Ad of the year

Okay, I had this in the blog just a few months ago, but now that it has been deemed ad of the year, seemed like a good excuse to include it again (it is awesome).   And check out Seth Stevenson’s rundown on this year’s Clio awards.

Quote of the day

Slate’s Dave Weigel deconstructs the utter failure of Americans Elect.  This quote was too good not to pass on:

We have three new tips for the next coalition of enlightened people who want to save American democracy…

3 ) Don’t confuse the good intentions of Tom Friedman with an idea that makes sense.

Glue instead of stitches

My son Alex took a nasty fall on our deck while running around in the rain the other day (alas, one of his favorite activities).  We thought he had made a hole completely through his lower lip and was going to require stitches.  Since Alex’s special needs and history with medical treatments and dentists suggested he was not exactly going to cooperate with that, we left the (affordable) Urgent Care when they said he’d need stitches for the (oh-my-god that much just for some medical glue!) Emergency room next door, where they could sedate Alex, if necessary.  Turns out, the urgent care was a little too ready to get rid of Alex and his special needs.  He cooperated wonderfully at the ER and only needed some glue to close the would just below his lower lip.  Nothing to be done for the giant gashes on the inside (which you can see in all their glory below).

Anyway, I was relating the story to my dad and he had no idea that it was now quite common to use glue instead of stitches.  Now, in my childhood it was all stitches, but as a parent my kids have been glued many times and rarely stitched.  A little googling and I discovered that this approach took off just in time for my experience with lacerated children– the late 90’s (David was born in 1999).  Here’s a NYT story from 1997:

THROUGH the ages, a wide range of materials have been used to close deep cuts and other wounds, including cobwebs, the jaws of leaf-cutting insects and, in modern medicine, stitches and staples. But now another material is showing promise: glue.

Rather than put patients through the long, painful ordeal of sewing their wounds and in many cases removing the stitches a week or so later, doctors are finding that they can simply glue the edges together and send their patients home. The adhesives being used are chemical relatives of the kinds of glue found in factories as well as around the house, but they have been sterilized and modified for medical purposes.

Several recent studies involving children and adults show that certain wounds closed with glue heal just as well as those closed with stitches, and that the cosmetic results up to a year later are comparable. In the newest study, doctors were so pleased with one kind of medical glue that they predicted that it could replace stitches for about one-third of the 11 million wounds treated in hospital emergency rooms in the United States each year. The study is being published in today’s issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

So, there you go.  As I said, Alex cooperated beautifully while he was glued.  Not sure that would have been so much the case with somebody pulling a needle and thread through his skin.

Photo of the day

From a cool National Geographic photo feature about solar storms:

Photograph by NASA SDO

September 22, 2011
An X-class flare and a strong CME erupt from a magnetically active area rotating into view in the sun’s corona. If directed at our planet, extreme solar storms—occurring only once every few centuries or so—would light up skies all over Earth with colorful auroras and potentially cause long-lasting blackouts.

The mandate is a tax

Seems like all the political stuff catching my interest lately is gay marriage related.  Time for a change of pace.  Really liked Jon Cohn’s post last week on how the easiest argument that the individual mandate is constitutional is that it is a tax.  I’ve always found this one quite compelling.  Obviously, the Democrats did not want to call it a tax for political reasons, but if it walks like a tax, and quacks like a tax, then for Constitutional purposes, it should be considered a tax.  And if it’s a tax, Constitutional question case closed.  Cohn:

 In a new piece for the AtlanticJack Balkin argues that the answer to both questions is plainly “yes”—and wonders why that argument hasn’t loomed larger in the court cases challenging the Affordable Care Act.

It’s a very good question. As Balkin notes, the argument for the mandate as a tax is simple and straightforward: It’s part of the tax code, it raises revenue, it promotes the general welfare, and it’s not a so-called “direct tax.” The usual counter-argument is that architects of the law didn’t use the word “tax” during the debate. According to Balkin, that’s irrelevant…

Balkin isn’t the only lawyer who has made this make this argument. The Obama Administration’s attorneys, among others, have invoked this logic from the very beginning. And virtually everybody in the case, even the plaintiffs, seem to agree that a simple change in wording would make the mandate clearly permissible.

So why, then, should the semantics mater so much? The critics say it’s a matter of political accountability: Had Obama and his allies called the mandate a tax, they say, the public would have opposed the law more strongly…

That seems awfully speculative to me: People were obviously aware of the mandate, from early on. Sadly, it’s one of the few elements of the law the public grasped, albeit with significant misunderstanding of the details. But suppose the critics were right and that the Democrats really did snooker the public. Is it really the Supreme Court’s job to play fact-checker in political debates? If so, will they also entertain lawsuits about Republican use of the bogus “death panel” argument?

It’s true, to some extent, that we depend upon the voters to police the boundaries of federal power—to guard against encroachments upon liberty that the constitution’s framers might not have anticipated. But the right of government to levy taxes in order to pay for universal health insurance isn’t in dispute. [emphasis mine] We already have such a scheme in place, for Medicare. Both the courts and the public signaled long ago that such schemes are constitutional.

Let’s be clear here– there’s ample Constitutional basis to support the ACA.  For the SC to overturn this duly-enacted legislation would thus be as dramatic a display of judicial activism as one ever sees.  Either you believe that the Court should be conservative and judicious in over-turning the actions of duly-elected representatives or you believe they should substitute their own judgments in making policy (and, of course, sometimes even when being small “c” conservative the right call is to overturn laws).

Count the passes

If you are not already familiar with the famous video where you count basketball passes and are then in for a surprise, start here:

If you are already familiar with that (and hopefully you are), check out this newer version from the authors of the study that offers its own cool (but less mind-blowing) surprise:

Came across this after listening to an interview with one of the authors of the book at this website.  Interesting stuff!

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