An Upper Limit on Fertility Treatments

Usually I am very loathe to support government limitations on the medical services patients may seek. However, medical procedures designed to create new life directly affect people other than the patient, ie the children who are created. This alone justifies government intervention. The power to add more people to society also implies reactionary or limiting powers by the society over the creators in the context of maximising social welfare eg population engineering in Asia.

In reference to this article, for a morbidly obese mother to take radical medical action to become pregnant is unethical and abusive towards the child. For the NHS to be expected to finance such services is absolutely detrimental to British society. The demand of well-educated, hard-working labour to immigrate to Great Britain more than compensates for an otherwise negative population growth rate. Therefore, there is no reason for the government to finance such dangerous and expensive measures to add more children to the population.


The Economy of Europe

The NBER has a very good research summary by Alberto Alesina. It presents a nice overview of the history and state of the European economic culture.


Must Have Firefox Extensions

Some like Opera, but with its extendable capabilities, Firefox is the best web browser currently available in my estimation. Here are some tools to multiply Firefox's effectiveness:

Adblock: This plugin is very effective at blocking most ads. It greatly enhances the surfing experience.

Flashblock: Some pesky ads or even intended content for pages like Google Video use Macromedia Flash, my arch enemy. This user-friendly extension allows total control on when you view this Flash.

PDF Download: Adobe Acrobat PDF files can be quite annoying when your browser opens them by default, slows the system, and hogs memory. This extension gives you the choice every time. Usually I choose to download rather than open.

Google Toolbar: The Google Toolbar comes with a lot of unnecessary features, but the one I use most frequently is the spell checker which works better than any other web spell checker available. The 'Send with Gmail' as default mail application is also helpful. PageRank is nifty.


International Intellectual Property Law and the Cranberries

It is generally understood among economists that the United States Intellectual Property law is too strong and thus hurts overall social welfare and creates incentives such that every savvy Internet user is now a criminal because in regards to media, the protections are largely unenforceable. In the dark and barbaric world outside the Faterland, US IP is even less respected by the general populace despite WTO TRIPS standards and other bilateral agreements. Indeed, Russia's accession to the WTO has effectively been blocked by the US over this issue.

Currently, the most glaring example of the IP dispute is the Russian music pay site allofmp3.com which offers tracks or albums of music at cut-throat rates without nasty DRM. Ironically, calls my the RIAA and other IP unions to eliminate the site only furthered its popularity and reduced the sale volume of retail sites like iTMS.

To give a personal example, I love the Irish group 'The Cranberries' (discography torrent). Their song 'I Don't Need' has only been on a couple of compilations or singles and so is difficult to find. I even went so far as to pay $1 for the DRMed version of it on iTMS last year, but since this limits you to 5 systems, after transferring my music library several times, the track no longer worked. This is really a hassle so in order to skip all the nonsense and support a developing nation, I signed up to allofmp3. It was easy; they accepted Visa, and the 320 Kbps track cost $0.30. Here's to maintaining the status quo.

Podcasts and RSS Feeds

I have utilised the Bulk Upload feature of Google Base to upload all the RSS feeds to which I subscribe in addition to the Podcasts which I had already uploaded. I even added some Bling with the pictures. My preferred feed reader is the Google Personalised Homepage. I strongly encourage everyone to use it. I hope that readers will find both the GPH engine and my RSS feed content to be very valuable resources as I do.



A good friend just accepted a position in Connecticut for ACORN: Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Their priorities and politics are not completely in line with my own, but I have always greatly respected his hard work and dedication to bring about a better World. Hopefully, he can further this work at ACORN.

Sensible Drug Policy

I will have a great deal more to say on the topic of drug policy. I have already expressed that government policy ought to be consistent among different drugs and should allow private enterprise some flexibility with drug employment policies despite cultural norms. Conversely, it is my belief that governments should restrict drugs only to the extent necessary to reduce any externalities they might produce. This can usually be accomplished through reasonable taxation to offset medical costs and benefit society as a whole and through restricting public use to designated or licenced locations. A recent NY Times opinion article addresses this topic in the context of cannabis and the Dutch model. For those without NY Times Select access, this is an adequate synopsis.


Zhong Guo's Population Control

China is the only place that has taken the radical yet necessary steps to halt population growth. Through the one China policy, China is now below the replacement rate of fertility, common in Europe, but phenomenal for a developing country. Unfortunately, given cultural biases, female children are less common than male owing to deliberate abortions or neglect by parents disappointed by a daughter and inwardly hoping to try again for a boy. Statistics are examined in a new study by Qu Jiang Ding and Therese Hesketh in a recent British Medical Journal article (full pdf)

The male:female ratio in Zhong Guo is now 1.23, the highest anywhere. The female-devaluing cultural problem exists elsewhere in Asia. From the article:
"[M]any other Asian countries that have declining birth rates and traditional preferences for male babies are seeing serious sex imbalances: 1.19 for Taiwan, 1.18 for Singapore, 1.12 for South Korea, and 1.20 for parts of northern India."
Any discussion of population control is controversial especially among religious fundamentalists, but I would propose that governments contending with such issues should impose progressive taxation on children born, with higher rates for males. Without doing a thorough welfare analysis, such a system could allow for determined parents to have more than one child while controlling population and mitigating sex ratio imbalances. Age old cultural preferences are a bit harder to change.


Romance of the Three Kingdoms

'The Romance of the Three Kingdoms' by Luo Guangzhou is widely acknowledged as one of the best epic works of Chinese literature. It is set in one of the most dynamic periods of Chinese history in the third century AD.

The Chinese 58 hour, live action, high budget, television production of this epic has become available with English subtitles on the torrent networks. It reminds us that when the Chinese set their collective consciousness to a task, the rest of the world can only watch in awed silence.

A Japanese anime version of this epic is also accessible.


The Rights to Medicine

I contend that the status quo of overly restrictive regulations on access to medication impinges on the rights of patients and often their quality of health. The issue relates more broadly to the insane so-called "War on Drugs."

Susan Okie, MD has written a Perspective article in the 'New England Journal of Medicine' relating to a May ruling by the DC Circuit, US Court of Appeals. I agree strongly with the decision of one of the justices:
"The prerogative asserted by the FDA — to prevent a terminally ill patient from using potentially life-saving medication to which those in Phase II clinical trials have access...impinges upon an individual liberty deeply rooted in our Nation's history and tradition of self-preservation."
                                                            -Judge Judith Rogers

NEJM Interview on the subject.

In a related story, a study has been released showing the potent and imediate efficacy of the popular "street drug" ketamine as an anti-depressant. Currently, a severely depressed and potentially suicidal person who procures and uses ketamine could face years of imprisonment for using this "controlled substance."

Progress in Prostate Cancer

Last year, University of Wisconsin researches found that pomegranates, in addition to being very tasty, helped to combat prostate cancer. Today, Calypso Medical Technologies won approval from the FDA for a device which tracks the exact location of a prostate tumour, improving the targeting, efficacy, and safety of radiation therapy.


Progress in the European Union

Tobacco Smoking is the greatest drug plague facing humanity at this time. Tobacco Smoking affects not only the smoker, but anyone around who must deal with second hand smoke or the presence of a person wreaking from its recent consumption. It is perfectly rational that employers should be able to have employment policies which deny jobs to smokers just as heroin and methamphetamine addicts may similarly be denied jobs. I applaud the European Commission's recent decision in this regard.