Friday miscellany

January 22, 2010 • 11:59 am

Four pieces worth reading today:

Matt Parker, at the Times Online, does some calculations about how much active ingredient there is in homeopathic remedies. (You already know the answer, but the piece is funny.)

. . . The arnica is diluted so much that there is only one molecule of it per 7 million billion billion billion billion pills.

It’s hard to comprehend numbers that large. If you were to buy that many pills from Boots, it would cost more than the gross domestic product of the UK. It’s more than the gross domestic product of the entire world. Since the dawn of civilisation. If every human being since the beginning of time had saved every last penny, denarius and sea-shell, we would still have not saved-up enough to purchase a single arnica molecule from Boots.

On a related note, the Independent reports that a group of homeopathy critics is planning a Mass Overdose!

More than 300 people who style themselves as “homoeopathy sceptics” will each swallow an entire bottle of homoeopathic pills in protest at the continued marketing of homoeopathic medicines by Boots, the high street chemist chain. . .

In England, an estimated 470,000 people use homoeopathic remedies every year. Branches of Boots carry shelves of remedies including arnica, nux vomica, pulsatilla and rhus tox in the “complementary medicine” section. The Queen, David Beckham and Geri Halliwell are among those said to swear by them. . .

Boots said in a statement: “We know that many people believe in the benefits of complementary medicines and we aim to offer the products we know our customers want.”

The Queen, for crying out loud!

Paul Krugman, at the New York Times, urges Democrats to pass the Senate health care bill now, regardless of what happened in Massachusetts. He’s right.  I’m so sick of hypocritical Republicans saying that we have to “go slow” on health care.  Does anybody really think they want a health care bill?  If you do, you’re living on Mars.  They want the status quo, and to obstruct any progressive legislation in the offing.  Damn them all.

Bear in mind that the horrors of health insurance — outrageous premiums, coverage denied to those who need it most and dropped when you actually get sick — will get only worse if reform fails, and insurance companies know that they’re off the hook. And voters will blame politicians who, when they had a chance to do something, made excuses instead.

Ladies and gentlemen, the nation is waiting. Stop whining, and do what needs to be done.

Over at Salon, pilot Patrick Smith decries the overreaction around “security breaches” at airports.

What has become of us? Are we really in such a confused and panicked state that a person haplessly walking through the wrong door [he’s referring to Jules Paul Bouloute’s accidental tripping of a security door at Kennedy airport] can disrupt air travel nationwide, resulting in mass evacuations and long delays? “The terrorists have won” is one of those waggish catch-alls that normally annoy me, but all too often it seems that way. Our reactionary, self-defeating behavior has put much at stake — our time, our tax dollars and our liberties.

20 thoughts on “Friday miscellany

  1. It’s not the republicans that are saying go slow, it’s democrats Jim Webb & Barney Frank, plus Pelosi who says there are not enough votes in the House to pass the bill. The health care bill is dead, and good riddens. The bill with all its backroom deals did nothing to solve high healthcare costs.

    1. Hedgefundguy, can you back up that foolish statement? Can you enumerate even one thing in the proposed bills?

      Not allowing preconditions, all by itself, will save hundreds of millions of dollars for those who would otherwise be rejected.

      1. Obama made deals with everyone from Joe Lieberman to the labor unions to Ben Nelson (whose special Medicaid deal was a public embarrassment) to the pro-life forces, not to mention the drug and insurance companies. Not only was it a corrupt bill, but its cost was exoribant as opposed to reducing costs. How would allowing pre-existing conditions be covered be paid for? By putting people in jail if they don’t get health insurance. Never would have happened, it would have been found unconstitutional.

    2. It is nice to see for people for you poor people with “preexisting conditions” are just a nuisance.
      Really stupid comment, I should say.

      1. Yeah, all those horrible people who are already sick with something horrible and who are probably suffering so much that they can’t even get a decent job and look after themselves. They should be left on the streets to rot. Oh, wait, we already do that with the status quo.

    3. Incidentally is the insurance you’re supposed to buy for your car unconstitutional? How about paying taxes, those are unconstitutional too?

  2. Your phrase, ‘regardless of what happened in Massachusetts’, triggered an immediate Churchill flashback: on May 28, 1940, with the British Expeditionary Force encircled by the Wehrmacht, Churchill casually told his cabinet:
    “Of course, whatever happens at Dunkirk, we shall fight on.”

    There is no need for a Civil War mentality to understand that, at times, political battles have to be fought, and fought hard, against all odds, and won. There is such a thing as the greatness of your country, and the well-being and the future of your people, and this is at stake. Where is that steely Churchillian resolve to Do the Right Thing?

  3. From the airport article: “What caused the delays and what hassled so many travelers was not the defendant’s actions, but our mindless and hysterical response to them.”
    Nicely put indeed!

  4. Even if passage of the bill had been handled properly it would still have found opposition, for it is the wrong answer to the problem. Why are medical costs so high? Many reasons, but chief among them is the fact we don’t want to be faced with the responsibility of paying for our own medical care. Without that reminder we don’t put up an effective resistance to overcharging and fee increases. Instead we grumble about our premiums and co-pay and demand the government do something about the high cost of medicine.

    You want to see improvements in health care, start first by paying cash for basic care, and save your insurance for catastrophic events.

    1. There are numerous problems such as unrestricted payouts in claims of negligence or incompetence. It doesn’t help that the insurers are also allowed to own the clinics and hospitals (but it’s been that way for about 40 years now). People are also too willing to accept excuses for why drugs must cost so much. The EU fined Bayer, Merck, and others an enormous sum for cartel activities – the USA has anti-cartel laws but they’re not being put to practice. As far as the drugs go, my own preference is for governments to get into the drug manufacturing business and provide some real competition – or at least open up to importation of cheap drugs from overseas (unless it happens to be covered by a patent; we shouldn’t ignore patent law).

  5. The Boots statement, now that’s something for crying out loud!
    Shall we launch a contest for the bluntest translation of this unabashed scamspeak?

    My own timid submission:
    “There’s one born every minute, and nary a second do we hesitate to make a quick buck off a sucker’s back.”

    1. Update: Do yourself a favour, follow the link given by Matt Parker and read the transcript of the Science and Technology Sub-Committee, it’s hilarious!

      Chairman: You sell them but you do not believe they are efficacious?
      Mr Bennett: It is about consumer choice for us. A large number of our consumers actually do believe they are efficacious, but they are licensed medicinal products and, therefore, we believe it is right to make them available.
      Chairman: But as a company you do not believe that they necessarily are?
      Mr Bennett: We do not disbelieve either. It is an evidence issue.
      Chairman: Robert, what is your position? You do manufacture.
      Mr Wilson: We do manufacture, yes, and I represent 95 per cent of the manufacturers in the UK. Definitely we believe there is a strong case for the efficaciousness of homeopathic medicines. This is an industry that has been growing strongly. It has been around for 200 years and I think it is worth saying that in France it is a 400 million euro business and in Germany it is the same.
      Chairman: So is prostitution. It does not mean to say it is right, does it?

  6. DUSdes, I know that you don’t care for the rest of the world, but on this blog we should care about the facts. And the fact is that the rest of the world, which in many cases have effective health care to affordable prizes, looks at the ruckus and wonders why you don’t want it (meaning affordable health care).

    Well, good health and all that, in any case!

    The Queen, for crying out loud!

    Don’t forget that the European royal houses were an inbred lot.

    We are still amazed that the king can spell his own name over here. [Sweden.]

    At least most of the time…

  7. The Queen swears by it?

    Just another reason for the world to not care at all what the Royal Family says or does. I really can’t believe people still love The Queen.

    1. What I find very embarrassing is that many people in the USA fawn over royalty despite the fact that we as a nation rejected the monarchic system of government over 200 years ago, yet an undue fascination for royalty persists. I like Eric Idle’s line: “Some wet tart handing out swords is no basis for a system of government” (or something like that).

  8. The great hypocrisy here is not with the Republicans but with the Democrats. The Dems have the majority necessary to pass any damned bill they please, but noooo – they come up with pathetic excuses like “we need the other Mass senator to be a Dem”. As Jon Stewart put it – do they need a majority of 100% to get anything done?

    1. “As Jon Stewart put it – do they need a majority of 100% to get anything done?”

      They still wouldn’t get anything done: they’d blame lack of bipartisanship.

  9. Patrick Smith is awesome.

    I’m truly glad I don’t have to go anywhere. That bloody security circus would drive me nuts.

  10. Don’t the homeopathetics claim that it isn’t the ingredient but the “vibration” left behind by the ingredient which does the curative work?

    I think they’re really missing out on a great commercial opportunity here. Why don’t they develop a machine which reads your vibrations as you pass thru it – whilst being scanned at the airport, for example, or when enetering the mall and “revibe” you so everyone can get perfect health?

    I really think that tinkering with not so much minuscule as non-existent quantities of curative substance smacks of the dark ages….

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