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The Worst Implementation of Anything

March 15th, 2010

Can we still get a cheap Toyota if the James Sikes Prius story is a hoax?

The following is an anthropological/psychological profile of a hypothetical individual behind an incident of a runaway Toyota Prius in California inspired by the account of James Sikes.

The Story:
A dramatic and perilous incident unfolds on a busy California freeway. A hapless victim of Toyota's inhuman disregard for safety frantically dials 911 for help. This happens right in the heat of the Toyota accelerator crisis, while company representatives were tediously explaining the challenges in isolating the problem and executives had apologized for their handling.

The Profile of the Old Man:
This man is by all accounts, pretty unsophisticated. Sure, he owned a Prius, which is some measure of sophistication perhaps. But, in exposure of his un-sophistication, he apparently assumed the break wear on his pads would be attributed to the runaway incident alone. In the end he is just an old man out to get some free stuff in an interesting way.

Problem? This man had the wrong Toyota model! Prius', for anyone not familiar with them, have a system which is independent of the traditional friction brakes that slows the car by activating a electricity-generating dynamo attached the driveline. The problem of acceleration continuing while brakes are active is not relevant (and probably impossible) for this make of car. If the accelerator pedal was physically stuck, or the electronics kept sending the "depressed" signal to the computer for whatever reason, the system that activates the dynamo would have deactivated the motor which turns the driveline shortly before activating the dynamo to convert the remaining energy of the driveline into electricity to ultimately be fed into Prius batteries. That's just how it works, and how the Prius system has always worked. It's integral to one of the important features of the Prius: recollecting energy spent on increasing momentum when it's prudent to do so (like during braking).

The Facts:
His brake pads were "metal to metal", according to analysis from the Toyota forensic report. Among other findings, the black box in the car showed the accelerator and brake were depressed IN SEQUENCE (not simultaneously) at least 250 times when last driven.

Brake pads are made of a relatively soft resinous composite of metal, ceramics, and other materials, which, when overheated (as they would be if actuated at full pressure while the driveline was being powered) make a layer of relatively harder composite material. The original fine-tuned mix of metallic dust compounds is altered, and is now different from design due to the exceptional conditions experienced by the materials. The outcome of overheating this carefully prepared metallic/ceramic resin is typically a pad (or layer of the pad) which is harder, slicker, and less sticky than it should be. Not optimal but still usable. Millions of people have this condition on their brake pads at any given time, and probably don't know about it. Drivers operating their brakes might notice slightly longer brake times or more squeaking if they really tried to notice. It isn't as optimal, but still very practical and functional as a brake system.

The existence of a melted layer can be an important diagnostic measure of how brakes were operated recently. Excessive heat would naturally be expected if a vehicle was operated with the brakes fully engaged while the engine was accelerating. Just as excessive heat can occur in other situations, like "riding the brakes" down a steep incline, aggressive stop-and-go driving, pizza delivery, and the like.

Anyone with rudimentary knowledge of cars would expect to see a melted layer on a brake pad in the situation described in the runaway California Prius incident. Thing is, the Prius involved did not have any resin left on the pad. The resin would not have worn off during the incident, it would have homogenized and melted into a hard slick layer. Instead, the rotors are

The description of pads condition noted earlier (metal to metal) has nothing to do with the conditions of any existing resin braking material. The "metal to metal" term means that all braking resin is gone and only the cast metal plate which distributes the force of the breaking mechanism exists. This plate is made of metal of relatively same hardness as the braking rotor (the part that the pad pushes against) as a last resort safety precaution. A rotor will wear quickly to point of needing service or replacement when the pads are in this condition.

It's likely that Toyota does not authorize its mechanics to repair rotors with any kind of damage, rather they require the rotors be replaced with new ones. This man had waited too long to change his brakes and was probably looking at a fairly significant bill.

The models susceptible to the still mysterious stuck-accelerator problem are traditional vehicles. As discussed earlier, the Prius is not susceptible to a runaway incident even if it had the same faulty accelerator because it cuts off power to the motor when brakes are applied.

The car also began the incident on a freeway where it is relatively safe to drive at high speeds and it is less likely to have the need to reduce speed quickly. The man gave vague unclear excuses to the 911 operator for not following the advice: something fearing the car would flipping. The man waited until a police officer was present to operate the car in a manner which caused it to slow down and stop; performing a similar set of procedures he had refused to do when requested by the 911 dispatcher.

More Profiling:
It is doubtful this main was after any sort of exceptional notability. He was probably just an old man trying to get his brake pads replaced for free and tell people a weird story at the same time. We all know elderly folks enjoy having strange stories on hand that elicit awe, wonder, and sympathy to its listeners. It's just part of growing old. He simply needed a police report of a runaway break incident to take to his local Toyota dealer, who would then (in his mind) simply inspect the break system and give him new pads, spin his rotors, etc, as part of the process to make him whole over the incident (all the while telling everyone within earshot his strange story).

This old man seemed to think that the runaway nature of Toyotas his story would be taken at face value and as such would seem as unremarkable as any fender-bender: he would get a police report, report it to his insurance, his Prius would get new breaks for free. He would get two things old people enjoy more than anything else: a strange personal story to impose on others, and free stuff.

An experienced driver would try all possible common-sense solutions, such using the e-brake, shutting off engine power, and downshifting, before using a cell phone to call for emergency help. This man knew better, but was a knucklehead and thought it wouldn't be a very notable incident. He knew wanted a police officer present to write a written report as a witness, and waited for it. The officer unwittingly has played this role: he wrote the report, and was one of the only people vouching for him in the end.

In Summary
In this above described hypothetical the old man was aware of his brakes being worn-out and could only be repaired at an expensive Toyota dealership. He used the Toyota accelerator crisis as a backdrop to getting free brake service and as a plus, he would also have a strange, funny, sympathetic, and engrossing story to annoy others with for the rest of his life. He did not think such careful attention would be paid to the details of his brake pads. He also did not realize the Prius is not susceptible to a runaway incident even with a faulty accelerator. He just wanted a free brake service and thought that during the chaos of the crisis he could get away with it.

Unrelated
Have prices for used Toyotas vehicles gone down since the accelerator crisis? Most undoubtedly!.. according to my anecdotal findings in my local craigslist listings. I just hope that they stay lower long enough to get my hands on one. Someday, in a few years, all this should blow over soon and these very rare (but serious) occurrences will be out of our collective memory.

November 11th, 2008

PTSD promotes and builds character.

I am so disgusted with anti-war crowd. The crowd I read about from the past, and the crowds I hear about now both sicken me fully. Why doesn’t everyone worship vets, lionizing them to a point it encourages children from a young age to long for the war situation themselves? We can always have the hope to encourage youngsters to do the same. Ask any vet: years in war are character building. Where else can youngsters engage in enormously complex violent campaigns fighting other people whom they do not know personally, and know relatively little about? As Americans we should work hard to ensure that more generations are not denied the opportunity to fully pledge and sacrifice life, mind, limbs, spouse, and family life for this opportunity to build values considered important to society. Keep that in mind this veterans day.

Lets continue to teach our kids in public school how efficient, effective, and RIGHT we were in World War II. A big hoot to our boys who fought valiantly killing scores of nameless individuals in Europe by air. Air-to-ground fighting has to be the most manly gutsy way to confront an enemy. Well out of range of ground weapons, the brave warrior can lob a million dollars of bombs in a few seconds, teaching whoever happens to be in their path a lesson.

Also, thanks to our pals in Israel who always act with the interest of the entire world in mind. Why give those homeless jerks in Palestine that bathe in their own poverty any rest at all. All men, women, and children in those conditions should expect no different.

November 4th, 2008

Progressive America

for our new President and Commander-in-Chief…

    I expect no less than the following:

  • Full health care should be guaranteed for all regardless of ability to pay.
  • Every couple should be able to receive the full benefits of marriage, including the ability to call it marriage, regardless of the sex/gender composure of the couple.
  • Begin the pursuit of the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons from the earth.
  • No more spending resources on irrelevant cold war era systems, within the military or otherwise.
  • Cut military spending by at least half.

  • No more relying on our National Guard for overseas military deployments, except for training.
  • Resolve the Mexican immigration crisis in a meaningful way.
  • The funding primary education gets in each area must no longer be based on the value of their real estate.
  • Spur growth and expansion of small businesses
  • Housing and food should be guaranteed to all regardless of ability to pay, without having to accept anything from religious institutions.

  • Equal pay for equal work should be guaranteed.
  • It should be guaranteed that losing employment will not lead to personal and financial ruin.
  • All able-bodied and competent adults who are not students should be guaranteed a living wage should they wish to work full time.

  • He must renegotiate our relationship with Israel (military or otherwise) based on how they treat Palestinian refugees and those living in the territory of Palestine.
  • distribution and use of low and moderate risk recreational drugs should be legalized
  • high-risk drug trafficking should remain illegal and enforced as such, but addiction should be decriminalized
  • gasoline and diesel must be taxed higher on the federal level: for revenue and to encourage alternatives
  • begin a process to normalize relations with Iran and Cuba
    I will blame the new president, if any of the following happens under his watch:
  • if abortion becomes illegal or less accessible in any state or territory.

  • if funding and success of the current university system deteriorates one little bit (its one thing that works fairly well right now)
  • nothing significant is done to reduce greenhouse gases
  • if there is a significant expansion of coal fired electric plants
  • war breaks out involving Pakistan or the Middle-East
  • relations do not improve with Russia (even if Putin is still there, and is unreasonable)
  • if religion becomes any more involved with government (expansion of faith-based initiatives, etc)

Side-notes, Disclaimers, Explanations:
I know this wish-list is quite a handful, but they are all items known to be well within the federal power of the president. They are all pretty reasonable, and most would be able to be accomplished within the first term with proper attention. There are many complicated issues each of these items might bring up, and some of them entail thousands of details. That’s what a president does. I simply demand the end result described in each of these items.

Notice I did not say: every American is entitled to a house, or condo, or apartment, or even private living quarters. Boarding houses would be fine for that purpose. I did not say every American is entitled to plastic surgery and teeth whitening. I did not say every American is entitled to a cozy high-paying office job. I did not say that there should be no enforcement of immigration laws, nor that the act of unintentional wrongful immigration be criminalized. I did not say every American should be able to live anywhere they might fancy. I did not say everyone should be entitled to a car. Nor did I say that every American should be guaranteed access to mechanized transportation, mass or otherwise.

There must be means by which incentive to work hard and earn more money (greater productivity) occurs. There must be means by which deadbeats (those who are able bodied but refuse to be employed) are punished. Employee pay should still be based on the current market system, with a few extra safeguards. Employers should not be penalized for hiring employees by carrying the burden of being expected to fund their health care.

Competent entrepreneurs should have access to credit; the ability to take risk, with the security they won’t be completely ruined personally should their plan fail. This will encourage a continuous spurt of small businesses, increasing revenue and productivity, and generating wealth.

The financial markets should continue to operate and be regulated as they currently are with two important exceptions: transparency, and speculation. Financial products should be regulated based on their functionality instead of their name: for example credit-default swaps should be regulated as insurance, and so on. And there should be regulation that ensures product description and marketing do not obscure their actual nature: like equity products that are backed by many prime mortgages and then “poisoned” with a handful of sub-prime. There should be a percentage tax on financial product speculation: i.e. options, short selling, etc. This speculation tax should NOT include taxing of the purchase of commodity futures contracts, but it should tax options contracts of commodity futures contracts. A speculation tax set and rules should be such that it would provide some extra for income to offset what has been/will be lost by the capital gains tax cut, without stifling a reasonable free market.

Capital gains tax should continue to be low as it is, perhaps with a progressive system that lowers the rate if the owner of capital is an individual (not a corporation) and is not a millionaire. Estate tax should be permanently eliminated for estates valued below a certain amount, I am thinking around 5 million dollars, and taxed at the same progressive rate as capital gains after that amount is reached for each individual receiving property or money from an estate. That means each individual benefiting from an estate could pay a different amount. And like I said, the rate of capital gains tax should be based on an individuals wealth (income averaged over last 5 years, net worth), meaning, it should be near negligible for the poor, intermediate for the in between, and higher (but not penalizing) to the wealthy. Estate tax elimination should not apply to corporations receiving benefit.

Universal marriage rights includes a number of simple things currently denied by the system. The ability to call any union between two people marriage. The ability to receive full benefits of marriage should be available to all unions without having to be registered formally as “married”; and members of a union should not have to claim to be married to be valid, (that is a couple should be able to term their long-term relationship by any name, or none at all in legal records), yet still receive the benefits. That means there should be a formal process available, and a union should be able to be formally recorded under any term desired by the couple, but a formal process should not required to receive the benefits and protections. This includes the ability for either couple to file for divorce and custody protection in the case of a break up. This includes the protection of hospital consultation rights without formal documents should a member of the couple become unable to communicate. It also includes access to any and all inheritance laws applicable to married couples upon death of either member. When this happens, it will finally be fully legal to be LGBT like in other modern countries.

Immigration is vital and important to the well being and vitality of America and its economy. It should not be shut off simply out of fear, hate, loathing, protectionism, etc. This only exasperbates problems abroad and at home. Immigration of individuals from less-developed countries to more-developed countries is vital component to ultimately solving the population problem. While immigrants tend to have more children then their counterparts in their homeland, the 2nd generation of immigrants have about the same birthrate as the rest of America (which is slightly less than the replacement rate, excluding 1st generation immigrants and Mormons). Immigrants are an important because they have the potential to bring expertise and wealth generating ability with them, no matter what their country of origin.

As a nation we have a complete and justifiable right to control immigration as we sit fit. We should not be compelled merely because of geography to accept a flow of immigrants without regard to their ability to integrate. Without the ability to integrate, it makes conditions worse for the immigrants themselves and to our society.

Resolving the Mexican immigration crisis means settling on an acceptable flow of immigrants, ensuring they can be integrated into society. It is a problem when our society does not get to choose where our immigrants come from. The policy should be such that it can be enforced humanely, and the policy should be competently enforced. Shortly put: this enforcement should be as tough as it needs to be, but no tougher.

I did not say Israel should not defend itself against terrorism. It must begin to treat the people under its control with dignity and equality. It is not doing that right now.

Ahem, the office of the President can work out the details of implementation. If he needs any further explanation, assistance, or advice he knows where to reach me. Thank you.

November 3rd, 2008

New Image Commentary Blog to be named “Jacked” on ReTran USA

A commentary blog has been launched by ReTran USA called Jacked. It brings to light previously unknown, unpublished, obscure, or otherwise extraordinary artwork and seeks to provide a forum for meaningful commentary. Response to the new blog has exceeded all expectations as the moderator has already had his “inbox filled with submissions from readers”. We are pleased at the Business 2.0 division to give a plug for Jacked. We pledge our full solidarity and wish to give a little teaser of what can be found there. For brevity there also exists a quick listing of the Jacked images.

The first submission is regarding the exceptional heroic epic American patriotic image of George Washington praying at Valley Forge. With a first submission like this we are in for a treat as the years pass on.

internal links:
Jacked Extraordinary Image Commentary at ReTran USA
url:http://retran.com/jacked

Listing of Jacked Images:
url:http://retran.com/jacked.htm

November 2nd, 2008

Hitwise Shock: Drudge Rank Misleading

Detail of Screenshot of Drudge Report showing Hitwise headlineDrudge Report recently displayed a headline indicating that it ranked above many prominent news sites in “market share”. It cited a weekly report from a company called Hitwise. From what I reckon this rank might be misleading.

I wish to make an informal refutation of the implied analysis that the recent Hitwise rank of new sites indicates that the Drudge site is more popular and/or important than The New York Times, Fox News, People Magazine, Yahoo! Weather, and others. Hitwise is a web statistic tracking company owned by Experian, one of the big-three credit reporting agencies. Hitwise obtains the raw information to compile web traffic statistics directly from ISPs.

The basis for my refutation of the implied analysis is quite simple. Anyone familiar with the drudge-report might as easily point this out. Drudge’s page instructs your browser to refresh once every three minutes, thus inflating the hit counts. Drudge presumably does this to keep you “up to date” but as I will argue below, this is a very outdated method. What might motivate drudge to continue to use it? Read on.

Screenshot of the Original NerdWorld format in 1997 via archive.orgScreen of the original Yahoo Directory in 1996 via archive.orgThe Drudge Report, a hand-edited collection of news headlines, is unique among websites today. It has a very anachronistic look-and-feel: it consists of a single page, the home page, with few internal links of its own. Technically speaking the site is constructed completely of plain HTML except for the advertisements (a prominent ad is always placed on the top). This format was extremely popular in the mid 1990s when the web was brand new. The original NerdWorld [screenshot], and the original Yahoo Directory [screenshot], quickly come to mind. The site could very well be maintained by someone (perhaps drudge himself) hand editing a notepad file.

That’s fine in and of itself, that’s how the web has always been intended from the start. Scientists, laypeople, etc can make basic HTML to distribute information easily to potentially anyone. Yet also from the beginning of the web there were more complex features, extensibility, for more “advanced” things. It is these “advanced” features that rapidly changed over 10 years, over and over, wandering to and fro. This includes popularity of forcing users to use java implementations, all sorts of ebmedded objects such as various competing media players, and the short-lived dream of microsoft’s OCX objects. Also, the popularity of using many proprietary features has risen and waned along with the popularity of the sponsoring browser (a battle within the browser wars). One of these were the use of META tags to do all sorts of things that are standard now done with Javascript. And also there were many competing methods to do the same thing in Javascript. I have casually observed that since around 2004 there have not been any significant “feature battles” within the (still ongoing) browser wars as the standards have been settled upon. To say it briefly, the consensus is: flash for games/video/animation/fancyshit (as opposed to slow-bloated Java or insecure OCX); and AJAX for most everything else (includes Javascript, CSS, and XML, but more broad explanation is beyond the scope here).

Drudge uses an outdated method to update information to a user’s browser screen. The proper way would involve AJAX dynamically changing the visible text. This updated text could be obtained by a now-standard AJAX process, safely in the background of a users computer. This does not require refresh and information is updated as often as the website owner likes. Even in real time: like Google’s implementation of live streaming quotes in its finance section, or its email service Gmail. But Drudge uses a brute forced refresh of the page. This exactly mimics a user pressing “refresh” button, except its done without the user’s permission. That means when you visit the drudge-report site, as you are reading through the headlines your reading experience will be disrupted multiple times by an automatic refresh. This is done once every three minutes. If you keep the screen open for a moment more than three minutes, it will register with your ISP that you have visited the page 2 times. That’s two hits, where for normal websites (including all the ones that rank below and above drudge), it would only register as one hit. The potential cumulative effect this would have on hit statistics is not hard to see. Website tracking services, internal or external, could not tell the difference between a user initiated website visit and an automatic brute-forced browser refresh merely by compiling hit counts of URLs.

It has probably served drudge well over the years to keep this old fashioned refresh method on his site. He could afford AJAX reprogramming of his site. Its standard stuff now: most very smalltime business sites implement some AJAX.

There is no indication in the Hitwise report (including their background statement or any other place on the web where I’ve done my due diligence) that suggests they take brute-force refresh on drudge’s site into account with their site popularity ratings! (Hitwise uses the term “market share” instead of popularity). If it seems ridiculous that drudge outranks The New York Times and Yahoo, that’s because it is. Yahoo! web pages are the 2nd most popular set on the internet, for god’s sake. Would advertisers relying on such ranking data be well advised to take that into consideration? Hitwise’s opacity on the matter of how/if it takes drudge’s outdated browser-refresh method into account are bound to make it less relevant among serious web stat analysis makers.

However odd the drudge report is, it has somehow managed to remain very important. If you want to keep up on what headlines drudge is currently cutting & pasting there are alternatives to using his site directly. Blipnews.com describes itself as the Drudge Report news aggregator. One might forgive blipnews for spamming the comments sections of news sites linked from drudge only because it displays the headlines in a mildly more thoughtful format than Drudge itself. Another aggregator of the aggregator is found on DrudgeReportArchives.com. Besides having daily snapshots of past Drudge Reports, it has a feature which lists current and past compilations of drudge headlines in a format that is as nice to look at and work with as an Excel spreadsheet. Perhaps out of habit I use the official Drudge site, but only with the NoScript firefox-addon to keep drudge from refreshing my browser. (not because I am attempting to make hit stats fair, but because it’s damn annoying)

External Information:
US Ranking of News Sites from Hitwise for week ending October 25, 2008 (see source below)
1. Yahoo News
2. CNN.com
3. MSNBC
4. The Weather Channel
5. Google News
6. Drudge Report
7. The New York Times
8. Fox News
9. People Magazine
10. Yahoo! Weather

External Links:
Drudge Report (C) 2009
url:http://www.drudgereport.com

Drudge Report Archives (C) 2008
url:http://www.drudgereportarchives.com/dsp/links_recap.htm

Blipnews.com
url:http://blipnews.com

Hitwise News and Media Category Weekly Report (for the week ending October 25, 2008)
http://www.drudgereport.com/hit3.pdf
(available on ReTran USA for now because the drudge site uses a strange embedding method for the PDF doc that raises security flags on many browsers)
url:http://www.retran.com/wtf/hit3.pdf

Drudge Report snapshot containing the “Hitwise Shock” headline via DrudgeReportArchives
url:http://www.drudgereportarchives.com/data/2008/10/31/20081031_153241.htm

Hitwise a subsidiary of Experian(tm)
url:http://www.hitwise.com

to see how similar Drudge is to ancient web formats:
Nerd World (1998 version via archive.org)
screenshot:http://retran.com/wtf/nerdworld97.jpg
url:http://web.archive.org/web/19971210162538/http://www.nerdworld.com/

Yahoo! (1996 version via archive.org)
screenshot:http://retran.com/wtf/yahoo96.jpg
url:http://web.archive.org/web/19961017235908/http://www2.yahoo.com/

[ps: why is drudge copyrighted for year that has not happened yet?]

October 24th, 2008

At Ease This Election

a man showing attributes of election reliefElections are close. So close. It has me tingling with anxiety. But not really tingling, and not really any anxiety. It’s been a simple time really.

I make under $250,000 and therefore would be eligible for Obama’s tax cuts for the middle-class. As this fact is embarrassing, I support John McCain to make me feel like I am shooting for something big, however unlikely the possibility, something big like becoming a multi-millionaire within the couple months.

I yearn to be wealthy, much more wealthy than I currently am. I have dreams of being wealthy and being able to personally affect the world in what would in my view be a positive way. I dream of using that money myself without the use of experts to promote that good, in an arbitrary way as I see fit without myself being an expert in using money to promote human welfare in the least. I have a right to use my money as I see fit.

My net worthFor the wealthy to share the same proportional tax burden as the middle-class just does not make sense. I earned it. It’s my money. The concept of maintaining and even strengthening the existing system of humans’ differential access to resources is very important to me. Even, thoughtlessly, to my own personal detriment, and to the detriment of friends, loved ones, and to the detriment of bereaved groups of society with whom I feel fleeting senses of sympathy for occasionally.

Derivation of world view depictionMy world view is such that it requires me to take only an extremely narrow set of issues into account when selecting political candidates that I will support. The fact of the criteria being so narrow allows me to have more leisure time and avoid wasting hours in intense thoughtful contemplation on other issues that are pertinent to me and those I love. In fact the criteria is so narrow, it can be enumerated by only the use of four words (a total of 22 letters excluding punctuation).

This does not mean I mind a little thought now and again upon the limp-wristed, shaved-headed-female, brown-tampon, breast-implanted-male, female-skateboard-riding, confused and obviously abused one-third of society. Just enough thought to say that statement alone gives that to-be-kept-unnamed portion of society all the attention it needs, requires, and deserves. End of story.

No matter how far along an individual, well I guess this only applies to all females, is in the reproductive process, even just at the point of a seminal fluid stream where pregnancy is merely a theory, disrupting that process in any way whatsoever should be considered a heinous crime. Any and all human behavior that disrupts these people with reproductively disruptive thoughts, hopes, dreams, aspirations, actions is completely ethical and permissible. Within reason of course.

tampons for menI also will spend lots of time ignoring the problems that ownership of modern portable powerful high-energy weapons bring to millions of people living in certain darker parts of the nation. Even to the point of insisting that the law as practiced be structured in such a way as to knowingly exasperate that set of problems. Enough said, especially since I have never had to deal with the consequences on a constant basis.

Thank you everyone for the prolonged length of time I’ve been able to feel comfortably at ease this election season.

Misguided Breast Cancer Relief

rich woman wearing nothing but pink ribbonwoman with poverty induced breast cancer Young girls clad suggestively in nothing but pink ribbons, pink office supplies, pink foodstuffs packaging, pink ribbon magnets, pink ribbon buttons, pink themed shirts with bizzare phrases including the term “ta tas”. The search for “the cure” is demanded…as if you personally are holding it back by your deficiency of pink merchandise purchases!

Breast cancer is endemic in all human population groups. Yet poverty rate is the most accurate way to predict which geographic regions will have greatest occurrence of breast cancer, breast cancer complications, and deaths from breast cancer. The poor get hosed while the middle-class are fooled into wasting money during a historical economic downturn. Wasted on what? The gimmicky hot-pink garbage that mostly ends up promoting corporate sponsors.

I cannot pretend that I am expert on the details of breast cancer treatment, or the details of the condition itself. To focus on specifics such as the role of diet, skin pigment type, family history, genetics, and/or pregnancy history seems like a frivolous evasion that does not confront the true problem. Personally I know that the mitigation, treatment, and prevention for this condition and its complications seem very standard nowadays. Women that typically have less access to normal, typical, regular, boring, standard health services will be punished by suffering the most from the breast cancer condition.

The goodwill and money being used to fuel all the breast-cancer awareness would be more effectively spent on research regarding the causes and cures for poverty. If we could only prevent the needless deaths due to breast cancer and prevent unnecessary complications in poorer population groups it would be a great start to solving the real breast-cancer problem.

Hodge-podge ad-hoc methods for dealing with poverty do not work. The American experience in dealing with poverty has proven this. Compared to our counterparts in other developed countries we seem absurdly incompetent. Poverty relief services are handled by an incomprehensible mix of religious affiliated institutions, secular non-profits, local and state agencies, and federal government agencies.

Secular non-governmental do-gooder organizations (NGOs) tug at your heart-strings with guilt-ridden messages constantly extorting our money. The successful ones succeed because they focus on some narrow segment of society, or a narrow segment of the poverty problem. The religious institutions involved bring with them the conditions (real or implied) associated with that particular religion’s dogma, and the possibility, however remote and carefully mitigated, of an implied expectation of allegiance to that religion; along with the same problems NGOs posses. Is it wise national policy to have the expectation (however carefully mitigated) of modifying one’s religious beliefs because of their poverty?

As it’s beyond the scope of this post I will not even begin to address the strangeness and futility of the current American approach to government involvement in the poverty problem. Over the past 80 years the federal government’s anti-poverty resources have been spent primarily on prodding everyone towards home ownership (encouraging individuals to be heavily leveraged, immobile, and indebted as national policy) and steady jobs (no matter how menial and low paying). Can you see what steps are being skipped here? Oh yeah, the fed also expends money to make sure youngsters in public schools can experience a daily cafeteria lunch for cheap!*
*Excluding holidays, weekends, and summer break.

The three most basic aspects of poverty relief are what the current American system fails at, completely: food security, guaranteed safe and stable housing, and guaranteed access to health services. The importance of these aspects do not apply to one social group more than another. This importance is the same for everyone, not just the elderly, mothers, and children. Everyone, including ugly homeless men, irresponsible young adults, criminals, balding middle-aged men, prostitutes, drug addicts, and so on!

Are we more fearful at the thought of a famous blonde caucasian actress having her breasts lopped off than the thought of thousands of poor women not realizing that they have cancer in the first place, passing this suffering down the generations? I suppose that beautiful people’s breasts are more fun to think about.

a homeless puppya poor humanIn America, homeless pets have more universal guarantees of shelter, food, and health care than human beings. This should disgust you every waking moment of your life. I do not want animals to go homeless. Animals deserve the attention they are getting. But just why have Americans have been duped into giving homeless animals, and breast cancer broader attention than poverty?

As poverty-rate is the best predictor of who gets various cancer conditions/complications, I predict that as more individuals slip into poverty, more individuals will be involved with cancer complications including death, all other things remaining equal. The only way this will change, so that all things do not remain equal? It begins with universal health care.

Further Webby Reading:
Poverty, Genetics Linked to Cancer Risks in Blacks
April 04, 2006
Author: Charlene Laino
Published By: Fox/WebMD webmd.foxnews.com
URL: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,190574,00.html

Breast Cancer Screening and Socioeconomic Status
October 7, 2005
Author: SS Coughlin et. al.
Published By: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. Gov’t) www.cdc.gov/mmWR/
URL: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5439a2.htm

Peer Reviewed Reading:
Evaluating Local Differences in Breast Cancer Incidence Rates: A Census-Based Methodology (United States)
Angela Witt Prehn, Dee W. West
Cancer Causes & Control, Vol. 9, No. 5 (Oct., 1998), pp. 511-517
Published by: Springer
URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3553264

Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Breast Cancer Treatment and Survival
Cathy J. Bradley, Charles W. Given, and Caralee Roberts
Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 94, No. 7, (Apr., 2002),pp. 482-490
URL: http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/vol94/issue7/

Altered Breast Development in Young Girls from an Agricultural Environment
Elizabeth A. Guillette, Craig Conard, Fernando Lares, Maria Guadalupe Aguilar, John McLachlan, Louis J. Guillette, Jr.
Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 114, No. 3 (Mar., 2006), pp. 471-475
Published by: The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3436694

September 14th, 2007

Migration to Windows XP

Anatoliy Dyatlov had been working as a nuclear engineer at the same plant for quite some time. Generating cheap, safe, and efficient electricity for millions of users for important things like idling computers, powering DSL modems when nobody is home, keeping refrigerators full of moldy leftovers operational. Avoiding brownouts so that important devices like electric toothbrush chargers, xbox 370s, and iPhones http://www.apple.com/iphone do not become permanently damaged. As you know keeping a nuclear reactor is not a trivial task suitable for just anyone like those who head up customer service departments.

With his serious training it was obvious Anatoliy was serious about safety. He decided it was time to upgrade the computers from the “old fashioned” main-frame and dumb-terminal based system to a Windows XP system (replacing the terminals). MS-SQL server running on Windows XP Server spread across 4 or 5 machines would replace the clunky old reliable main-frame.

Thanks to windows XP he and his crew was reminded about very important occurances on their computers they would never have been aware about previously under the old setup. While running computer simulations of various reactor states the Taskbar usefully notified a crewmember that “You Have Unused Icons”. This Windows spread the responsibility of marginally important computer tasks to everyone, not just the nerdy IT guys. It was a breakthrough and perhaps after so long the help desk could be phased out entirely thanks to Windows. It was a Wednesday morning, and another of his crew was notified during examination of controls that there was a “Critical Update” and that “You’ve received an Instant Message”.

These were surely important events because they came from the computer, and Windows was designed to make sure these events seemed every bit as important to a user as the applications a user actually chose to run on their own. This is another great feature. The users aren’t trusted to know what is the most important, nor are the applications themselves (especially non Microsoft affiliated applications, like the nuclear simulators). Its kind of a breakthrough because before the user would just be lost in their own world of whatever program they were using, not realizing they had unused icons or mysterious software “updates” that are so critical to the modern computing experience. Upon turning on the interface to the reactor (which was a USB device) users learned that “This device could perform faster with USB 2.0”. So now the engineers can spend time figuring out what the hell USB 2.0 is and if it really has anything to do with how they plugged it in. Perhaps the cord is too long? Perhaps the hub they are using is antiquated? Oh wait, it’s the device itself? Well now what. Nevermind. Employees devote time to use the world wide web and see if they have updated the nuclear reactor USB 2.0 interface cards through Shopping.Yahoo.Com. Thankfully Yahoo has installed so many toolbars on internet explorer there is not much room to view the web pages themselves, content can be distracting.

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