Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Delightful Miscellany From The Past Week

My skeptical review of the series finale of Ghost Adventures is now up. As you may detect from the tone of my review, I wasn't impressed, but at least I was amused!

• One of the dirty little secrets about cancer tests is how many of them are not very accurate and miss many early stage cancers. So says the New York Times. The large majority of funds raised for cancer research go to "home run" projects that try to discover the underlying causes of cancer----why do certain body cells start running amok and replicating out of control?-----but, despite decades of research and billions of dollars, those efforts have largely failed and show no promise of any breakthroughs in the near future. Meanwhile, research into more mundane topics, such as improving the accuracy and reliability of diagnostic tests such as colonoscopies, is neglected even though such improvements would likely save more lives much sooner. But the "home run" research is more glamorous, money goes to it, and people die needlessly as a result.

• Nick Gillespie lets rip with a magnificent, scatalogical rant about the current state of the United States in this piece from Reason. I find myself in agreement on most of his points. In particular, I find myself wondering why I should be obligated in cleaning up the mess created by fools who bought no-money-down homes with adjustable rate mortgages. I take pride in the fact that I have tried to live my adult life not just within my means but well within my means; I have lived in homes, and driven cars, less grand than I could have if I had spent every last dollar of my disposable income. Instead, I saved and invested much of my disposable income. That's why I was able to buy our new condo in Corpus Christi, as well as our 2009 Scion, with cash instead of credit. (And you have no idea how hard a bargain you can drive in this economy when you're a buyer able to pay 100% cash!) I take pride in the fact that all I owe each month are utility and insurance bills. And that is why I say to anyone struggling with a sub-prime mortgage, one you got with no money down and having the closing costs folded into the loan. . . . . . . . I have absolutely no sympathy for you. None whatsoever. If you lacked the income and/or personal financial discipline to save a down payment of 20% and qualify for a fixed rate mortgage, you had no business trying to buy a home; you should have just rented instead. You, not me, are the one responsible for the jam you find yourself in, and I will severely punish any politician who wants to use my tax dollars to bail your worthless, idiotic, and profligate ass out. In other words, I wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire. I hope this clarifies my feelings on this matter.

• I'm in favor of revoking Illinois's statehood, giving it to Puerto Rico, and instead making Illinois a territory, much like Guam or American Samoa. Here's why. Seriously, if Illinois was a Central American nation with such a chaotic government, we would have sent in the Marines by now.

• Here's a variation of those "100 things to do before you die" lists, but this one deals with visiting places and experiencing things connected to the natural sciences. I was surprised to discover I have done 42 of the 100 things on this list, and I even posted here about #47, Telescope Peak. I'll soon post here about the others I've seen/experienced, like. . . . . .

#1, an erupting volcano (Pu'u O'o vent on the Big Island of Hawaii; I took this photo in 2002):

#2, see a glacier (better yet, I have actually climbed as well as seen a glacier----this is a photo I snapped while climbing across the Palmer glacier on Oregon's Mount Hood-----note the cracks in the surface ice):