November 10th, 2019

#6918: Is there a reason for it to cost this much?

If you have cystic fibrosis and want to remain alive, each year of life will cost $311,000.

The good news is that there is now a drug which will keep sufferers of CF alive. Until now, the best medicine could manage was palliative care. Outcomes vary but a diagnosis of CF took you firmly off the "preferred risk" list.

With this drug, CF is no longer a death sentence. It mitigates the effects of the disorder, making the long-term prognosis a lot more favorable. It's the culimination of decades' worth of research, not just by the drug company itself but thousands of other doctors and scientists.

There is no doubt that the drug company deserves to make a profit on this product. It's literally going to save lives, and it's going to save children from drawn-out, painful deaths.

But--

$311,000 is close to $900 a day. Why does the drug cost that much? How much of that price is paying for development costs and manufacturing costs, and how much is profit? Beyond that, how much is pure greed?

The American medical system is a mess. Prior to Obamacare, it was expensive, but it worked; since 2013 it has become considerably less efficient while costs have risen. All the downsides of the system we have are the result of government meddling, and it's resulted in a system where the consumer of health care products and services is not the one paying the bill. Prices are "what the market will bear" and change depending on circumstance, so that no two patients get the same bill regardless of how identical their treatments are.

To be sure, no one but the very, very rich can afford $900 a day for any medicine. As is the case with most health care products and services, $900 a day is "list price" but the actual product is delivered at a considerably lower one most of the time...because it's flatly impossible that the 30,000 sufferers of CF in America all just happen to be billionaires.

It is exactly the same issue as with the drug my wife takes, that costs $1,500 a month but she gets for $15. If the price for this drug must be $900 in order for the company to realize a profit on it, how can the drug possibly sell for less without the company taking an enormous loss?

A loaf of bread sells for $2. Retail markup is typically 50%, so wholesale cost is approximately $1.34 for that loaf. The manufacturer must sell that loaf of bread for $1.34 to make a reasonable profit on it. But if they priced it like drug companies price their products, the loaf of bread would retail at $2,000, though people with bakery insurance would be able to buy it for $200 out-of-pocket and the bakery that made the bread would give away prescription cards that lowered the cost to $20. For a product that they could make a profit on with a wholesale price of $1.34.

Of course, making drugs is not like baking bread. It's more complicated than that--a lot more--and the difference between a food product and a medical product should be manifest, so it's not really a perfect analogy. Still, I think it clarifies the problem.

Our medical industry is horriffically broken. Socialism won't fix it, but make the problem worse.

* * *

One of the memes circulating around the Internet is where someone presents information to the reader and then casually inserts, "Epstein didn't kill himself" into it. Example.

I've been seeing them and seeing them, all over the place, and the other day it occurred to me that if that many people are putting forth this kind of meme, it indicates...something. I'm not sure what.

Well, it certainly proves you don't need to be a conspiracy nut to think something stinks about that whole affair. "Gee, a guy who has dirt on a whole bunch of powerful people just suddenly commits suicide while under a 24/7 suicide watch. Who coulda seen that one comin'." It doesn't pass the smell test.

I'm just surprised it is so widespread.

* * *

"It's a sad day when the mainstream American media becomes a propaganda organ for the radical left." That's true, but that day happened many, many decades ago.

* * *

The logical end of environmentalism is the elimination of the human race. The fact that eco-nazis embrace eugenics is not at all surprising, even in a tacit fashion. The environment is much more important to them than people who suffer from asthma, and anyway none of them have it. If you'd just get more exercise and cut out meat you'd be a lot healthier and might not even need an inhaler. Think about the planet instead of yourself!
Even the least polluting inhaler was found to emit HFAs at levels equal to up to 10 kg (22 lbs.) of carbon dioxide into the air over the course of its 200-puff lifetime. The worst emitted the equivalent of more than 36 kg (79 lbs) of CO2.
Emits a "greenhouse gas" that is the equivalent of 79 pounds of CO2.

The annual carbon budget for Earth is 412,000,000,000,000 pounds. Of that, 12,000,000,000,000 pounds comes from human sources. That's 3% of the total carbon budget.

We don't have any good data on what our climate is doing. The most consistent unadjusted numbers don't show any real change except for a slight cooling trend over the past century. The least-trustworthy numbers show an enormous warming trend, albeit one that is still under the most optimistic projections.

And even if half the population used these inhalers, it would only be the equivalent of 237,000,000,000 punds of CO2. 2.37 times 10 to the 11th power, compared to 1.2 times 10 to the 13th power. And the annual carbon budget is 4.12 times ten to the 14th power.

They can't argue that these inhalers will damage the ozone layer. Since the manufacture of CFCs was banned entirely, even medical use has been stopped. HFCs are supposed to be "ozone-friendly" and won't cause any trouble, so of course now they have to start complaining about the greenhouse effect they have. That hasn't stopped the eco-nazis from trying to get them banned, too, of course.

Here's a thought: why not use nitrogen as an aerosol propellant? Is there a reason that won't work? I mean, it's 78% of the frigging atmosphere. It's supposed to be almost entirely unreactive, isn't it? I'd think someone would have moved in that direction already, so there is probably a very sound reason not to use nitrogen, one of which I am utterly ignorant.

Still, I wish the econazis would get their frigging heads around the fact that humans have a right to exist too. And that the things we do are just as much a part of nature as a beaver dam or a coral reef or beehive.

* * *

This is a sobering conclusion and it's very, very difficult to argue it.

The Christian church regards the Book of Revelations not a prophesy so much as an allegorical tract written in the early centuries of the church's existence, describing what persecutions Christians were experiencing rather than an actual foretelling of future events. At least, when I was attending Bible study and we got around to that unit, that was what I gathered from the dicussion taking place.

But there are curious things about the text which make me wonder.

First off, there's the fact that "Chernobyl" means "wormwood". For another, there's a description of "locusts" in there somewhere which I realized--when I was in Sunday school--was pretty much how a man from the first century AD might describe a helicopter. Other "beasts" in the book sound like things we take for granted now; one of them could easily have been a battle tank in desert camo colors.

Probably the most important realization I've had about the text is that while it may or may not be presented chronologically, it most certainly covers a very long period of time: decades or centuries. There are too few real events I can definitively tie to the text to make much sense out of it, and as always when attempting to interpret prophesy one must understand how big a role wishful thinking can take (and accept that you're probably wrong about it all, to boot) but even so there is an uncanny connection, in spots, to what I know has happened.

As a Christian, therefore, I've made it a point that I will never, never ever submit to having any kind of ID that uses biometric data to validate. A first century man wouldn't know about fingerprints or retinal patterns or other biometry, so he might be exused for thinking that the Number of the Beast was affixed to the forehead or the left hand. The same goes for RF tags.

And maybe it was just a reference to tattoos on Jews in concentration camps. And maybe it was in addition to that.

And maybe I'm just paranoid. But the risks of being wrong on that point are too great. ("Eternal damnation". No thank you.)

But the point made in the article is also one that has occurred to me...and if there is anything on this planet that seems to be constructed specifically to contrast Christianity in every possible way, it is islam. And no, I don't think it's a coincidence, either.

* * *

Are they still doing this? Oh, no, this is a different high-speed train that they're preparing to build. A high-speed rail link between Los Angeles and Las Vegas--okay, that kind of makes sense, I suppose.

Except this train doesn't go to Los Angeles. It goes to Victorville, which is 90 miles from Las Vegas...and a hundred and ninety miles from Los Angeles.

Why would you bother? The first 190 miles are the hard ones: "Driving from Los Angeles to Victorville, you're driving through all the traffic--you're driving over the mountains...and you get to Victorville and it's just a straight shot to Las Vegas. It's more miles, but there's very little traffic."

So here's what they think will happen: people will get in their cars and drive for three, four hours to get to Victorville...then get on a train that takes 90 minutes to get to Las Vegas from there. And have to pay to park their cars, and pay train fare, and pay for taxi service while in Las Vegas.

Oh sure they will. Because that makes a shitton more sense than just driving straight to Las Vegas and not paying train fare and parking and taxi fees. Especially considering how much time you don't save by having to stop and wait for the train to depart.

Good heavens, this is a stupid idea.

* * *

I am convinced that Human Resources departments are a pox on humanity. That little story doesn't do much to help.

Short form: guy's wife is dying of cancer. She has maybe a couple months left if she's lucky. Guy is her primary caregiver and can commit to working a 40-hour week, but until she passes away his ability to do overtime is going to be limited. He says so at his interviews and the guy who hired him says it's not a problem, they can work with him on that.

HR, however, says that it's no good, and they fire him...four hours after he started working for them.

The HR department doesn't put it that way, of course. They "retract the offer of employment". But that's bureaucratese for "You're fired, you fuckin' asshole."

That's a bleeding awful way to treat any person, but doubly so in this case because of the circumstances.

* * *

I think this is just. Look: if you run a tab and never pay it, you shouldn't be allowed to do the fun things.

Even if you subscribe to the basest Dewey-inspired view of what public school should be, you should be on board with teaching kids that you have to pay for things you use and that there are consequences for not doing so.

I honestly don't understand where the notion comes from that being underage means you're shielded from the negative consequences of your own actions. How do kids learn to behave like civilized people if they get away with everything scot-free? How is a kid supposed to learn that he can't just take stuff and never pay for it?

But that's what is advocated here. "Oh, just because that kid owes the school system $75 is no reason to deny him access to fun activities!"

I can see what's happening, though. There's a standard lunch you get at school--everone gets that--to which you can add things, but you need to pay extra for those. You're allowed to run a tab. Kids pick the extras and run the tab and never pay anything. Some of them do so because they actually don't have any money; others get lunch money from their parents but they keep that money and spend it on other things. And the school district has to pay for the stuff, regardless, which eats into the budget for other things.

The school is pondering a remedy that penalizes that behavior: run up too big a tab and you can no longer add to it; furthermore you're not allowed to participate in special events until it's paid. (Field trips, prom, whatever.) I think that's eminently fair, but of course the left wing thinks its outragous that we expect people to pay for something.

In that case, were I in charge of that school district, I would simply end the practice entirely. No more tabs, period. No more special extras, either; the lunch is the lunch and that's what it is, period. If you want anything extra, bring it from home.

That's fair.

* * *

I think I found the place in my back which is causing all the trouble. This morning, before getting up, I rubbed a knot 'way down in my lower back, almost at the pelvis, and the low-level "not quite pain" noise that had been permeating the area just...went away. And as I sit here I am pretty comfortable, too.

Tomorrow afternoon I've got another doc appointment. ("Nurse practitioner".) I'm going to ask for more Meloxicam (which has been helping) but I'm also asking for some kind of muscle relaxant. The effect of rubbing away one knot in my back has resulted in such an improvement that I'm convinced this is the issue.

Meanwhile, I tried taking a "hot as I can stand it" soak in the tub last night, with epsom salts, but the water simply would not get that hot. I filled the tub with the spiquot all the way to H but it was simply a hot bath.

I think I need to drain the hot water heater again. *sigh*

#6919: I'm really not so sure about this

Paid $8,500 for a 6-cyl 1968 Mustang and he's intending to put a 2015 V8 into it.

The part that bothers me is that he's taking what looks like a numbers-matching 6-cyl car and "restomodding" it with a modern engine.

I mean, forget the fact that you need to brace the unibody on a 6-cyl car so the torque from the V8 won't warp the frame; that's $300-$500 worth of parts and you can install the bracing in a weekend. What concerns me is that he's modifying an original 6-cyl car.

The same reason I kept my Fiero all-original--and was relieved to sell it to someone who wanted to do the same--is that so many people modify the hell out of them that all-original cars are going to become thin on the ground. I'd bet this guy could have found any number of already-modified cars which needed little to no bodywork (same as this one) which he could have done the same thing to, and been no less satisfied with the outcome.

And by the way, the price of that car is why I was so shocked that Buttercup happened at all. I expected that car's asking price to be a lot more than it was.

Anyway, that post there has some useful ideas for changing the seat mounts, which is why I wanted to link to it in the first place.

#6920: That worked for a little while anyway

Massaging the knot on my lower back gave me some pain-free hours but it's back now. *sigh*

All I did was to stand in the kitchen for about 20 minutes or so making a batch of apple crisp, damn it. Nothing strenuous; just standing and peeling and cutting apples. And damn does it hurt now.

Really hoping the doc will give me what I ask for tomorrow. I'm not asking for frigging Vicodin, after all; just an NSAID that's stronger than OTC analgesics, and a muscle relaxant.

...though if I lived in a country with a reasonable health care system, I could get Vicodin. All those oxycontin addicts out there, they're not getting their pills from legal sources, and everyone involved knows it, so why the fuck can't an honest guy get some pills to deal with acute back pain?

The hell of it is, living as I do in a state which has legalized weed, I can get pot more easily than I can get Vicodin!

Friggin' clown world. Honk, honk.

* * *

"Why apple crisp?" You ask. I ask, WHY THE HELL NOT?

The real reason stems from the fact that my wife was burning this apple-pie-scented candle. I came out into the family room, smelled it, and thought it smelled like apple crisp, and that gave me a hankering. Had to go to the store anyway, so I picked up apples and butter pecan ice cream.

Fell asleep, got up a while ago, and started peeling and slicing apples. Now it's baking. And I sprinkled chopped walnuts on top because OF COURSE I DID!!! and it's going to taste so good I'll want to punch myself in the face.

Only made it once last year. I'll have to make it more this year, because it's so delicious and easy. I like it better than I like apple pie.

* * *

Ormusia hit 40th level in Classic WoW, and had enough gold to get her mount right away. I was left with 15 GP as it happens, so not totally impoverished by the purchase, and now she can get around much faster. It no longer takes forever to get someplace.

Classic has a lot fewer flight points; I'd forgotten that detail. So if you're questing in Stranglethorn Vale you have two choices: Booty Bay, at the extreme south end of the zone, or fly to another zone and hoof it in.

But I'm enjoying it. It's fun. And it seems like that fun is missing from the fully-expanded "Retail" version. Legion was fun, but then when "Battle for Azeroth" came along they made changes to Legion that made it a lot less fun.

Saturday I was sitting here playing Ormusia, and Mrs. Fungus got onto one of her Retail characters. That character gained three levels at the same time Ormusia advanced about 2/3 of the way through one.

So with the new expansion pack, due out next year about this time, Blizzard is radically overhauling levels and progression. You'll level your toon to about 50th level using the original zones, then pick the expansion pack you want to further level in. Level cap will be 60th.

*sigh* Doesn't sound like fun. We'll see, I suppose. But I really don't like how Blizzard keeps doing things which are best for casual gamers and ignoring the people who've played for a long time. I don't want to make a new character; I want to explore new content on Ormus, my main.

Lately, I've been giving some thought to changing how I play the game. I'm thinking that next year, during official summer--Memorial Day through Labor Day--I simply won't play it. Give it up for three months, use that time on other activities. As it is right now I get on the game for maybe an hour on weeknights, and then play several hours on the weekend. Not "hardcore" at all--"casual" level--but even so, that's maybe ten hours a week.

We'll have to see how it goes, of course.

* * *

I mentioned in an earlier post taht it was about two weeks to Thanksgiving; that was wrong. It's not on the 21st but on the 28th. That gives me an extra week to get ready!

Here's hoping I don't have to work it.