Monday, October 26, 2009


Something that bugs the hell out of me is when people look at a certain statistic and then make incorrect claims about what that statistic says.  Take the following:

A year into the study, 56 percent of those using chemotherapy were still alive, compared with only 16 percent of those who chose the enzyme therapy. In other words, those who picked chemo over the alternative treatment lived three times as long.

The author extrapolates that because the survival rate of the chemo group after 1 year is more than three times the survival rate of the non-chemo group, then the chemo group has lived 3 times as long as the non-chemo group.


That is simply incorrect logic.


What the study findings show is that the chemo group had three times the survival rate as the non-chemo group after 1 year.  Those are two very different findings.

What the author suggests is that after one year, the chemo group has lived for three years, or will live for three years, versus the non-chemo group (that’s what “three times as long” means).


I’m not a big fan of enzyme therapy, but that’s beside the point.  What REALLY bugs me is telling people that under treatment – x, you’ll live longer when the facts don’t bear that out to be true.

What IS true, according to the study, is that given a certain amount of time, you can triple your chances of survival if you choose treatment A versus treatment B.


But given enough time, your survival rate will eventually decline to zero.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Congratulations, America!!

Well, America, you should be proud.  Stand up, hold your collective head up high, you’ve done it again.


You’ve created something out of absolutely nothing.


What the hell am I talking about?  The “Balloon Boy” fiasco, of course.


No, no, no…  you didn’t make that man into a completely vacuous pain in the ass who is forever going to chase his 15 minutes of fame.


Well…  you didn’t completely make him into the monster he has become.


You DID watch “Wife Swap” and vote him and his awful family back on that awful show for a second appearance.  You did watch all the other reality TV tripe that is continuously fed to you day in and day out.  You do obsess over what the latest celebrity of the week is wearing, or doing, or who that celebrity is doing, or where, or when, and with what.  You do insist that the news covers car chases, and now balloon chases, and hang on every drop of contrived drama anywhere and anytime in the world when it’s really none of your business.  The only reason the paparazzi has a job is because you lap up the magazines and TV shows that their images pollute.  Maybe, just maybe, if it weren’t for you Princess Di would still be alive?  Yea, I’m going to guess that’s the case.


So, no, you didn’t completely eviscerate any kind of nobility within that man and make him try and turn his family into a set piece for yet another one of your mind-numbing idiot parties for thirty minutes to an hour each day.  But you did create the environment where a monster like that could not only survive, but thrive.


So, congratulations!!  You’ve done it again!!  You’ve demonstrated that not only do you not have a shred of common sense rattling around in your collectively empty heads, you’re still hanging on every line and word that comes out about that story.  You’ve gotten the news, culture, government, and society you demand and deserve!!


Some of you, though, still insist there could and should be something better.  With you fine folks, I commiserate.  Please resist the rising tide of mental laxity that they represent.  And don’t worry, they haven’t gotten this far down the page because some celebrity farted about 10 ago and they quit reading this to find out what a celebrity’s farts smell like.

Monday, October 19, 2009

War on the Media?

I’d heard rumblings in the past few days (weeks?) about a rhetorical war between Fox News and the White House.  Today, is reporting that the White House is elevating the attacks against Fox claiming that it’s not “really a news channel and shouldn’t be treated as such” because they’re really just pushing a point of view.


Really?  Seriously?


So…  the Huffington Post SHOULD be treated as a news platform and be called upon at press conferences?

MSNBC SHOULD be treated as a news as a news channel?  (For the record,’s stories, largely AP and Reuters wire feeds, are far more informative than the tripe that comes from the Olbermanns, Madows, Becks, and Hannitys of the world.  All of them are pathetic sycophants that are cut from the same cloth.)


There’s a whole list to go down, but if you’re willing to stand up and say that the fawning coverage poured out upon our own Dear Leader by the network and cable news teleprompter readers is not “pushing a point of view”, then you’re completely and totally deluded.  There isn’t a news network out there that is merely looking to inform.  Each and every one of them is looking to instruct you in what is proper to believe.  Fox is simply instructing you contrary to the other primary news networks and, yes, making money in the process.  That’s the world we live in.


It is up to US, the consumer, to filter the clap and drill down to the real story behind what is being said and ask the critical questions.  Unfortunately, too many people listen to the morons on the news and just take whatever Madow and Beck say as gospel truth without questioning the motives behind what is being said.


Nonetheless, it is not up to the President to decide what is or is not a “news network” simply on the grounds that this so-called network has a view contrary to his own.


Is this the change we wanted?  Disagreement with the President, questioning the President’s policies, daring to say as much out loud, will leave you labeled as “not really a news channel” and effectively embargoed from access to those whom you cover?


Welcome to the free world, where the only questions you’re allowed to ask are the ones the President allows you to ask…  as long as you ask them with the right tone.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Interesting bit about protesting

Here’s an MSNBC article, reprinted from the Washington Post, about some protest in DC recently:

(Click on it, give them the traffic, go on…  there is some high comedy about the “trainers” testing the new protester by acting like war supporters saying things like “we’ll run you over with our big tank” or “we should shoot your with our guns”.  If that’s not a SNL skit, I don’t know what is.)


Anyway, I’m a little torn on the notion of protesting.  Protesting is, after all, an inherent right that all men (and women) posses and the government cannot take that right away from us.  And even if they did manage to curtail the first amendment, we’d still find SOME way to voice our opposition and disgust.


But that begs the question…  what constitutes “voicing your opposition”.


The Presbyterian Church’s (U.S.A.) Book of Order instructs parishioners who disagree with the teaching of the pastor to separate themselves from the congregation in a quiet and orderly manner.  Your absence is your protest.  Your silence, your empty space, that becomes your voice informing the leadership of your displeasure in the direction they’re taking the church.


The same, I presume, holds true with boycotts.  The absence of your dollar in the coffers of the company is your statement to the company that you disagree with their actions in the …  well, in the whatever the hell they’re doing.


The question is, though, do they care?  Does WalMart care that I don’t buy their cheap, disposable garbageware?  Does Shell care if I stay away from their stations because of their ongoing rape of the Niger Delta area?  Does GM care if I never, ever buy a GM car?  Does the pastor of my church care if I stay home, or quit the church in a “quiet and orderly manner”?


The fact is that I’m not GM’s customer.  The dealer is GM’s customer (read their annual report).  Me staying away from the dealer doesn’t hurt GM directly, it hurts the dealer directly, and the dealer doesn’t have the power to make policy decisions for GM.  The thousand or so bucks I cost GM is made back in interest in about [----] that much time.  Same with WalMart, and Shell.  To them I am a rounding error.


As for the church, if I disagree with the pastor and decide to just quit, one has to ask if the pastor or session/leadership even notices.  In a large enough congregation, the answer would be no.  In a smaller congregation, the answer might be yes, but the reasons behind may not be known.  In a “quiet and orderly” separation, it becomes beholden upon the church leaders to ask the reasons behind the separation, if they even know what’s going on.


I prefer “loud and orderly” protests.  The people in the article say it was a good protest because people got arrested.  I can rob a store and get arrested, but that doesn’t make it a good protest.  Were it not for the article I wouldn’t have even known there was a protest going on.  Take the outbursts at the town hall meetings.  Were they civil?  Not really.  Were they effective?  I think so.  They got the point across, if the point was “we’re mad, we’re frustrated, we have no voice in congress, and you’re not listening to us”.  As far as sharing specific policy goals, not so much.  But the tone of the confrontations was significant in and of itself in that it made those who were ignoring the voice of the people stand up and notice.  Respectful?  Not so much.  But our representatives are not necessarily deserving of respect.  And for what it’s worth, standing up in a town hall meeting and shouting at an elected representative is far FAR more respectable and effective than lone gunman lunacy.  Barricading yourself in a compound and shooting at officials is a despicable act.  I think everyone would prefer shouting in town hall meetings.


And that kind of demonstration of raw passion also translates at the ballot box.  An electorate that disagrees, but shrugs and moves on with its collective life, is not an electorate that will throw your ass out of office.  If they stand up and shout you down at a town hall, they might just mobilize and elect a grey cat, or maybe a bowl of daisies, to replace you.


Ask the republicans who are now out of work since 2006.


The question, of course, becomes how do you have an effective protest.  Simply marching or getting arrested doesn’t do the trick. 

A quiet and orderly separation from that which you are protesting only makes for a quiet and orderly opposition upon which boots may smoothly march.