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Chiropractic indoctrination

A friend from high-school is a chiropractor. He’s got a page on Facebook that’s lousy with ridiculous claims. I investigated one and wrote him about it. The article he linked, “Anti-Vaccine Japan Has World’s Lowest Child Death Rate & Highest Life Expectancy,” is from a web site that claims to be about health and well-being. They’ll even take donations to remain ad-free! The problem is their reporting. It took me no time at all to look up Japan’s vaccination rates and they’re one of the highest in the world, and far above the point required for herd immunity.

I wrote my friend and suggested he look closer into the links he posted because this one is pure click-bait and two minutes of investigation entirely disproved the headline. He thanked me for the concern over his reputation and said he’d be more careful.

Not only did he continue as before, he didn’t even change the link to the article we discussed. After a few days I posted a comment detailing my findings. I thought at least someone should know the truth.

Another link that shows that he’s clearly chasing headlines to win customers is an article titled, “Scientist Explains How Cow’s Milk Leeches Calcium From Your Bones & Makes Them Weaker.” The article links a study, and right there in the study’s conclusion it states,

Given the observational study designs with the inherent possibility of residual confounding and reverse causation phenomena, a cautious interpretation of the results is recommended

The study said nothing at all about anything leeching calcium from one’s bones. Rather than the cautious interpretation the study called for, the article author went in the entirely opposite direction.

His page is a collection of the worst junk science and he’s comfortable in providing what he surely thinks is healthcare. I don’t know how he sleeps at night.

When one of his sympathizers, who I believe is also a Chiropractor, posted about his frustration with the reputation Chiropractors have, I went ahead and described what Chiropractic would need to do to prove itself to me:

I was hoping for a real discussion. I’m exactly the type of person Glen should want to convince. I told him how he could convince me. The result? I was blocked from the page. I’m not entirely surprised, but I was hoping Glen was genuine in his wanting things to change, and hearing a suggestion from someone who has yet to be convinced.

Even now, more than two months after I wrote my comment, there’s no reply. My friend is still happily parroting that vaccines are bad and spinal adjustments to babies are beneficial.

Welcome to the sidelines

My MP … he’s something else. In case you haven’t been following along, my Parliamentary representative is Rob Nicholson. He was Minister of National Defence until recently, when the Prime Minister assigned him the Minister of Foreign Affairs portfolio. I cringe at the thought that he’s our face to other nations, but I suppose he was given this portfolio because he’s well behaved. All that I’ve seen leads me to believe that he’s an empty shirt as my MP, and while that’s far from ideal for the person in charge of foreign affairs, I suppose it’s better than a bull in a china shop. I’m trying to see the bright side.

Last week, he tweeted something I found astonishing:

It sounds like a call to arms given that the folks in ISIL aren’t the talkative types. Still, I don’t know what the man’s thinking so I asked in reply.

You can guess what happened. Exactly nothing. So Monday, I wrote to him directly, via e-mail. Receiving no answer, I wrote again today reminding him that I’m waiting for a reply. I also suggested that I thought this would be an easy question. Surely the Minister wouldn’t post such a thing without at least having a course of action in mind.

I’d hate to think it was merely the Twitter equivalent of a sound-bite that he expects will be quickly forgotten.

Nurses, MPs, and money

I had a bit of an adventure this afternoon. It started with the graphic you see below, shared on Facebook by someone I know here in town.

From a fairness point of view, all else being equal, it doesn’t leave me with a good feeling. Of course all else is not equal, but politicians lead us, and they should act like leaders. The situation as depicted in the graphic doesn’t put the politicians is a good light. And make no mistake, they control the light.

Looking purely at the numbers, it’s difficult to compare only percentages. There are 308 MPs in the Canadian House of Commons. Multiple sources on the web indicated that their 2013 salary was $160,200. An 11% increase is $17,622, bringing their salaries to $177,822, each. Multiplying the increase by number of MPs brings to total cost of their raise to $5,427,576. Turning my attention to nurses, the Ontario Nurses’ Association has a table in their FAQ that lists their 2011 and 2013 salaries based on their seniority. To keep things simple, I took a starting RN’s pay for 2013 ($58,831.50) and calculated that an 11% increase would be $6471.47. According to the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario, there were 127,611 nurses in Ontario in 2012. Multiplying the 11% increase by the number of nurses give us a minimum of $825,830,758.17. Coincidentally, the provincial government just released their budget, and the total amount the province will spend is $130.4 billion dollars. Deserving or not, it’s no surprise that the province isn’t rushing to spend more than one half of one percent of the entire budget on nurse raises. Not salaries, but only raises!

At that point I paused. I wanted some other confirmation of this 11% figure. My search took me to a Huffington Post article, “How Much Do Canadian MPs And Senators Make?” This article corroborated the $160,200 salary figure for 2013, but it claimed that their increase was 2.2% meaning their current salary is $163,700. What’s going on here? I looked at the graphic again and things started to fall into place. Notice how close the MPs are? That’s because they’re sitting on a bench seat. In Canada, MPs have chairs, while in the U.K., MPs sit on long leather-upholstered benches.

The graphic is telling us the situation in the U.K. and has nothing at all to do with Canada. So if Canadian MPs received a 2.2% salary increase this year, how did Ontario nurses do? The best information I could find was the FAQ from the Ontario Nurses’ Association. It’s already a year out of date, and it compares nurse salaries from 2011 and 2013. Still, it’s the best info I have so it’ll have to do. Here’s the table:

I ran the numbers and the increase between 2011 and 2013 ranges from 2.736% to 2.764%. The thing is, the starting salary for example, increases from $57,252 to $58,831.50, which is 2.758%. But if a nurse starts at $57,252 in 2011, by the time 2013 rolls around, she’ll have risen to the 2 year 2013 salary amount, which is $60,684. That’s a two-year increase of 5.995%. Because of this, the two-year increases vary between 2.758% for those nurses with between 10 and 24 years of experience in 2013, and 15.686% for nurses with 8 years of experience in 2013.

Are Ontario nurses being treated as shabbily as the graphic would have us believe? I don’t know because the Ontario Nurses’ Association hasn’t updated their FAQ. Comparing MP salary increase this year and nurses salaries between 2011 and 2013, some nurses are doing a little worse than MPs, some nurses are doing better, and a small number of nurses are doing much better. Looking back at MP increases, the nurses did far better. Last year the MP salary increase was 1.6 %. In each of the three years before that, the MPs received no increase at all.

Where does this leave us? It leaves me understanding that one must sometime dig a little when presented with information.

Damned statistics

It seems that the facts of what happened depends on who you choose to tell you about them.

I typically check the CBC News site for the medal standings during the Olympics. Here are the final standings according to a screen capture I just made:

The official site at sochi2014.com tells a similar story:

But NBC has a different story to tell:

The source data is the same, but the presentation gives a different standing.

It’s interesting. I had a further look around and every site based in the United States ranks the medal standings on the total number of medals earned, giving themselves a better finishing position. Every site based in the United States, that is, save one. The exception is the Associated Press. Everywhere else in the world, gold medals determine the standings, with the silver and bronze used as tie-breakers. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and neither is right or wrong, but I look forward to the day when sorting by the total number of medals gives the United States a worse position in the standings. What will the American media do then? Do I really need to ask?

For the record, these were the sites I found that sorted the standings as NBC did: CBS News, the Chicago Tribune, CNN, ESPN, Fox News, the Huffington Post (including the Canadian site), the NY Times, Sports illustrated, USA today, and the Washington Post.

This hearkens back to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Donovan Bailey won the gold medal for the 100 metre race with a world record time of 9.84 seconds. The US media traditionally referred to the winner of the 100 metre race as the world’s fastest man. But Bailey is a Canadian! Can’t have that, right? Happily, Michael Johnson won the gold medal for the 200 metre race, and he is American, so the US media called him the worlds fastest man.

Being the country next door gives us remarkably easy access to American media, so this uniquely sorted medal standing is nothing new, but it does allow another insight into the American mind.

Living in a launch platform

I’ve read about the security preparations for the London Olympics and one particular aspect that has piqued my interest is the MoD deployment of ground-to-air missile batteries in London. They can’t put them in the street, both for public safety, and because the surrounding buildings would severely limit their field of fire.

To address both problems, the MoD decided to put the batteries on the buildings. The Sun reported,

General Sir Nick Parker, in charge of the military’s Olympics role, said the security exercise would prepare for the possibility of “extreme threats”.

He said: “What we need to do is make sure we practise against those high-end threats but they are not considered to be likely.

“What I’m doing is testing my systems so I’m reassured that, should they become more likely, we can react.”

He added: “One would want the world to know that we are taking security for the Olympics seriously.”

I wonder if his last comment isn’t the key to the point behind the missiles. That is, to make sure everyone knows the UK is deadly serious about securing the games in the hopes that any groups thinking about causing trouble will decide not to bother.

I base my conclusion on two thoughts. My main thought is that the real world doesn’t work like the movies. When the explosives in a missile detonate near a flying aircraft, the end-product is not limited to a pretty explosion with crowds of people cheering because they’ve been saved. Rather, the missile explodes and if successful, the explosion renders the aircraft unable to fly. The fuel aboard the aircraft may explode, but the dry mass of the aircraft remains. Since it can no longer fly, it falls to the ground. Whether the bulk of the aircraft remains in one piece or breaks up, it’s coming down.

With some or all the missile batteries stationed within the city, it’s not impossible that a downed aircraft would fall into the city, causing who know how much damage. Both missile systems the MoD has deployed have 7 km ranges, increasing that possibility, in my opinion.

My other thought is regarding the buildings used for the missile batteries. The specific locations mentioned in news articles are either apartment buildings, or other structures in plain public view. One of the latter is a water-tower, for instance.

Surely the MoD isn’t so out of touch that they can’t imagine the inhabitants of these apartment buildings might have strong feelings about having their homes thrust to the front line in the defence against a possible terrorist attack. The residents were informed of their building’s new defence role in a flyer. According to The Sun,

It said the GBAD — Ground-Based Air Defence — weapons will be operated by “fully trained and experienced soldiers” and added: “Having a 24/7 armed forces and police presence will improve your security and will not make you a terrorist target.”

One has to wonder how they can be so certain that a group intent on an air attack wouldn’t think it prudent to deal with the defences they’re likely to meet.

It’s so ridiculous that I can’t help but believe the military wants this splashed all over the news in the hopes that it will scare off potential attackers, or that the publicised missile launchers are no-where near to total number that will be used in London’s defence. Below is a photo of a mobile Rapier missile launcher. It looks no larger than a small U-Haul trailer.

20120714_rapier

The newer Starstreak missile can be fired from a similarly sized launcher or a portable launcher that MoD personnel can carry into the field.

How will this all work out? We’ll have to wait and see.


Rapier launcher photo by Wikipedia user Desmoh, used under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

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