Best explanation of the mammogram recommendations

Via, Jon Cohn, comes the clearest explanation I've seen for the new mammography guidelines.  It's a shame that it was never originally explained with this clarity.  

Margaret Polaneczky, a New York physician who writes the "The Blog That Ate Manhattan," was among the few who paid attention. And she has written what is, I think, the clearest summary and interpretation of the issue I've read yet:

What the Task Force is saying is simply this – On
a population basis, the net gain from adding 10 years of mammography in
all women is small in relation to the risks of over-diagnosis, over
treatment, unnecessary biopsies and anxiety. But you, as a patient, in
consult with your physician and assessing your own personal risks of
breast cancer, may decide you want to get a mammogram anyway.

What they meant to do was to take mammography out
of the realm of the knee-jerk, automatic and into the realm of informed
decision making. They meant to inform women that mammography's 15% or
so reduction in mortality comes at a price–a price that is physical,
emotional and financial, in the form of false positive results,
unnecessary biopsies and the anxiety and dollar cost that accompanies
them. They also meant to dispel popular overblown notions about what
mammograms actually do by clarifying both their benefits and their
risks, so that women are making the most informed decision they can
about whether or not to have this potentially lifesaving test.

Unfortunately, they blew their 15 minutes. Which leaves it to the rest of us to clean up the mess.

This is an important issue.  It's a real shame there's been so much misunderstanding and misinformation.  I think it is an especially important point that we put to much faith in this particular technology (as we do with many technologies).

Avatar Review

I obviously am not in the habit of reviewing movies here, but I felt like sharing my thoughts on Avatar since responses seem to vary widely among the people I've talked to.  Of course, everybody agrees that the movie has "amazing visuals" or something along those lines, but that doesn't necessarily make for an enjoyable movie-going experience.  For my part, yes, the visuals were amazing, but I think most importantly, they really helped contribute to a wholly enjoyable film.  I find that I tend to agree with David Edelstein more than about any other movie critic and I think he is pretty much on in his review of the film (though, more enthusiastic than I am):

The problem until now with Computer Generated Imagery is that it
hasn’t made the final perceptual leap: It’s impressive rather than
immersive. Under the guidance of George Lucas, the busiest frames that
money could buy were dead on the screen. The vaunted “bully brawl”
sequence of The Matrix Reloaded featured a little video Keanu
Reeves flinging multiple little video Hugo Weavings skyward with all
the verisimilitude of Popeye K.O.’ing Bluto.

In one giant leap, the obsessive Cameron has changed all that. He
has advanced the technology. (My press kit mentions, among other
inventions, a new kind of “image-based facial performance capture,”
more intricate “head-rig” systems, a “virtual camera,” a “Fusion Camera
System,” a “Simul-Cam,” and an “AMP — Amplified Mobility Platform —
Suit”). He has also — partly with 3-D in mind — made shrewd use of
foreground and depth of field. He puts GI-FREAKING-NORMOUS stuff in
front and adds layers and layers of texture and movement reaching back
into the frame and down to the teeniest pixel. He has created a living
ecosystem — and You (and Your 3-D Glasses) Are There.

I think that was what was so impressive to me.  I almost never stopped at all to think about the effects, I just completed accepted the reality of the film as much as I would almost any standard reality-based film.  Sure, the story was derivative to say the least, but it's still a good story.  It's fun to root for the in-touch-with-nature natives against the rapacious, unfeeling colonists.  I love good science fiction, and I thought this worked quite was as science fiction.  Again, maybe not a whole bunch of original concepts, but I thought it nicely wove together a number of intriguing, if not original, sci-fi ideas.  I especially liked the way all the life forms on the planet were able to make connections.  Anyway, maybe you totally disagree, but I felt like sharing on this one.

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