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Friday, March 18, 2016

Can we hope for an end?

I'm not usually a political person at all. I really don't get it, and all. Politics is like a story somebody is telling in a language I usually know the words to, but it somehow doesn't make any sense for more than two or three words in a row.
But this season is just fascinating.
Like a slow-motion train wreck.
I've never been a big fan of the GOP, and since the Tea Party came around have been sincerely against the 'grand' old. Don't get me started on the reasons why.
The Reps are in danger of losing all credibility, what between the candidates for their presidential nomination, and the balls-up over the Supreme Court nomination. They can't stand for a candidate who doesn't stand for anything they stand for (what do they stand for, again?? pro-life, but not in favor of helping people live? oh, yes, I wasn't going to get started), but they can't just toss him out if he wins the nomination outright. Then, they're the party 'for' constititional purity, but the constitution is what they're trampling on in the court fight. Be jerks or be cowards, cowards or jerks. Cowardice is out of the question, but they've never been afraid to be jerks.

All of which has people wondering what the future of the GOP is.

Well, perhaps it should not have a future. Perhaps at last the USA can have some real multi-party politics. Not just black vs white, Us vs Them gridlock.
Go ahead, take your courage in hand and split up. If DT takes the GOP nomination, making the party into something unrecognisable, those who want the party they do recognise can go and make a new party.
The Dems could do that too.
And we could get rid of the Electoral College, have a real representational vote.
Just a thought.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

black, or garbanzo?

It's the time of year again when you really have to know how to count.
I have all kinds of programs to help me with that now, so it should just get easier, right?
Yeah, right.
2015 was a year of transition. Accredited May 1st, and then they changed the list of what counts as an exam as of Aug 1st. But I can deal with that, no problem.
Most of the agencies we have to account to want to know how many patients we gave results to, for this or that gene. They don't really care how we did the work, just so we did it right.

But this one Annual Activity Declaration is super-super simplified. They want to know how many exam units we reported. Since genetics is complicated, these units are complicated. 
In the newly-old way of doing things, you'd go through a 5-step process about 40 times before getting the whole result. I've got a formula to convert one BRCA1 sequence test into its component units, and another for the quantitative test for the same gene, and so on for all the others. Say, 67,583 beans for 2014.
What happened in August was they changed the units around. Some got merged into super-units, and others were just eliminated. So halfway through the year, suddenly a test worth 950 beans only counted for 6. We had a slow start to the year for various reasons, and churned out two thirds of the lab's activity in the last third of the year. But if you just count the number of beans, it looks like the opposite. 

It's like they're wanting to know how much money is in my pocket, by asking only how many bills there are.

So fine. With that declaration we're sending an explanatory table, calculated the way the government wants us to do it now, and also what would happen if we did it the old way. No, we've not been slacking off, it's just we don't deal in $1 bills any more. Got change for a 50?

But then the other thing is really annoying.
We have to declare how much of our activity was accredited. Now we are accredited, there's no saying 0. That was easier, but much less fun.
My boss likes to count it this way: of all the reports we signed out, about 70% included a test we are accredited for.
Me, I like to be more accurate, and since those reports included both the accredited sequence test plus the non-accredited quantitative test, the number comes out to be 33.4% of all tests were accredited.
The agency in question, however, says right in black & white in the instructions for bean-counting that to be counted as an accredited report, all of the tests in the report have to be accredited. That comes out to about 1%.
70 or 33.4 or 1, all for the same thing.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Cote d'Azur

Not much new going on. The republican primary race is like a long hallucination. I've seen some quotes put up from the Reagan days, and from the Reagan-Bush debates that show the GOP was a far different group of people just a single generation ago. Stuff they were saying then would be considered lefty-liberal today. What happened???

But anyway, I've been on vacation for a week, Off to the south of France and the Card Player's home territory around Juan les Pins. It was nice to relax and get a bit of sun. Plus, we did our part for the economy: came home with marmalade, pottery, glass, and wine. Resisted the paintings, and the small Calder mobile that would really be nice here next to the couch. Yeah, in my dreams!
Yacht off Juan les Pins



The port at Antibes
Cement making in Nice
Piling rocks at Eze

Biot

St Paul de Vence

Monday, February 15, 2016

Same old same old.

So… Republicans are arguing that « the American people » should have a say in naming the new Supreme Court justice and that therefore, President Obama should wait for a new president to nominate a successor.

But, it’s the job of the president to nominate SC justices.

And as for the people having a voice, they won’t have any more of a voice with the new president. The people do not elect Supreme Court justices. The people elect the president (albeit indirectly) and they elect Congress: the President nominates the justice, Congress confirms the nomination. The next batch of elected heads will be no less elected than the current batch. Obama was elected by a majority of votes. It is the will of the people that he is president, and it is his duty to nominate this justice.

No reason for that not to happen.


Both parties have at different times tried to change the way SCOTUS members are chosen, always with the goal of either making it easier to install a favorable judge, or to block nominations from the other party. Partisan politics as usual. And yet, it does remain the president's duty to nominate - and only the president's, as the disingenuous Mr McConnell himself insisted on in 2005. 

So stop it with the hysterics and the hyperbole and get on with governing. Yes, yes, there is governing to do. I think politicians tend to forget that.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Oh, my

I was going to blog, and then played bridge instead. And then I was thinking of blogging but had so much work to do. And then again I was going to blog, but then couldn't decide - post the keys to World Peace, or a cute cat photo?

The world today just seems too absurd to get any kind of angle on. D Trump may be awful, but wtf is with so many people seriously wanting to elect him or one of the other far-right characters to the highest office in the country? No, the USA is not for Christians only. No, the USA is not for white people only. No, it will not make the country strong to respond to enemies by trying to blast them off the planet (remember when the Shrub tried that? Did it make anything better?).

Dang, Sienne stopped her latest ball-of-fur pose, and has taken on a normal, not extra-cute, attitude toward the catfoodbowl.

And what is up with the comedy in Oregon? Why are we putting up with that? Alright, I guess a cracking response would give them more importance than they deserve. Better to treat them like confused children. But it's true that a group of blacks pulling such a stunt would result in immediate arrests, all resistors being shot. Or more likely shot first, arrested later...

Quick, the camera! Natalie is watching a bird out the window!

In fact, the gun situation is insane. The more violence there is, the more people are, incredibly, led to believe that they, too, need their very own lethal weapon. And of course they should be able to buy one like buying a candy bar. Just adds to the havoc. More Americans are being shot by toddlers than by terrorists.

Oh, look, a cat on my knitting.

So I don't know what there is to say.

We had a very nice audit of the lab last week. I do hope that people will start now to calm down and not get their knickers all in a twist next time. There will always be a next audit, and all we have to do to be ready for it is to keep up on doing things pretty much right all along. 

That is to say, the genetics arm of the lab just has to keep on with the good work. For our next audit, the pathology arm will also be audited, and that is a whole nother story.