Friday, March 04, 2016

Friday Water Cooler

Syria: Another Pipeline War ( The nephew of JFK has (in this article) written an impressive, detailed, scathing history of what we in the West call "The Middle East," tracing the roots of the Syria conflict to CIA meddling. As Kennedy says, "Only when we see this conflict as a proxy war over a pipeline do events become comprehensible."
It’s the only paradigm that explains why the GOP on Capitol Hill and the Obama administration are still fixated on regime change rather than regional stability, why the Obama administration can find no Syrian moderates to fight the war, why ISIS blew up a Russian passenger plane, why the Saudis just executed a powerful Shia cleric only to have their embassy burned in Tehran, why Russia is bombing non-ISIS fighters and why Turkey went out of its way to down a Russian jet. The million refugees now flooding into Europe are refugees of a pipeline war and CIA blundering.
Trump will seize on this story and make it sound simplistic. But it's one of those damnable instances (yet again) where Trump will actually, fundamentally, be right. It's about the oil, stupid.

The U.S. has Gone F&*%ing Mad ( No, this story is not about the election cycle. It's about our ridiculous, pathetic response to "terrorism." People got shot. We need a back door into every phone.

Thinking about Intimate Surveillance ( OMG, the paper Bruce links to. Holy crow, what an Orwellian tour of sex-tracker apps. Is this where we're headed?
"In the bottom 20 percent of zip codes that are the most distressed, nearly a quarter of adults have no high school degree, over half of adults are not working, and the median income is only two-thirds of the state level."
Over 50 Million Americans Live In Economically Distressed Communities (

Being a good parent will physiologically destroy you, new research confirms ( This is not a drill.

More phones, few banks, and years of instability are transforming Somalia to a cashless society ( An economic proving ground for the U.S.
Japan's Negative Interest Rates Are Driving up Sales of Safes ( Let the cash-hoarding begin!

The Ontario Government Is Investigating Giving Everyone Free Money ( so that it can shut down social services programs.

How did the New England Journal of Medicine respond when we tried to correct 20 misreported trials? ( Not good.

The Problem With Evidence-Based Policies ( This paper caused a huge hubbub by suggesting that randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are appropriate for clinical work but not so appropriate for socioeconomic research. I tend to agree that one experimental design does not fit all. RCTs have been abused in medical research, and will be abused in socioeconomic work. The point is to think carefully about experimental design and not blindly assume that RCT solves everything. It doesn't.

Prevalence and Characteristics of Physicians Prone to Malpractice Claims (NEJM). Interesting bit of research showing that 1% of doctors produce 32% of paid malpractice claims.

When a Brain Surgeon Becomes a Malpractice Lawyer ( Pertains to the above item. Excellent interview with malpractice attorney Lawrence Schlachter, M.D.

Insulin shortage could affect 50,000 people with diabetes in the UK ( Manufacturing, at Sanofi, can't keep up with demand. Scary as f*ck.

More than 200 patients at NJ hospital possibly exposed to HIV, hepatitis ( Our famously world-class medical system.

World Trade Plunges13.8% in US Dollar Terms ( But this is a recovery, right? Not any more.

FAA Privatization Bill Contains Sweetheart Deal For Airline Lobby ( Wherein we learn that Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) is literally, yes literally, in bed with a lobbyist who stands to benefit from the new bill to privatize Air Traffic Control.

GOP establishment trashes Christie for endorsing Trump ( Yes, but how else is Christie (former U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey) supposed to get appointed Attorney General once Trump is in office?

Understanding RNC's Rule 40 ( This is the Republican Party rule that says that "Each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a majority of the delegates from each of eight (8) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination." If Trump acquires that majority in 8 states (and no one else does), he becomes the nominee. Period. But! The RNC meets April 20-22, and could modify its rules then. The rules committee will also meet on the eve of convention and could modify the rules then as well, although it would likely cause an insurrection. Trump's best bet: Simply accumulate an unquestionable excess of delegates going into the convention. Dare the RNC to contravene democracy.

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