Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sometimes Data Security Has a Lot in Common with Airport Security

Overwrought, bureaucratic, petty security theater and ultimately not worth fighting since it really is just a minor inconvenience for each individual even if the aggregate cost is many times the supposed benefit (even assuming the benefit is not wildly exaggerated); meanwhile cost effective measures are ignored or underfunded.

Update: Reports of me typing this with froth in the corner of my mouth and drops of spittle hitting the keyboard and screen are wildly exaggerated. That being said someone's comment, "It's a hell of a run-on sentence," was such a compliment that I decided to use a semicolon to streamline it even more.

Friday, January 8, 2010

No Expense Spared

Three times in the last three days, military jets have been launched to escort a plane with an unruly passenger. These were all domestic flights and in none of these cases was there actually any threat. Each diversion undoubtedly cost 10s of thousands of dollars in direct costs and comparable amounts in indirect and opportunity costs - hundreds of thousands total. I hate to sound like a broken record, but it pains me that others don't see how obviously ridiculous this is. Instead, people act like this is certainly the right decision in light of a single failed attempt to blow up a plane (flight originating outside the US) which injured noone except the alleged bomber.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Every day there is something that I miss because I have to make a choice. Sometimes it is between two fun things and so I don't feel so bad. Sometimes it's an obligation versus something fun and then I can easily start feeling sorry for myself. In that case, I have to consciously run down the mental checklist of everything that makes my life grand*. Anyway, I hope the P3 trivia team kicked some &&& tonight.

*health, family, material comfort, friends, Internet

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Number Needed to Treat

So in the medical world, we think about the efficacy of an intervention by calculating how many people need to be treated for one additional beneficial outcome to occur (as opposed to doing nothing or whatever is the current standard treatment). Anyway, an NNT of 10 to 20 is usually considered really good. NNTs of less than 200 are generally considered worthwhile interventions assuming risks are low. In the case of terrorism, the NNT seems to be about 500 million or so. May I suggest that the same people who think these ridiculous airport security procedures are anything but theater also probably think homeopathic medicine is effective.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nothing needs to be reported until something happens

Every day the San Francisco Chronicle writes an article about whether Tom Cable will be fired by Al Davis as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. No new news is in any of these articles; they are just a rehash of the same thing every day. Would anyone notice if they printed the same article each day until the actual decision is made. Perhaps a countdown clock would be more informative.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Random Thoughts about Intellectual Disconnects

1. Saw the movie AVATAR last night and liked it. I would recommend it to other people, but I can't shake the thought that a technology as fabulous as the one depicted in the film would have put bio-monitoring and location instrumentation into the naavi clones. Since the introduction of Sculley to the Naavi is based on him getting lost in the forest without support, it was important that the corporation couldn't find him the first night, but it makes no sense to me why they wouldn't tag their property.

2. Our health economics professor may be really smart about economics and maybe even health economics, but she knows freaking nothing about the practice of pharmacy. That may not be a problem except she's lecturing to a room full of student pharmacists and making an incredible number stultifying statements.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Paradox of the Ethnic Restaurant

We want it to be authentic, but authentic food is not always what we want to eat (think lamb stew as an anatomy exam that was way too easy to pass). We want it to be authentic, but authentic working staff (service and kitchen) may not have English as their first language. We want it to be authentic, but dish descriptions may be culture dependent. Had a good time at the East Ocean Seafood Restaurant - good food at a good price. My recommendation for the paler complexioned is to stick to the more bland choices; they are tasty and adventurous enough without being "offal".

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Inconvenient truths

1. People are animals and can be stupid.
2. Global warming could have devastating consequences.
3. There is very likely no God and, almost certainly, if there is a God, the Judeo-Christian conception is wrong.
4. The world is overpopulated if we expect to be able to reduce or eliminate poverty.
5. The US cannot maintain its current standard of living relative to the rest of the world.