Weekend Wonderings: I Can’t Believe It’s March

Written March 2nd, 2014 by Ken

thinking chimpWelcome to this week’s edition of Weekend Wonderings.  Despite what you see and feel outside, we are less than three weeks aways from Spring. Enjoy Winter while you can. Grab whatever beverage that you need and let’s proceed.

The James/Wexner

Well, this is interesting.. It seems that the BMJ (formerly) British Medical Journal published a study questioning the advisability of breast cancer screening via mammography, and to say the least, the report is being excoriated.

Women questioning the value of screening mammography based on a recent study published in BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) should pause and look more closely at the data. Medical societies and breast cancer specialists across the nation agree: The data is flawed and misleading. There is no question that screening mammography saves lives.

There appear to be two huge flaws with the study. First, the study used obsolete scanning devices and the staff was not properly trained in the procedure. The second was, for a supposed randomized sampling, the test subjects were assigned to “test” and “control” groups in a non-randomized manner. Both of these errors are show-stoppers. I’d suspect that tBBC’s resident ‘lab rat’ (Eric) would not approve of these testing protocol shenanigans.

Next up, genetics!

“COLUMBUS, Ohio — A potential new gene mutation that might drive lung cancer development and growth has been identified by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James).

A multi-institutional team led by OSUCCC-James researchers reports the findings in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The study describes a patient with advanced lung cancer who was treated with the targeted drug sorafenib while on a clinical trial.”

A couple of things, here. First, this is another example of not so much “root cause analysis” as “root cause determination”. Cancer in particular, is not a one-size-fits-all disease in regards to prevention/treatment. This is more excellent work by the James. My second point, directed to those folks who “did” the breast cancer-mammogram “study” above; this is how you conduct clinical trials.

Commentary

As you may know, I’m probably the staff Luddite here at tBBC. Not being an “early adapter” to technology hasn’t slowed me down, though. About a month ago my wife and I bought a new wireless printer so that we can laptop print from anywhere in the house, if we choose. The ‘showstopper’ feature (to me) was the capability to print from our iPhones! I guess it does makes sense, since the printer “thinks” one electronic device is about the same as any other.. But still, to sit in one room and, using a telephone to command a printer still amazes me.

To set the context, back in the early 80′s, the department that I worked for was the first the first in the company to acquire a microcomputer, an Apple II+. It had 64K RAM and two floppy disk drives! Boy, did we think that we were hot stuff.  Imagine, 64K and dual floppies; what more computing power could you want?! Inching somewhat forward in time by a couple of decades, I believe the first home computer that we bought was a COMPAQ Presario tower computer, with dial-up modem. Home computing and the world wide web had arrived.  Now, I can print from anywhere in the house from a phone.

Cool stuff  to be sure, perhaps,  but it likely pales compared to past generations. The most obvious example to me is my grandparents’ generation. In their lifetime, they saw the invention of powered flight at Kitty Hawk, to mankind’s landing on the moon. The first bookend flight carried 120 feet, about the length of a nice, downfield passing play. The second bookend flight carried 500,000 miles (there, and thankfully, back again).

Sunday’s Song

No, going with this song would be too obvious. Let’s go with this one.

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