Monthly Archives: March 2014

Nat Hentoff: An Obama tax that can silently take your life away

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/hentoff031214.php3
Jewish World Review March 12, 2014 / 10 Adar II, 5774

When I first became a reporter in 1945 for a Boston radio station, a veteran journalist commanded me: “Kid, when you’re on a good developing story, stay on it. Keep digging and updating.”

But now the majority of the media, from print to digital, increasingly do not follow that essential advice on crucial issues, except for a small number of reporters.

Last summer, I reported on physicians Fred Burbank and Thomas J. Fogarty, who had written an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal about a tax to pay for Obamacare that was imposed on U.S. manufacturers of medical devices, which, I wrote, “could potentially short-circuit the lives of the elderly. But what medical device inventors have created is not limited to the aged.”

What might this mean for you?

There is an answer in a short article that ran last month in the New York Post by Henry I. Miller, a physician and Robert Wesson fellow in scientific philosophy and public policy at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

Miller wrote about “how an obscure tax that helps pay for the program is hammering the U.S. medical-device industry, killing jobs and threatening lifesaving advances.

“These devices include some of the genuine miracles of modern medicine: pacemakers, artificial joints, replacement heart valves, arterial stents, scanners and radiotherapy machines” (“The industry Obamacare is killing,” Henry I. Miller, New York Post, Feb. 21).

To insert a personal note: Last year, after an examination, my cardiologist urgently instructed me to have surgery to provide a pacemaker for my heart. With further research, I found that my life would be considerably shortened otherwise.

And when I was near 69, 20 years ago, I was told, “Your life is hanging by a thread,” and my surgeon went on to perform open-heart surgery.

“You’re lucky,” he later told me. “Only in recent years did we know how to do what I just did.”

Henry I. Miller of Stanford continued: “Our country has been the global leader in medical devices … and the industry is not composed of behemoths; 80 percent of its companies have 50 or fewer employees …

“After just 13 months, the tax has already cost on the order of 33,000 jobs in the industry itself and more than 100,000 more jobs due to the ripple effects … Countless other firms have frozen hiring and stopped matching contributions to retirement plans.”

How many Americans, whose lives may depend on discoveries by medical device manufacturers, know this?

 According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based think tank that studies tax policy, “the tax, like any excise tax, will increase the cost of the product on which it is levied. This calls into question the logic of the excise tax and its purpose in the Affordable Care Act. If it does in fact raise consumer prices, which seems likely, it contradicts the original purpose of the ACA, which was to lower healthcare prices” (“The ACA Medical Device Tax: Bad Policy in Need of Repeal,” Kyle Pomerleau, taxfoundation.org, April 9, 2013).

The organization added that “the tax will adversely affect innovation, employment and competition.”

Did you hear that, President Obama?

More specifically, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, or AdvaMed, a group that advocates for the medical device industry, recently took a survey of its members, asking them how the tax was affecting their businesses. The findings, released last month, showed “a significant reduction in jobs, R&D (research and development) and U.S. investment” (“New Survey Reveals Real World Impact of Medical Device Tax,” advamed.org, Feb. 18).

Furthermore, in addition to the loss of thousands of jobs, “the report also found that almost one-third of respondents said they had reduced R&D as a result of the tax. Almost 10 percent of respondents said they had relocated manufacturing outside of the U.S. or expanded manufacturing abroad because of the tax.”

And dig this news from The Washington Times: “Senate Democrats (yes, Democrats!), from states like Minnesota and Indiana, have been particularly vocal about their opposition (to the tax), due to the large number of affected manufacturers in their states …

“Congress has not found the roughly $30 billion … needed to repeal the tax over the next 10 years. Lawmakers came close to scrapping the tax during the debate over federal spending and debt reduction in October, but those talks ultimately stalled” (“Obamacare medical device tax led to loss of 33,000 jobs, report says,” Tom Howell Jr., The Washington Times, Feb. 23).

Does Hillary Clinton have anything to say about the Obamacare tax on medical device manufacturers? Have the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates said anything? What about the current congressional, state and local candidates around the country?

How many political candidates and current officeholders have heard from constituents who are concerned about the growing absence of discoveries in medical advancements that might, sooner or later, save their very lives?

Please let me know if there has been a single street demonstration calling for a reversal of this ever-larger decline in medical innovations that any of us might one day need.

References to impeaching Obama have nearly expired in the media and, as far as I can tell, among the populace at large. But shouldn’t the frightful possibility of needless deaths of Americans of all backgrounds, including our loved ones, move us to protest the source of this life-shortening law?

A March on Washington by truly and deeply united Americans is in order, isn’t it? And maybe even a large, integrated, protesting delegation joining the president’s next vacation.

Stanford’s Henry I. Miller has assured us that “there is strong bipartisan sentiment in Congress for repealing the tax.”

So why not conduct face-to-face visits with your representatives in Congress? Bring the kids along. I think they’d be interested in their futures.

The Enchanted Ring (1892)

AndrewLangGreenFairyBook1892Once upon a time there lived a young man named Rosimond, who was as good and handsome as his elder brother Bramintho was ugly and wicked. Their mother detested her eldest son, and had only eyes for the youngest. This excited Bramintho’s jealousy, and he invented a horrible story in order to ruin his brother. He told his father that Rosimond was in the habit of visiting a neighbour who was an enemy of the family, and betraying to him all that went on in the house, and was plotting with him to poison their father.

The father flew into a rage, and flogged his son till the blood came. Then he threw him into prison and kept him for three days without food, and after that he turned him out of the house, and threatened to kill him if he ever came back. The mother was miserable, and did nothing but weep, but she dared not say anything.

The youth left his home with tears in his eyes, not knowing where to go, and wandered about for many hours till he came to a thick wood. Night overtook him at the foot of a great rock, and he fell asleep on a bank of moss, lulled by the music of a little brook.

It was dawn when he woke, and he saw before him a beautiful woman seated on a grey horse, with trappings of gold, who looked as if she were preparing for the hunt.

‘Have you seen a stag and some deerhounds go by?’ she asked.

‘No, madam,’ he replied.

Then she added, ‘You look unhappy; is there anything the matter? Take this ring, which will make you the happiest and most powerful of men, provided you never make a bad use of it. If you turn the diamond inside, you will become invisible. If you turn it outside, you will become visible again. If you place it on your little finger, you will take the shape of the King’s son, followed by a splendid court. If you put it on your fourth finger, you will take your own shape.’

Then the young man understood that it was a Fairy who was speaking to him, and when she had finished she plunged into the woods. The youth was very impatient to try the ring, and returned home immediately. He found that the Fairy had spoken the truth, and that he could see and hear everything, while he himself was unseen. It lay with him to revenge himself, if he chose, on his brother, without the slightest danger to himself, and he told no one but his mother of all the strange things that had befallen him. He afterwards put the enchanted ring on his little finger, and appeared as the King’s son, followed by a hundred fine horses, and a guard of officers all richly dressed.

His father was much surprised to see the King’s son in his quiet little house, and he felt rather embarrassed, not knowing what was the proper way to behave on such a grand occasion. Then Rosimond asked him how many sons he had.

‘Two,’ replied he.

‘I wish to see them,’ said Rosimond. ‘Send for them at once. I desire to take them both to Court, in order to make their fortunes.’

The father hesitated, then answered: ‘Here is the eldest, whom I have the honour to present to your Highness.’

‘But where is the youngest? I wish to see him too,’ persisted Rosimond.

‘He is not here,’ said the father. ‘I had to punish him for a fault, and he has run away.’

Then Rosimond replied, ‘You should have shown him what was right, but not have punished him. However, let the elder come with me, and as for you, follow these two guards, who will escort you to a place that I will point out to them.’ Continue reading

“The Client’s Not Ready for Mobile”

Hi, Mr. Nsaf,

Thanks for the request for proposal/RFP for a mobile website. I’m not able to respond at this time, I hope the offer may be open later. If, as it seems, you as the client don’t have the minimally required, direct user experience to participate on the client end in the mobile development process, it would be a waste of your money to proceed.

aftermarketManual

A mobile development manual shows information you would be expected have minimal understanding of, in order to properly state the job specifications. It’s a simple boolean question, do you or don’t you already understand what these things mean? "Yes" or "No", but definitely not "maybe". If "Not", you shouldn’t be releasing an RFP for a mobile website.

LonesomeRhoades

Andy Griffith, “Lonesome Rhodes”,
A Face in the Crowd

By analogy, releasing an RFP for a mobile site without the necessary understanding would be like an advertising client in the early days of t.v., who had never seen television, wanting to give specifications for t.v. ad campaign. It would be essential that the client have first-hand t.v. viewing experience, to participate in the ad campaign development process from the client end. The client, as beginning and end of the process, would have to be able to judge the receptivity of the audience, the middle of the process, to any ad campaign, based on first-person experience. Such an unprepared client couldn’t effectively make the investment decisions necessary to conduct such a campaign.

understandingMediaMarshall McCluhan’s most valuable teaching, in his Understanding Media, was that the content of every new medium is the medium which preceded it, so t.v. contained radio. Mobile contains the internet, but it exceeds it in crucial ways that require direct experience to work in the medium.

I’ll give a simple example from the mobile world: It could be expected that you will be posting a phone number on your mobile website for world press phone contact; virtually all the press will be receiving your PR via mobile phone. You will need to understand how a mobile phone accesses mobile websites. Here’s my daily experience with that single instance of a mobile attribute which completely excludes computers: I’m in my car; without stopping, I push a microphone icon on my android Google app, I speak the words "Golden City Roseville" into the phone, it finds the Chinese restaurant I want, I push the “call” button—in mobile, unlike the limits of the internet, phone numbers have blue underlining, to signify dynamic hyperlinks, in this case, activating the phone dialer—I give my order, I tell the business how far away I am, they say, “5 minutes”, I arrive & my order is ready. I looked at the screen 3 times, once when I pushed the microphone activator icon, second, when I pushed the “call” button in the search results, and last, when I stopped the call. I didn’t need any training to perform that action, the training was in the icons on the screen, a completely integral tech package. This is the daily experience for millions which you and your associate completely lack.

This is not your Old Dad’s internet. There are two mobile devices for every human being on the planet; a majority of them will never own a “computer”. They are more “connected” than any previous generation.workingSpeechRecognitionDemo
I could have had my 6 year old grandchild make the call, by just giving her instructions, though she’s never done it. If I weren’t using the device and had never done so or seen it done, there’s no way I could have envisioned how to do it, much less tell my grandchild.

BernieBearShe could figure out how to use it within a certain amount of time; she would have a window on a world I knew nothing about. It would take too long to for her to explain to me, if for instance I were blind, I would’ve ended up yelling at her while I should’ve been listening. So likewise, the communication limitations would preclude proceeding with mobile development of [Project Name] at this time.

Note to Self: These are gasoline figures - odometer [blue underlined], date, price, rate, amount. I spoke these figures into the phone. They were completely accurate, except that the 9 numeral at the end of the middle line was mistakenly interpreted as the word "night".

Note to Self: These are gasoline figures – odometer [blue underlined], date, price, rate, amount. I spoke these figures into the phone. They were completely accurate, except that the 9 numeral at the end of the middle line was mistakenly interpreted as the word “night”.

One reason it can be claimed this isn’t the internet, is that no desktops or laptops, at least none I’ve heard of, have a geo-location device, a voice activated search app, or the ability to respond to the mobile tag “tel:9167867797” that allows me to call in my order. You develop mobile on a desktop or laptop, but you immediately test your incremental development results on a mobile device or emulator.

It could be argued from one hand, that these added gadgets are just peripherals and that the mobile device is just a computer, so mobile is not a new medium, it’s really just the internet. By the same token, it could be argued that in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Philo T. Farnsworth’s iconoscope was just a peripheral to an FM radio—which was itself at the experimental stage of development at the time—however, David Sarnoff had suppressed commercial development of FM because it competed with NBC/RCA, so that’s all just academic.

tel

“It Does Not Compute” when a traditional “Computer” attempts to consume a tel: tag.

The point is the difference between radio & t.v. in their social and consumer aspects, once product development was complete and they were distributed to millions of people.

This is not your Old Dad’s internet. The informational underpinnings of the French Revolution were that the population had a high rate of literacy, newspapers and books prompted them to speak the same dialect for the first time. The mobile revolution potentially unites everyone on the planet for the first time.

From my standpoint as a developer, I would be going out on a limb trying to take over some of the functions that the client has to exercise. It’s crucial that the client has mobile experience, to receive and vet my development results.

The solution would be for someone on the client end to get mobile experience—even a secretary, or just a child—then you could proceed with mobile development of [Project Name].

Sleep Problems Plague Device Dependent Children

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2014/03/03/Sleep-Problems-Plague-Device-Dependent-Children

Maureen Mackey
The Fiscal Times
March 3, 2014

SleepProblemsPlagueDeviceDependentChildren
It happens to the best of us: We check our smartphones or tablets one last time before we turn in at night – then end up tossing and turning for what feels like an eternity.

That’s because our phones and other devices emit the “blue light” that works against the sleep process by interfering with melatonin, the chemical in our bodies that promotes sleepiness.

It’s no surprise that the same thing is happening to children and grandchildren, with real-world consequences for their health and well-being as well as their school performance. It’s why a new study from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) says that limiting the use of smartphones and other electronics at night is critical.

The NSF’s 2014 Sleep in America poll asked more than 1,000 parents to estimate how much shut-eye their kids usually get on school nights. The parents estimated 8.9 hours for kids ages 6 to 10-8.2 hours for kids ages 11 and 12, 7.7 hours for 13- and 14-year-olds, and 7.1 hours for teens ages 15 through 17.

Experts recommend far more, however. The NSF recommends 10 to 11 hours of sleep for kids ages 6 to 10 and 8.5 to 9.5 hours per night for kids in the other three age groups.

The glymphatic system (word combination from words for the brain’s glial cells and the lymphatic system) is involved with sleep-time brain waste disposal. During sleep, the space between brain cells normally increases 60% so the glymphatic system can flush away Alzheimer’s-causing amyloid plaque.

The findings are intriguing because more than 9 in 10 parents believe sleep is “extremely or very important” for their children’s performance in school as well as their health, mood and behavior the next day. Yet when parents were asked how much sleep their children need to “be at their best,” 26 percent said that number is at least one hour more than their children are currently getting on school nights.

Parents reported that nearly 75 percent of children ages 6 to 17 have at least one electronic device in their bedroom, with many using those devices right before bedtime.

“To ensure a better night’s sleep for their children, parents may want to limit their [children’s use of] technology in the bedroom near or during bedtime,” said Orfeu Buxton, PhD, Harvard Medical School and a member of the poll’s task force, in a statement.

“We found that when parents take action to protect their children’s sleep, their children sleep better,” added Kristen L. Knutson, PhD, of the University of Chicago.

Among the foundation’s tips:

  • Make sleep a priority in the family’s busy schedule.
  • Set – and keep – consistent bedtimes for your children and yourself.
  • Monitor your children’s use of electronics in their bedroom. Set boundaries.
  • Create a “sleep-supportive” environment by dimming the lights before bedtime and controlling the room temperature (temps above 75 degrees and below 54 tend to interfere with sleep).
  • Encourage activities such as reading or listening to music before bedtime – instead of TV, video games, or surfing the web.

The study also found that kids whose parents have healthy sleep environments have healthier sleep environments themselves. Nearly two thirds of kids (65 percent) whose parents had one or more electronic devices in the bedrooms also had at least one device in their own bedroom.

Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Affects Baby’s Brain

livescience.com/42853-marijuana-during-pregnancy-baby-brain.html

By Tanya Lewis |   January 27, 2014

pregnantMarijuanaUsing marijuana during pregnancy could affect a baby’s brain development by interfering with how brain cells are wired, a new study in mice and human tissue suggests.

Researchers studied marijuana’s effects on mice and brain tissue from human fetuses, and found that the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, interferes with the formation of connections between nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher thinking skills and forming memories.

MiswiringTheBrain“Our advice is that [pregnant] mothers should avoid marijuana,”said neuroscientist Tibor Harkany of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and the Medical University of Vienna, in Austria, who led a study detailed today (Jan. 27) in the EMBO Journal.

Harkany added that the effects of prenatal marijuana exposure could even last into adulthood. The drug could have direct effects, or it could sensitize the brain to future drug exposure or neuropsychiatric illnesses.

Pot during pregnancy

Previous studies have found that exposure to marijuana during pregnancy can increase a child’s risk of having cognitive deficits or psychiatric disorders.

While it is not exactly clear how marijuana may affect the fetal brain at a molecular level, it seems the brain may be particularly sensitive to THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) during early development, when neurons are forming critical connections. Any drug that interferes with this development could be detrimental to the child, Harkany said.

In the study, Harkany and his colleagues tested marijuana’s effects in three ways: They grew brain cells from mice in the presence of THC, they injected pregnant mice with THC, and they studied the brains of electively aborted human fetuses whose mothers had used marijuana during pregnancy.

The researchers identified a specific protein in nerve cells, called Superior Cervical Ganglion 10 (SCG10), which is essential for normal brain wiring. They found lower levels of this protein in the brains of both human and mouse fetuses exposed to THC compared with individuals who weren’t exposed to THC, suggesting that marijuana exposure has a specific effect on the developing brain.

Marijuana and brain development

“Prenatal cannabis disrupts synapses [nerve connections] critical for higher order executive and cognitive function,” study researcher Yasmin Hurd, a neuroscientist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, told LiveScience in an email.

An increasing number of women of childbearing age are using marijuana, and this group should be made aware of the potential impact on the brain development of their children, she said.

Harkany added that pregnant women should avoid using marijuana use for medical purposes.

Previous long-term studies have shown that children exposed to marijuana in the womb may have an increased risk of showing cognitive effects, seeking out drugs, or having attention deficit disorder, anxiety or depression, according to the study.

Harkany and his colleagues didn’t study the effects of marijuana use prior to pregnancy, but he said the drug is cleared from the body in a period days, not months, and using it prior to conception is more likely to affect the likelihood of becoming pregnant than the fetus itself.

So far, Harkany said, no studies have compared the effect of marijuana to that of other drugs, such as alcohol, on fetal brain development.