Sunday, June 21, 2009

51 - Answers

Q: Nate - Where do babies come from?
A: How is it that you've gotten through this much of your life without an answer to this question? Didn't they have health class in Connecticut? Maybe now that you're a married man (and belated congratulations to you and Mrs. D, by the way) you have a need for an answer. Well I'm here to help!

Contrary to popular myth babies do not come via air-lift from a large winged bird. The scientific answer is that babies come from the pairing of sperm and egg, followed by gestation, followed by birth. So how do sperm and egg get together, you ask? That would be through what I will delicately call the "physical act of love" (see also: horizontal mambo, bedroom Olympics, and "I'm Nate D, who the hell are you?"). Hope this helped in some small way.

Q: Matt - I just got over a case of the swine flu. Long story short, my doctor prescribed a 5-day regimen of Tamiflu. It was only 10 pills (2 every day), but the prescription cost $115. Why are prescription drugs so expensive?
A: There are many factors that go into the cost of prescription drugs. During my research I found a very good article put out by the people at PHRMA, which can be read in PDF form here. I learned a few interesting things about the development of drugs, including the fact that only 5 out of every 10,000 potential drugs ever make it to clinical trials, and only 1 out of those 5 ever become drugs. Therefore the cost of the drugs that are produced must make up for those "failed" drugs. Another factor in the cost of drugs are the many layers of regulation that the drug must go through prior to being approved for use by the public.

In the specific case of your prescription for Tamiflu I'm going to blame good-old supply and demand. The outbreak of the Swine Flu earlier this summer had the effect of a major increase in the demand for Tamiflu. As a result supplies grew scarcer, and thus price went up. I don't read anything nefarious into the price increase, though there may in fact be some profit-taking by the drug companies.

Q: Bill - I'm interested to hear how political the answer is.
A: Me too. My editor was a little worried that I'd go overboard with another patented Tim Rant about government and spending and all that nonsense. Luckily for my editor I'm too busy and too tired to go off. Maybe next time.

Q: Bill - I know it's been explained to me before, but I was younger and didn't pay attention: Where did horsepower originate and how is it calculated?
A: The term horsepower was created by James Watt in the late 18th century. His goal was to come up with a way to compare the energy output of steam engines with the energy from draft horses, which are horses used for heavy labor such as farming. The original calculation was done by counting how many times a horse could turn a mill-wheel in an hour. By this method one horsepower is 33,000 foot-pounds of force per minute, or 550 ft-lb/sec. In modern times horsepower is still used as a way to represent the power of piston-based (and other) engines.

Q: Jon - 1 hp = 745.699872 watts
A: You are correct, congratulations.

Q: Matt - Watt's a watt?
A: Yes, a watt is a watt. Thank you for pointing that out to the Ask Mitssob audience. You've done us all a service.

Q: Bridget - I have a question.....Yoohoo....what IS it, and why is it so fucking good?
A: Yoo-hoo is a chocolate beverage originally developed in the 1920s in New Jersey. An even more literal definition of what Yoohoo is can be found below:

Water, dairy whey, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, non-fat ilk, cornsyrup solids, cocoa processed with potassium carbonate, soybean oil (partially hydrogenated), sodium caseinate, salt, tricalcium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, xanthan gum, guar gum, mono and di glycerides, vanillan, lecithin, calcium ascorbate, natural flavor, vitamin A palmitate, niacinamide, vitamin D, riboflavin.

Click here for a detailed history of the beverage in question.

As to why it is "so fucking good", that's hard to say. I would say that it's because of the combination of ingredients. Anyone can make chocolate milk, but there are special bottling techniques used in making Yoo-hoo that probably contribute to the taste.

Q: Rob - Why on the Jolinko home page area does it continue to display a single person under the friend finder for me? It alternates between a list of people I don't know, and only one persons icon, yours Tim.
A: Apparently Jolinko is attempting to recommend me as a friend for you, Rob, despite the fact that I'm not sure I've ever met you. Still, Jolinko is all-powerful and all-knowing, so maybe our friendship was meant to be. Who knows?

Q: vanessa - mine is the same way!
A: Well if I'm being recommended to two different people then my plans for world domination must be further along than I thought! I guess I'll have to advance my plans to take over the world's financial system and...

Oh wait, is this thing on? Whoops!