Wednesday, November 30, 2005

CPR: It Could Save a Life

Travis pointed me to this article about changes to the recommendations for CPR. It seems that chest compressions are relatively more important than had been previously known and that the efficacy of second and third AED shocks is lower than experts thought. The key quote from the article is:
Chest compressions must be deep and the rescuer must allow for complete recoil of the chest after each compression. The panel said this 'back-to-basics' approach should help boost uniformity in emergency care, which has included too many ventilations, too may interruptions, and not enough focus on chest compressions.
Another interesting data point on the subject: My girlfriend Lori, works in an intensive care unit and has to perform chest compressions on coding patients from time to time. In an ICU setting, the medical staff can monitor the patient’s heart rhythm while performing the compressions. According to Lori, rescuers need to perform the chest compressions much harder and deeper than most people simulate in CPR instruction in order for the monitors to indicate acceptable circulation. In fact, if CPR is preformed properly, the rescuer should be very tired after five minutes of compressions.

Another Defender of the BCS

Dan McGowan has a good post arguing that the BCS, while not perfect, is certainly preferable to a playoff in NCAA D-I football. Dan hits on the fact that even though a tournament would allow more teams to participate, there would still be some very good teams left out. To me, the even better point is that the presence of a tournament for the top 8 or 12 teams would likely mean the end of some of the lesser bowls. Without these bowl games, many above average teams would not have an opportunity to participate in post season play, which would hurt college football as a whole.

I did not think of this argument when I wrote this post defending the BCS, but it certainly strengthens the argument.

Race to the Rose Bowl

I like this animation of the Race to the Rose Bowl. Too bad that I just found it at the end of the football season. Also it is too bad that the Volunteers had such a tough season this year.

Update: Here is the final version.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

BCS Unfair?

Mike Celizic begins a post about the upcoming Bowl Championship Series' Fiesta Bowl by stating that, "Notre Dame is probably going to the Fiesta Bowl, and this Domer will be the first to agree that's not fair."

Fair? When has college football ever been about being fair? College football and especially post season bowl games have always been explicitly about making money not about determining the best team. If the organizers of the Fiesta Bowl or any other bowl believe that they will earn more money by inviting Notre Dame than another team then they should invite Notre Dame.

As I have stated before, I think that a playoff system is unrealistic for a variety of reasons. All that I have ever seen in response to criticisms of a playoff system is that either the alternative is unfair, that it causes people to hope that only two teams remain unbeaten at the end of the season, or that it gives additional teams the opportunity to play for the championship even though they did not have very good regular seasons.

None of these arguments convince me that either the BCS or its predecessors have fundamental flaws. I don't think that we need an undisputed champion of college football. The experience and the dispute are part of the fun.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Java Hound

My friend Rob Miller just published an article titled Fitnesse Testing for Fast-passed Agile Web Development on In the article, Rob describes methods of Fitnesse testing, which allow web developers to shorten their testing cycle. Testing usually accounts for a significant portion (often the majority) of any development effort. So if web developers can shorten their test time they will gain the ability to rapidly release new versions of their product, perhaps as often as every day. Planned rapid software releases allow companies to quickly respond to their customers changing needs, which contributes to increased customer satisfaction. Good work, dude!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

School Choice in DC

The Club for Growth pointed me towards this article about some early results of the school voucher program in Washington DC. In general, I am in favor of allowing parents to choose where to send their children to school, even if that means sending public tax dollars to private schools. It appears that many of the parents in Washington DC share that opinion.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Quote of the Day

“Businessmen owe it to themselves and owe it to society to hammer home that there is no such thing as ‘profit.’ There are only ‘costs"’ costs of doing business and costs of staying in business; costs of labor and raw materials, and costs of capital; costs of today's jobs and costs of tomorrow's jobs and tomorrow's pensions.
There is no conflict between ‘profit’ and ‘social responsibility.’ To earn enough to cover the genuine costs which only the so-called "profit" can cover, is economic and social responsibility--indeed, it is the specific social and economic responsibility of business. It is not the business that earns a profit adequate to its genuine costs of capital, to the risks of tomorrow and to the needs of tomorrow's worker and pensioner that ‘rips off’ society. It is the business that fails to do so.” Peter Drucker in “The Delusion of Profits”, published in the Wall Street Journal Feb. 5, 1975.

Peter Drucker, who died Friday at the age of 95, was perhaps the greatest commentator on the state of business in the United States. His extensive collection of articles and books will continue to inspire. I intend to reread The Effective Executive in his memory.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Big Government Conservatism?

Well just one day after I noticed and commented on the Progressive take on individual choices, the Weekly Standard published an article by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam with a conservative take on where to go after confronting the realities of entitlement reform. Douthat’s and Salam’s realization is that:

This is the Republican party of today--an increasingly working-class party, dependent for its power on supermajorities of the white working class vote, and a party whose constituents are surprisingly comfortable with bad-but-popular liberal ideas like raising the minimum wage, expanding clumsy environmental regulations, or hiking taxes on the wealthy to fund a health care entitlement. To borrow a phrase from Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Republicans are now "the party of Sam's Club, not just the country club."
Given these political realities, the authors recommend fleshing out the Big Government Conservatism that President Bush seems to have adopted as the new Conservatism. Douthat and Salam would seem to agree with Paul Glastris’ vision of reality in which Americans cannot succeed by themselves but actually need the government to help them. Then they do exactly what Glastris accuses them of doing, by putting forth proposal that enshrine small government ideals in big government programs.

The jist of most of these proposals is, well if we have to spend so much money on the poor we might as well spend it on wage supports instead of just giving it to welfare recipients. I guess that this stuff is a step in the right direction…

As a side note the article mentions a really interesting study by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press that breaks down the American citizenry into nine political segments. They also have an online quiz so that you can categorize yourself. I turned out to be an Enterpriser. Interestingly enough, much of the commentary published in political magazines and blogging on the internet seems to be a contest between educated enterprisers and educated liberals, but of course both of these groups combined represent less than 30% of the electorate.

The Catholic Church and Evolution II

I was pleased to see Cardinal Paul Poupard recently comment on the relationship between religion and science that the evolution debate currently raging in many parts of the world has highlighted. Cardinal Poupard reiterated John Paul II’s assertion that there is no fundamental conflict between the theory of evolution and the Roman Catholic faith. A few months back I posted my concern about comments made by another Cardinal, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who hinted that there might in fact be a conflict between science and religion. Thankfully, the Church is engaging the modern world, science included, instead of retreating into an isolated fantasy. I like Cardinal Poupard’s description of the interoperation of science and religion:
We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb and the possibility of cloning human beings are fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link, but we also know the dangers of a religion that severs its links with reason and becomes prey to fundamentalism.

Contrast that with Evangelical Christian Pat Robertson commenting on a recent school board election in Dover, PA where voters ousted school board members who supported the teaching of intelligent design.
I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover. If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for His help because he might not be there.
Oh Brother…

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Individual Choices

Andrew Sullivan pointed me towards this article in the Washington Monthly by Paul Glastris, which offers a critique of President Bush’s Ownership Society initiatives and the conservative political agenda on choice. In his article Gratis attempts to carve out a progressive position between one-size-fits-all liberalism and the conservative ideal of reducing the size of government. I think that he does a good job of laying out the obstacles to increased individual choice, but I differ in the way to overcome these challenges.

Glatris outlines the conservative position as follows:
Talk to scholars at the Cato Institute or the Heritage Foundation or to movement organizers like Grover Norquist, and they'll walk you through the strategy. Big government and individual freedom, they'll explain, are opposed to each other; more of one means less of the other. The three big areas of non-defense-related government spending are retirement (mainly Social Security), health care (mainly Medicare and Medicaid), and education (mainly K-12 public schools). For political reasons, it is practically impossible to cut spending in these areas. But it is possible to dismantle the government bureaucracies that administer them in a way that enhances personal freedom and makes possible big cuts down the road: privatize the benefits.
He goes on to describe the circumstances of some of the areas where conservatives and President Bush have attempted to insert individual choice into government programs and have either failed or achieved at best mixed results. Examples include school choice in Washington DC where less then ten percent of parents opt to send their children to another school, low participation rates in a Medicare prescription drug discount card program, and the falling public support for privatizing a portion of Social Security. Each of these initiatives seem to fail due to a combination of the apparent complexity of the choices offered, the natural tendency of people to procrastinate, and the individual’s propensity for risk aversion.

Undoubtedly those are the three reasons why some people would prefer to have others make their choices for them as opposed to making the choices themselves. In the particular case of Social Security, people who truly believe that the government will take care of them would never want to switch to a complex system where they have to make choices and bear the risk of failure. However, for people like myself who do not expect to see any return from the payroll taxes that we send to the Social Security system the real risk is leaving our security in the hands of the government.

The three hundred million people living in the United States make countless decisions every day without the influence of government. The aggregate of these decisions results in the economic output, social service, and personal development of our nation and in general these decisions have resulted in the highest living standards in the world. Individual citizens just do not need government intervention in their decision making process to be wildly successful.

What is interesting, however, is that in areas where government has encroached into the ability of individuals to make their own decisions the capacity of individuals to make their own decisions has atrophied. Where individuals can make decisions about what career to pursue, they cannot make decisions about how to save for retirement. Where individuals can make decisions about where they live, they cannot make decisions about where to send their children to school. Where individuals can make decisions about what car to buy, they are unable to make decisions about their health care. The objective of increasing opportunities for individuals to make choices should not be primarily about the role of government but about the decision-making capability of individuals. We will never achieve utopia because of the inherent flaws of human nature so living in a society where individuals are capable of meeting and overcoming adversity, even if it means making choices, raises the quality of life for all.

Glatris concludes his article by stating:

There are plenty of good reasons, then, for progressives to embrace the idea of designing more choice and individual control into government programs. But doing so means facing down some major opposition—from corporations that don't want tobe regulated to liberal interest groups that often oppose choice initiatives. Liberals also have to stop accepting the right-wing proposition that choice and empowerment are somehow inherently conservative ideas.

But it's conservatives who face the bigger obstacle. They are committed to a strategy of using choice as a Trojan horse to undermine government, yet it's impossible to
make choice work in the real world without strong measures from government. With choice, as with so much else, conservative have mastered the art of winning
elections with abstract language voters agree with, even as they push policies
voters don't much like. They can't pull that trick off forever. At some point,
conservatives themselves are going to have to make a choice.

I disagree that we need government in order to make choices. I believe that the government has an obligation to provide an environment where citizens can flourish, but part of flourishing is having the confidence and ability to make their own choices. This is not about government, it is about people, their dignity, and the quality of their lives.

BCS: Working OK

I noticed this article in the Washington Post the other day describing how Virginia Tech's loss to Miami on Saturday makes more likely that the BCS will work the way many people want it to: matching up two undefeated teams to play for the national championship. I wrote this post a few weeks ago to describe the benefits of the current BCS and Bowl system over a playoff. So, it looks like it is likely that this year we will have an undisputed College Football Champion and everyone calling for a playoff system can take a breather.

Also interesting at the end of the WaPo article are some of the quotes from Miami coaches and players. Quite a few of my fellow Notre Dame fans really hate Miami for what they describe as a lack of class. I certainly do not hate Miami. In fact I think that they bring something special to college football. In the NCAA there is room for both Notre Dame and Miami and that is what makes college football great!