Links 1/23/12

Catalina Island fox makes astounding comeback LA Times (hat tip Joe Costello)

The price of your soul: How the brain decides whether to ‘sell out’ Medical Xpress (hat tip reader Paul S)

Evolution Is Still Happening: Beneficial Mutations in Humans Big Think (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Breast cancer screening cannot be justified, says researcher Guardian (hat tip reader John L). NC regulars may have seen me rant occasionally about how lousy mammograms are as diagnostic tests. They are bad at detecting the fast moving cancers that will kill you and great at diagnosing growths that women will die with, rather than of. Manual breast exams by people who do a lot of breast exams are far better at detecting the dangerous cancers early.

The Geek’s Guide to Status, Prosperity and Passion Big Think (hat tip reader Aquifer). I am friends with enough geeks to have been designated an honorary geek. Not sure this is as sure fire as he suggests. I’ve known oenophiles who manage to be pedantic about it (and yours truly really likes wine).

Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement ZDNet (hat tip reader Francois T)

An Environmental Occupy Fracks Corporate America Ellen Cantarow, TomDispatch

Apple’s Foreign Suppliers Demonstrate Widespread Scamming and Horrific Abuse of Employees Bill Black, Alternet

Kim Dotcom: Police Cut Way Into Mansion To Arrest Megaupload Founder Huffington Post (hat tip reader Lance)

Australia Roundup: Oceanfront Homes for 65% Off; Chain Sales and Contingent Offers; Retailers Brace for More Job Cuts; Cusp of a White-Collar Recession Michael Shedlock (hat tip reader furzy mouse). OK, Down Under readers, I thought prices were ahead of themselves in 2003-4. Where are prevailing prices in Sydney in real terms relative to then?

MPs to discuss sale of Parliament Independent. Buzz Potamkin: “I thought it was already owned by Murdoch.”

Vincent Browne v The ECB You Tube (hat tip Philip Pilkington)

Greek debt talks stall over interest rate on bonds Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

IMF should stay out of the eurozone crisis Wolfgang Münchau, Financial Times (hat tip reader Lee S)

Paris and Berlin seek to dilute bank rules Financial Times. Quelle surprise! They have the most undercapitalized banks.

Greece needs sustainable debt by 2020: German finance minister Reuters (hat tip Joe Costello)

Owners of stricken vessel admit captain had ‘character problem’ Independent (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

China Set for Goldilocks Landing? The Diplomat. They may be right, but that’s what everyone in the US financial media believed in early 2007 too.

China Snow Snarls World’s Biggest Migration Bloomberg

Going Back to the Future: Militia Model Could Cut U.S. Expenditures Defense News (hat tip Robert N). Yes, by increasing domestic opposition to military adventures overseas.

Romney forced to reveal tax returns Financial Times

Should We Trust Paid Experts On The Volcker Rule? Simon Johnson

Commentary: Getting ‘those people’ to straighten up and fly right McClatchy (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Utah Doctors Join the Occupy Movement Truthout (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Trip report from Washington, MacPherson Square, Occupy Congress, and Freedom Plaza Lambert Strether

Antidote du jour. By Daniel Hooper:

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          1. ambrit

            Dear ozajh;
            Ouch! I didn’t know that. Does that mean ‘Black Swan Events’ are white cygnets waiting to go bad?

  1. Elliot

    Mammos aren’t great, but they’re still lifesaving; I have three friends who were diagnosed this past autumn and caught in the very earliest stages, well before the tumors or changes were palpable. It’s fashionable to be against mammos, and I wish ultrasound for them was more available in the States, but if you think you’re going to save lives by foregoing mammography and just relying on manual exams, I think you’re misinformed.

    That said, here’s my favorite oneliner about mammography: it was invented by the same guy who invented high heels.

    1. Mark

      You don’t (and can’t) know that their lives were saved. That’s the problem. See this and the referenced study from Archives of Internal Medicine:

      “A new analysis published Monday in Archives of Internal Medicine offers a stark reality check about the value of mammography screening. Despite numerous testimonials from women who believe “a mammogram saved my life,” the truth is that most women who find breast cancer as a result of regular screening have not had their lives saved by the test, conclude two Dartmouth researchers, Dr. H. Gilbert Welch and Brittney A. Frankel.”

      This is hard for many people to understand but it is nevertheless true.

      This needs to be balanced against all the unnecessary biopsies and lumpectomies (and related side effects) that are done as a result of false positives, and all the women who feel wrongly safe as a result of false negatives. None of this is easy or obvious.

      I wish Yves would tell us the data on palpation being “far better at detecting the dangerous cancers early”. My understanding is that the main problem is that there is no test that enables one to pick out the really dangerous life threatening cancers from the not life threatening ones.

      BTW, all of this is true for prostate screening as well only more so since fewer prostate cancers are deadly and the harm done by surgery for false positives is greater.

    2. Klassy!

      Routine screening mammography is far, far more succesful picking up indolent tumors rather than aggressive, fast growing tumors. It is not a matter of “catching them in time”. Actually, some of these well encapsulated tumors go away on their own!
      I have a family member who insists her life was saved because the cancer was “caught early”. This was DCIS. As far as I can see, the one benefitting the most is the oncologist. She had a lumpectomy followed by radiation and now goes for screenings every 6 months!
      No mammograms for me.

    3. Francois T

      The plural of anecdote is not data.

      This is the biggest problem health care professionals, most especially clinical investigators, are facing when trying to educate the public about screening, prevention and treatment.

    4. Ray Elliott

      Although x-ray could visualize microcalcifications (a precondition of breast cancer) and ultrasound could not, the danger of accumulating radiation stopped many from using x-ray. One x-ray gave a patient 1/100 of the radiation required to incur breast cancer. 100 x-rays would be sufficient to initiate breast cancer.

      In 1981, low dose x-ray mammography was introduced. This dramatically reduced the x-ray dose and breast ultrasound no longer was used as a primary cancer detection device. It is still used for simple procedures such as to determine whether a lesion is a solid or a cyst.

      My company, Life Instruments of Boulder, Colorado was the largest company manufacturing breast ultrasound instruments. It soon went out of business and proves the point that risk is always present in business endeavors. Today, I consider government rules and regulations the greatest impediment to success.

      1. Binky the Bear

        Because you are not creative enough to use them to your advantage or not wealthy enough to bend them to your will?

        1. Francois T

          Talk to those who have to deal with said regulations every day. As far as the health care sector is concerned, Ray is right.

          It should go without saying that any generalization to other sectors of the economy is unwarranted.

          A lot of this regulatory health care burden could be removed if Congress would just accept political responsibility for their actions instead of constantly fucking around with the purse as a political cudgel while not letting civil servants do their damn job!

    5. ginnie nyc

      Well, personally, I have had bilateral ultrasounds done annually for the past five years, instead of mammograms (plus manual exam). Did I have to kick, fight & scream to get the u/s, despite MD scrip & scheduled appointment? Yes, I did. There is a serious radiologist lobby at work on this issue, protecting their lucrative turf and deliberately ignoring the medical evidence. The British National Health Service has had a jaundiced view of mammmograms for a long time, and I don’t believe that the UK mortality rate for breast cancer is higher than that of the US.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I’ve had the same issue. I get sonograms and manual exams. Sydney had a breast clinic which had sonograms and mammograms plus with guys (yes, often men) who felt boobs all day. Wish we had breast clinics like that in the US.

        Since the place you get a sonogram is typically a radiologist, you get hectored big time. I am very good at ignoring them. Fortunately, my doctors are used to me being pretty opinionated and (with some annoyance sometimes) write the scrips I need (although my insurance plan is not very restrictive, so I don’t need primary physician approval to see a specialist, which is a big plus).

        Thermal imaging is apparently also better than mammograms in detecting the fast moving dangerous cancers.

        1. Typing Monkey

          I won’t bother going into details, mostly because I don’t know if anybody reads posts from this far back and partly because I don’t know if anybody cares, but:

          1. The likelihood of detection depends in large part on dose + wavelength. Dose isn’t important for sonograms, but they have a very large wavelength and are therefore unlikely to detect a tumor.

          2. The quality of a mammogram depends in large part on the age of the CT equipment being used. A major reason CT is important goes back to wavelength. If you can detect and remove tumors that are under 4mm (which basically requiers very short wavelengths), there is no chance of metastisizing. It is this metastasis that generally kills women, not the actual breast tumor. Unfortunately, most of the CT algorithms used are complete crap, and there is no money or incentive to improve them. As a side note, I believe that in the 70’s/80s, for every woman they saved by early detection using mammograms, they actually killed a woman by radiation exposure.

          3. MRI serves a useful function (although very expensive) because it produces 3D images, which make detection *far* more likely (any 3D images you see as a result of CT/CAT scanning is reconstructed, and this is not the same thing). Unfortunately, the resolution for 4mm is not there. In the end, like it or not, either a large number of tests (ultrasound + MRI + etc) will be required to significantly increase detection, or else (more likely, IMO) better algorithms will need to be developed for X-ray (CT/CAT) imaging.

  2. skippy

    Australian GDP

    The Australian economy is dominated by its service sector, representing 68% of Australian GDP. The agricultural and mining sectors (10% of GDP combined)[17] account for 57% of the nation’s exports.[18] The Australian economy is dependent on imported crude oil and petroleum products, the economy’s petroleum import dependency is around 80% – crude oil + petroleum products.[19]

    Skippy… ginned up electrons of price are not very stable, for very long. Although 22,810,693 people with in a landmass comparable to the US is a help. Rent prices are buttressing up the the market for now, its all in the weathers hands now.

    1. aet

      With housing and real estate, it really is all about location. Even in Australia.

      Northwest Australia, due to increases in mining activity of late, had seen house prices rise strongly as of September 2011.

      The “two-speed” housing market of Oz:

      “In the North West of the [Western Australian] state demand is outstripping supply at epic proportions which has fuelled significant growth in rental rates as well as median house prices. Based on data from the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia… the median house price in the region has topped $740,000 and in some suburbs surpassed a million dollars, which is far greater than the median house price in Perth of $470,000.

      When comparing current medians with those of 5 years ago, growth in the region has been significant with median house prices rising by 60% versus a meagre 4% growth in Perth over the same period. In particular towns such as South Hedland have experienced record growth with median house prices rising by 105% over the same period.”


      1. ambrit

        Dear aet;
        Are those figures reliable? I’d be a bit leery about any ‘price and value’ figures that didn’t factor out the extremes. What’s the median mean, if you get my drift.
        As for the figures you cite, they look like pre 2008 valuations did here in the States. What I’d like to see was some metric that tracked home values as a function of estimated lifetime income. Afordability is the key.

      2. Skippy

        Yep, same old story. Here on the east coast the holiday – rental has been slowly bleeding since 09 but, is picking up pace ( associated retail + too ). Lets see what happens when all that overseas income stream apartment complex, new housing, prime MBS ( not bought back with the Feds 9B extension to the aussie gov sub prime) starts looking leary.

        The flood relief from last year has worked its way through now ( stealth stimulus ), and trades are having hours cut back ( labor glut – 4 years ago they were screaming for trades – total government gear up thingy ).

        Lots of public assets sold, Chinchilla CSG pipline – Gladstone Plant dreams ( protests are ramping up, Ag vs mining stuff ).

        Last but not least, many boomers have down sized, put off activity’s or made financial arrangements for belt tightening.

        Skippy… its like in the move car wash when the owner slowly turns down the music volume down, all the workers slow with it. The majority in my area are stagnate or losing steam but, a few are doing better than ever.

    1. Carla

      Thank you so much for the OhioFracktion site.

      The link about the Utah doctors suing Rio Tinto for endangering public health is also great!

  3. rjs

    from my mail:

    Threatening New Bill H.R. 1981 – Worse Than SOPA/PIPA – This Bill Entitled “The Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act Of 2011″ Is A Bill With Overly Broadened Language That Greatly Threatens All Of Us.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      rjs, thanks for the link. We can STOP RIGHT NOW: the PARENTS of children who have not reached the legal age of majority are legally responsible for their children, hence ought to be held LIABLE for their conduct. Thus parents of children who consume pornography on the internet or otherwise should be held guilty of NEGLIGENCE. Let Gabor Mate, M.D. tell us what pornography (inherently violent imagery) does to the “neuronal circuits” of children.

      We must hold parents responsible and liable for damage done to their children, due to the parents’ negligence, complicity, or ignorance (no excuse). The burden of responsibility for one’s children cannot rightfully be shifted to society at large.

      1. MLS

        Broadly speaking, I don’t completely disagree with you, but the consumption of pornography (unless it’s kiddie porn) is not a crime and in instances like those, I don’t think it’s society’s responsibility to police bad parenting. You and I can agree all day not to let our own kids watch adult movies or look at adult sites on the internet, but if some whack job wants to let his kid do that, who are we to tell them how to raise their son or daughter? To me it’s little different than someone trying to hold me accountable because I don’t teach my child creationism (or condemning me because I do). The problem isn’t how they raise their kids, the problem is when they try to tell me how to raise mine. It’s a little like trying to legislate that people be nice to each other all the time – there’s just no clean definition of what is “bad parenting”, so trying to make rules and laws to eliminate it is an exercise in futility.

        IMO it’s different if crimes are being committed (e.g. parents letting their kids steal or assault others), in thoses cases I am more in favor of holding mom and dad accountable. But for something like this I think it just falls under bad parenting and all you and I can do is continue to teach our own kids what is acceptable behavior.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          MLS, “who are we …?” We are society, who will pay the price for parental negligence and worse.

          1. ambrit

            Dear LBR;
            We are already suffering the ill effects of raising more than one generation of narcissistic hedonists. The end result of raising a bunch of kids unaquainted with the concept of delayed gratification is a generation of very frustrated and unhappy adults. I see it every day at work, on both sides of the counter.

          2. MLS


            By extension of that logic, we as a society have a right to tell parents how to teach their kids when it comes to things like study habits, curfew, punishment for wrongdoing, and other such things. Is it also OK that society can tell somebody when they can get an abortion? Or when they can take an aspirin? All of those things are a massive intrusion into people’s lives. Sorry, I respectfully disagree.

  4. craazyman

    It’s 7 am and there’s Already a Headache

    I have this feeling the folks involved in the Greek negotiations must actually be having fun. That sounds crazy, I know, but why else would they drag it out this long? They’re all wealthy and probably indolent lazy moochers on society’s shrinking wealth as it is. What else is there to do, if you’re them?

    And there’s lots of meetings and dinners, probly with expensive european wines and after-dinner drinks, like Pear Brandy. They can talk back and forth about numbers and important things like money supply and debt

    It’s like a party all the time. When it stops being fun, they’ll figure it out. It’s hard to know exactly when that will be. But it’s getting to be a real headache trying to read about them every morning.

    I’m at a point of saying “F–k It”. Who cares? I’d rather read about the NFL than these kleptocrats and lawyers and their kaleidescopic nonsense. I’m ready for the Index Fund 60/40 portfolio and let it just sit there while I do something worth doing, like learning how to play a harmonica, rather than reading the latest on these morons every day.

    Not sure what it’ll take to get them all to that point too. It may be impossible, given the personality structures. If there’s another way they can have fun, other than by negotiating with each other and going to dinners, that could be the answer. That would solve everything.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      craazyman, you may not be aware that you may have just made a fool of yourself by saying you’d rather watch an NFL game than stay abreast of world events.

      How old are you, actually? Adolescent years may explain it.

      1. craazyman

        World events bore me. It’s the same carnival of morons, year in, year out. They don’t bore you? Wow. :) Nevermind.

        1. Maximilien

          Craazyman, like you I scan the world horizon and see nothing but morons. But I live in hope of one day, somewhere, spotting an actual, oh let’s say….STATESMAN. That’s why I follow world affairs.

          You choose not to. I understand why. You haven’t missed anything. Still only morons out there.

          1. ambrit

            Dear Maximilien;
            Scan we must, for what if the next bunch of morons we spy are all wearing uniforms and carrying guns? Oh wait, sorry. I’ve just described H——d S——y, haven’t I?

      2. Valissa

        Leonova dear, suggest you turn up the volume on your snark detector. Lots of us can be snarky here. I had to learn to add a snark notation to some of my comments here, to warn the more earnestly self righteous types.

        1. craazyman

          No Lenova is probly correct. But I don’t care. I’m just being honest. I’d rather watch the NFL than have to read about war, looting, larceny, rape, genocide, bombings, suicide bombings, political narcissism, kleptocracy, control fraud, graft, corruption, etc. etc. I guess I must be crazy. LOL. Back to work . . .

          1. Anonymous Jones

            Naw, not crazy; Chomsky would just say you’re indoctrinated.

            He’s right of course. Anyone who doesn’t hold his exact preferences for using time is “indoctrinated” and clearly inferior.

            “Sports – that’s another example of the indoctrination system. For one thing, because it offers people something to pay attention to that’s of no importance, that keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives, that might give them some idea of doing something about.”

            It’s amazing that intelligence is no substitute for empathy and considered thought. Chomsky’s like most of ’em — he’s as much of a sociopath, just with different goals of his manipulation.

          2. curlydan

            I’d rather watch soccer/futbol than the NFL–fewer commercials. Watching NFL live is madden-ing (pun intended)with the annonying start/stops. Just get out there and play the damn game.

          3. LeonovaBalletRusse

            OK, so long as you stay awake sometimes. It takes years of endurance to cut through the world’s buzz-saw of agitprop. It gets easier to separate the wheat from the chaff. That’s the important thing.

    2. Procopius

      “…while I do something worth doing, like learning how to play a harmonica, rather than reading the latest on these morons every day.” Oh, hey, that resonates with me. Why am I spending all day absorbing negative energy from these stories when I could be doing something actually fun? Here in Thailand there’s a 9-year-old boy who won a prize for playing classical guitar. Now he probably isn’t as good as Andres Segovia yet, but I would say he’s as good as Laurindo Almeida or Eric Clapton. Amazing. The kid is a genuine genius. There’s something worth hearing about. Listening to him play is a joy, too. Just think, when he grows up he can be a new David Lindley!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One does not propagandize.

      One merely educates.

      “I will educate you!”

      “Is that a threat?”

      “What I said.”

      “No one educates me. I will EDUCATE you!!!”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perhaps that was what he meant when the bad guy said to his victim, “I am going to teach you a lesson.”

          We have too many ‘educators’ like that these days.

          “You gonna educate me? You gonna educate me? You talking to me? No, let me educate YOU!”

  5. alink

    Iraq bans visits to Saddam Hussein’s grave
    i wonder if after the ows movements takeover of washington dc ;-) they will hang some former president for crime against humanity and ban visit to his grave.

  6. DP

    The article on mammograms is consistent with a great book titled “Overdiagnosed” by Dr. Gilbert Welch and two other doctors. The book uses the same type of methodology, looking at not only how many people are saved by testing but comparing the number to how many are harmed by being treated or even operated on for a disease they didn’t have or had in a benign form that was not life threatening. Welch’s book comes to the exact same conclusion on prostate screening for men: if they look hard enough they’ll find it in roughly half the male population over 55 but the type that kills can rarely be treated successfully. Meanwhile, for every person saved, dozens are subjected to debilitating surgery and/or chemo for something that was no threat to their longevity.

    The book also gets into many other diseases that are overdiagnosed and overtreated.

    1. Cogburn20

      Yes, and one of the biggest problems that the US Healthcare system faces is the American culture that views all of these tests as very necessary. I concede that I am one of those people who feels safer with more tests. The problem, as you suggest, is that they are costly and perhaps not even necessarily helpful; so the issue is shifting the culture [and my own way of thinking about it] to accept that fact. When living in Europe I shocked to see the kind of medical treatment friends/colleagues received. The emphasis seemed to be on prevention and when more action was needed it was measured. My experience in the US is that they nearly forget prevention and focus on the big, expensive treatment. I suppose this is how more people make more money.

      1. Wendy

        Focusing on prevention is dangerous territory. It involves acknowledging that certain large corporations are dumping chemicals into our environment which cause these cancers – and if they didn’t, cancer incidence would decrease. Oh, and some of those same companies also happen to be in the treatment business.
        Sounds a little tin foil hatty, I know. Read “Pink Ribbons Inc” for some honest analysis of the breast cancer awareness/Susan Komen activities. Focusing on prevention would be loads better. “screening” is a money-maker, for manufacturers of mammo machines, and treatment hasn’t much improved in the last 80 years. So, prevention, that’s where the solution should lie. But it won’t, since our body politic is captured by the ones causing the harm and making money off it, and our culture is captured by the idea that all they need to is buy shit that’s pink and has the Komen logo on it, to Do Something and Make A Difference. And it’s nearly impossible to argue with people, any contrary position seems absurd, pro-cancer, and yes, tin foil hatty.

        1. Klassy!

          I like the fact that when you talk about prevention you are talking about environmental factors– of course these are mentioned a lot less frequently because you can’t use the “personal responsibility” argument. Another book worth reading is Nortin Hadler’s Rethinking Aging . this book discusses the role of SES and personal autonomy (which is intimately linked to SES) in one’s health state. And no, he is not saying those of higher SES are healthier because they practice “healthy behaviors” or have better access to our health care system.
          It is true that much of what passes as preventative care is promoted by those that have a financial stake in the care. This is not just cancer screening– as Welch and Hadler make clear it is also things such as agressively treating hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and hyperglycemia.
          This is aided and abetted by journalists on the medical beat who fail to ask some fairly basic questions. The books discuss the concept of relative v absolute risk reduction (something that has always annoyed me to no end), the numbers needed to treat to prevent a bad outcome v. those that suffer bad consequences from treatment, and lag time bias among other things. These are just a few things a responsible press should be discussing

        2. Klassy!

          Also, check out the Utah doctors at Occupy link– nice to see some doctors have a better idea of what constitutes “public health”!

          1. Cogburn20

            Environmental Law by no means is my specialty, but I wonder if they will have difficulty arguing that they have standing in this case. Are they directly harmed themselves? These kind of cases can be tricky. Though I suppose there is some value in just making a statement even if the case doesn’t go very far.

          2. LeonovaBalletRusse

            Klassy! — “Occupy Public Health” — this covers drug addiction and PTSD from banker-pol created meltdowns also.

      2. Aquifer

        Your point about prevention is well taken. In the US, to talk about prevention would be to take on industry big time in terms of environmental pollution. If you look at the most “common” cancers, e.g. breast, prostate, they have endocrine components, implicating, IMO, the role of endocrine disruptors, which so many chemicals introduced into our environment have proven to be. The same pressure that has been brought on tobacco product manufacturers should be brought on these companies as well, not to mention the potential catastrophes of GMOs, but science in these areas has been perverted every bit as much as has the political process that shields the “disruptors”.

        That is why I, personally, at least, am glad to see more and more medical folks stepping out into the public arena to say what must be sad – the Utah docs mentioned, as well as Jill Stein, the MD running for Pres, who got involved when she realized that treating individuals was not enough to solve the problem – that the environment they were living in was killing them and that just going to elected reps to point out these facts was not enough – one has to step out and put oneself on the line. Healthcare is a political issue across a much wider spectrum than just what goes on in insurance CEO boardrooms, and hopefully more and more medical folks will tune into and take on these issues.

        Prevention is indeed the key but that must be dealt with on a policy as well as an individual level -to stop putting crap in our bodies means we must stop putting crap into the air and water and soil.

        The big money in pharma as well in medical devices is made by “treating”, not by preventing. And the big money in ag is made by controlling seed ala GMO patents and the crummy chemicals they push on farmers.

        The difficulty in dealing with screening is in the absence of being able to truly differentiate the cancers that kill as opposed to the “incidentals” we die with is that we can’t tell the difference with accuracy, so no doc can “assure” you that your CA won’t kill you – if (s)he is wrong, (s)he will get his/her ass sued off. And If you have a CA that has “only” a 20% chance of killing you – what will you do? And if screening is not offered, again the doc will get his/her posterior kicked if you wind up with a CA that has metastasized somewhere down the line that wasn’t picked up earlier, not to mention how lousy the doc will feel about it (yes, some docs actually care about their patients ….)

        I know folks here might want to look at this as a matter of numbers – but it ain’t quite that simple …

        1. Klassy!

          Please, read the linked article. And, Overdiagnosed does a wonderful job discussing the risks and very negligble benefits of routine screening. Then you will see it is not so simple.

          1. Aquifer

            read the link – doesn’t change my response ….

            The cat, screening, is out of the bag: whether it is used or not has a great deal to do with factors other than just the “numbers” – whether it should or not, is a matter of discussion, but it does, for some of the “irrational” reasons i mentioned ….

          2. Klassy!

            Perhaps I just need some clarification. You don’t think those of us who would argue against routine screening are opposed simply because it is costly or that we have to screen so many people to “catch” a cancer?

    2. Klassy!

      That is a great book! I wish that everyone involved with health care reform would read it.
      I also wish the general population would read it and stop regarding themselves as a big bundle of risk factors.

    3. Mark

      Also anything by Dr. Nortin Hadler, especially “Worried Sick” and for those of a certain age, “Rethinking Aging”

      1. Klassy!

        Rethinking Aging is actually pretty good for those of any age. I plugged it in a previous comment.
        Well, I’ll concede the Twilight,/i> set might not find it fascinating or particlularly relevant.

    4. Sock Puppet

      Lead time bias (if it’s detected earlier you “survived longer”, although you die at the same time) and denominator inflation (if you test more people, and the same number die, your survival rate is better – same number of needles but more hay) skew data to make it look like more testing saves lives.

      Another one is diabetes – most of the money goes on drugs, not cures (type 1) or prevention (type 2). Most diabetes companies would be out of business if there was a cure.

      1. Sock Puppet

        A friend of mine’s wife was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s been traveling and moving with her husband for a few years, so missed a few mammograms. She’s being made to feel that it’s her own fault (“…if only you’d had that mammogram…”. The mindset is that breast cancer is caused by skipping mammograms. Going to be hard to change that.

    5. DP

      By coincidence, I got a mailing from my health insurance company today suggesting a “preventive care” measure I should discuss with my doctor: a PSA test for prostate cancer. I’m 54, had a physical about 6 months ago. At the time when we were discussing what would be included in the physical my physician said “There’s some difference of opinion about the PSA test…”; I cut him off right there and said I’m familiar with the issues and don’t want it. He said fine and we moved on to the next topic.

      As much as the health insurance companies like to save money, one would think they’d be looking at the science and pushing back on routine PSA tests, mammograms, statins for healthy people with cholesterol levels of 220, etc.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Another overdone test is colonoscopies. The US is the only advanced country that recommends them for everyone (at age 50). All other countries recommend them only for people with risk factors. The US mortality rate on colon cancer is no better than in other countries.

  7. René

    Re: Paris and Berlin seek to dilute bank rules.

    German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble said he does not want to temper with the stricter regulations on banks. On the contrary, after consulting his colleague François Baroin at the meeting of Eurozone finance ministers, today.

    Schäuble said, “We try to implement Basel III.”

    France, Germany to implement Basel III rules: Schaeuble

  8. Camille

    Re Breast Cancer screening…On this side of the pond
    all the focus on cures for cancer means big bucks.

    Cancer is an economic disease.

    Prevention of cancer means zero profits for the cancer industry. What if carcinogenic pesticide makers also made money off manufacturing chemotherapy chemicals? They do.

    What if radiological screening machine makers caused cancer with x-ray exposure? They do.

    What if these companies formed a front company to stress cures, not prevention? They do.

    It’s called the American Cancer Society and they have enourmous amounts of money in the bank and keep getting people to volunteer to raise more cash for them.

    Google”american cancer society fraud”if you want a clue what they are about.

    Their motto is “Early detection is the best cure”
    Bullshit! How about prevention is the best cure?

    The ACS was against banning DES, against any research into the link between cancer and pesticides, controls most research journals, bans researchers that do controlled studies on no-profit nutrition and in general is a front group for those that harvest profit from cancer.

    Cancer is an economic disease.

  9. fluechtling

    Weaned myself off Apple with and Makes it completely painless to download and try out a dozen varieties of linux and install one. All our macs are running linux now.

    1. propertius

      Which, of course, has pretty much zero impact on Apple since you’ve already bought the hardware. As someone who’s been using Linux since the 0.92 kernel, I do, however, applaud your choice of a superior OS.

      The notion that there is an “Apple” problem, as opposed to an “industry” problem doesn’t seem quite right to me. No matter which PC, tablet, or smartphone vendor your choose, their products are going to be assembled under Dickensian conditions by slave labor. It’s just more at odds with Apple’s carefully-crafted “Think Different”, “Computer for the Rest of Us” hype than it is with Dell’s of HP’s corporate image. For some reason, Apple has managed to brand itself, in defiance of all reality, as some sort of cute, fuzzy, laid-back, underdog company – when it’s really a huge, rapacious, media/software/hardware conglomerate intent upon controlling every aspect of its customer’s use of technology (the iAuthor agreement being only the latest and most egregious example of this).

      Nice hardware, though ;-).

  10. Aquifer


    As an oenophile, can you recommend a good NYS red wine? As an amateur who doesn’t know one end of a cork from the other, i would appreciate some advice as i am looking for a good “local” red wine for its “health” effects :)

  11. Aquifer

    Another beneficial mutation is the one which apparently confers what appears to be immunity from HIV. My knowledge of this is scanty, to say the least, but it received some brief attention in terms of the fellow with AIDS who received a bone marrow transplant for concomitant leukemia (which was what was killing him) from an individual with this genetic variation, who, after the transplant, was apparently “cured” of his HIV infestation. This was not just “accidental” as marrow with this specific variation was deliberately sought, so i understand. The theory, as i understand it, is that this variation was selected out in response to the European experience with the plague, and is present in an unknown number of people ..

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It can’t happen fast enough.

      We need to be replaced by a new species.

      By my back-of-the-envelop calculation, a new Adam from God is due.

      Let’s call him the Eighth Day Wonder.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      It’s correlated with the Black Plague somehow, populations that had high level of Black Plague incidence. I guess they had enough survivors (just by dint of large numbers) that surviving getting the Black Plague somehow reduces susceptibility of their descendants to getting HIV (not sure if they are also what is called “slow progressors” when they do get it).

      1. ArchLover

        Ahh, being a T.A. for Global Health comes in handy, here is my understanding of what’s going on…

        One way that HIV gets into your cells is by attaching to the CCR5 receptor. People who are resistant to HIV have a mutation that allows their cells to block HIV from attaching to CCR5.

        People who are homozygous for this mutation (have two copies of the same allele) appear to be resistant to HIV. Those who are heterozygous appear to be “slow progressors”, meaning they progress much more slowly from HIV to full-blown AIDS, if at all.

        As Yves and the original commentator mentioned, this mutation is found in high frequency in European populations, but not others. We’re not sure exactly why this mutation arose, but it’s clear that it was present before the modern spread of HIV/AIDS beginning in 1959. Some have suggested either Europe’s experience with the plague, or with epidemics of smallpox…another theory is that it originated with a random mutation spread through Europe by Vikings (which then still would have been selected for through epidemics). Either way, those pathogens must use a similar pathway to gain entrance into our cells for this to be an effective mutation against HIV.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    No need for windpower, with or without blades.

    From yesterday’s Links.

    Why don’t we just put those alternating layers of piezoelectric materials on every road and freeway we have? The pressure from every passing vehicle will generate power…the bigger the vehicle (think Humvee), the higher the pressure (and the greener it is, ironically).

    Put those piezoeletric things on airport runways, under aerobic class floors, beneath the springs of every mattress, on NBA basketball courts,…the possibilities are endless.

    No need for those ugly stalks, taking up more space.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Let me try it on the backseat of my car first, before I sell it to the public for $$$.

        I want to be a responsible entrepreneur, putting the safety of my customers first.

        1. craazyman

          Just hook up a big fan to the roof of your car to catch the wind and run a turbine. It might be powerful enough to replace the engine if you drive fast enough. :)

          1. craazyman

            that’s a good idea too.

            I can’t believe they’re pushing electric cars over ideas like these. Think of how long a cord you’ll need for the car to go anywhere at all.

            I have trouble with my vacuum cleaner coming unplugged.

          2. aletheia33

            on a sadder/seriouser note, these wild comments are reminding me for some reason of the sorrow i felt when nypd evicted OWS from zuccotti park in mid-november, on a day that will live in infamy, and i saw, among other heartbreaking images, the photographs of the bicycle-powered generators that the occupiers had built being destroyed.

            those generators, and the willing bodies that kept them online, were to me a beautiful exemplar of occupy’s resourcefulness and practical, can-do geist. not to mention that they worked. i guess i am still grieving that loss, while the occupiers, i’m sure, have not looked back and are hard at work on their next 1,000 inventions.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    MPs to discuss sale of Parliament.

    It’s would definitely help with things like transparency, reaching more potential customers, etc., if they put a ‘For Sale’ sign on the lawn.

  14. PQS

    Re: Mammograms/Prevention Industry

    Recently I heard from my 80-something grandma that her sister, who is in her 90s, is still getting regular mammograms.

    I asked her what in the world for? She is far, far too old for chemo and probably surgery, too. I told her that it sounded to me like the doctors were just bilking Medicare for totally unnecessary stuff.

    The problems don’t end at the testing facilities: they are endemic to the entire medical industrial complex, and they are centered around the Profits.

  15. PQS

    Oh, and don’t try to tell the testing facilities you’re taking your own health into your hands and turning DOWN a test….the guilt trips, I can testify, are epic. And infuriating.

    The MIC needs to learn A LOT more about Customer Service if they want to continue as a Business, IMO.

    1. Sock Puppet

      I’m fortunate to have a primary care physician who is on board with limited testing. No so my (former) urologist. Sometimes you have to shop around.

  16. Lyman Alpha Blob

    A few questions about CDS exposure surrounding a likely Greek default.

    I see the hedge funds crying foul about taking a “voluntary” haircut, claiming it’s a backdoor bailout of US institutions with CDS exposure like Goldman and AIG. Now AIG may be dumb enough to repeat its past mistakes, but does anybody believe that Goldman doesn’t have its CDS exposure hedged as well? I can’t believe they’d be so stupid as to issue billions in CDS against debt that looked ripe for failure from the get-go. To me this complaint sounds like a bunch of rats fighting over who gets the last of the cheese.

    Secondly, I saw the argument that the hedgers didn’t care about the bonds defaulting because they probably had the positions hedged with CDS. Except nobody knows what these funds’ holdings are. So how do we know they even have the bonds in their portfolio at all? Maybe all they have are CDS. With the CDO debacle, there was no requirement to hold the underlying assets before buying the CDS. Anybody know if that requirement is different or has changed regarding CDS covering sovereign debts?

    And thirdly, Fitch made the argument that even a haircut would trigger a default. Does this mean that any bonholders who agree to a haircut would still get partial payment and then be able to turn around and cash in again with CDS if they held those as well?

    Any clarification would be helpful, because from where I’m sitting, it sure looks like all these rats have the potential to get paid off one way or another no matter what happens, with the Greeks and the rest of us being the ones to take the real hit.

    Perhaps the reason the Goldies issued CDS against this debt is because they have an explicit guarantee of being made whole in the event of failure by Geithner and the Ber-nank once again.

    1. Jim

      A lot of conflicting data. Some say that the notional amount of Greek CDSs has decreased by 80% over the last year. If true, a CDS trigger probably won’t have a huge effect.

      Also, with respect to GS, assuming it did write some CDSs which it is still responsible for, it could have hedged them. But depending on the counterparty (European banks?), the hedge might not be that effective.

      Given the effort that has gone into avoiding a credit event, I would conclude that the ECB and Geithner believe that the probability of contagion from a non-voluntary default is too high.

    2. Maximilien

      “Perhaps the reason the Goldies issued CDS against this debt is because they have an explicit guarantee of being made whole in the event of failure by Geithner and the Ber-nank once again.”

      This is a point that I think a lot of people miss. The Too-Big-To-Fails (Goldman et al) no longer have to behave or invest responsibly. Rather, their status as TBTF has granted them all licenses to gamble recklessly, with no risk whatsoever to themselves or their employees. The Treasury or the Fed is certain to make up any serious losses.

      As long as buyers can be found, they can sell all the CDSs they want on the skankiest debt they can find. Then sit back and watch the 5% or 10% premiums roll in for years. Not bad in a time of zero interest. If the debt blows up and they’re on the hook for big payoffs….well, “Hello, Ben? It’s Lloyd.”

  17. Hugh

    Re Apple and ibooks created using its Author software, the poster notes the key passage from the End User Licensing Agreement here:

    •(ii) if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or
    service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution.

    Basically, you own the content (the words), but Apple is asserting control over the finished product (the book) if it is created with its Author program. If you do not wish to be bound by the Apple terms or your work is not selected by Apple, your options are reduced to (1) you can give your work (the book) away or, (2) if you intend to sell it, to re-format it from scratch using some other program.

    I think this should be all looked at as another instance where corporations are exerting as much effective control/ownership over content as possible. Apple is just moving the bar beyond the already egregiously drawn lines of corporate control set up by copyright and patent law.

    1. Hugh

      I should just add that the simplest thing to do is not use Apple’s Author but if you wish to submit something to Apple, then make it your Author edition independently of any others or the last (so not derivative of Author).

      1. mk

        exactly! we are all free agents here, we don’t have to opt in, and that is what really hurts them, when we don’t buy their near slave labor crap. F**k Apple.

        thanks to whoever posted those links to the linux related sites in the comments above, I’m definitely moving in that direction, open source.

    2. KFritz

      This is a window on (at least part of) Apple’s strategy to survive post Steve Jobs. They realize that Jobs’ design genius can’t be replicated, so they’ll do the best they can at design, and use contracts and the courts to write wretched documents like this and harvest what profit they may. The strategy may succeed.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        KFritz, maybe there can be an “UGLY Tech” movement to counter the “sexy” Apple products. What is that, anyway? This would be a clear repudiation of Apple products, a real “me ne frega” to the Apple *geniuses*.

  18. Maximilien

    Re: Romney’s tax returns

    Romney is a Morman. Morman’s are expected to tithe 10% of their gross income.

    So perhaps one of the reasons he’s been reluctant to release his returns is that non-Mormans will be appalled by the amount of money he has given to his church. All of it, furthermore, tax-deductible.

    Laugh of the day, from the article:

    “Mormons regard the main purpose of tithing as helping to develop the soul of the tithe-payer, rather than generating church income.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Caesar should tax churches so they can render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.

    2. Crazy Horse

      Actually Romney is more worried that disclosing how he has offshored his income to avoid US taxes will lay bare how he has concealed his real income to avoid the Mormon Tax.

      Not only will his soul be barred from heaven, but the Church may send their team of assassin/debt collectors after him in view of the size of the debt.

  19. Hugh

    The Bill Black article is an important one. Because it shows that Apple is not just abusing foreign workers and cynically killing American jobs but that it is actively creating an environment for other companies to do the same.

    It is interesting how the in so many ways odious but still hagiographized Steve Jobs was able to ignore, deflect, and smother inquiries into Apple’s horrendous history labor practices, but how now that he is gone, Apple’s ultra-cool and carefully nurtured PR image is falling apart so fast.

    1. Cindy Elmwood

      Agreed. It was a nice surprise to see Bill Black writing about something other than financial fraud, too. There are a lot of different kinds of control fraud out there, apparently!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We get what we deserve.

      We are a superficial species. We like ultra-cool, sleek things.

  20. Gil Gamesh

    Re the “Price of Your Soul”. Imagine the Chicago School choking on this research, assuming their stunted cognitions could process such information. Life may have no meaning, including the tiresome cost-benefit analysis so beloved by Easterbrook, Posner and their munchkin followers, but humans inevitably create some nonetheless. And that matters far more than our maddeningly reductionist theories of what makes people tick. (Neo-classical economists give me a tic.)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Economist – the blinding mist through which economics may be viewed/studied(obfuscated).

      That’s my definition.

    1. JTFaraday

      Oh, thank goodness–supposedly the Dragon likes me, (one of the few that does!)

      That’s a downer forecast though.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My new alternative Chinese medicine, sorry, Chinese Zodiac:

      Year of the Bear
      Year of the Squid
      Year of the Butterfly
      Year of the Bee
      Year of the Giraffe
      Year of the Whale
      Year of the Grasshopper
      Year of the Dolphin
      Year of the Owl
      Year of the Squirrel
      Year of the Big Foot

      Combined with the Five Phases (Metal, Wood, Fire, Water and Earth), that will give you a 60-year cycle.

      I believe this is the year of the Bear…Fire Bear to be excat.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Therefore she was not paying attention to the trial at hand; she was communicating with the outside world while in the courtroom and on the jury.

  21. mk

    RE BRAIN (Price of your soul) – From another article on the same study:

    How the brain decides whether to ‘sell out’,72435.asp#

    Unexpected result in experiment

    The experiment also found activation in the amygdala region, a brain region associated with emotional reactions, but only in cases where participants refused to take cash to state the opposite of what they believe. “Those statements represent the most repugnant items to the individual,” Berns says, “and would be expected to provoke the most arousal, which is consistent with the idea that when sacred values are violated, that induces moral outrage.”
    very interesting, thanks for posting the link!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have to be careful with connecting dots with ‘certain brain area is activated’ thinking.

      Sure, every time there is military action, the Pentagon is busy. But it doesn’t mean that that’s where things got started. It could be from the White House, banksters on Wall Street, yellow journalists, a foreign country, etc. where not much action can be observed.

      So, the amygdala region is busy. What does it mean?

      1. mk

        good point and question. what if there is something to it, what if the people who hold common values on this “brain scan” level could recognize each other and organize?

        original article says it’s funded by Navy, Air Force and NSF. wonder what they’re up to…

  22. aletheia33

    many thanks to lambert strether for the beautifully observed and carefully written report from dc. good work and invaluable for those of us who are following occupy doings and/or would be there if we could.

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