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OpenMarket: Business and Government

  • Breast-Related Assurances from the First Lady of Illinois

    November 28, 2006
    Some Illinois political observers are raising their eyebrows about a stack of greeting cards that Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office sent out before the election congratulating new parents on their bundles of joy (and reminding them to get their kids immunized). The implication here being that Blagojevich wanted to spend a little government money to get his name in front of potential voters just before the election. I kind of doubt that, but in any case, focusing on that ignores the much more amusing angle, which is that many of the cards were delivered over a year late:
    "I thought it was laughable," said 29-year-old Andrew Fitzgibbon of Lincoln. "Here my daughter is turning 1 and I get something...
  • The Media Filter

    November 28, 2006
    Dr. Crippen, a doctor who has the misfortune to work in the British National Health Service, has an interesting story about the critical faculties of the BBC. Blessed Auntie Beeb simply posted a news release from a firm that makes artificial milk posing as a healthcare advocacy group as a news story, then when found out altered the story without notice. I wonder what could have attracted the BBC to the story in the first place? Claims of babies dying - check. Claims that normal part of diet is causing it - check. Authoritative-sounding statistics - check. General suspicion that industry actually enjoys killing its customers - check. Who could blame them? The story was simply too good to fact-check...
  • Court Ensures Painful Death for Terminally Ill

    November 22, 2006
    Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals voted to vacate and rehear its Abigail Alliance v. Von Eschenbach decision, which would have required the FDA to justify why it prevents gravely ill people who would otherwise die from obtaining access to drugs that have passed the first stage of the FDA's lengthy approval process. Decisions are usually reversed when they are reheard by the full court. Apparently, the specter of terminally ill people being able to access experimental drugs that might save their lives was just too scary for many of the D.C. Circuit judges. Perhaps they agreed with the specious arguments of the Washington Post, which editorialized against the D.C. Circuit's original decision in favor of the terminally ill by using the straw-man argument that no one has an affirmative right of access to medical...
  • A Sequel We Could Have Done Without: The Return of the Dingell

    November 21, 2006

    OpenMarket's consulting physician, Dr. Henry I. Miller of the Hoover Institution, has some strong words (and unfortunate predictions) about what we can expect from the new committee leadership in Congress:

    Much of American commerce that depends on innovative science and technology will likely suffer in the new regime — biotechnology, nanotechnology, and pharmaceutical R&D, to name just a few sectors. Many senior Democratic members of Congress and their staffs are relentlessly anti-science, anti-technology, and anti-business. Worst of all, they're uneducable. They remind me of the reputation of France's King Charles II, about whom it was said that he never learned anything and never forgot anything.

    Ouch. Now, maybe you'll say Henry is being a...

  • Weighty Problem

    November 21, 2006
    As Brooke notes below, obesity has been tied to global warming.  One of the lessons obesity campaigners drew from that study was that losing weight saves you gas money and that the US uses 938 million more gallons of gas a year because of the extra weight gain since 1960.  The often excellent env-econ blog had something to say about that:
    Let's say that a typical new car sold these days weighs about 4000 pounds. A 50 pound increase (one heavier male, one heavier female) is a 1.25 % increase in total weight. If the gasoline savings are about 1%, the elasticity of gas to weight (% change in gasoline divided by the % change in weight) is 0.80. Hmmm. Maybe the estimate ain't so crazy. Extrapolating, if the typical car turns into a typical car sold 25...
  • Fake Boobs and Phony Science

    November 21, 2006
    To follow up on a thread from yesterday, FDA's decision to let silicon gel filled breast implants back on the market is noteworthy for two other reasons not mentioned by my colleagues. The first real breakthrough on this front was back in 1999, when a federal judge in Alabama appointed a National Science Panel pursuant to a Daubert motion to investigate the reliability of the plaintiffs' expert witnesses in the Silicone Gel Breast Implant Products Litigation. The panel examined the epidemiological evidence available as of 1999 and concluded that breast implants were associated with an increase the relative risk of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune and rheumatic conditions by 15 percent (not...
  • Junk Food Blogging

    November 16, 2006
    Sandy Szwarc, a registered nurse, certified culinary professional, CEI friend, and all around good person, recently started a blog on the science of food -- especially so called "junk food." On her blog, you can read all about "the science that mainstream media doesn't report and how to critically think about the junk they do that's not fit to swallow." You can also read some of the pieces she's written for CEI here and here. Happy blogging, Sandy. http://www.junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/
  • The Fat Acceptance Movement Needs You

    November 10, 2006
    Jacob Sullum over at Reason reviews two of the latest books on weight loss industry and the obsession with the obesity "epidemic" in America. He summarizes his reaction with the simple plea: "Lay off the fatties. They're not hurting anybody - maybe not even themselves." Link from Arts & Letters Daily.
  • Internet Medicine: Does that Make Al Gore My Family Physician?

    November 10, 2006
    A new study finds an increasing number of doctors using information from Internet searches to help diagnose illnesses:
    The internet search engine Google has added another impressive string to its bow - by helping doctors diagnose illnesses, according to a new study. Researchers found that almost six-in-10 difficult cases can be solved by using the world wide web as a diagnostic aid. Doctors fight disease by carrying about two million facts in their heads but with medical knowledge expanding rapidly, even this may not be enough.
    ...
  • Trans-Fatty Criminals

    November 2, 2006
    Elizabeth Whelan of ACSH has a great article on National Review Online today about the stupidity of banning trans-fats, as New York City and Chicago have done:
    …the food industry has turned the fear of [trans-fatty acids] into a brilliant marketing strategy — trumpeting the “No Trans-Fats” claim on labels. Unsuspecting customers will conclude from the absence of TFAs that products are healthier — and maybe even think they are reduced in calories — when in fact there are no health benefits. All fats, saturated or not, contain nine calories per gram. There are no caloric savings from replacing TFAs with other fats. On October 30, Kentucky Fried Chicken decided to cash in on the trans-fat mania, announcing — while the hearings were in process — that it was phasing out all use of...

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