Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Tobacco without smoking

When I was in college, I took up pipe smoking. I particularly enjoyed Turkish Latakia tobacco and Native Cigarettes, smoked through a long-stemmed church warden clay pipe. But shortly after I got married, my wife told me to stop. Smoking is a particularly dangerous nicotine delivery system. Nowadays, there is vaping, which some see as […]

Record wind and solar power generation in Germany. No foolin’.

When I think of the places on the planet that seem optimized for solar and wind power generation, I think of deserts like the Sahara and the desert Southwest in the US. And yet Germany is generating a growing share of its electricity through these renewables: “Preliminary data by energy market research group AG Energiebilanzen […]

Pharmacogenomics and drug safety

New drugs go through clinical trials before they can be marketed. Phase I trials are for safety. Phase II/III trials are for efficacy. If a drug fails these trials, it can’t be sold. One challenge to drug testing is trial enrollment. Ideally, the subjects should be demographically representative. The problem is that there can be […]

You can’t fool Mother Nature

Back when we lived in Chapel Hill NC, we made a few trips to the Outer Banks where my wife had an uncle who built fishing boats in Buxton NC. Back then, nobody was talking about sea levels rising because of global warming and yet it was obvious back then (early 1980s) that these sandy […]

Pig-to-human kidney transplant

There will never be enough human kidneys available to transplant all the patients in renal failure who are on dialysis. While there has been considerable interest in xenotransplantation (sourced, in this case, from pigs), the barriers to sustainable transplant have so far proved insurmountable: these include immune rejection and activation of cryptic viruses. Now, thanks […]

Intertoobs: good or bad?

Let’s just start with the acknowlegement that most of the internet is porn. Make of that what you will. I ignore it. For the residual, well, there’s Facebook. I haven’t been sent to FB jail recently, so I am favorably disposed towards it. I get all my news online these days, so I like it […]

AI and lung cancer prognosis

To follow up on an earlier post on the future of artificial intelligence, AI has been making serious inroads in radiological imaging for a while. Unsurprisingly, histological imaging is the next frontier, and AI is conquering that as well. A subset of lung cancer patients will see metastatic spread to their brains. A recent study […]