Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for February 26th, 2011

Relating to doctors, US vs. others

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Fascinating post at The Incidental Economist by Aaron Carroll:

It constantly amazes me how entrenched many people get in opposing health care reform. I’ve been getting a strange number of emails defending the health care spending seen in my post yesterday. Please understand, that spending is what’s bankrupting us. You can hate the PPACA, you can hate single payer, you can hate any form of government regulation at all, and stil recognize that we spend too much on health care.

But forget that for a second. Many of you are defending the high costs of our health care with the usual “wait times” meme. You defend our very, very high level of spending by accusing other systems of having long wait times. You believe that we are buying “no wait times” with our spending.


First of all, what do you mean by wait times? Perhaps it’s “do you have to wait to see a doctor when you’re sick”?

Let’s own something right up front. We beat Canada. Let me say that again: WE BEAT CANADA. There’s a reason people always cherry pick Canada to talk about wait times. But many, many other countries do better in terms of getting people in to see the doctor when they are sick.  We also do better in terms of getting people in to see specialists (although we’re not #1), and we do better in how long people need to wait to get elective surgery (which is ELECTIVE), but that’s not the same.

Here’s another telling metric, however: . . .

Continue reading, even better charts at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2011 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Healthcare, Medical

China and droughts

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Very interesting post by Jeremiah Jenne, a PhD candidate in Chinese history, living and working in Beijing:

BEIJING — It didn’t rain today. Now, usually that wouldn’t be much of a lead, but here in North China this counts as news.  Since last September, we’ve had almost no precipitation other than a few days of snow last month, and that came courtesy of China’s weather modification teams.

Other areas haven’t even been that lucky. Winter wheat crops are failing throughout the region and farmers are now worried that if conditions don’t improve soon, the drought will seriously jeopardize the all-important spring planting season.

There are serious environmental ramifications from the lack of water beyond farming. Beijing is one of the few major world cities not located on a significant river or body of water. It sits instead on a large brackish aquifer and relies on a series of man-made reservoirs and canals for its water supply. Despite the best efforts of China’s engineers, Beijing’s demand for water is rapidly depleting already limited supplies and the continuing drought only accelerates this dangerous trend.

There’s also an important social dynamic. With world food prices at their highest level in almost three years, the possibility of a massive failure of the winter wheat crop has the government on alert. Earlier this week I wrote a post in which I downplayed the chances of a North African-style “Jasmine Revolution” breaking out in China, and I still doubt that messages posted on overseas websites will have the reach or the audience sufficient to spark mass demonstrations, but this continuing drought coupled with rising food prices presents a very real threat.

On their best days, the Chinese state security apparatus is run by hopped-up officials whose baseline level of paranoia is enough to make Charlie Sheen seem like a Zen Master, but as I wrote on Monday, the government usually cares less about isolated “mass incidents” than they do about the possibility of different groups linking their grievances together.  Anonymous letters on overseas websites accessible only with an expensive VPN are not going to do that, but a drought is a different story, and a drought coupled with crop failures resulting in a spike in food prices means the hardship of farmers will start to be shared by those in the cities.

It’s an old story. The Chinese archives are full of natural disasters. Some, like floods or typhoons came upon an area with sudden speed and power and then just as suddenly receded or moved away. In the records these are sometimes referred to as “dragons” – mobile, capricious, taking their fury from one place to another.

But the accounts of drought are different. They happened over time, and as the weeks turned to months and crops withered and died, desperate farmers waited for the emperor to make things right. Part of the gig of being an emperor meant looking toward heaven and asking the gods to please unbottle the skies.

It made for tense times, because in Chinese history, floods and earthquakes came and went…but it was droughts that really brought the crazy.

My own research focuses on an anti-foreign (actually anti-French) riot in the city of Tianjin in 1870.  In the aftermath of the violence, local officials all started their reports to the throne with “We’ve been in a drought since summer, and it has upset the hearts and minds of the people…”

Perhaps the most notorious example of drought and violence was . . .

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2011 at 2:55 pm

Another great shave

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I need to use my little Mühle travel brush more often: it’s a terrific little brush, and it worked up a fine lather from Prairie Creations Spiced Rum shaving soap—and the soap has a fragrance I really like. Three smooth and trouble-free passes with the Hoffritz Slant Bar and its Swedish Gillette blade, then a good splash of Floris No. 89, and I was ready for the day.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2011 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Shaving

Well, all right! Let’s kick off the weekend!

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Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2011 at 6:02 am

Posted in Jazz, Video

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