Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The wrong cure!

The US is in the midst of an unprecedented epidemic of Type 2 diabetes. This is the result of our bad, and increasingly dangerous diet and sedentary habits. It's a horrible disease, and it's getting more and more common. Well, today it was announced in the New England Journal of Medicine (that's as reputable a source as you can get in medicine) that baryatric surgery, where they cut out part of the stomach and then fix the plumbing in the digestive tract and sew it all back together, is more effective at treating (and in some cases curing) diabetes than available medications.

Hello? This is flipping ridiculous! This is saying a disease caused by our diet can be cured by just surgically altering our digestive tract, thereby allowing us to never look at our diet, or change it! The coverage I've read also under-stresses the big problems involved with undergoing, recovering from, and living with baryatric surgery. And the worst part is the way this medical news is presented as something we should consider. Oh sure, America's food industry threatening to kill us all with our tasty snacks, but we don't have to worry about that any more, because now we can cure Type 2 diabetes by surgically revising our digestive systems to accommodate the bad food. Pass me the Pringles and remote control. I'm going to celebrate.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The difference between the metric and that which is measured

I have an old bottle of milk in the refrigerator. In fact it's 12 days past its date. It's perfectly good (or was this morning), because it has been stored in the cold-- it has never been warmed above 36 degrees-- and except for short moments of pouring, it stays sealed so it isn't exposed to dust and bacteria. It was excellent on my cereal this morning. Supermarkets tend to be good at keeping the milk cold, even when it's being loaded, transported, unloaded, and stocked. Smaller stores, not so much. This particular milk came from Whole Foods. Hannaford is good too, and has good extended milk freshness.

So I thought about the woman at work who told me how she always throws out her milk on the "use by" date. I believe this is mistaking the metric, the date, for the product characteristics being measured. The store, or the dairy, compute and specify some average date at which milk will spoil, and prints that on the carton. They want to be safe, and they know milk is not always properly stored. Also, I believe the date on the milk is the "sell by" date, and the product is supposed to stay fresh for a week after that. Regardless, the date is an estimate, and milk can easily go bad sooner if allowed to warm, or be exposed to dust.

And most importantly, please don't mistake a metric for that which is being measured. Sniff your milk. It's fine, it's not impolite, it's almost foolproof, and this exercises some of our oldest natural sensory apparatus. The nose knows.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Apple Controls the Entire Life Cycle of the iPad?

OK, this is quick and easy to understand. Last Friday, Apple computer sold 3 million iPad3's, That's worth a lot of samoleans, like maybe $1.8 billion dollars... that's big bucks. They also last week announced they'll start buying back some of their stock, and begin to pay quarterly dividends to their stockholders, for the first time in the company's history. These actions will reassure some shareholders, that they're worth the investment. They own a hoard of cash approaching $90 billion stashed away here and there around the world. Their stock has grown more than five-fold since 2009.

But back to all of those iPads... There was a brief time just before the iPad3 hit last Friday, that refurbished units of the earlier model were on sale, for a mere $150 bucks (or less) off. Hmmm... I'd like one, but don't want to pay that much, how about a used one? Well, it turns out Apple is offering something like $260.00 as a trade in toward a new iPad3. Guess what that does? It sets the bottom price in the used market. Who would sell you their old iPad for $200 bucks when Apple will give them $260?

Imagine a company so rich they can control the used market for their "obsolete" products. This makes me uneasy.