Links 7/18/18

Links for you. Science:

Dangers of childbirth: DC works to save dying mothers
California Is Preparing for Extreme Weather. It’s Time to Plant Some Trees.
When a DNA Test Shatters Your Identity
House Republican will introduce $23 carbon tax next week
Why Don’t More Americans Use PrEP?


Russia’s Plan to Buy Off the GOP Began Before the Rise of Trump
When anti-Blackness comes to town
Forbes Foul Ball? That un-cool call about “cool” Yards Park (the future of ‘journalism’)
Bernie Sanders: Bold Politics Is Good Politics
DC Councilmember: If I Park Illegally, That Opens Up a Spot for You
What DC needs to do if it really wants zero road deaths
Trump’s Stupid ‘Where Is the DNC Server?’ Conspiracy Theory, Explained
Can a window sticker convince a business owner to pay a ‘living wage’?
When Will These Republicans Act to Safeguard Our Elections?
Body Language
Poland honors satirist who said Jews create anti-Semitism
The truth about Trump and Russia that Republicans cannot say out loud
Need a New Washing Machine? The Trump Tax Is Gonna Cost You.
Top Voting Machine Vendor Admits It Installed Remote-Access Software on Systems Sold to States
This is as true now as it was half a century ago when Galbraith first began saying it.
How Do We Fight the Cult of Trump?

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Cash Four

Observed at the corner of Florida Ave. and California St. NW, Adams Morgan, D.C.:

Cash 4

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Death Panels Redux: The National Guideline Clearinghouse Edition

So the Trump Administration has decided that evidence-based medicine is stupid (boldface mine):

The Trump Administration is planning to eliminate a vast trove of medical guidelines that for nearly 20 years has been a critical resource for doctors, researchers and others in the medical community.

Maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the database is known as the National Guideline Clearinghouse [NGC], and it’s scheduled to “go dark,” in the words of an official there, on July 16.

Medical guidelines like those compiled by AHRQ aren’t something laypeople spend much time thinking about, but experts like Valerie King, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Director of Research at the Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University, said the NGC is perhaps the most important repository of evidence-based research available.

“ was our go-to source, and there is nothing else like it in the world,” King said, referring to the URL at which the database is hosted, which the agency says receives about 200,000 visitors per month. “It is a singular resource,” King added…

“AHRQ agrees that guidelines play an important role in clinical decision making, but hard decisions had to be made about how to use the resources at our disposal,” said AHRQ spokesperson Alison Hunt in an email. The operating budget for the NGC last year was $1.2 million, Hunt said, and reductions in funding forced the agency’s hand…

The site plays another critical role, King said: that of gatekeeper. Because medical guidelines are produced by such a vast array of organizations, they vary widely in quality.

“In times past, there were an awful lot of, let me put air quotes around this — ‘guidelines’ — that weren’t of good methodologic quality,” King said. “They were typically just expert opinions, or what we jokingly refer to as BOGSAT guidelines: ‘bunch of guys sitting around a table’ guidelines.”

The NGC has a screening process designed to keep weakly supported research out. It also offers summaries of research and an interactive, searchable interface.

That gatekeeping role has sometimes made AHRQ a target. The agency was nearly eliminated shortly after its establishment, in the mid-90s, when it endorsed non-surgical interventions for back pain, a position that angered the North American Spine Society, a trade group representing spine surgeons. A subsequent campaign led to significant funding losses for AHRQ, and since then, the agency as a whole has been a perennial target for Republicans who have argued that its work is duplicated at other federal agencies…

Underscoring how medical research like that maintained by the NGC can be politicized, AHRQ drew the ire of then-congressmember Tom Price in 2016 when it published a study critical of a drug manufactured by one of his campaign donors. According to ProPublica, one of Price’s aides emailed “at least half a dozen times” asking the agency to pull the critical research down. Price was the first director of HHS, AHRQ’s parent agency, under the Trump Administration, before resigning under pressure last year over his spending on chartered flights.

The other element of this is the conservative propaganda effort around ‘death panels’, which was a two-for-one deal: it accused the ACA (Obamacare) of mandating ‘death panels’, while, at the same time, undermining efforts to provide reliable, non-corporate funded information about medical procedures and drugs, in part through AHRQ research.

Mission accomplished, as the kids used to say.

Posted in Conservatives, Fucking Morons, Public Health | 2 Comments

Links 7/17/18

Links for you. Science:

The downfall of Theranos, from the journalist who made it happen
Heat Check: Extreme heat kills more than a hundred New Yorkers yearly. Here’s how the city’s tackling the problem in a warming world.
Potential DNA damage from CRISPR has been ‘seriously underestimated,’ study finds
Scientist Loses Award After Acceptance Lecture Featured Students in Bikinis
An 11-million-ton iceberg is threatening a tiny village in Greenland


Bourdain Confidential
Metro Reasons: WMATA’s union has authorized its leaders to call a strike (best explainer I’ve seen so far)
What will the footpath of the future look like?
Amazon’s Curious Case of the $2,630.52 Used Paperback (maybe it’s a way to engage in low-level money laundering?)
Our homes don’t need formal spaces: The entertaining rooms meant to make us social actually foster isolation
Has Mueller Caught the Hackers? (to my fellow lefties, priors are not inviolate…)
Jewish Historical Society Oral History Project
Worker wages drop while companies spend billions to boost stocks
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Historic Win and the Future of the Democratic Party
Why the myth of a perfect meritocracy is so pernicious
This Is the Moment of Truth for Republicans
“Do We Want the Government in This Business at All?”
The Worst Case Scenario Has Been Obvious for a While
The Republicans Will Save Us
ANC6B Says Historic District Designation Process Does Not Serve District Residents
Hidden Herstory: The Leesburg Stockade Girls

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Observed on Dupont Circle, D.C.:


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You Are The Traffic: The Metro Repair Edition

One maxim transportation engineers always quote is “You are the traffic” (the good ones anyway). The D.C. area, thanks to the never-ending clusterfuck that is de facto SafeTrack, provides a natural experiment in just how important mass transit is, even if you yourself never use it (boldface mine):

Researchers in the Federal Transit Administration’s Office of Planning found significant increases in traffic volumes across the region during Metro’s “surges” that began in 2016, compared to the same periods a year earlier…

Overall Metrorail ridership dropped an average of 10 percent during the surges, with a significant portion of those riders apparently switching to driving to work alone…

During the 2016 surges, drivers crossing between Maryland and D.C. saw 1.8 percent increases in traffic volumes on interstates and major collector roads, 2 percent on minor arterial roads and 2.8 percent on principal arterial roads.

Volume on many major Virginia roadways to and from D.C. increased a similar amount, about 2.5 percent.

Travel speeds on the roads dropped as much as 5.2 mph. The slowdowns averaged 2.1 mph across all the surges. The biggest differences were during rush hour and in the middle of the day.

Keep in mind, those mph decreases are not speed limit decreases but average commuting trip decreases–making 20 mph during rush hour would be miraculous. In many cases, these delays easily added ten to twenty minutes to commute times.

So, if you tell yourself ‘Metro doesn’t matter, fuck paying for it’, trust me, you are paying for it, with wasted time.

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Links 7/16/18

Links for you. Science:

Conservation isn’t winning. Extinction is.
VA study shows antibiotic overprescribing is rule, not exception
Today’s Whales Are Huge, But Why Aren’t They Huger?
It’s time to burst the biomedical bubble in UK research
The prehistoric shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico is so fertile you can see it from space


Anti-Semitism doesn’t bother Benjamin Netanyahu if it comes from his political allies
America’s Top Justices Are Less Like The Rest of The Country Than Ever Before: How the Supreme Court went careerist. (“Zero, even, who zigged and zagged through their 20s or early 30s—in the way that millions of ultimately successful Americans have done—between travel here, a false career start there, a wandering path in which they wondered with an open mind what they really wanted to do in life…These nine people knew from early on: They wanted to be legal stars. They all proved uncommonly adept at shimmying to the top of the greasy pole.”)
Tainted by Fox News scandals, Bill Shine now works for us all. No big deal, right?
Something POWERFUL happened at my little country church today
With All-Star Week underway, Metro workers weigh possible labor strike (the union has done zero outreach to gain allies. This would probably backfire massively)
Hey @elonmusk, how about spending your money on something useful?
I want to explore why Jordan Peterson is suing academics for “defaming” him in a private meeting. Won’t take very long.
New Study Concludes That Rewarding Good Teachers and Firing Bad Ones Accomplishes Nothing
Out To Pasture
The Gates Foundation bet big on teacher evaluation. The report it commissioned explains how those efforts fell short.
Civil Offenses: Those Calling for Political Civility Often Have the Least to Lose
Michael Chabon: Are Kids the Enemy of Writing?
Why does my health insurer sabotage my efforts to manage my diabetes?
The Loyal Trump Supporter Isn’t The Same As The Persuadable Trump Voter
It Can Happen Here
Trevor Paglen’s New Exhibit Asks Tough Questions About Who Controls Our Data—and Our Lives
My dad was tortured by the Gestapo for 4 days and thrown in a concentration camp for being in the Norwegian Resistance. Growing up, he would tell me things he learned in the Resistance. I thought, I’m never going to need this stuff.
How Student Debt Is Worsening Gender And Racial Injustice
Who Is Adam Schiff?
Six Secrets From the Planner of Sevilla’s Lightning Bike Network

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