Palin and Beck Orwellian

Some 30 years on in the right wing economic agenda, with nothing to show for it but disaster after disaster, and a steadily declining standard of living, we now hear from such luminaries as Palin and Beck that we need to exercise our “second amendment rights”- (i.e. kill our fellow citizens?) to have a revolution so that we can have…exactly the same policies as we have for the past 30 years that have led to nothing but failure and impoverished billions.
How it would be a revolution to take up arms to do what is little more than defending and furthering a corrupt existing order, I don’t know.  It is hard to see it as anything other than Orwellian doublespeak.
One of the more common delusions is of a “free market”.  The operational definition of “free market” seems to be an arrangement where privately owned businesses take great risks and if they make money by fair means or foul, they keep all of it, but if they run into trouble, they morph into socialists.   Proper regulation could avoid both ends of the problem.  The lack of appropriate regulation creates needs for bailouts and even more interference by government than if there had been an appropriate level of interference in the first place.
The right wing has been consistently preaching financial responsibility for 30 years while the left wing has been practicing it.   Put a democrat in power and the balance sheets usually tend to adjust quickly.   Put Republicans in and the finances spiral out of control.    But because they replace Democratic expenses that help people and give ordinary people jobs with far more expensive programs that center on killing people, the military, they consider themselves more responsible.
When Bush and friends left office, they had created a stimulus plan that was supposed to turn the country around.  The incoming Congress and President had little alternative but to ratify what the previous administration had already planned unless they were to stall and take more time for debate.  Obama has huge problems to deal with, most of which he inherited from the younger Bush.   Now a plan formulated under a Republican administration [yes, in consultation with a number of Democrats who are also guilty of it] is being rebranded as a Democrat abomination.    Never mind that 30 years of terrible decision making by mostly Republicans came to a head with the crisis, or that the Democrats were continuing policies arrived at by Bush and his appointees.    Of course the stimulus plan was a terrible idea with many Democrat (and Republican) backers, but rebranding it as a Democrat idea is pure fiction.
The key underlying problem with tea party types is exactly the same as the key problem with Stalinists.   Utopians of every flavour tend to follow a similar trajectory.
The first step is to have a simplistic world view and believe that if everybody adhered to this ideal that all conflict would magically dissipate and everybody would live in peace and happiness.
The second step is, because the utopian’s simple solutions never work, to create a mythical fall from grace and scapegoats.   The fall becomes due to women because Eve ate an apple, or Jews, or some other race or alleged conspiracy.   Utopians are generally fanatics.  Their reasoning goes that if everybody was on the same page, their system would work.   The system does not work, and therefore that is because not everybody is on the same page, not everybody is pure enough.   That leads to purges, threats of violence and an insistance that if only more people would follow the dogma everything would be fine.   The solution proposed is usually even more extreme than that which is already not working.    Decades of setbacks do not prove that the idea is refuted, they prove that the “wicked” have been getting in the way and only through purification can there be progress to the utopian ideal.
Utopianism seems to be more of a defect of the white race, the others don’t seem to get as confused or stay confused for as long.
Utopians tend not be great students of history.    There was a time when the economy was almost unregulated.   It was not a Utopia.  In the early Industrial Revolution the conditions were so bad that if not for the reforms in the early 20th century it probably would have been better if there had never been an industrial revolution at all.   Lack of regulation led to great boom and bust cycles, to the detriment of everybody, including most business owners.    The conditions were so horrific that Marxism gained a great deal of traction.   And if the majority of the population is subjected to those conditions again, Marxism or something like it will spring up again for the same reasons.   We have all the empirical evidence that we could ever need that blanket deregulation or lack of regulation is a disaster.
Utopians tend to not be good with facts or common sense.   Henry Ford was no Marxist, actually reputed to have been a Nazi sympathizer, but he realized that workers have to make enough money to buy products.   There is no use having an assembly line that makes cars if almost nobody has the resources to buy a car.  Notwithstanding his unsavoury politics, his economics is basic common sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fordism
A country without a middle class cannot have a thriving economy.   Yet eradicating the middle class and reducing the bulk of society to subsistence wages so they can’t buy anything but subsistence products is the primary objective of the right wing in western civilization since Reagan.
You see, the battle is not between left wing economics and right wing economics, it is between the “supply side” and Reaganomics people vs. Ford economics.  Ford economics built America and Reaganomics and supply side economics destroyed it.
There have been a number of Tea Party type movements in the past, with usually mixed results at best.  The Nazis were one such movement.  They put a guy like the new Glenn Beck in charge and that didn’t go so well.   The French did a little better but Robespierre got drunk on power and paranoia and after he took out the trash he started taking out everything else, including former allies.  Once people get a taste for doing things that way the genie doesn’t go back in the bottle.  Maybe the best outcome of such a movement was with Julius and Augustus Caesar, albiet again resulting in the appointment of a dictator.
Not really something to aspire to.  Is there anything wrong with going back to what worked?

Statistics traps and survival rates in hospitals

Science has various means of getting at explanations including statistics, first hand or “anecdotal” evidence and the theoretical basis for an event.
Ideally you will have all three.   Statistics have the advantage of large samples but the disadvantage that you don’t know what you are measuring, which may be a meaningless correlation or a transitive correlation based on a common root cause.  Anecdotal evidence can be higher quality due to first hand observation.   In scientific circles “anecdotal” is often used in a derogatory manner which may be appropriate for old wives tales and the like where the conclusions are a stretch from the premises.  If on the other hand you burn your hand on the stove or zap yourself with an electrical outlet you can get a highly reliable anecdotal basis for predicting the outcome of similar events in the future based on a single first hand observation.   Dismissing all first hand observation with the wave of a hand as “anecdotal” is not scientific.  Having a theoretical explanation for events is important to help test whether a believed correlation has anything to it or not.
For things like hospital administrative problems anecdotal observations are probably the best starting place, whereas statistics may leave you befuddled.  Take the following for example:
There is a concept in medicine and first aid called the “golden hour”.  For anybody in serious trouble, if you can get them on an operating table within one hour you have the best odds, and after than the odds drop off steeply.
In straightforward cases, like a pedestrian hit by a car, that will operate in a fairly mechanical manner.  Somebody is hit, it gets phoned in, the ambulance comes, and away you go.  Problems with response times due to traffic concerns, inadequate ambulance availability, the size of the area feeding the hospital and the like are likely significant in some areas, especially where there is very bad congestion.
However not all cases are straightforward.   Some are judgment calls and the key to judgment calls is due diligence.   I once had a bad fall and broke both arms.  I didn’t know that, because it wasn’t cinematic- no jagged bones sticking out of skin or anything like that, no severe pain, just mostly undisplaced fractures.   But I knew it was bad with crepitus in my right elbow (a grinding or crackling when it moved) and both arms freezing up, so I went to a clinic.  There was no point sensitivity so the doctor was sneering and suggesting that I was fine- but he did his due diligence, even though he was an ass.  He sent me immediately for x-rays as a precaution and I discovered that I had two broken arms, my right elbow was dislocated and there was bone schrapnel in my left elbow.   The lesson is that the off the cuff, seat of the pants decision with incomplete information is often wrong and you cover yourself.
There was an infamous case in British Columbia where a man was having a heart attack, but was observed and released by several hospitals that decided off the cuff that he was fine and sent him on his way.  He died.  His daughter had been driving around frantically, trying to find a hospital that would take him seriously.  Probably part of the reason is, and by this I do not mean to imply racism, that he was not white.
White people turn pale and can go cyanotic when they are in serious trouble.   The most prominent visual cue that somebody is in trouble for a white person may be unavailable if the skin is dark enough.  So you have to check alternatives such as pulling down the lower eyelid to see if the pink area there is turning blue and use extra diligence on the physical testing to compensate.
I also remember a long time ago when on guard duty in a hospital when somebody came in with classic symptoms of heart attack.  He looked ghastly.  The triage nurse decided to make him wait 15 minutes before sending him into the emergency ward because the orderly was on break.   I was in disbelief.  And if she hadn’t bothered to prioritize him it could easily be an hour from him walking in the door before he ever sees a doctor.  Remember that “golden hour”?  I don’t know what ultimately happened to that man but I’ve often wondered.
I suspect that doctors and nurses get jaded from all of the hypochondriacs they see and all the people that think they are having a heart attack that have heart burn.  But if they get too cynical and start blowing people off in ambiguous cases there will be a body count attached to that.
I think that one of the main factors that would lead to significantly different outcomes in hospitals is something that statistics don’t look at, the triage nurse.  I think that the triage nurse should be the nurse with the best instincts in the hospital.   A blown call by the triage nurse and the “golden hour” is gone.   The patient may code out before ever seeing a doctor and in patients that are in trouble who survive, added delay in treatment may lead to more damage, longer hospital stays etc.
The research statistics may be difficult to use unless you find a way to break them down into lots of different components.  The triage nurse is one obvious one, there are likely others, for instance the ventilation systems of many hospitals are very efficient in distributing infectuous diseases notwithstanding people wearing gowns and masks and having warning signs on doors.   That is again something that lends itself more to hands on than statistical analysis.
There is also an implicit assumption in making a hospital the appropriate unit of measurement.    You may find that the correlations are much higher if specific important people on duty, like triage nurses, surgeons, head surgical nurses, etc., are measured instead of the whole hospital to correlate success and failure when they are on duty.   In most professions from what I’ve seen about 10% are good at what they do, 65% are hit and miss and 25% are dangerously incompetent.   Common sense is more important than I.Q. or grade point and their art work will probably be a better predictor of ability than certificates on their walls.
The doctors that tend to make mistakes tend to make bushels of them, they just don’t get removed.  You need to deal with such issues to get a better handle on whether a given statistic is a hospital issue.
A major problem with getting problems in hospitals fixed is the “white wall”.   Doctors show more internal unity than the Taliban.   They tend to cover for each other and getting doctors that are not actively pursuing a career as plaintiff’s experts to break ranks and say that another doctor screwed up, is notoriously difficult.   There is a surprising degree of solidarity there given that they could probably cut their insurance premiums by more than half if they would drum out the ones they know are morons.  But everybody makes mistakes, and sometimes blown judgment calls aren’t even negligent.    My guess is most doctors have lost a patient or had a patient do poorly due to a blown call which makes them leery of judging anybody else.
One of the problems in the health care system I think is that doctors and nurses are often treated as if they are interchangeable widgets, like a bunch of 3/4″ wrenches at home depot.   You can’t have the right person in the right job if you have a fiction that they are interchangeable.    The “white wall” and nursing equivalent are huge obstacles to fixing problems with the system, because nobody wants to admit mistakes.   One thing necessary to make hospitals better will be to get sufficient data to figure out who is more effective and why, and that will require research that will make doctor and nurse associations extremely resistant and defensive.

Falcon Lake case still has a bad smell

So in the case of some guy supposedly shot by a drug cartel in a lake on the Texas – Mexico border, a possibility has come up, which had crossed my mind too, that the couple might have been just sightseeing and mistaken for scouts from a rival organization.
The couple had supposedly previously lived in Mexico, with some innuendo about the husband working for a oil or gas company but no specific mention of the details.  They supposedly had been intending to move back to Colorado shortly, somewhat of an odd combination.  I do wonder what oil and gas company has offices in Mexico, Texas and Colorado and why that is such a big secret.  What are the oil reserves in Colorado again?
If they were involved in a rich industry in Mexico they would probably have had oodles of information about taking security precautions and the dangers of Mexico and in particular Mexican gangs.    The mother of the deceased said she had been glad to hear that they would be moving back to Colorado as she had heard how dangerous it was down there, so the family had no illusions about safety.
And the best case is that they did an illegal border crossing.  So they did something that would most likely land them in jail just to photograph some old church?
Considering that the lake  is an obvious border crossing point it is interesting that we don’t have any information from US border authorities about a confrontation with gunshots on the water.
So why were they crossing that lake?  Did they lose a bet?
And then there is this deal with the wife continuing to press for her husband’s body back when intelligence sources had reported about a week ago that the body had already been destroyed to eliminate evidence.  She’s like an endless loop, always staying on message.  She continues to use the most sympathetic message, although it is no longer appropriate.
If you ask Cui Bono, who benefits, the enemies of the gang whose territory it was benefit and there is a good chance the wife gets some insurance money.
The gang that allegedly shot the guy doesn’t benefit.  Delivering the lead investigator’s head in a bag gives me a different message than that a gang doesn’t want a specific investigation to continue.   People get clipped in these kinds of confrontations all the time.  Pulling a stunt like executing the lead investigator is at an incredibly high risk of escalation.   My guess is they thought they were set up so as to create a premise for a crusade on them.  Instead of simply disappearing him, they (if it was the same gang) brazenly sent his head back.   Now if you destroyed one body to conceal evidence, why change protocol?  Because sending the message that there will be total war if the issue isn’t dropped was considered more important, and to emphasize that they would go head hunting at the top.  That’s a message you send if you think that not just a specific investigation but a greater crusade is already a done deal unless you convince the opponent to stand down.
There are some other problems with the popularized versions of the story, such as that the Mexican side observers somehow had the ability to see that the plates on the couple’s truck were Mexican plates, from across the lake, but somehow missed the fact that they were a gringo couple until after the shooting.

Glenn Beck jumps the shark

I used to like both Glenn Beck and George Soros, as two of the exceedingly few honest or credible right of center figures.  Beck used to be a Jon Stewart of the right.  Now he’s degenerated into a lunatic or attention whore or both.  A few years ago almost everything that he said was right, now nearly everything that he says could hardly be believed by a sane person.   Everybody is trying to kill him?  The oil drilling moratorium had nothing to do with the largest environmental disaster in US history and was really just a convoluted plot to make George Soros money?  What kind of a retard believes these things?  How do you get a previously honest man to flip so completely?  A honey trap with an underage hooker? Or is he just off his meds?
Fox better get him off the air before the men in white coats come to take him to the asylum while he’s on the air.
Making George Soros out as a communist?  I doubt if he is even a Democrat, although he probably donates both ways.   George Soros is about making money.  Unlike most right wingers, George Soros is honest.    The unholy trinity of Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney ushered in a tragic era of ever worsening conditions for the western world.  At the end of Carter’s era 80% or so of the workers still had pensions.  Very few can honestly say that they are better now than they were under Carter.
George Bush senior, before he sold out by silence, foresaw this.  He called the new economics of the right “voodoo economics”, because it was.  It was never anything other than a fraudulent campaign to steal from the poor and the middle class to make a very few people far richer and every person at the top that had any understanding of the subject matter knew it was a fraud from the start.
George Soros has tried to educate the public.  He and the old Glenn Beck would be friends you would think.  George Soros has talked about things like “market fundamentalism” and how a mindless globalization of the economies governed only by right wing dogma was going to cause problems.   And he was right.  Mr. Soros’ only crime is telling the truth.  I would make a reference to the parable of “The Emporer’s New Clothes” but today’s degenerate illiterates probably wouldn’t get it.   Soros is blacklisted by the rest of the right wing for telling the truth and right now Beck is the mouthpiece of the extremists.
I think my ideal presidential ticket would probably be Lou Gerstner of IBM fame with George Soros.  I don’t know that anybody with less firepower is competent to run the country.  Trump would be a disaster, he can’t even run his own life.  The Tea Party types sure aren’t a solution- if it were possible to fix every problem by waving a magic wand somebody would have done it already.  The left can’t do it.  The right can’t do it.  I can’t do it.  There is no magic wand, just tough choices, some trial and error and mostly administrative decisions for which one’s politics are totally irrelevant.
I am so disappointed in Beck.  He used to be a good man.  Now he’s Goebbels.

Something actually useful that the Tea Party could do

When pressed for specifics about their plans, Tea Party leaders usually mumble something vague about eliminating waste and then move on to some other issue.
There is one area however where there is notorious waste, and lots of information out there that should help sage people figure out how to cut.  That is in the health sector.
It is also an area in which I’m peeved with both parties, which describe binary options of cold hearted indifference to suffering vs. spending even more money on an already bloated system.
Work on a plan that works.  Canada provides better coverage for 60% of the cost of the US medical system, and Canada’s medical system is notoriously poorly run.  Full medical coverage at 20% of the cost of the present system is a realistic objective, but it will require planning and execution- and a willingness to make mortal enemies of the industry players that will lose hundreds of billions of dollars.
It will also take more government intervention.  A key deficiency with all proposals on the table is that the people ultimately paying for the medical system don’t have any say in the mechanics of how it is run, so it is effectively a blank cheque.   If government makes sure that insurers and employers and others have to pay, the government has to keep everybody honest.   Of course the government will be putting up a lot of that money too, and I don’t see anything un-American about the government interfering in private enterprise to make sure that the government and the people’s money is well spent.
The mechanics of that will require considerable attention to detail and possibly some new ideas.   One observation that I had from working a number of years in a hospital was that I had never seen a rushed nurse but a lot of emergency department time was wasted waiting for doctors to see patients and for important information such as lab results to get back.  The public was always hearing propaganda in Canada about how there was a desparate shortage of nurses and they were all overworked, from no less an authority than the various nurses’ unions.   I guess I just happened in five years to never run into one of those overworked nurses.
Inadequate doctor and lab support on the other hand were ubiquitous.  Emergency patients waiting to see doctors and get test results take up beds and nurse time.
That can create the appearance of a crisis in health care- emergency is usually the highest profile department and if people see patients waiting on beds out in the hall because all of the backlog they get the impression that the system is overwhelmed and underfunded when actually the system is overfunded and under-administered.  Most of the patients in there are twiddling their thumbs while the doctors and various techs can come to a decision about whether they need to be there or free up time to deal with them.  The doctors and lab technicians are the bottleneck, for which I can’t fault them, because they can only do so much.  Pressuring them to do too much and delaying dealing with patients can result in errors or serious problems getting much worse.   Consider the effects of septic shock, which kills 25-40% of the people suffering it, and for which early diagnosis and treatment are critical to survival.  My guess is at least half those losses are due to emergency department delays that obstruct diligence.  I know a person who was disabled for months after a serious bacterial infection who was not put on intravenous antibiotics until 7 hours after admission, by which time she was pale, cool and clammy- a sign of shock.  Most of the damage was done in that 7 hour delay.  So in the circumstances that I have seen I can think of some obvious solutions.
I imagine that it would be useful to have an innovation that is between a hospital and a clinic.  Clinics are usually open during relatively normal business hours, which leads to people going to hospital unnecessarily after hours.   Traditional clinics or practices also have the deficiency of sending people out for lab work which usually means long delays in getting results and presumably some inefficiency.  It would be good to see super-clinics with basic labs that could handle most problems with immediate feedback on many tests.

An additional lesson from the Lindy Chamberlain dingo case

The Australian saga of a wrongful conviction, which followed the traditional trajectory for wrongful convictions- including bad science and innuendo- has another point that needs to be acted on generally.
Dingos, coyotes and similar critters have antisocial tendencies that put them in a different category from other predators, running a greater risk that they will have run-ins with people and pets.   They are often allowed to run rampant and humans may drive away larger predators where such exist to open the field for them even more.
They have recently been attacking humans a lot more often, and that is logical.   They can be expected to follow a Malthus type expansion like any other species- breeding until they get so many that they devastate their natural food sources and then having a population crash because of starvation.  Of course rather than starving to death they are likely to try riskier food sources because the alternative isn’t much better.
And then there is the issue of sheer numbers and encroachment increase the risk of contact.   Coyotes are really brazen and will walk through city streets.
There are probably missing children cases that are coyote and dingo cases.
It would be wise to exterminate the entire populations of such animals that are even remotely close to civilization.
Any balance of nature that needs to be kept can be filled in by predators that are better behaved.
I really can’t agree with naturists that are against such purges, such as in Nova Scotia where the coyotes are getting out of hand so they are being purged.  Natural is not the same as good.   A human with the traits of a coyote we’d give life imprisonment or worse.    And there is nothing endangered about these invasive species.

Alibi as luck of the draw

Check out this link:
Mr. Dorian got lucky that his whereabouts can apparently be verified.
I presume that he got fingered by somebody that was confused by a photo lineup for all of the usual reasons.   The assailant is a stranger to all of the witnesses, that is a red flag right there and which should in most cases be grounds for a directed verdict of an acquittal if it is the only evidence.
The thing is, most decent, law abiding people will not be directing their attention to ensuring that they always have an alibi in the unlikely event that somebody might think that they are involved in a crime, particularly if they are not doing anything wrong.
In many other cases, the alibi is disregarded because it is assumed that anybody that you are friends or family of (the most likely people to be in a position to support an alibi, nothing sinister about that) will have some motivation to lie- in the absence of blatant inconsistencies or known character issues or irrefutable proof an alibi supported by an ordinary citizen familiar with the accused should be a directed verdict of acquital.
A computer is presumed to be impartial although I can think of ways that a computer might be made to contrive an alibi.
In any case, this guy gets the luck of the draw because he has an alibi that the state doesn’t feel like challenging.   Of course when he was on that computer, you can presume that he had no idea that he would later be charged for a first degree murder for a crime during that very period.
Given that judges and juries are allowed to find proof beyond a reasonable doubt based on evidence that has been shown to a high degree of probability to have poor evidentiary value, even though finding proof beyond a reasonable doubt in such circumstances is a non-sequitor and affront to reason, that turns cases like that of Mr. Dorien into a slot machine.  I don’t know if that state has the death penalty or not, but the idea that that you could be found guilty after being picked out of a photo lineup at random (or whatever happened there) should alarm anyone.  It’s supposed to be a justice system, not a casino.
Assuming that Mr. Dorien is innocent, he would have been just as innocent even if he didn’t have the alibi, and the evidence that had implicated him would be just as faulty.   That should be the focus here, not the alibi, the faulty procedure.  We cannot guarantee that innocent people will have alibis.  We can guarantee that our procedures aren’t garbage.
One of the worst cases that I ever heard of was one where a man was hauled off the street at random to go into an identification lineup, he just happened to be walking by the police station and got recruited.  But then, instead of the presumed perpetrator, the victim ID’s the guy hauled off the street as the perpetrator!  Some lower level judge allowed a conviction although that was set aside by the appeal courts rather quickly in those conspicuous circumstances.
Because the victim of the misidentification is a cop in this case Mr. Dorien might be in a unique position to promote change.   He knows how it is to have his image pasted everywhere, in effect given a virtual perp-walk to the entire world.  The Republican/ white trash mentality that everybody that is charged is guilty and ought to hang needs to take a beating from some source and Mr. Dorien is well positioned to go on a tear.  I hope he does.