The joy of socialized medicine

According to the Times of London, a young British man is being forced to fly to India in order to get decent health care. Suffering from debilitating pain after a fall, he was told that it would be 17 weeks before he could get an evaluation and at least nine months before he could get surgery. So, they are on the plane to New Delhi. Indian entrepreneurs believe that this kind of escape from socialized medicine will be a growth market for them — that “medical tourism” will net then 1.4 billion British pounds in the next few years.

Update: It’s not all that different in Canada. Socialized medicine works great for people who don’t need it — it does a fair job with preventive medicine, public health, etc. It’s only when you get sick that it falls apart.

Stupid Socialist Nanny State Day

Some of my faves from the socialist nanny state left. As you might expect, most come from the EU.

First, the EU has decided to regulate cleavage shown a waitresses on the grounds that the upper parts of their breasts might get sun damage when they walk outside. Yep. Sun damage has always been a big problem in bars, alright. (Via Fark)

Second , the EU has decided to impose decency regulations on internet content and to require tracking of internet usage.

Third, the EU is banning dangerous vitamins like vitamin C and B6 on the grounds that they are not proven safe under EU rules.

Fourth, the EU is deciding what symbols its citizens should be protected from.

And on and on. The nanny statists across the pond are just getting started. Other targets include flavored cigarettes, high tech foods,US animal feed,hormone treated meat, and candy.

Thank god those europeans have the EU to take care of them. It’s a wonder those europeans have lasted this long without the folk in Belgium to help them decide how to live.

And not to be so eurocentric, a boy selling popguns that shot marshmallows was forced to close because the government insisted that he buy insurance for selling firearms. Doh. (Via Fark)


Germany thinks that the state should raise Baptist’s children. You know how those yucky Christians are.

Can independent bloggers help the Chinese?

I serve my own pages for this blog, and have been toying with the idea of setting up a reflector or anonymizer. I was perusing the Google questions and answers about proxy servers — I was looking for an answer to the question of whether or not it is possible to masquerade *both* sides so one could surf from work without the IT people at work knowing where you were going. I know how to set up a simple proxy server, and know how to masquerade one side, but not both. Anyway, I saw all these questions from folk in China asking if it was possible to get around the censorship established by the Chinese communist government, Cisco, Yahoo, and others. It turns out that most of the commercial anonymizers seem to be blocked in China.

That started me thinking. It would be easy for me to set up a proxy server and limit access to sites from China. With my little DSL line, I dont’ have the bandwidth to serve everybody in China, but if, say, ten or twenty thousand folk each set up something like this, each allowing *some* folk to get around the censors, it would empower folk in China and it would result in so many sites that the Chinese government couldn’t block them all.

Unfortunately, I don’t know who to talk to about this to see if it’s feasible. Any pointers, anyone?

The irony of the Taser hysteria

There has been much handwringing and hysteria about the use of Tasers in the United States. Amnesty International and others have come out in opposition to the use of the Taser, and there is a broad public relations campaign in the mainstream media to fan the flames.

What’s extraordinarily ironic about this, of course, is that all of this hysteria will have the exact opposite effect than those who oppose the use of the Taser pretend. More people will die, not fewer. The bottom line is that there has been only one death known to have been due to a Taser — in which a person was tased while swimming in water. The effect of the taser was as advertised — the victim was immobilized and drowned. This was a clear misuse of the device.

In contrast, *all* of the other so-called “taser-associated deaths” have been deaths in which there was another clear cause of death, and in fact the disease process that caused death also caused the behaviors that led to the use of the taser. I can give two examples from my own experience as a death investigator — the details are changed for anonymization and because one is an open case. In the first case, a young man was seen running nude through the streets breaking the windows of cars with a brick. When confronted by the police, he believed they were agents of invaders from space, and attacked them. They tased him, causing him to collapse. He was cuffed and taken to a local hospital where it was discovered that he was an undiagnosed and uncontrolled diabetic who was mortally ill from his disease. He died. The family claimed it was the taser. It was not. The family needed to look at the life-threatening disease, not the taser.

In a second case, a young man broke into a neighbors garage and began throwing tools out on the lawn claiming that the garage was in fact his apartment and that the homeowners had replaced all of his furniture with garden implements. The police came and tased the man when he became violent. He was cuffed and placed into a police car, where he kicked out the windows with his bare feet. He then collapsed and was taken to the hospital where it was discovered that he had a blood level of methamphetamine 8 times higher than the normal lethal level in his blood, and a temperature of 108 degrees. This was a case of sympathomemetic malignant hyperthermia, which is routinely fatal. Methamphetamine (and cocaine, and similar drugs) disrupt the neurotransmission system in the brain, and are associated with pathologic hormone release from the adrenal glands, resulting in, among other things, loss of heat regulation. Once the temperature reaches a certain level, cellular damage in the brain occurs leading to psychosis, in the muscle resulting in massive death of muscle tissue (called rhabdomyolysis), destruction of the coagulation system, and other organ shutdown, resulting in death. The common story is a person who becomes psychotic after drug use, is combative, and dies shortly after being taken into custody. Again, it wasn’t the taser.

And that is the repeated story with these so-called, “taser-related” deaths. They are people who were dying or near death, and as part of that process were combative and psychotic. The taser simply didn’t kill them. The pathophysiology of why it doesn’t kill is beyond the word-limit of a blog post, but the fact is that tasers, while painful, are not lethal except in very extraordinary circumstances.

In contrast, they save lives. A person hit with a taser stands a one-in-a-million chance of significant injury and a miniscule chance of death. Police who are trained in taser use are routinely tasered themselves so they know what it feels like. In this natural experiment of over 30,000 people, there have been no significant injuries. On the other hand, when tasers are introduced into the prison, inmate on inmate and inmate on guard violence drops precipitously. Further, there are fewer deaths in custody. The bottom line is that while tasers are almost completely nonlethal, guns, batons, and choke-holds are commonly lethal.

The irony of the anti-taser hysterics is that they prefer that a man be shot and die than tasered and live. It’s not surprising. Bludgeoning and shooting as methods of subdual have been around for decades or centuries — it is the devil we know. For the police, there is established law on liability; the cops know when they can kill a man or beat him senseless. The taser, while safe, is the devil we don’t know — so we are willing that people die rather than accept a nonlethal technology.

The irony that these “human rights” groups embrace the killing of prisoners rather than saving their lives is beyond amusing.

Reuters, the Howard Dean of the news

It has been clear for some time that Reuters is a blatantly anti-American/anti-Israeli news organization. Not, of course, that there’s any bias or anything in the mainstream media, but this report in Ynet shows world class terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi hamming it up for his buds in a Reuters party video. A good time was had by all.

Reuters was quick to say that they didn’t take sides in the conflict, or anything. They just like to hang out with terrorists because. you know, terrorists are kewl. What’s the big deal? It’s not as if they were, you know, Jews or Americans or anything icky like that. That would have been gross.

Reuters — the Howard Dean of the news.

(via WSJ best of the web for 1 AUG 2005))