damnum absque injuria

November 30, 2009

Insurance Mandates vs. Insurance Mandates

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:33 pm

Easily the dumbest argument I’ve heard on the health care debate is that we should mandate health insurance because we mandate auto insurance. WS Journal letter writer Laura Young recently wrote:

People are required to have car insurance; why not health insurance? Personally, I’d rather insure my health than my auto. I can always get a new car, but my life is not as replaceable.

Neat, but no law requires you to insure your auto. If anyone requires you to insure your auto, it’s your lender or your lessor, and they’re doing it to protect their own interest, not yours. Apparently Ms. Young forgot that the mandatory part of auto insurance in most states is liability insurance, not comp or collision. And your liability insurance isn’t mandated to protect you; it’s mandated to protect the rest of us from you. Big difference. However, there does appear to be one important parallel between mandatory auto insurance and mandatory health insurance after all: neither mandate works.

Lameness points to the Ass. Press for noting that Massachusetts’s mandated health insurance “has passed legal muster” in the context of a discussion over whether a federal mandate would. Last time I checked, Massachusetts was a state, not a branch of the federal government.

November 29, 2009

I (Don’t) Like (M)Ike

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:25 pm

I used to complain about the fact that one innocent person is dead because Mike Huckabee was once governor of Arkansas. I regret to say that I was off by a factor of five (so far?).

UPDATE: More at Hot Air.

November 28, 2009

Black Friday Isn’t Over Yet

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 12:25 am

Not if you’re planning to buy a gun in South Carolina, anyway.

November 26, 2009

A Prediction

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:47 pm

Lou Dobbs will not be the next President of the United States of America. You heard it here first.

November 22, 2009

How South Are You?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 2:34 pm

Here’s a simple pronunciation test. When referring to the North Carolina city bearing that name, how do you pronounce “Concord?”

  1. “Concord.”
  2. “Con-cord.”
  3. “Conquered”
  4. “Um, Charlotte, I think.”
  5. “Lowe’s Motor Speedway”
  6. Other (specify).

WordPress and Time Zones

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 1:27 pm

If you’re like me, and forgot to fall back on WordPress, good news. WP finally supports DST so you’ll just have to make one last fix and be done with it for good. Under the Settings heading on the Dashboard, select the first item, labeled “General.” Once there, look for the heading that reads “Timezone” and select a major city in your time zone. This feature is long overdue. The only tweak I’d add is to include a generic label for each US zone, so someone living outside Arizona but inside the Mountain Time Zone does not select Phoenix.

We’re Scientists And You’re Not

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 1:03 pm

Last week, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force brought Sarah Palin’s death panels into the fore by recommending women in their 40s stop having regular mammograms. No, they didn’t make this tin-eared recommendation for purposes of saving money (primarily), but regardless of their motive the timing could scarcely have been worse (or, depending on your perspective, better). Today on that show that used to be good when Tim Russert was around, that bimbo Nancy Snyderman would not shut up about how this panel’s recommendations were “science” and everyone else’s objections were “politics.” The “science?” That would be a finding that:

For every 1,000 women screened beginning at age 40, the modeling suggested that just about 0.7 deaths from breast cancer would be prevented, while about 470 additional women would receive a false-positive result and about 33 more would undergo unnecessary biopsies.

Most of us silly, unedumacated non-scientists have a hard time picturing anyone other than Keith Richards undergoing 0.7 deaths, so let’s adjust the figures to account for the odds of one whole person dying instead:

For every 1,429 women screened beginning at age 40, the modeling suggested that only one death from breast cancer would be prevented, while about 671 additional women would receive a false-positive result and about 47 more would undergo unnecessary biopsies.

Depending on whether you trust the modeling (and there’s no way to tell whether you should) those numbers arguably science but the panel’s conclusions are not. A scientists is no more (or less) qualified than anyone else to decide whether it’s better to undergo a simple procedure that is 1,429 times more likely to waste your time than kill you. Unless of course you’re one those scientifically illiterate crazies who actually take some comfort in knowing you don’t have breast cancer, in which case it has a 53% chance of telling you that right off the bat, a 44% chance of briefly spooking you only to put your mind at ease after further tests, and a 3.3% of leading to an unnecessary biopsy and a 0.7% chance of saving your life? Rather than make broad pronouncements as to who should or should not get screened, why not just tell women what the odds are and let them choose* for themselves? By going the next step and telling us what we should do with these numbers, the panel (along with its apparatchiks like Snyderman) shows itself to suffer from the same know-it-all syndrome that plagues all those non-climatologists who eagerly sign as “scientists” the various and sundry petitions for and against global warming or the medical doctors who eagerly dispense “medical” opinions on everything from guns to crime, and even monster trucks.

Also suspect is the panel’s conclusion that waiting until age 50 would cut in half the number of false positives. Without further explanation, I’m inclined to call bullshit not only on the conclusion but also on the alleged science itself. What on earth trait does the average healthy 40 year old woman have that she won’t have 10 years from now, that will somehow trigger a false positive on a mammogram now but not then? And if we know what that is (assuming “it” even exists), why can’t we test separately for that and eliminate the problem of false positives altogether? If, as I suspect, the answer is “because the modeling says so,” then that tells you everything you need to know about the model – and damned near nothing else. But don’t listen to me, I’m not, like, a scientist.

UPDATE: Jody calls bullshit on that last bit of bullshit-calling. Apparently, women in their 40s really do have harder tissue that can more easily register a false positive. This doesn’t affect my main point, of course.

*Yes, I know, it technically doesn’t count as a “choice” because we’re talking about a patient’s choice to obtain a medical procedure rather than an abortion. Nevertheless, I think there is something to be said for extending this quaint concept of “choice” to other venues.

Odd Phobias, or Not?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:55 am

I’m going to go out on a very short limb and predict (postdict?) that this slide was prepared by a woman. And not just any woman, mind you, but one who doesn’t watch SNL.

Scottish Compassion

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:28 am

On August 20, 2009, Scotland released Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi on “compassionate” grounds because he had only three months to live. Those three months are up, but per Wikipedia he’s not dead yet. I say, Scotland has made this deal, so let Scotland enforce it.

November 20, 2009

Moron of the Day: Ronald Hunt

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 12:37 pm

I’m sure Ronald Hunt knew that faking a disability for money can get you in big trouble if someone catches you acting non-disabled on a hidden camera, but apparently, no one explained to him that getting caught on a non-hidden camera can be just as bad.


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