Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Cancer Rate Drop
Simply wonderful, astounding news about the huge drop in cancer rates among women-- over a 7% reduction in less than a year, apparently attributable to women stopping certain post-menopausal medication.
Here's what hit me though: This is December, 2006. How in the world are 2003 statistics "the latest year for which statistics are available"?
How is that possible? I get statistics for my fantasy football league in minutes. Walmart knows how many Elmos are on the shelf at their store in Bfville, Wisconsin hourly. How do we have a four year lag in cancer stats?
It can't possibly be that hard to do, and with the billions being spent on health issues you would think gathering information would be the simplest part of the process. Everybody is computerized; the vast amount of medical treatment in this country is fed into insurance company or governmental agency computers, coded by diagnosis and treatment, so that hospitals and doctors can get paid. What's the problem?
We should know cancer rates, by type of cancer, for November, 2006 NOW-- not in 2010. What if something was happening to spike the rates-- would we need a half-a-decade in order to even evaluate an increase? How many people died from 2003 until today because they continued hormone treatment absent this study?
I just don't get it. Maybe somebody can explain it to me, 'cause I'm at a loss trying to figure it out myself. I would think that statistical data on all types of illnesses would be important enough, for a whole host of reasons, that the obtaining and dissemination of them would be a priority.
So who is charge of medical statistics in this country? FEMA?
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
How Do You Get Change?
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip
I cannot think of another writer who makes me just sit in awe, again and again.
I enjoyed the hell out of A Few Good Men. I didn't realize until many years later that he was the author of the play and the movie.
My wife and I were both devoted fans of Sports Night, a simply great TV "sitcom" based on the back scenes of an ESPN Sports Center type show.
We both enjoyed American President a great deal-- Annette Bening--well, what more can I say? In fact, American President and A Few Good Men are on my list of movies that I've seen all or part of at least a dozen times. I think we all have those, I call them "surfin'movies"-- the ones you land on and watch when you are bored, there's nothing on that interests you, and you're surfing the channels looking for something to watch. They are the movies you can pick up at any point, 'cause you know the scenes and the lines almost by heart. I have a bunch, including the two Sorkin movies: any of the Die Hards, any of the Lethal Weapons, Godfather I and II (but never III), Pretty Woman, Hoosiers and more.
We were almost fanatical The West Wing fans; you could tell immediately the difference in the quality of the show once Sorkin left.
And now comes Studio 60. Mike Lupica called last week's episode one of the greatest hours of series TV he'd ever seen. I don't disagree with him, except I thought either of the two previous week's episodes were even better.
Either way, if you haven't watched it, you are missing something truly special. The show's cast is top to bottom superb-- OK actors you may have seen elsewhere soar in Sorkin-written parts. It is funny. It is smart. It is simply the best hour of television on television right now. If the show ever finds a big enough audience, it will be one of those that people will regularly put on their"best ever" lists-- certainly it will be on the lists of anyone who has watched it so far.
Sorkin's writing credits "only" include the shows above and the movie Malice with Alec Baldwin and Nicole Kidman-- a creepy thing I haven't been able to get myself to watch. And that means his batting average is unbelievable, and it means I am waiting impatiently for the release next year of his fourth movie Charles Wilson's War, to be directed by Mike Nichols and starring some guy named Tom Hanks, who I think was in a sitcom or two back in the '80s, and some chick named Julia Roberts.
Is it too early to order tickets?
Friday, December 08, 2006
Bill Richardson: The Hillary Blocker?
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
NASA: Time To Blast Off?
But, really, enough is enough. Maybe this model no longer works. The shuttle program was lackluster, pointless, leaderless, obsolete before it even flew, tragically flawed and souless.
NASA has lost its mission. It's lost its verve. And apparently, it has lost its political muscle.
The latest example? An announcement yesterday that NASA plans to put people back on the moon and construct living quarters there.
Do I oppose that? Hell, no!! I've been begging for this kind of project. I think they should install a series of telescopes on the far side of the Moon. I think we should be crawling all over the Moon, and beneath it's surface. I think we should have been doing this for decades.
So why do I think this announcement is the death-knell of NASA?
Because the "plan" is a waste of time. It has no backing. It has no funding. It's just another empty pronouncement not worth the electrons it was emailed upon.
And because the "plan" shows a lack of vision and an ironic nod to how ineffectual NASA is today.
In 1961, JFK challenged us to reach the moon in less than 9 years. We did it, with a fraction of the knowledge, computer technology or advanced materials we currently possess.
So when does NASA anticipate landing humans again on the Moon? 2020.
That's right. NASA is estimating it will take 14 years to land a person on the Moon. That's over 50% longer than it took back when engineers were using slide rules and the latest tech wonder was color TV!!
Building a shelter will take until 2024.
What a waste. Either do it or not. If NASA can't handle the job, let's figure out some other way to do it.
We need space exploration. That's another thought for another day, but this is something we need, as a people, as a country.
It just seems more apparent everyday that NASA can't handle the job.