Monthly Archives: July 2011

UK Now Rationing Surgeries

We always hear the glory of socialized medicine and we have a lot of people working very hard to convince us that the US system is backwards. Oh, certainly I have my criticisms about the US medical care system but but when you hear things like this we all ought to think long and hard before we begin jumping to conclusions:

Cataracts, hips, knees and tonsils: NHS begins rationing operations

Almost two-thirds of trusts affected as cuts bite

Hip replacements, cataract surgery and tonsil removal are among operations now being rationed in a bid to save the NHS money.

Two-thirds of health trusts in England are rationing treatments for “non-urgent” conditions as part of the drive to reduce costs in the NHS by £20bn over the next four years. One in three primary-care trusts (PCTs) has expanded the list of procedures it will restrict funding to in the past 12 months.

Examples of the rationing now being used include:

* Hip and knee replacements only being allowed where patients are in severe pain. Overweight patients will be made to lose weight before being considered for an operation.

* Cataract operations being withheld from patients until their sight problems “substantially” affect their ability to work.

* Patients with varicose veins only being operated on if they are suffering “chronic continuous pain”, ulceration or bleeding.

* Tonsillectomy (removing tonsils) only to be carried out in children if they have had seven bouts of tonsillitis in the previous year.

* Grommets to improve hearing in children only being inserted in “exceptional circumstances” and after monitoring for six months.

* Funding has also been cut in some areas for IVF treatment on the NHS.

The alarming figures emerged from a survey of 111 PCTs by the health-service magazine GP, using the Freedom of Information Act.

The Independent

Rationing is the natural conclusion of any service like this. Only so much can go around and we always have to consider the fact that we cannot allow it to continuously circle.

It seems that there will never be unlimited awesomeness for everyone no matter what system that we choose.

Interesting Quotation On Secular Society & Evil

Of course, this can raise a lot of controversy right away. There are very inane debates over whether or not Nazis were fundamentally Christian or not (which educated people understand is not true) but there is also a lot of things that remain true (& negative) of religion, e.g. the witch hunts that had occurred. There can be a lot of debates about it and perhaps the stance that the author of this quotation is making is that it could be beneficial to believe that God is watching:

What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals, Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, gauleiters, and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing.

And as far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing either.

That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.

—David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion

Spotted on PoFo (the Doug 64 post)

I am sure we could have an interesting discussion but I thought that this quotation was particularly a good one.

I have an interest in seeing what people think of this.

Baby Boomer Suicide Increase…

This is a bit confusing:

And women aged 40-69 are killing themselves in record numbers, according to new research on age-specific suicide rates between 1998 and 2007.

But why middle-aged women?

It could just be a question of numbers: One in four adults in the U.S. has a treatable mental health condition, and middle-aged women are one of the fastest-growing populations in the country.

Or it may have something to do with baby boomers’ higher rates of substance abuse, an important risk factor in suicide, said Julie Phillips, Ph.D., a social demographer and associate professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Phillips calculated the age-specific rates from data from the National centre for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau. And during the nine-year time period she studied, suicide rates are fairly stable for women younger than 40, and for women older than 70, suicide rates are actually on the decline.

MSNBC

Is there a correlation between the potential substance abuse of the 60s & 70s and now the statistical increase in the women of this age group who are now killing themselves?

There is also just the giant question that we all have to ask…

Why does it seem that there are increases of suicides now, compared to what we know from the 1920s-1950s? Are we living in a period where life has merely become too easy, or has our extreme individualism brought these results upon us?

Well, the nations of Korea and Japan are largely collectivist and they share their own increase in suicide in recent years, particularly of the elderly.

There is also the option that this is a mere statistical anomaly in those nations, but that would not bode well with the numbers put up for the West, though such an argument perhaps could be made…

중국의 짝퉁 우유…

ㅋㅋ — 내 옛날 여자친구가 쓰촨 청두에서 왔다…

그녀가 마셨으면 내가 많이 웃을 거야…

(아주경제 총괄뉴스부)중국에서 유명기업의 포장용기에 담긴 가짜 불량 우유가 대량 유통된 사건이 벌어졌다.

최근 중국 쓰촨성 청두 일대에 유명 유제품업체 ‘멍뉴’(蒙牛) 브랜드를 도용한 ‘짝퉁 우유’ 수백 통이 발견됐다. 경찰조사 결과 지난 5월부터 청두를 중심으로 일반 우유와는 육안으로 구별이 어려운 이른바 ‘짝퉁 우유’ 4000통 이상이 유통된 것으로 밝혀졌다.

짝 퉁우유를 마신 소비자들은 구토와 복통, 설사 등의 증세를 보인 것으로 알려졌다. 일반 우유와 외견상 별 차이가 없지만 내용물을 쏟아냈을 때 우유보다 점성이 진했으며 빛깔도 비교적 탁했다. 또 역겨운 냄새가 나는 것으로 알려졌다.

아주경제

중국은 지금 자본주의적인 정책을 많이 내렸고 자유시장이 있어서 이런 문제를 갑자기 늘어났다. 지난 5년동안 비슷한 가사를 많이 내려왔다.

내 생각엔 우리가 다음 10년이상계속 이런 소식을 많이 듣겠다…

중국에 가면 음식품 좀 조심스럽게 소비해야한다…

“북, 대남 테러 전력 16만 5천 명 추정”

이런 소식 읽었던 후에 총격이 안 받았다… 물론 북한 이런 것이 있겠는지 기대할 수 있잖나:

인민군 출신 탈북자로 구성단체인 북한인민해방전선 김성민 대표는 북한엔 특수부대원 11만 명을 포함모두 16만 5천 명의 대남 테러 전력이 있다고 주장했습니다.

김성민 대표는 휴전 협정일을 맞아 기자회견을 열고 북한 대남 테러 전력의 주요 임무는 남한국가 지휘 체계마비시켜 적화 무력 통일 국면을 조성하는 것이라고 말했습니다.

YTN

북한같은 나라들이 인간권리에 대한 생각이 없어서 물론 이렇게 테러주의적인전력이 있다. 1987년 대한항공 테러사건한테서이 사실을 배웠다.

김일성은 이익을 받을 수 있다고 생각하면 북한은 모든 인권을 유린한다.

Guy Arrested For Hacking Scholarly Works…

I find this to be very amusing:

We usually think of university libraries as a bastion of free thought, with scholarly publications that are freely shareable by all, but former Reddit staffer and digital activist Aaron Swartz has been arrested by federal prosecutors and accused of hacking into the library at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer network and downloading almost 5 million academic documents. If he is found guilty, Swartz could face up to 35 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million — penalties that seem inappropriate at best for a crime that appears to have no real victims.

According to the indictment that was filed in Boston (PDF link), the 24-year-old programmer — who is the co-founder of a non-profit political action group called Demand Progress, and also co-authored the RSS specification when he was still a teenager — used a laptop and a number of software tools to hack into the MIT computer system and download more than 4 million scholarly papers and journal archives. The indictment notes that when these alleged offences occurred, Swartz was a fellow at Harvard’s Center for Ethics.

Reuters

Hahaha — this guy just wants to have a whole lot of documents to read, apparently — perhaps to create some private database? Who knows… But regardless, I am sure that many of the people involved in writing these would be thrilled to hear that someone was going to read their works as opposed for them to sit going generally unused by many people…

Of course, I cannot say that I know exactly how they feel about their intellectual property but if it is anything like how I feel about the music that I have made on a limited basis, I would be thrilled for people to be downloading it, even if it was theoretically ‘illegally’ done.

Of course, laws are laws, but I found this to be rather entertaining.

(Thrash Metal) Fog Of War – “Fog Of War” (2009)

Fog Of War s/t

Band: Fog Of War

Album: Fog Of War

Year: 2009

Genre: Thrash

Lyrical Themes: Destruction, death, war, beer, moshing

Location: California, USA

A very excellent album to go jogging to. All the songs are pretty catchy and very few of them give me the boring, dragging on impression that you sometimes fall victim to with thrash metal albums. I was utterly shocked that to date they only have 11,916 scrobbles on last.fm even though they have a very polished, clean, awesome sound.

If they cannot make it… Who can?

Excellent album — highly recommended even to people who are not that into metal. It is really an excellent find — totally sweet album.

Download (Mediafire)

I was shocked to see that as of now they only have 11,916

‘직지심경’ 첫 완역 해설본 펴내

내가 불교신자 아니다… 사실은 내가 불교에 대한 비평이 많다. 내가 예수님의 가르침을 더 좋아하고 철학적으로 말 하면 철학자 어려명이 더 좋은 말이 있다고 생각한다. 그런데 내가 불교를 좀 공부했을 때 나가르주나에  (sp? Nagarjuna…) 관심이 더 많았다.  사실은 내가 대승불교댄신에 소승불교에 관심이 더 많다…

그런데 아직도 이 소식에 관심이 있었다:

세계에서 가장 오래된 금속활자본 <직지>의 내용을 알기 쉽게 풀이한 완역 해설본이 처음으로 나왔다.

조계종 승가대학원장과 교육원장을 지내 불교계 대강백(大講伯)으로 불리는 무비 스님은 최근 <직지>의 완역 해설본 <직지 강설>(불광출판사)을 펴냈다. 무비 스님은 머리말에서 “세상 사람들이 <직지>의 내용이 팔만대장경과 수많은 조사 어록의 요점을 집약한 만고의 보물인 점에는 주목하지 않고 단지 인쇄문화유산으로서의 가치만 보고 있으니 안타깝기 그지없었다”며 출간 취지를 설명했다.

 

< 직지>는 고려 말 백운 화상이 1372년 상·하 2권으로 펴낸 책이다. 원제목은 ‘백운화상초록 불조직지심체요절’로 그 뜻에서도 알 수 있듯 ‘부처님과 조사들이 마음의 본체를 바로 가리켜 보인 설법의 중요한 절목만을 집어내어 기록한 것’이다. 비바시불, 시기불, 구류손불, 구나함불, 가섭불, 석가모니불, 미륵불 등 7불(佛)을 비롯해 인도의 조사 스님 28명, 중국의 선사 110명 등 145명의 가르침이 책에 담겨 있다.

그간 <직지>는 번역서 몇 권만이 나와 일반인들은 그 뜻이 무엇인지조차 알기 어려웠다. 이번에 나온 책은 상·하 2권으로 번역문과 아울러 한문 원문을 싣고, 그에 대해 상세한 저자의 설명을 덧붙이고 있다.

무비 스님은 <직지>에 대해 “현금 인류의 가치관을 바로 세우고 정신을 구제할 선불교 최고의 교과서”라고 평가한다.

경향신문

이런 책 읽으면 시간이 많이 걸리고 노력 많이 해야할 것 같다… 그런데 요새는 내가 한자를 좀 공부하고 있고 한국말도 공부하면서 동양철학을 배우고 있다.나중에 시간이 있으면이 책을 한번 보고 싶다…

그런데 이런 책이 너무큰 일이니까그냥 은퇴한 후에 해볼거야… ㅋㅋㅋㅋ

Green Peace Stands In The Way Of Technology

A lot can be said about environmentalists — generally speaking, positive things. However, there are other issues where we see things like this behavior that are just utterly nuts but not covered widely:

Greenpeace protesters have broken into a CSIRO experimental farm in Canberra to destroy a crop of genetically modified wheat.

In the early hours of this morning a group of Greenpeace protesters scaled the fence of the CSIRO experimental station at Ginninderra in the capital’s north.

Greenpeace says activists were wearing Hazmat protective clothing and were equipped with weed string trimmers.

They say the entire crop of genetically modified wheat has been destroyed.

About half a hectare of GM wheat is being grown on the site, as part of Australia’s first outdoor trials.

No genetically modified wheat strain had ever been approved for cropping in Australia before.

ABCTheir war against technological advancement is obvious and they brag of it, even though these genetically modified strains could potentially be used to improve the lives of people all around the world.

This action is not only irresponsible but further marks the divide between the rich environmentalists and the third world nations that would greatly benefit from such technology; they have no ear to the actual suffering of the people who are in poor positions and instead selfishly pursue their own, extremist environmentalist agenda.

News like this has always discussed me.

It used to be the religious wackos with extreme fundamentalist interpretations that stood in the way of a lot of progress but now it is the liberals themselves.

China Developing Carrier Killer

It is very logical for them to pursue this, of course:

China’s chief military officer has issued the first official confirmation of the existence of a programme to develop a ‘carrier-killer’ missile that could allow China to challenge US naval dominance of the Pacific decades before it’s able to field a carrier fleet.

Gen. Chen Bingde announced that the modified Dongfeng 21-D missile will be able to strike ships nearly twice as far away as previously believed by US naval analysts, at a maximum range of 2,700 kilometres after launching from land.

Speaking to the China Daily, though, Chen tried to play down the PLA’s progress in developing the advanced missile system:

‘The missile is still undergoing experimental testing and will be used as a defensive weapon when it is successfully developed, not an offensive one,’ Chen was reported as saying. ‘It is a high-tech weapon and we face many difficulties in getting funding, advanced technologies and high-quality personnel, which are all underlying reasons why it is hard to develop this.’

 The Diplomat

Of course, it is entirely possible that the effectiveness of this weapon is being overplayed. However, it is doubtful that they would go so far as to entirely fabricate something that was not occurring at all…

This probably is a weapon, indeed, and is capable of effecting US regional hegemony. It is a very meaningful development that helps highlight China’s goal: regional dominance.

We can speculate all we want as to whether or not the Chinese power will be soft or hard, one that will try to expand economically or one that will have very real & legitimate aims at controlling its neighbors politically… Certainly, this marks a great advancement for the Chinese towards the latter of these goals and represents a very huge offset to America, who could never afford to engage an enemy in any conflict in which they didn’t have total air superiority.

The Americans cannot even put troops on the ground to win crushing victories against terrorists without complains from home… You think they’ll be able to stand up to the power of the Chinese when the Chinese are capable of neutralizing much of the technological advantage of the USA?

Of course, I doubt it will ever come to blows between us — at least, not in the next decades, but this does mark a significant development.