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Comment: Planet money did a podcast on this (Score 1) 457

by swb (#47447639) Attached to: Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

And they came to the conclusion that paper bills were cheaper than coins.

Coins cost more to make. Canada had to mint 1.6 $1 coins for every paper bill they replaced because people hang onto them and hoarding coins is somehow a benefit to the government.

Personally I think the explanation/justification is somewhat tortured. I haven't listened to the podcast in a while but I think it comes down to some fairly esoteric economics, including seigniorage, the difference between the cost of producing the coins and the value of the coin.

I think they also factored in the cost of the conversion activity of business to accommodate $1 coins -- cash registers, vending machines, etc.

Comment: Re:And good luck asking for APAP-free medicine! (Score 1) 161

by swb (#47431387) Attached to: Hair-Raising Technique Detects Drugs, Explosives On Human Body

Oxycodone has required a printed prescription on paper for a long time -- no refills, no phone in. I think hydrocodone (aka Vicodin) was scheduled lower and that made it eligible for phone-in prescriptions and refills without a new prescription, although I believe they recently re-scheduled it to be the same as oxycodone.

I have to sign for every prescription, from opiates to my high blood pressure medication to antibiotics. I can't remember not having to sign for them.

Ironically, I think the dependence on paper prescriptions as being more secure than electronic submission is kind of strange. Surely forging a paper prescription is easier than an electronic submission. I'm also surprised the DEA hasn't just created a mandatory centralized opiate prescribing system where all prescriptions are funneled through them.

I'm not endorsing this, mind you, but they could tighten it down to the point where the only way to prescribe a narcotic is for a doctor to log into a DEA terminal, complete with two-factor authentication, complete the prescription form and have it sent to the pharmacy, all under their watchful eye.

Comment: Re:And good luck asking for APAP-free medicine! (Score 3, Interesting) 161

by swb (#47430779) Attached to: Hair-Raising Technique Detects Drugs, Explosives On Human Body

The FDA has been mulling a total ban on acetaminophen combinations only recently, I presume this is because the most recent research probably indicated that the benefits were outweighed by the risks.

The physicians assistant who prescribed only oxycodone without acetaminophen to me was the youngest of the prescribers I've dealt with, so I'm also assuming her more recent education included this newer thinking.

The oxycodone dosage she gave me was the same as the combination offered elsewhere -- 5 mg. I found that the APAP-free version seemed more effective -- faster onset of benefit with no obvious reduction in duration or overall benefit.

The PA also prescribed other medication to try to enhance the oxycodone, hydroxazine and amytriptaline. Unfortunately both of these had significant side effects. Hydroxazine made me really sleepy and amytriptaline made it very hard to get up.

Comment: And good luck asking for APAP-free medicine! (Score 3, Interesting) 161

by swb (#47430151) Attached to: Hair-Raising Technique Detects Drugs, Explosives On Human Body

The funny thing is, try to explain this to your doctor when she wants to prescribe an opiate like oxycodone.

In about half the cases I've been prescribed opiates the doctor refused to prescribe oxycodone on its own -- I was told it was Percocet (oxycodone + acetaminophen) or nothing, they would not write a prescription for just oxycodone. I had one surgeon do it reluctantly, pointedly asking me why and not really liking my answer that I felt it was dangerous and could add in acetaminophen on my own if I felt it was helpful.

I did have one specialist who wrote that way and when I asked her why she prescribed that way she said current research showed the liver risk outweighed the small benefits. Ironically she was the "less educated" physicians assistant and not a full MD.

I think most doctors believe its beneficial but I also think they somehow see acetaminophen opiate formulations as some kind of bulwark against abuse. Either because they believe it is so much more effective paired with acetaminophen and you'll be inclined to take less overall or that people "know" acetaminophen is bad in quantity and it will serve as a deterrent to excessive dosage, especially people with a history of drug abuse.

I also think they are highly skeptical of someone asking for a specific opiate formulation, even when they initiate the prescription (ie, you have an obvious injury and they prescribe an opiate). It's highly ironic that they're so worried about addiction they're willing to risk serious liver toxicity.

Comment: Re:No Funding for you then. (Score 2) 81

by swb (#47430051) Attached to: Senator Al Franken Accuses AT&T of "Skirting" Net Neutrality Rules

As a Minnesotan, I don't see unknown Mike McFadden making a lot of headway against Franken. The dedicated ideologues may vote for him but Minnesota isn't the kind of a state where hard-core ideology will win elections. And he surely won't win campaigning against Franken on a platform of letting Comcast do whatever it wants.

I think he'd be most vulnerable in his own party to someone like Betty McCollum (a current House member) if she wanted the Senate.

Comment: I'm surprised the Russians would complain too much (Score 5, Insightful) 98

Since it would seem to only lead to more focus on the mafia-like nature of the Russian government and the shadowy links between Russian government, intelligence and organized crime.

I'm sure the US-haters and the Russian propagandists will begin their usual moral equivocation, NSA, CIA, banking, etc.

Comment: Re:Normal humans exlcuded from practicing law/medi (Score 1) 586

by swb (#47415249) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

How much of the grueling training is done simply to be grueling and exclude people based on their lack of stamina? Think of law school assignments where they throw a 100 page brief at you Friday to be handed in Monday that requires analyzing dozens of circuit, appeals and Supreme Court decisions, maybe a few hundred pages of congressional record to determine intent and then some history for context? Or the marathon race of medical residency where 100 hours is a normal week and 36 hours straight is a standard shift?

I think in some sense these kinds of things are done not because they make the profession any better but because they are exclusionary and keep the pool of competitors smaller. If you look at less exclusive jobs that need to be done right in organizations that depend on them being done right you see training done for results in a saner fashion vs. some kind of weird torture test.

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