United States Health Care vs The Swine Flu

A discussion I had recently with some family and friends about the Flu and the Flu Shot along with Swine Flu prompted me to do a little bit of research.  I learned a few things that might be common knowledge to others, but I had no idea so I thought I’d share.

The biggest shock to me was that H1N1 has no direct correlation to the so called Swine Flu.  H1N1 is just a sub type of Influenza named Influenza A (H1N1).  H1N1 is the most common form of the Flu and in fact the Flu Vaccine usually contains a variation of H1N1 and a variation of H3N2 as well as a B type virus.

Mainstream Media Fail.

The World Health Organization keeps track of all sorts of information regarding outbreaks and diseases and the Swine Flu is no exception.  They’ve been tracking it from the beginning and have a ton of data on the spread and what climates it’s most active in.

I’ve heard the media claim this is going to be horrible and it will kill tons of people etc etc.  I’ve also heard others mention it’s fatality rate is no worse than a typical Flu virus.  Unfortunately everywhere I look I get different numbers on what a typical Flu Virus fatality rate is.  Usually it’s somewhere in the ball park of .5% to 1% so we’ll use .75% as a baseline.

Everything I read said the fatality rate will likely rise over time.  Through my analysis of the WHO numbers I found this to be true, to a point.

What became quite apparent is there may be a plateau.  That is, the system might be flooded with enough people now that we may have reached the point at which the system always contains a constant percentage of the number of people who are sick, and therefor a relatively constant percentage of those will be fatalities.  The Good thing is that constant seems to be somewhere around only 1.2%.

This number is roughly 60% larger than our assumed baseline standard seasonal flu fatality rate of .75%.  What does this mean?

Well, figuring 10,000 people are infected with the Swine flu and 10,000 people are affected with a standard seasonal flu.  Keep in mind though, that this IS a variation of the standard seasonal flu.  Of those infected with Swine Flu approximately 120 people would die.  Of those affected with the seasonal flu approximately 75 would die.  A difference of 45 people or only .45% of the population.

Simply put, the Swine Flu is only .45% more riskier than the Standard Seasonal Flu.  Still Worried?

ALL of the information I used can be obtained on the World Health Organization website which has a detailed archive of the Swine Flu Pandemic of 2009

What I DID find extremely interesting and alarming is that the Rate in the Americas (The United States is located within the Americas) is much higher.  Over 2.2%, essentially doubling the rate of the rest of the world.  Assuming our baseline is accurate that puts the risk for Americans at somewhere like 1.5% more than the standard seasonal flu.

Perhaps this is a good time for the health care discussion?  Just saying…

I’ve made it public so you can look at the Healthcare and Flu Statistics spreadsheet I used to make these (and a few other) charts.

My New Photography Equipment

Original EquipmentEven though I’ve been into Photography for quite a while, I only recently took the plunge into the realm of DSLRs.  Ever since then I’ve been making use of the 28-135mm kit lens which has worked out great.  However; due to the upcoming weddings and our upcoming trip to the Pacific Northwest I’ve been on the lookout for new equipment.

Last week I happened upon a great deal on Craigslist.  A woman was getting rid of her old Canon 35mm Film SLR along with all the lenses, flash and camera bag.  It came with a 50mm F1.8 (one of the lenses I’d been watching for, although I was more interested in the 1.4) a slide in-out 70-210mm F4 and a Speedlite 420 EZ.

The equipment isn’t the greatest, it’s rather old and fairly low-end but it will do just fine for a while.  The 50mm alone made the deal worth it.  Either way I decided to purchase it and add the stuff to my inventory.

New EquipmentI’ve also been examining wide angle lenses.  Unfortunately I haven’t found any used lenses that were wide enough for me.  Because of our upcoming trip to some of the most scenic places in the US, I decided to pursue new ones.  There have basically been 2 I was interested in (that I could afford).  The Sigma 10-20mm and the Tokina 12-24mm.  After tossing them back and forth in my head and reading lots of reviews I finally decided on the Tokina 12-24mm.  My first impression is nothing short of excellent.  It definitely seems wide enough and the build quality is superb.  I also enjoy the different type of manual focus mechanism.  I’ll probably post a review of it once I get the chance to try it out a bit more.

In just a few short days I’ve quadrupled the amount of photography equipment I have.  The only downside is now I need to find a place to keep it all.

I’m very excited to play with and learn my new toys.  I posted a few test shots in the slideshow below. Most of the shots were taken with the new Flash which requires Manual mode so some are a little overexposed as I get used to it.


GENI can't be pushed back in the bottle

Friday some friends from work and I went to RIT‘s first Dean’s Lecture Series talk of the year by Peter Freeman. This talk, about GENI (Global Environment for Network Innovation), was informative but a lot less interesting than I imagined. I thought there would be discussion about their thoughts for the next internet and where we might be going. Instead we were inundated with boring generic statements of how GENI will be a testing bed for experiments dealing with the next internet. All of this is available at their website but to summarize, GENI’s primary objectives are:

  • To develop and evaluate ideas for future network design
  • To encourage related research

Some things that struck me during the talk:

  1. The importance of a comprehensive coordinated effort in order to avoid the same defects existing in today’s solution was one of their key points. In almost in the same breath they mentioned the different approaches by Japan, The European Union and The United States.
  2. Their basic architecture included devices named super routers. If these are like today’s routers they’re already building some very blatant similarities into what’s supposed to be a test bed for a new architecture. One of the things they mentioned was changing the TCP/IP stack. Routers are level 3 devices and as such currently utilize the TCP/IP stack. If these new devices are different than today’s routers they should have a different name.
  3. It seemed to me they were concentrating purely on the hardware networking part of things. Isn’t our hardware pretty solid? Can’t we already have 5×1028 addresses for each of the estimated 6.5 billion people alive today with IPv6 (wikipedia)? Can’t we already handle that bandwidth with the existing broadband technology? I would think the bigger concern is archaic protocols such as FTP and HTTP and their underlying stacks like TCP/IP, which have been hacked together over the years. DZone recently posted an article about why FTP Must Die and its definitely worth a read.
  4. If the hardware is redefined but the software and protocols are not, won’t we just end up with one giant hack which fits all of today’s technology into tomorrows architecture? This just seems like adding an extra layer to me.

GENI has a good idea with their general principle. We do need to be looking to the future, some of our current internet practices simply wont be able to hold up when

Every Light switch has an IP address.

However; they’re going down the wrong path and it seems like they’re creating too much (hardware) infrastructure to really inspire the creation of a new and unique solution.

Destruction Creates Beauty

Today was the least rainy day since we’ve been in Hilo. I guess when you’re in a place that averages over 126 inches of rain per year and has gotten over 200 inches in the past a little rain is expected. At least it can be accredited with all the beautiful foliage and flowers.

Rainbow Falls

First on the agenda was Rainbow Falls. It’s right in Hilo and since we had to be to the airport for the helicopter ride by noon we wanted to stay close to home. In between bouts of rain we ran from the car to the overlook but couldn’t spend much time due to torrential downpours.

Lava meets Ocean

Just in time for the Helicopter ride the rain subsided and we saw to the east that the sky was open and it would stay that way for the rest of the day. Our pilot Ray was very friendly. He greeted everyone individually and used our names to refer to directions (on Rachel’s side you can see ___). It was different but worked very well. We flew over an area to the southwest of Hilo containing lots of waterfalls, streams and valleys.

Next the helicopter did a fly by over the active vent of the volcano. Ray informed us that Kilauea is not erupting from its main caldera; instead it has formed a rift much closer to the coast and is venting lava from there. Unfortunately during the day it’s very difficult to see much red, although there were a few cracks and gaps that allowed us to see some glimpses of the hot stuff. He then took us to the coastline where we saw the newest land in the United States (and quite possibly the world). Ray told us that since it started erupting in 1983 Kilauea has added over 60 acres to the Big Island of Hawaii.

One of the employees at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters told us about a valley to the north which had some beautiful scenery. Since we didn’t have anything else planned for the day, we decided to take a drive. Our rental was a 4 wheel drive Jeep which allowed us to take several side trips towards the coastline. We first took the top down so we could enjoy the Beautiful weather.

High Tide

The first side road took us to a sign that read ‘public shoreline access’ which led us to a dirt/mud road. At the end of the road (a few hundred feet from the coast) we left the jeep and hiked down to the water to check it out. The scenery at the shoreline was amazing, the waves were crashing while high tide was coming in and some lucky people had a house right off the shore.

The rest of the day consisted of a few more side trips down to the coastline and ended at Waipo Valley where we met a group of natives chanting from the overlook. Sunset over the valley was very beautiful and peaceful. However; the clouds soon started rolling in and we knew it was time to put up the top and head home.

Aloha from the Aldrichs