Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category.

Caduceus vs. Rod of Asclepius

Please choose the correct symbol for your medical organization!

  • A rod with two snakes and wings is called the Caduceus. It is the symbol for the ancient Greek god Hermes, known for being messenger of the gods, guide of the dead and protector of merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars, and thieves. It is seen today as a symbol of commerce.
  • A rod with one snake is called the Rod of Asclepius. It is the symbol for the ancient Greek god Asclepius, known for medicine. It is used today as a symbol for the medical profession.

In 1902 the US Army Medical Corp chose the Caduceus as their insignia. Most regard this as a mistake. The US Army claims that the Caduceus represents “the non-combatant status of military medicine on the battlefield”. The Encyclopedia Britannica backs up this claim writing “Among the ancient Greeks and Romans [the Caduceus] became the badge of heralds and ambassadors, signifying their inviolability.” So the symbol might be interpreted on the battlefield to mean, “Hey hey hey, you’re not supposed to kill me!” That feels like a stretch to me but more importantly, the Caduceus definitely doesn’t convey an intelligible message in the civilian medical world.

So, if you have a medically oriented organization, please make sure that your rod has one snake and no wings.

There are scads of articles where historians and professionals delve into this issue. Almost all of them say the US Medical Corps are using the wrong symbol. But that’s up to you to decide. Here’s a few articles to get you started:

Another Plea for Legible Flight Reservations

Another Plea for Legible Flight Reservations
Grrrr!
We’ve been at this whole commercial flight thing for about a hundred years. You would think that the airlines would be able to create a simple, clear flight plan for me. EVERY trip I have made for the last 20 years I have had to translate their gobbly-gook flight reservation into something legible. The relevant data is always the same. Could someone in the airline industry please recognize this? Give me a calendar item that I can copy and paste into my life!

Here is what I put in my calendar. Short. Readable. Useful.

Flight Ref: XXXX

Monday November 21st
depart SFO at 10:35am on AA flight 556
  arrive Chicago ORD at 4:55pm
depart Chicago ORD 8:30pm on AA flight 4308
  arrive Nashville 10:00pm

Friday November 25th
depart Nashville 4:30pm on AA flight 661
  arrive Dallas DFW at 6:40pm
depart Dallas DFW at 9:20pm on AA flight 1575
  arrive SFO at 11:05pm

and here is what American Airlines sent me. It is freaking impossible to read. Sure it contains all the relevant data but I challenge you to understand my flight info in less than 5 minutes!

It doesn’t need to be like this. Make it simple. Make it say what it needs to say. Then put the nitty gritty details at the bottom or something. Bonus points awarded if they put a “Add to Google Calendar” icon next to the reservation so I don’t even have to copy-paste. But hey…

I originally mentioned this in 2011 and it burns my buns every time I fly that flight reservations are still universally impossible to read. I use parts of this blog post as a template before I fly.

Wisdom Teeth

Short form: 2/3 of wisdom teeth removals are unnecessary and dentists don’t really want you to know.tooth

In about 1999 I had a wisdom tooth removed because the gum had gotten infected, inflamed, and painful. The dentist suggested I get all of my wisdom teeth out “because it would be better in the long run.” I declined, just getting the one tooth removed.

In about 2003 I had a new dentist after moving. I remember the intake form had this on it:

Do you still have your wisdom teeth?
Yes      No
If so, why?

The answer I wrote was “because I use my teeth to chew my food“. Of course, the intake form question lead to a discussion with the dentist. I had this crazy belief that nature wouldn’t create a system where every human was better off if they had four serious dental surgeries as a matter of course.

I was incensed. This question, delivered by a board certified professional dentist practically stated that it was wrong of me to have wisdom teeth. The followup is of course, “…and you know, we can fix that problem for you.” It’s like bringing your car in for an oil change and having the mechanic tell you that your confabulator needs realigning, and if you don’t get it done soon, well, who knows what will happen! I’m allergic to professionals using Fear, uncertainty, and doubt on me. I didn’t go back. I thought about blogging about it back then but who has time for that junk?

 

Well, I just came across this article more-or-less confirming my suspicions. It says about 2/3 of wisdom teeth shouldn’t be removed. But don’t believe the article, believe the links the author shows us…

And here is a VERY curious article I found in the Cochrane database (Cochrane is awesome, it’s like the Consumer Reports of research, they look for and help create systematic review research because it is so much better than individual studies).

 

PS, Great thanks to the folks at The Daily Digg for putting the original article in my inbox, with the title of Wisdom Tooth Removal Is A Racket. The Daily Digg is one of my major sources of curated news right now. They practically hide the link to join their mailing list so… sign up here.

Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat Advertising is Intentionally Deceptive

Advertising for the Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat is intentionally deceptive.

chiccoshopThe Chicco website says that it holds a baby “from 4-30 lbs” but they never mention that there is a very important height restriction. This is a dangerous and deceptive lie by omission. (See the Chicco website) (local archive). But the manual is very clear that it supports a baby “4-30 lbs, 30 inches or less.”
30 inches

You might be thinking, “Yeah, whatever, that is a small matter.” No, it isn’t.

The average baby outgrows the car seat by weight when they turn 30 months (2 1/2 years) oldBut the average baby outgrows the car seat by height at 12 months old! (see the CDC height and weight tables) Our baby was 30″ tall at 9 1/2 months!

The manual dictates that the product lasts 60% less than its marketing claims. That is deceptive advertising. Imagine buying a car that had a 10 year, 40,000 mile warranty! Would you feel cheated?

The Amazon ad doesn’t mention this height restriction either (local archive).

We’ve had our Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat for a few months now and it has performed well. But our daughter outgrew it more than a year and a half sooner than we were led to believe by Chicco.

It is a fine product, they don’t need to stoop to this deception. This deception is dangerous for children because if you were to only read the marketing information, you might use this seat long after it was safe to do so.

 

Why is email being made to be useless?

Short form: sellers: if you offer weekly, monthly, and quarterly email options, you’ll have a place in my inbox. If not, you are out!

In the last few months, I have started getting daily emails from lots of the companies and organizations I have relationships with. Who the hell wants a DAILY email from their pharmacy or clothing retailer? I can’t imagine who buys that many drugs or clothes! Of course I have to unsubscribe from these things lest my inbox become useless. What bugs me is that none of these companies offer reasonable ways of me keeping in touch! I would stick with them if they offered weekly, monthly, or quarterly mailers.

How to Lie with Statistics: Philips AirFloss

The new Philips Sonicar AirFloss looks cool and they claim that it “removes up to 99% more plaque compared to regular brushing“, wow! 99%, that’s amazi…. wait a minute!

Let’s give that sentence another go. “…up to 99% more…”So for instance, if you have 100 “plaques” in your mouth and brushing gets rid of just 20 of them, will AirFloss get rid of 99 of the plaques… leaving just 1 nasty plaque? No it does not. It gets rid of 99% more than brushing. In my example, about 19 more plaques than brushing alone for a total of 39… or in reasonable terms “almost twice as much”. Apparently that fine statistic wasn’t good enough for Phillips America. The fact that they chose to say “99% more” instead of “100% more” or “twice as much” demonstrates that they were trying to deceive. “99% more” is simply an unreasonable claim any way you slice it. I am disappointed in Philips.

Now I’m not calling the Philips marketeers fucking liars, I’m just saying that trying to pull a fast one like that is deceptive, immoral and against the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines. (Amazon.com listing)