Category Archives: Health

The Republican ObamaCare Debacle

Byron York has a good analysis. This is a key point, which was entirely predictable:

‘The Art of the Deal’ doesn’t work with ideologically-driven politicians. The pundits mentioned Trump’s most famous book thousands of times during the Obamacare negotiations. But in dealing with the doctrinaire conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus, Trump was facing differently-motivated partners than in the deal-making recounted in his 1987 book. If the president wants to succeed in Washington, he’ll have to learn how to deal with people who aren’t in it just for the money.

[Update a few minutes later]

Inside the Trumpcare meltdown.



Reversing aging in mice:

In the latest paper, the scientists revealed new details on how NAD+ works to keep cells young. Sinclair put drops of NAD+ into the water of a group of mice, and within a couple of hours, their NAD+ levels started to rise. Within the first week, the scientists saw obvious age reversal in muscle and improvements in DNA repair. “We can’t tell the difference between the tissues from an old mouse that is two years old versus a young mouse that is three to four months old,” Sinclair says.

I’ve started taking it myself. And this is interesting, too:

“The idea is to protect the body from radiation exposure here on earth, either naturally occurring or doctor-inflicted,” he says. “If I were going to have an X-ray or a CT scan, I would take NMN beforehand.” He already has plans to go even farther than earth: NASA is collaborating with Sinclair’s group on the human tests to see if it’s possible to insulate astronauts from the effects of cosmic radiation in space.

That would be nice.

Space Tourism

isn’t for sissies:

Other physical challenges are more difficult to address and also less acute. Humans in space suffer muscle and bone atrophy. Space travel requires exposure to increased levels of radiation, which can lead to surprising visual effects. “All of a sudden you will see this really intense, bright white … and then it will fade back out,” says Garriott de Cayeux. “That is basically you being damaged by radiation, it triggers the impression of light even though there is no light.”

His time in space required a year of difficult preparation, although physical fitness wasn’t a focus. “If you’re going on a space walk, you need to be in excellent physical condition, because an inflated space suit is hard to bend. But if you’re not, you just need to be healthy,” he says. Still, SpaceX’s tourism clients will likely be studied head to toe, undergoing a battery of medical tests they’ve probably never heard of before. “In my case, they found I was missing a vein on one lobe of my liver,” says Garriott de Cayeux. “On Earth that’s irrelevant, but in space it could have led to internal bleeding, which is why I ended up having surgery to remove that lobe.”

Yes, word of mouth will dissuade and reduce the market, but many will still find it worth it. and

The Death Of Expertise

Thoughts from Glenn Reynolds:

In the realm of foreign affairs, which should be of special interest to the people at Foreign Affairs, recent history has been particularly dreadful. Experts failed to foresee the fall of the Soviet Union, failed to deal especially well with that fall when it took place, and then failed to deal with the rise of Islamic terrorism that led to the 9/11 attacks. Post 9/11, experts botched the reconstruction of Iraq, then botched it again with a premature pullout.

On Syria, experts in Barack Obama’s administration produced a policy that led to countless deaths, millions of refugees flooding Europe, a new haven for Islamic terrorists, and the upending of established power relations in the mideast. In Libya, the experts urged a war, waged without the approval of Congress, to topple strongman Moammar Gadhafi, only to see — again — countless deaths, huge numbers of refugees and another haven for Islamist terror.

It was experts who brought us the housing bubble and the subprime crisis. It was experts who botched the Obamacare rollout. And, of course, the experts didn’t see Brexit coming, and seem to have responded mostly with injured pride and assaults on the intelligence of the electorate, rather than with constructive solutions.

By its fruit the tree is known, and the tree of expertise hasn’t been doing well lately. As Nassim Taleb recently observed: “With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers.”

There was also the failure of the CIA to see the Iranian revolution coming. And certainly the “experts” in charge of space policy haven’t been covering themselves in glory, at least if the goal is to expand humanity’s economic sphere into the solar system (as Marburger once said).

Stem Cells

in spaaaaaaaace:

“Stem cells are inherently designed to remain at a constant number,” Zubair explains. “We need to grow them faster, but without changing their characteristics.”

The first phase of the investigation, he adds, is answering the question: “Do stem cells grow faster in space and can we grow them in such a manner that they are safe to use in patients?”

Investigators will examine the space-grown cells in an effort to understand the mechanism behind microgravity’s effects on them. The long-term goal is to learn how to mimic those effects and develop a safe and reliable way to produce stem cells in the quantities needed.

Just once, it would be nice to discover something that can be done in space that can’t be later mimiced on the ground. I hope that Made In Space has found one.

And of course, as I point out in the book, this kind of research could be accelerated if they added one more crewperson to ISS. The only reason they haven’t is lifeboat requirement, something that doesn’t exist in Antarctica.

A New Cholesterol Drug

I’m suspicious of these results. And like most such studies, they’re not properly controlled, and we don’t know if we’re treating a symptom. It may be that the drug does reduce risk, but that the LDL reduction is a side effect, not the reason that the risk is reduced. And notice that there is no mention whatsoever of diet. My LDL is very low since I cut back on carbs.

Shared Risk

No, that’s not how insurance works. The word “insurance” has lost all meaning in the context of the health-care debate.

But this raises another issue. I’ve been seeing stories that insurance companies are factoring “climate change” into their premiums. These people have real skin in the climate game, and I’m wondering if they’re taking the “climate scientists” too seriously, and creating a market opportunity for an insurer who doesn’t buy the nonsense?

Restoring Eyesight

…with an artificial retina. This is great news. But I wonder how it would work for someone born blind. Could their brains learn to see?

[Update a while later]

There seems to be some confusion in comments. My point was that even if the brain starts to get the visual signal, it may not be able to learn how to use it. Learning to interpret the input and translate it into a map of the world is something that happens very early in development, and if it doesn’t happen, like language, it may not be possible to learn it as an adult.