Monday, December 27

Iraq isn't is like Vietnam, take 2

I posted on the Iraq = Vietnam topic some months ago. A new article in Slate, Iraq 2004 Looks Like Vietnam 1966 neatly falsifies the "light casualties" meme. The authors, former officers, show that after adjusting for wound lethality (better military medicine) and troop counts (Vietnam had three times more U.S. troops in 1966), we've got the same fatality rate as the prior quagmire.

As an interesting aside: they cite a study that showed improved civilian trauma medicine accounts for most of the decline in the domestic murder rate over the past 40 years.

I'm glad I live in the mountains

14,000 dead throughout South Asia from a tsunami triggered by a Richter 9 earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra.

In my wife's home town of Penang, over 350 miles from the quake epicenter, 38 are dead and 30 missing. My nephew Jason lives there and reported in this afternoon — he's fine, but there's been a lot of destruction.

Saturday, December 25

Gadget Porn

Check out Ambient Devices, which has two amazing widgets:
  1. The Dashboard, which is a panel of three analog gauges, each of which can be connected to the internet-sourced variable of your choice (DJIA, Metro Traffic, or custom feed).
  2. The Orb, a ball that glows red to yellow to green depending on the relative change in one of the variables mentioned above.
Both items are $150, but that's not bad considering it apparently includes a lifetime subscription to a wireless paging network.

Credits: Found this on Josh Rubin's Coolhunting, which is a hipper Gizmodo.

Friday, December 24

The Three Laws of Security

When someone says something confusing about computer security, now you can say "I think that's just a restatement of Schiffman's second law."

  1. Locks Only Keep Out Honest People: Security measures inconvenience authorized users more than their adversaries.
  2. Ask, "Qui Bono?": The "pointless hassle" security procedure is there for a reason — only not the reason you think.
  3. Outrun the Other Hikers, not the Bear: If you're a harder target than all others equally or more attractive, you're working too hard.

Tuesday, December 7

Eat barbeque, sleep better

Over at Educated Guesswork, in a response to a post on "Me-too drugs", a commenter wonders why Grapefruit juice inhibits the metabolization of non-sedating antihistamines.

I'm glad you asked that question.

Grapefruit inhibits the activity of the liver enzyme cytochrome P450-3A4, which metabolizes about half of the medicines in the modern pharmocopia. (One third of the rest is handled by P450-2D6). One look at the list of drugs using, inhibiting or potentiating P450 might lead you to conclude that every pair of drugs will strongly interact. Check out Flockhart's canonical P450 interation table.

Of the thousands of interesting interaction inferences that can be made from this table, note this one: eating charbroiled meats should help reduce a coffee buzz.