27 December 2019

Deja Vu All Over Again - part the third

My daily travels through crossworld led me to consider the z machine, which led me to the wiki and this article on the current version of the z hardware. It's been a microprocessor chip for some years, which is kind of mind boggling for those of us who knew mainframes as glass rooms with raised floors. What appears not to have changed is 'COBOL Assist' after all these decades, although not, so far as I can tell, under that term
a new decimal arithmetic SIMD engine designed to boost COBOL and PL/I code

There's the just-birthed z15 chip, but not much info yet.

24 December 2019

Gimme Drugs

On more than one occasion, these missives have cited research that at least many (many people say 'all') *new* drugs over that last decades have been from research done on your tax paying dime. Now Mathew Herper (as I type, not behind the paywall) has taken up the cudgel. He cites the research, but tosses a grenade at the implication.
In the early 1960s, government research at the National Cancer Institute delivered human beings their first real victory against cancer. At the time, two NCI researchers, Emil Frei and Emil Freireich, showed that giving children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia a combination of four high-dose chemotherapy drugs could make cancer temporarily vanish in two-thirds of patients. A third would see their remission last years, and some were cured. It was the first time "cured" and "cancer" could be used in the same sentence.

For the next few decades, the NCI was the epicenter of cancer drug development. Cancer drugs were invented there or discovered by researchers sent on globe-trotting jaunts.

One example he cites
Take Vertex (VRTX) Pharmaceuticals' new drug Trikafta, lauded by the Food and Drug Administration as a "breakthrough" when it was approved in October. Based on research originally funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a philanthropy, it can help 90% of the people with this deadly, lung-clogging disease, but costs $311,503 a year, 34% more than the median listing price of a house.

So, I'll be so bold as to state the obvious: healthcare is a Social Good, and includes drugs obviously, thus a Back to the Future movement might be in order. Strip out the obscene profit gotten, pay the scientists well (they're the ones who do the actual work, of course), and still save gobs of money. In the end, we all pay for these expensive drugs, whether it's overt Socialism (the Damn Gummint pays directly for the research and for the eventual compounds), and the covert kind practiced by the drug and insurance industries in collusion. Much of it foisted on Medicare and Medicaid, and thus you and me, and the rest on private insurance policy holders, ditto. It's not a coincidence that drug companies have been flocking to CMS covered indications and 'orphan' drugs in the last decade or so. For all their mewling, they're among the most risk averse. They'll do 'research' only if payment is guaranteed. That's how the multi-billion dollar price tag comes about; they stuff in the costs on duds into the costs of approved ones. It's a no lose proposition.

19 December 2019

Figures Don't Lie, But Liars Figure - part the third

It should come as no surprise that I noted this piece in the news. Many's the time I've noted that most decisions, even when titularly data driven, are really agenda driven. The manipulations of public data is ripe for such excess.
You might see lists on the internet that shout out this or that statistic about the safest or most dangerous cities in America. It can be tempting to use crime data to compare cities and identify trends.

You owe to your inner data nerd to read up the piece. It is one of many published over the years that affirm the title.

12 December 2019

Thought For The Day - 12 December 2019

Here's an idea. Let's stop pussyfooting around and just name them Russpublicans? And, for that matter, how many of them (much less you all) would want to live in Russia? A diet of potatoes and vodka? Eh?

First The Sugar High

Then comes the crash. One week's report shouldn't be taken as such, but it must be recognized as a canary.
In the week ending December 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 252,000, an increase of
49,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 203,000. This is the highest level for initial claims since September
30, 2017 when it was 257,000. The 4-week moving average was 224,000, an increase of 6,250 from the previous week's
unrevised average of 217,750.

Many people have been predicting that the Trump Tax Giveaway was merely a massive sugar dose to the economy. Mostly by taking from the poor and giving to the rich. May haps The Manchurian President will suffer, along with the 99%, the same fate as Dubya? And lose the Senate in the bargain.

08 December 2019

Stone Cold Poney

Out of the mouths of babes:
I'd like to say to Mr. Pompeo, who wonders when he'll be loved, it's when he stops enabling Donald Trump.
-- Linda Ronstadt

Stone. Cold.

04 December 2019

Gee Whiz!!

You owe it to yourself to read this AnandTech piece on the implementation of 5G. Note that the comments do more to illuminating the issues than those folks in the Fireside Interview. By far.