January 5th, 2013


[links] Link salad worries some more, because worrying is what it does

The Macroeconomics of Middle Earth — Hahahah. (Snurched from [info]james_nicoll.)

In Portland, Tex-Mex fare rides again — One of my favorite cuisines, and one rarely found (even poorly executed) here in the foodie town of Portland. I miss Chuy's from my Austin days, and especially the Hula Hut. (Via my Dad.)

Riding a horse across a frozen lake in Siberia — Also this wow factor as well: Frozen Bubbles Suspended Below Abraham Lake. (Both thanks to Lisa Costello.)

LROC Browse Gallery — Lunar pr0n. (Thanks to Gary Dierks.)

Futuristic highways in the Netherlands glow in the dark. — Weird and cool. (Via [info]threeoutside.)

Test Room — This is a weird little squib from BLDG BLOG which happens to have an Oregon connection. Though that's not the weird part.

Juggling by numbers: How notation revealed new tricks — Huh. Interesting. I have extremely modest skills as a juggler myself. (Snurched from Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

Forbidden sphere — Weird security in the nuclear age. See also: Classifying a Shape and Illegal Numbers. The fascinating weirdness of security paranoia. (Via David Goldman.)

Why We Have a Right to Consumer GeneticsIt’s hard to get straightforward health guidance from personal genome tests, which are banned in some places. But one way to make them more meaningful is to let more people buy them.

World first as scientists create cancer-killing cells that can be injected into patients

The Myth of Harriet Tubman — A moving piece from Ta-Nehisi Coates that says some new-to-me things about race and racism.

Joseph Sciambra, Self-Described 'Ex-Gay Porn Star,' Claims Gay Men Anally Give Birth to the Devil — Are all religious conservatives insane? Or just the ones who have public voices? This guy's on the same range of cruel lunacy as Dobson, Fischer, Franklin Graham and Huckabee. So unlike anything I ever found in the Bible, at least the New Covenant. It's like faith makes them stupid and mean. Or maybe they started out stupid and mean and found a faith that fit those tendencies. (Via Mike Brotherton.)

The NRA Claims the AR-15 Is Useful for Hunting and Home Defense. Not Exactly. — Uh huh. (Via [info]danjite.)

Thoughts on the Second Amendment — A long but fascinating piece on the Second Amendment's historical context and judicial interpretations thereof. I was struck by this comment on D.C. v. Heller: Apparently judicial activism is okay for decisions right-wingers happen to like, but not for decisions they don’t like. Well, duh. That's a cornerstone of the justly famed principled intellectual consistency of American conservatism. More to the point: Americans have clearly stated that the blood of children is an acceptable price for the free availability of guns, and I do not see any marking on the wall that says, “When the pile of bodies reaches this line, things will change.” It is a sad commentary on us as a culture, but there you have it. (Via Steve Buchheit.)

Sen. Crapo pleads guilty to DWI, seeks 'forgiveness and repentance' — Another religious conservative moral scold has feet of clay. Not that this ever stops them from lecturing and legislating against behaviors they disapprove of in others.

O'Reilly: "Asian People Are Not Liberal, You Know, By Nature. They're Usually More Industrious And Hard-Working" — Wow. Racist and classist and staggeringly stupid all in one. Conservative America, this is one of your leading voices. What does this say about you?

The Secret History of US Drone Strikes in 2012 — Just in case you thought everything was peachy Over There. America embarked on a decade plus of frenzied killing in response to 9-11, mostly of people who had nothing to do with the original event. How do you think they feel about us now?

Gulf Coast Lawmaker Votes Against Sandy ReliefRep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), whose Mississippi district is situated on the Gulf Coast, was one of 67 Republicans on Friday to vote against a $9.7 billion relief package to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Stay classy, Mississippi. It's not like the Feds gave you any money to help out after Hurricane Katrina. No, wait… I guess this is compassionate conservatism in action.

GOP's obstructionism is suicide strategy — We should all be so lucky, The key to the suicide bomb strategy is to convince people that members of the conservative wing of the Republican Party are crazy enough to wreck the economy if they don't get their way. I'm certainly convinced. The congressional GOP have become a basket of vandals and loons completely uninterested in a functional government. Which is the logical outcome of 30 years of "government is the problem" rhetoric, unfortunately for those of us who are still sane and wish to live in a functional society.

?otD: How carefree is your morning?

Writing time yesterday: 0.75 hours (WRPA, specifically research for a Cthulhu short)
Hours slept: 5.75 hours (solid)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (stationary bike)
Weight: n/a (forgot to weight before I ate)
Number of FEMA troops on my block teaching critical thinking skills to the children of conservatives: 0
Currently reading: The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks


[cancer] Now the wheels of heaven stop (bad news, indeed)

Thursday's MRI scan was ambiguous-to-good. The PET scan, not so much to the good. Rather nastily bad, actually. Which was quite surprising, as I'd started to feel pretty good about my progress through this chemo series. More fool me.

Here's the summary from the radiologists' report:
A single new mildly PET avid liver lesion is present. The previously seen liver lesions are not significantly changed.

What this means as a first order effect is that Rumsfeld (tumor #3) is not as gone as December's CT and this past Thursday's MRI had led us to believe. Also, more importantly, that a new tumor, Ashcroft (tumor #4), has appeared. My oncologist believes that there is some ambiguity on the PET about tumor #4, so it's slightly possible this is a false positive.

As for second order effects, I really don't know what this means yet. I'll be seeing my oncologist Monday morning, which meeting should give me some additional insight, but I believe they want to take this to the Tumor Board at my cancer center before giving me what passes for definitive answers in oncology. That is a medical specialty that runs on statistics and post hoc analysis, so definitive answers are notoriously thin on the ground.

Possibilities and questions include:

  • What does it mean for the chemo series if one tumor shrinks (Rumsfeld) and another grows (Ashcroft)? These are simultaneously the most positive and the most negative results we've ever seen from chemo for me. How can the chemo be both effective and ineffective at the same time?

  • Do we abandon this chemo sequence (FOLFOX with Vectibix) and start on the next (as-yet-unknown-to-me substrate with Stivarga)? Which would mean another six months of chemo going forward from here.

  • Now that we have four surgical targets in three disparate locations in my liver, is surgery still an option? (That's actually a question for my surgical oncologist, who I'm seeing in a week and a half.) Is it effective to do a resection and leave some diseased tissue in place? One of the issues here is that because I've had two prior liver resections, my liver is rather structurally compromised. My surgical oncologist has already expressed an opinion to me that he wants to be very conservative on this go round to avoid risk of surgically-induced liver failure. It's unclear to me how we reconcile this requirement for a conservative approach with the continued spread of my tumors.

  • How much closer does this move me to a terminal diagnosis?

It's hard to see how this isn't quite grim, unless there's some other way to interpret the PET results. I don't really know what to think yet. At the moment, I'm mostly very angry and confused, and also very concerned for the impact of this news on those around me whom I love.

More when I have it.


[cancer|politics] The high cost of living, and conservative opposition to my doing so

I was reviewing my insurance carrier's summary statement of benefits for Q4 of 2012 when I noted that my current course of chemotherapy costs them, after contract adjustments, about $25,000 per session, for a course of twelve treatments. That's $300,000 right there. Not counting the costs of the port surgery last September, the liver resection coming up shortly, the related hospitalization, many sessions of medical imaging, and my ongoing pharmaceutical costs. All which collectively put this round of cancer well over $400,000 at the carrier's cost. Closer to $600,000 in nominal cost.

Without the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare) lifting the lifetime spending caps on health insurance, given the costs associated with my last three rounds of cancer, I would be running out of insurance somewhere in the middle of this session when I hit my carrier's old $1,000,000 lifetime spending cap. That was the value of a human life before Obamacare.

If you're a conservative who thinks Obamacare is some kind of socialist plot, at the moment that socialist plot is the only thing keeping me alive. In opposing Obamacare without an equally sensible and humane replacement of some kind, you're telling me in so many words my life is worth less to you than your own political convictions or the profit margins of insurance companies. Given that most conservative opposition to Obamacare is based on blatant untruths that have achieved the status of cherished beliefs on the American Right, for example, Sarah Palin's so-called "Death Panels", you're actually telling me my life is worth less to you than your own self-valorizing paranoid fantasies.

So until conservative America comes up with a better idea, it can fuck the fuck off. I wouldn't wish the cancer hell I'm living on anyone, but people who oppose healthcare reform are wishing for me to be trapped in this hell until death.