with Rogers' views. For example, I think the massive US debt going forward means we do need to raise taxes on the wealthy to prevent stimulus-oriented public spending from causing inflation, and to prevent panicking foreign banks contemplating a possible collapse of the dollar.

In part two Rogers says, of the creditor-debtor relationship between China and the US, that

"it's the first time in history that an undeveloped nation financed a developed nation."

I don't know about that-- it seems to me that Europe and the US forced undeveloped nations to finance their growth, through the economic plunder of colonialism. But having said all that, there's still a lot of value to what he offers, and I think his misgivings about the bank bailouts are apt.

(Of course, as with any would-be economic sage-slash-teevee-talking head, it's useful to keep in mind how they might benefit or be hurt by different policies the government may take. This of course applies to Rogers, as well as Warren Buffet and Alan Greenspan, etc. It's very much to Rogers credit that he readily talks about his investment in Asia in this regard.)

cross-posted at Dead Horse.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

The 1st Formula One race

Devotees of the sport will know what I mean by calling the 1950 British Grand Prix the first formula one race, even though it was by no means the first Grand Prix. GP races date back to the Edwardian era, the first Grand Prix, appropriately enough, being the 1906 French GP. There was also an occasional US GP event, held on Long Island(!) and called the Vanderbilt Cup(!!)).

The FIA formally codified a set of rules, for formula one, formula two, and formula three in the late 1940s, so that a still devastated European economy could have a formal, unified world championship(i.e. a European championship, but we'll call it a world championship) in which the regulations for fuel capacity, engine size, etc, were codified and made comparatively uniform-- and the premier series was called formula one, with the championship race at Silverstone, England, on May 13th, 1950, inaugurating the first season.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Jim Rogers, "helping your friends"