Thursday, June 28, 2012

They Can Call It A Tax Or A Green Kangaroo

So the Surpreme Court upheld the Affordable Health Care Act thanks in part to Chief Justice Roberts. It seems very complicated and alot of comprimises were made with vested interests to get it through Congress. The big Kahuna was the individual mandate. The insurance companies needed this mandate to survive taking on people and children with chronic and catastrophic illness (i.e cancers, etc.).

The Court put a wrinkle in their decision calling the "mandate" a tax. Anyway we are not done yet because Congress will be proposing and disposing of amendments to the Affordable Health Care Act and who knows what they will call the costs of purchasing health insurance. They may make it a deductible expense, in whole or part, for individuals and businesses. But, if this scenario happens then costs would pass on to the states and federal government and guess what? Your taxes may be increased to cover the transfer of these costs. So then it is a tax.

There is no getting around it. There is in fact no free lunch.

[BLOGGER'S NOTE: I had to edit this post because I got the penality FOR NOT BUYING insurance confused with the mandate TO BUY  insurance … Sorry.]

Saturday, June 23, 2012

When You Run Out Of Ideas … Plagiarize Yourself

Apparently recycling your own creative ideas and publishing them again and again without footnoting yourself is not peer approved among the journalistic profession. Jonah Leher found out and had to make a public apology.
Leher was 'caught' copying three paragraphs from a previously written article in the Wall Street Journal onto his New Yorker blog Frontal Cortex. This led to other discoveries of self-borrowing by Leher.

In his blog dated June 13, 2012 an article entitled "Does All Wine Taste The Same" is the following:
Editors' Note: Portions of this post appeared in simlar form in an April, 2011 post by Jonah Leher for We regret the duplication of material.

For some first degree offenses by others see my previously posted post Bad Science.


paidContent: "Jonah Leher, self-borrowing and the problem with "big ideas", by Laura Hazard Owen, 06-19-2012

The Wrap: "Jonah Leher Apologizes for 'Stupid', 'Lazy' Self-Plagiarizing in the New Yorker", by Alexander C. Kaufman, 06-20-2012 

The New Yorker, Frontal Cortex, "Does All Wine Taste The Same?", blogger Jonah Leher, 06-13-2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It Hurts When I THINK

"Songza, introduced last fall, is based on the principle that even using Pandora, which tailors song streams to a listener’s taste, requires too much thought."

See : Keeping It Real … simple

Source: Pandora Faces Rivals for Ears and Ads

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bad Science

"At the Mayo Clinic, a decade of cancer research, partly taxpayer-funded, went down the drain when the prestigious Minnesota institution concluded that intriguing data about harnessing the immune system to fight cancer had been fabricated. Seventeen scholarly papers published in nine research journals had to be retracted"(5) To use a concept in law the seventeen retracted papers were the 'fruit of a poison tree'. The 'tree' in this case was the peer reviewed flawed article on which the retracted articles used as a base.

Mayo Clinic's experience is not uncommon, least we forget one Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who published in the English journal Lancet that he discovered a link between a combination vaccine for measles-mumps-rubella and autism. (5) As a result of this "link" many parents demurred vaccinating their children and their children suffered the consequences. Dr. Wakefield's discovery has been refuted many, many times but unfortunately he still has followers and children still suffer the consequences. Dr. Wakefield lost his license to practice medicine in England. He now lives in Austin, Texas where he continues his research. (6)

The Wall Street Journal in partnership with Thompson Reuters Web of Science found that in 2001 only 22 retractions were reported in a survey of 11,600 peer reviewed journals. By 2010 the number jumped to 339 and in the first seven months of 2011 retraction notices were already at 210. Simon Pickard and Arthur Caplan investigating journal articles retracted at later dates "... found that nearly three quarters of retracted drug studies were retracted because of scientific misconduct like falsified data and plagiarism."(3)

So what's the problem. The old sins of greed, ambition and pride seem to rule. Editors also state advances in software have helped them identify plagiarism more readily. But structural weaknesses within these peer review journals are the most dangerous. Scientific research when published should be open-ended. Scientific investigation is very rarely the final say on research. "That's all there is there ain't no more", is hardly ever in play. Yet some peer reviewed articles are seen as the 'eureka moment'. (2) What's needed is more transparency.

Ivan Oransky, one of the founders of Retraction Watch, tells interviewer Brooke Gladstone that he asked an editor of a journal why a certain article was later retracted. The editor stated; "It's none of your damn business." (2)  Well it is our damn business since many of these studies are funded by taxpayer money. Peer review that DUDE!


1, On The Media; "Scientific Retractions On The Rise", Interviewer Brooke Gladstone, 06-08-2012

2. On The Media: "Retraction Watch", Interviewer Brooke Gladstone, 06-08-2012

3. The TakeAway: "Study of Studies Finds Retractions in Drug Literature Often Indicative of Misconduct", Produced by John Light, 05-31-2012

4. On The Media: "How British Science Journalists Are Secretly Undermining The American Media", Interviewer Brooke Gladstone, 06-08-2012

5. Wall Street Journal: "Mistakes in Scientific Studies Surge", by Gautam Naik, 08-10-2011

6. Los Angeles Times: "Report linking autism to vaccines is retracted by medical journal", by Thomas H. Maugh II, 02-02-2010

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Who Knows?, No One

Nature recently posted an article about a MASSIVE radiation burst that occurred around 774-775 CE but was never observed. How could this be? Who knows?, No one. There were astronomers scanning the heavens at that time. Among them some of the most advanced were in China, yet no notice was taken of this massive radiation burst.

I got to thinking that also at the time of this event (I am hesitant to say solar, since no one really knows its origin.) the Mayan mysteriously vanished. Well, vanished might be overstating the case since the Mayan are still with us. What vanished was a very sophisticated civilization. This is called the Classic Mayan Collapse and it began around 795 CE and lasted into the 9th Century. Many theories account for the Classic Mayan Collapse, but the one given the most creduality is the drought theory. Who knows? No one. Oh, and if you want more unique theories about the New World in general and MesoAmerica in particular read Charles Mann's book, 1491.

 The massive radiation burst may have occurred in southern skies and I speculate that it may have impacted the Classic Mayan Collapse, casting my lot with the drought theory crowd.

Summing up the only thing scientist know for certain is that a massive radiation burst event happened between 774 and 775 CE. It was never observed at the time. We have found a galaxy whose light took 800 million years to get to earth, but we can't find the remnants of the massive radiation burst from the 8th Century. We know of the Classic Mayan Collapse but not why?


Nature: "Mysterious radiation burst recorded in tree rings", by Richard A. Lovett, 06-03-2012

Climate History: Drought and the Collapse of the Maya Civilsation

National Geographic: "The Maya: Glory and Ruin", by Guy Gugliotta, 08-2007

NOAA: "The Sun and Sunspots: Can an increase or decrease in sunspot activity affect the earth's climate?", 10-07-2012

asu news [science & tech]: "ASU astronomers discover faintest distant galaxy", by Nikki Cassis, 06-01-2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Keeping It Real ……. simple

I read recently where the Financial Times has dropped their Apple app in favor of HTML5. Apple requires a 30% cut off the top to use their iOS and the FT decided that their profit margin less the 30% wasn't an economically viable arrangement. FT also wasn't getting enough hits on their app. Since switching to HTML5 things have brightened up considerably.

Some of the 'in the know' pundits have predicted that the web, as we know it, is dead or dying. However, FT may have proved that the demise is premature. In any case HTML5 may be a trend for publishers who don't like apps, so don't get rid of your browsers … yet.

This leads me into a brief discussion of the "Good Enough Revolution". Good Enough has evolved out of the necessity to control costs and today's consumer preferences. "Cheap, fast, simple tools …" is the consumers credo. We no longer want to do long reads of owners manuals and we no longer want to pay higher prices for marginal increases in quality. As Shirley MacLaine said in Postcards From The Edge, "The problem with immediate gratification, is that it is not fast enough."


Get over it, haters- apps really are the future, says Wired publisher

The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine

Idea of the Day

Web journey complete, FT switching off iOS app

Why Publishers Don't Like Apps

Financial Times exec: iOS apps don't work for publishers

The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet