9-5-15 Hodgepodge

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Happy Labor Day

I'm taking the holiday off from blogging. Replies to email and comments may take longer than usual. I'll resume posting on Tuesday.

Well, That Didn't Take Long

In a story that reminds me a little of the work of John Ioannidis, a research group recently shot down one of its own earlier results:

In one of the best examples of science working, a researcher who provided key evidence of (non-celiac disease) gluten sensitivity recently published follow-up papers that show the opposite.

The paper came out last year in the journal Gastroenterology. Here's the backstory that makes us cheer: The study was a follow up on a 2011 experiment in the lab of Peter Gibson at Monash University in Australia. The scientifically sound -- but small -- study found that gluten-containing diets can cause gastrointestinal distress in people without celiac disease, a well-known autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten. They called this non-celiac gluten sensitivity.


"In contrast to our first study ... we could find absolutely no specific response to gluten," Gibson wrote in the paper...
Nevertheless, given the wall-to-wall media hype concerning gluten, I don't expect this new bit of "eight-glasses-a-day"-type conventional wisdom to die down any time soon.

Weekend Reading

"For doctors to practice good medicine, they require access to timely and complete information about both positive and negative drug trial results." -- Paul Hsieh, in "The Positive Value of Negative Drug Trials" at Forbes

"... I urge parents (and teachers and physicians) not to rush to apply mental health labels and all the counterproductive excuses that go along with them." -- Michael Hurd, in "Good Parenting = A Healthy Outlook" at The Delaware Wave

"Strictly speaking, misery cannot love company." -- Michael Hurd, in "If You Really Love Me ... " at The Delaware Coast Press

"Blasting the people with scalding hot effluent is not the same as a hundred million individual decisions to take afternoon tea." -- Keith Weiner, in "Jackson Hole: Cherry Flavored Cyanide, or Strawberry" at SNB & CHF

One-Ring Calls From Honduras

(Or should I have called this, "Phone Scam of the Week" or "Why I Hate Phones, Part 500?")

Last week, I got a call on my cell phone from a number that looked like it had a Louisiana area code, but which my phone identified as being from Honduras. I couldn't answer in time, and then I noticed the number had eleven digits on top of the international ID. (I know people in Louisiana, but not Honduras.) I immediately searched and learned the following:
You would have been charged at a premium call rate, when you called back and the scammers would get a portion of it. You will be kept on hold, while they play music or even run erotic audio tapes in an effort to keep you hooked. The longer they manage to keep a victim on the call, the higher they make.

These calls arrive at night or early in the morning and would ring only once or twice, ensuring the call is missed. Being off guard at such odd times, many people end up calling back, only to be kept on the phone line, for several minutes.
Oddly, my call was mid-day. In addition to the location ID, I appreciate my cell phone carrier allowing me to block numbers. Another search result indicated that these callers can be quite persistent.

-- CAV


Vigilis said...

Gus, in order to "block" numbers one must know the actual number that was calling. Today's enterprising phone scammers have been spoofing their caller IDs since 2004.
Favorite spoof IDs are local utility providers and law enforcement agencies; that's right, the power company and local government.

In addition to risks for the unwary posed by spoofed IDs, most providers will not block calls from even more numerous useless IDs such as those frequently logged on my phone:

UNKNOWN (no tel. number shown)
TOLL FREE CALL (no tel. number shown)
NEW YORK CALLING (no tel. number shown)
TEST (no tel. number or other identifier shown)

Also, persistent scammers can easily switch to another cheap cell phone (new number), when the first is blocked.

Add to this proliferation of possible daily interruptions the seasonal political survey.

To insulate ourselves from unwanted phone interruptions the best solution is not taking calls (other than from friends, family, EMS or current contractors) without correspomding messages. Important personal callers will likely leave some sort of message, while phone scammers are normally hesitant to have their spiels recorded.

While this will not deter your state and U.S. senators' political nuisance calls, it does self identify most spoofers and scammers.

Gus Van Horn said...


True: Spoofing is a big headache. One category my cell phone provider DOES let me block is "unavailable". Perhaps it's a catch-all, perhaps it is something else.