This hardly needs to be said, as it's been said a million times before, but as it's been my personal experience and frustration for the last few days I can't help but re-iterate the points myself... For all its awesomeness Linux is extremely, profoundly, mind-bogglingly difficult when it comes to installing the things you need. Case in point, over the last few weeks I've needed to install a VPN client on several different real and virtual machines running different flavors of Linux, namely Ubuntu, Debian, Scientific Linux, and CentOS 6. My ultimate success rate was only 50% with me ultimately abandoning the attempt in the other cases after too many hours wasted; I think I spent about 10 hours in all, trying to install VPN on the four systems. This relatively simple task was made incredibly complicated by the process being similar but seriously different for every flavor of Linux involved.
The basic procedure starts simply enough with needing to install the OpenVPN package. But wait, with various flavors of Linux come various package management systems you need to know, from RPM and Yum to Deb and Apt. And once you know the right command-lines the task becomes immediately complicated by the fact that OpenVPN depends on several libraries which may or may not be available in the repositories to which your Linux of flavor automatically connects. It invariably takes some time working out which repository has the needed libraries, some time wondering about the legitimacy of that repository, some worry that the package isn't entirely suitable for the flavor of Linux you're on, and the configuration changes needed to actually cause Linux to look at that repository. With some flavors of Linux this went relatively smoothly and with others not so much. Eventually I would in each case get the OpenVPN client package and its dependencies installed.
Say whatever negative thing you like about Microsoft Windows, but the install experience on Microsoft Windows would have involved at worst picking x86 or x64 versions and possibly selecting between Windows XP / 2000 and Windows Vista / 7 / 8 versions. Everything you needed would be included in the installer.
And here's where it gets even worse with Linux. As I quickly discovered, the ubiquitous Network Manager applet (akin to the wifi/network icon and applet in the Windows system tray) that's featured in all modern Linux task bars, the applet that makes adding / configuring and connecting to VPN servers quick and easy, still had its Add and Import buttons unhelpfully grayed out. After quite a bit of confusion and much Googling I discovered that for those features to be usable in the Network Manager applet several additional packages (acting as plugins) specific to Network Manager had to be installed allowing it to support OpenVPN. This was not something one would naturally expect, as the VPN tab was already present in the Network Manager applet giving no hint that something was left to be installed. And it's here where I was only partially successful across the various flavors of Linux. With two of the flavors I just couldn't find the appropriate dependencies (of the Network Manager plugins) to get the job done; I found things but they didn't work, were for CentOS 5 when I needed them for Cent OS 6, etc.
And even where I was fully successful on two of the systems the VPN wouldn't connect until a reboot, which I would have been happy doing had the cryptic error I was receiving indicated that might be useful. More Googling required to learn that. And in another case where I came close to getting things working the VPN manager would let me add VPN connections only to then make them unavailable for connection selection, leaving me with no idea why it wasn't working or what to do about it.
Say what you will about Microsoft Windows but there is never a separate installation step required to enable a driver's/software's GUI.
And so it is my profound and lingering frustration that something as miraculously wonderful as Linux continues to be hobbled by user experience which requires vastly more time, patience, intelligence, and dedication than most users will ever be willing to provide. While I understand that the various flavors of Linux are very much a part of its success and ubiquity in everything from web servers to embedded devices in cars to Android tablets, I can't help but wish the desktop Linux space wasn't so fragmented, that putting together a working Linux machine and all its needed packages wasn't so g-d damn much like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. When I think of all that Linux does right, all its hardware support, all its ported software, all its UI options, why oh why can't these relatively basic issues be sorted out?
Ah well... I can dream.
The UnElected Day
My every day is the desperate
(and only partially successful) attempt to
think the right things (
1. limit my awareness to only what i can bear, ignore most of life's everpresent horrors
2, think of myself and all in ways which allow me to act without unreasonable cost
3. find a reason to cautiously invite tomorrow ),
and insodoing somehow
to satisfy those who employ me,
appease those who rely on me,
engender all others,
and if I am lucky, perhaps be left with a scrap or two of joy
or at least a peaceful absence of hurt.
- Taras Zaitsev (translateion QvB)
I have owned the Viliv S10 Blade, a Windows-based 10" convertible tablet, for a few years and until now it was a device desperately looking for a suitable operating system. Windows 7 came installed on the S10, but its bloat, overhead, and lack of touch friendly interface made the Viliv S10 no more useful than a ruefully overpriced bargain basement netbook. Flash forward several years and the world has come to embrace the tablet, and Microsoft has re-imagined its operating system with a finger-driven touch interface in mind. I was eager to see if Windows 8 could finally make my Viliv S10 what it always should have been. The good news is that the Windows 8 experience on the Viliv is quite a bit better than the Windows 7 experience; the bad news is that the device is still too laggy (CPU too slow and memory too low) and unable to deliver the fluid, effortless experience you've come to expect from even the lowliest Android or Apple tablet. Nonetheless, if you've got a Viliv S10 you'd be a fool not to squeeze a better experience out of the convertible tablet you already own.
I am hoping to save you the pain I experienced trying to get Windows 8 installed on the Viliv S10 Blade, so read on!
Installing Windows 8
The Viliv S10 Blade has no CD/DVD-ROM drive so you will need to either do a download-based installation of Windows 8 or you'll need to copy the contents of the Windows 8 DVD onto the Viliv (the DVD contents is approximately 2.8 GB) from a DVD drive shared from another computer or via a USB memory stick or SD card. When you're ready, begin the install.
The first thing you'll need to decide is what type of install you'll do, will you keep your user data or your user data and applications/settings. In the ideal world you would want to keep your applications/settings but I tried repeatedly to do an in-place upgrade keeping all my applications and settings (as well as user data) and was unsuccessful. During each install it would hang during the "Getting Devices Ready" step, hanging at 81% (I left it there for 23 hours on one install). After each failure it restores your computer to its pre-install state. I tried uninstalling various software, removing various drivers, and disabling various services within Windows 7 before restarting the Windows 8 install and nothing made a difference; the installation wouldn't get beyond "getting devices ready". Ultimately I chose the option which kept only my user data and the install completed successfully. If your install behaves as mine did you will need to also try the option of keeping only user data.
Once the installation is done you will discover that you have no Internet connection. Do not attempt to turn on the wifi device with the Fn + F2 key combination. Proceed to the next section.
Calibrate the Screen
You will likely find on install that the touch screen is uselessly mis-calibrated. Fortunately the fix is easy, just use the touch pad to go to the Control Panel and do a search for "calibrate" and then do the touch screen calibration. Your touch screen will now work properly.
Three things prevent your wifi from working after the Windows 8 install. 1) Your wifi module is off (and thus Windows doesn't detect it), 2) No suitable drivers are included with the Windows 8 install files, and 3) the available Windows 7 wifi driver will not work without a "patch".
Step 1: Turn on your wifi module.
Press Fn + F2. You can verify in Windows Device Manager that the device is no on, it will appear as an unknown device.
Step 2: Download Necessary Files
By way of this post I found the trick to getting wifi working. A Viliv S7 owner shared the necessary files and his description of the solution (written in Korean).
Go to his page (on another computer) and download the following files: s7_fix_.zip, Wifi_Driver.zip, and Add_Take_Ownership.reg; do a keyword search on the page and you will find the links to the files. Copy these files to your Viliv via SD card, USB stick, etc.
Step 3: Execute Add_Take_Ownership.reg
Double click the registry key file Add_Take_Ownership.reg to merge it into the registry. It will create a new item called "Take Ownership" when you right click a file or folder in Explorer. This will give your user access to that file or folder. You will need this.
Step 4: Install Wifi_Driver.zip
Unpack the Wifi_Driver.zip then go into the Device Manager. On the Marvell and choose "Update Driver Software..." when prompted in the device installation point to that folder.
Step 5: Apply the Patch
Go into Explorer and right click the C:\Windows\System32\Drivers folder. Choose the Take Ownership option from the context menu. With that done, unzip the S7_fix_.zip file you downloaded and copy the contents of it into C:\Windows\System32\Drivers (overwriting the files already in that folder). You may want to make a backup copy of the affected files, just in case you want to restore your machine to its original state.
Step 6: Enjoy Your Wifi!
Your wifi should now work! If it doesn't, try a reboot.
Installing Graphics Driver
The default Windows 8 install uses a generic Windows graphics driver for the Viliv which lacks the graphic acceleration and screen resolution options of the Intel GMA 500 graphics card in the Viliv S10. It is a very good idea to install this official driver from Intel: Intel GMA 500 driver 188.8.131.520 09/16/2010 .
To install you need to unzip the download to a folder and set the compatibility mode of "Windows 7" before running the Setup.exe. The install will then proceed normally.
Installing Additional Viliv Software / Drivers
Though none are necessary, you may want to install additional Viliv-specific drivers. In general Windows 7 drivers are compatible with Windows 8, so this official source of Windows 7 Viliv S10 drivers is the place to download them.
I've been running Windows 8 on my Viliv S10 Blade for a couple of weeks now and the experience has been mixed. Part of the blame can be placed on Windows 8 which is a curious hybrid operating system, trying to be both entirely touch and mouse friendly while being exclusively neither. You are routinely forced to use apps of both flavors to perform tasks, Windows having provided their new UI approach for only a small subset of routine OS and administrative tasks. The largest frustration with the Viliv and Windows 8 is the lackluster performance, most of the new Windows Store delivered apps work quite well but only if the operating system isn't doing something at the time, and in-app actions like loading resources can make the experience painfully laggy. I suspect if the Viliv had an additional gigabyte of RAM the experience would have been dramatically improved. Still, compared to my absolutely miserable experience of the Viliv with Windows 7 I am at least pleased that my Viliv now once again has a purpose in life. Hope you find renewed pleasure in yours as well.
You know you are getting older when the present differs so greatly from the past... Here are some things that were once quite familiar to me...
I remember rotary dial phones, the days before VCRs (when classrooms used film projectors), when video games in no way resembled real life, when a soda cost $0.25, when a phone call cost $0.10, and when 5 1/4" floppy disks were the new and exciting thing (replacing audio cassettes for loading programs on a home computer). I also remember when our TVs were black and white, 8 track tape players were in cars, when the first portable audio cassette players came out, when the CD-ROM was the new hot thing, when answering machines suddenly became available to the masses, when the fax machine came along, and much more stuff that is now irrelevant or nearly so. Worse yet, this isn't stuff I remember as a 5 year old, this was the way it was when I was 9 ~ 12 years old and older...
And now we've got the Internet, cell phones, GPS, flying cars, hover boards, time travel, and... well, some of those things anyway.
Death is horrible stuff, and books on its horrors have been and will continue to be written. And many of these books attempt to help us understand and accept death, often recent deaths of people to whom we are close, and sometimes our own impending death. But I've yet to hear much talk about how we comprehend or process the death of past acquaintances.
I learned recently about the death of someone I once barely knew, Elissa, wife of my ex-girlfriend's coworker. The feelings her passing evokes are queer, being neither the intense and incomprehensible loss of someone dear nor the distant, abstracted mental shrug offered in memory of an anonymous stranger. I can't think of her death in terms of a personal loss, as the path of our brief acquaintanceship had long ago run its course. I would never have encountered her again. But in a way it's that disconnection that produces the hauntingly odd quality, the instinctive recognition that I lost something confronted with the reality that I didn't actually have it. Nothing changed, nothing given nor taken away; and yet I feel like I suffered a loss. I feel sad more indirectly than directly. I feel sad for all those who actively knew her, for those who could have known her in the future, and for the wrenchingly accidental circumstances of her death (which must have made it all the harder to comprehend). And I feel a tinge of survivor's guilt, that she knew was one of those who richly deserved life, one of those who know how to live it to its full, while I seem often merely to passively occupy both time and space. Ah well, we humans are a curious lot, forever failing to come to terms with living or with dying.
We are all someone's acquaintance, all able to linger hauntingly in someone's memory, never entirely there nor ever entirely gone.
To Elissa and Kevin, another acquaintance of mine who passed last year, I can only offer in poverty to retain their memory, appreciate the time I knew them, and leave the deserved and profound mourning to those who knew them best.
Inpainting is the editing (aka Photoshopping) of an image by using patterns or features of one area of an image to fill in other (usually nearby) region(s) of the same image. This technique lets you do pretty neat things like repair negative scratches, repair tears or discolorations on prints, or even remove people or things within an image by replacing them with background elements. A few days ago the software site Give Away of the Day was giving away a software product called Inpaint and I had a chance to try it. What I'd done before more manually in Photoshop I could now do with greater ease. I was amazed at the results. For fun I spent a couple of hours playing around with the software to see just how sophisticated a removal you could do.
By just drawing a single line over the snake Inpaint can remove the snake with remarkable effectiveness. I later learned how to make it even better so that you wouldn't see the lighter band you see below.
And now to remove something a little more complicated.
And now to try some image repair...
Think too many people and animals are spoiling a Machu Picchu picture? No problem!
And then I wanted to see just how complicated a removal I could do... so I tried this! It took only a couple of minutes!
And finally I wanted to try something insane... I wanted to see if I could remove all humans from this complicated scene...
I'm pretty amazed what a little inpainting software can do to radically change photos, and all with a $20 product. Definitely worth it!
I've always been a big believer in physiognomy*. I cannot prove it scientifically, nor do I believe it would necessarily hold up to scientific scrutiny, but it has always felt true to my experience of people. People who look nice usually seem to contain niceness. People who look mean usually seem to contain meanness.
I have never felt let down by this intuitive assessment tool, until Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began showing up in the news. My physiognomic response to seeing his likeness is to feel deeply warm feelings towards the man, somehow seeing in the contours of his face a disarming humor, charm, kindness; there's just something about his look to which I respond very strongly positively. And yet I cognitively know that the man himself seems by all accounts to be a pretty bad man. Whether its his alleged nuclear weapon ambitions, his arguable election tampering, his brutal crackdowns on his people, his baffling denials of things like homosexuality and the Holocaust, I find little good to say about the man. And yet even still I see a photo of him, smiling or not, and I am still deceived into feeling something warm and fuzzy.
Thank goodness I rely more on logic than feeling when it comes to decision making... and thank goodness I have few decisions I need to make related to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
*Physiognomy (from the Gk. physis meaning "nature" and gnomon meaning "judge" or "interpreter") is the assessment of a person's character or personality from his outer appearance, especially the face. The term physiognomy can also refer to the general appearance of a person, object or terrain, without reference to its implied characteristics. Wikipedia
Router with slow download and upload speeds? Don’t connect it through your UPS’s over-network voltage protection!
This is just a technical note for anyone who winds up with the problem I did the other day... I bought a new wifi router the other day, hooked it up and was shocked to find my download and upload speeds were abysmal, in the 1 Mbps range (rather than the expected 75 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up). I spent an hour trying different firmware in the router, looking for problematic options in the router's config, and replacing cabling. But somewhere in my sleeping hours the answer came to me... My cable modem's network cable feeds into my UPS which then feeds into the wireless router. The UPS provides voltage filtering, arguably useful for preventing distant lightning in my rural neighborhood from destroying more networking equipment than it otherwise might. The idea came to me that the UPS network feature might not be gigabit rated. My old wifi router was not a gigabit router, thus it would communicate with the cable modem at 100 Mbps, within the rating of the UPS. But the cable modem is likely gigabit and the new wifi router is gigabit, and thus they would communicate at gigabit speeds. And the UPS may unwittingly screw up that speed of communication by the filtering it does on the signals passing through. I bypassed the UPS and sure enough everything now works as expected!
Asked by a reporter if he supported abortion in the case of rape, Congressman Todd Akin replied with his now infamous quote:
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
In those few sentences Congressman Akin managed to offend in not just one but three very different ways:
- He implies that there are legitimate and non-legitimate rapes.
- He claims that pregnancies resulting from rape are rare.
- He doesn't seem to emphasize punishment.
And while most of the political world was quick to shun him, with even his closest allies calling for him to drop his bid for re-election, I can't help but feel annoyed by the mindlessly reactionary responses. I'm no friend to Republicans, I disagree with most of the claimed conservative values, but I am no more a friend to the Democrats and progressives when they seem unable to look at things rationally and instead seek refuge behind politically correct positions and chants.
I don't think most congressmen belong in congress, and I see no reason to think any differently of Congressman Akin, but that doesn't mean I find his statements worse than they are.
Let's take a look at Congressman Akin's offenses in turn.
Congressman Akin's statement about legitimate rapes does certainly imply there must exist illegitimate rapes. Most of the furor surrounding this quote seems to rest on this point. But while I understand that his statement could suggest the disgustingly archaic viewpoint that women invite, allow, or invent almost all of the sexual assault they report, it seems far more reasonable to imagine he meant only to exclude those who fit this last criteria. A congressman could make a statement like, "If it's a legitimate robbery then this bill will force the insurance companies to pay up." without anyone getting even remotely upset. It acknowledges the existence of the same phenomena, false reporting of a crime. His poorly phrased statement seems to be trying to address his response at the (majority of) cases where rape was not falsely claimed.
The reality is that some percentage of all reported crimes are wholly false, the alleged criminal act did not occur at all. The heinous crime of rape is not immune to this deceit. A few studies have been done to try to determine what percentage of rapes are false but to date there are no universally accepted statistics. Frequently mentioned statistics seem to range anywhere from 2% to 12%. The most common figure I've seen on sites supporting women's causes is roughly 6%. The Violence Against Women journal included a study based on a thorough review of college rape investigations and puts the number of false allegations at 5.9%, as mentioned in this blog entry of the title False Rape Allegations Are Rare. I've seen many quotes from people on the left saying exactly the same thing, that false claims of rape are "rare". "Rare" is the key word here, as they are applying it to something which they agree happens roughly 6% of the time.
The phrase "illegitimate rape" should clearly never be uttered because it offends and is taken with historical context to de-legitimize those who have been raped. But we must as honest men and women acknowledge that a small percentage of rape claims are not true, and must allow others to acknowledge this fact as well, and be able to refer to them in discussion, even when it involves charged topics like abortion. We cannot simply shout down our adversaries for poor phraseology, those are the chief argumentation tactics of the Rush Limbaughs and the Howard Sterms.
As an aside, I was stunned when I first learned that ~6% of rape accusations were wholly false. The figure is touted by women as a positive, as though the number was impressively low, which is likely because of the historical context of the public apparently believing that most rape allegations are false. But I grew up assuming that 99.9% of rape allegations were true, not comprehending that anyone could or would make up such a thing, and so for me to discover that 6% were false was shocking and vastly more than I would have ever imagined.
Pregnancies from Rapes are Rare
Congressman Akin's claim that women's bodies have some mechanism by which it can prevent unwanted fertilization of an egg is not supported by science or medicine. While many wish to see it as an evil statement, born of a desire to blame the woman should she become pregnant, such an explanation is not required. It may be plain but unremarkable ignorance.
What I find most infuriating about the anger at Todd Akin is that it suggests that all those condemning him know so very much better, and I am very sure most of them do not! Those pillorying him may assume better, may have guessed better, or may just know better how to toe the politically correct party line, but very likely most of them are no more scientifically or medically informed or grounded.
Considering first exactly what he said we find rank hypocrisy coming from many of his accusers. His claim (leaving out for a moment his incorrect explanation) is that pregnancy as a result of rape is rare. And in that he is correct if we use the definition of "rare" that all those who are most vitriolic towards Akin are. Various studies have strongly suggested that 5 - 8% of women who are raped become pregnant as a result. If we consider that many advocates for women argue that false rape accusations are rare at 6% then surely we would expect them to consider pregnancy as a result of pregnancy at 5-8% to be a similarly rare occurrence. If they did, however, this aspect of Congressman Akin's comment would not be worth mentioning. To have useful discussions and dialogue we must be consistent in our use and interpretation of language, to make language or math political is idiocy.
But let's look at his erroneous explanation of why pregnancy from rape is rare. Taken at its core his statement requires that women are less likely to become pregnant as a result of rape than consensual sex. On this point he seems proven entirely wrong, studies have only suggested the opposite. But his (and others') expectation that rape would be less likely to produce pregnancy is easily explained, logical, and almost certainly the common belief until recent studies began to show otherwise. There are many objective reasons to suspect rape would be less likely to result in pregnancy. I am sure most of his attackers are no better read on the available studies than he was. As such, lets consider not his logic, which apparently depended on only one particular doctor's viewpoint, but on the overall expectation which exists to draft most people's expectations. Included in these facts:
- Rapists often do not ejaculate. While exact numbers are hard to come by I saw some things which said that only 10% of the time was semen recoverable from rape victims, meaning the attacker did not ejaculate, withdrew before ejaculating, or wore a condom.
- Rapists use condoms as often as 10-15% of the time.
- Stress is widely believed to increase miscarriages and many have assumed stress hormones would interfere with conception, implantation, and fetal development. Rape marks the beginning of a long and horribly stressful journey back to any sort of normal.
- Rape is (generally) a single event, relatively short in duration, whereas consensual sex is more likely to be prolonged and repeated.
Taking just the above objective facts a reasonable person would conclude that pregnancy as a result of rape should occur much less often than from consensual un-protected intercourse. And if we know that the average likelihood that a woman will become pregnant as a result of unprotected consensual sex is 5% then surely many reasonable people would estimate a rape would result in pregnancy at a rate one order of magnitude less than with consensual sex.
That "reasonable" guesstimate happens to be wrong, as has been established in studies, but the conclusion was not the result of stupidity. There were, however, some key factors that were overlooked:
- Rapists more often prey on victims during their most fertile years, so the overall rate of pregnancy from one incident of intercourse within that age range is higher than 5%, making pregnancy from rape also higher.
- Unknown evolutionary forces might be at play giving aggressive males an advantage at fertilizing women. This is wildly speculative, but has been offered as one possible explanation for what otherwise seems unexpected. No studies I'm aware of support this as yet.
I don't want to discourage people from trying to understand the world in which they live using the facts available to them. We should not call the conclusions people come to nor the people themselves "stupid" as a result of a genuine attempt to figure things out as best they can. People are only stupid when they choose to ignore facts which might have otherwise altered their positions.
Todd Akin is no more nor less intelligent than most of his detractors, no more or better informed. We must be able to present him with new evidence and only deem him worthy of contempt if he fails to update his view based on superior evidence.
Punishing the Rapists
When I heard the offensive quote what offended me the most was in fact the last part of the oft repeated quote. He seems to show so little interest in the prosecution of the guilty. "I think there should be some punishment..." sounds so anemic, as though he feels forced to grudgingly acknowledge some mild punishment is expected. His statement is something I'd expect a disinterested father saying to a supermarket cashier after his child was caught with a pack of gum he didn't pay for. If I were of a mind to be outraged by my interpretation of the first part of his quote then this line would absolutely be the nail in the coffin for me. Not only does he seem to think many victims deserved what happened to them, not only does he not acknowledge the problem of further traumatizing victims and populating the planet with children born from violence, but he proves he doesn't think it's a real crime by barely conceding that any punishment is warranted. I likely am reading way too much into this portion of his statement, but in part that's my point. Others who found this quote offensive were apparently willing to give this part of his statement a pass, assuming he really meant something different, or at that this wasn't the worst of what he said, when for me it was. I have yet to hear anyone even mention this part of the quote in the discussion.
Rape is in no way to be tolerated, and I cannot fathom how our legal system permits the freeing of those who are found guilty of heinous crimes such as rape, molestation, kidnapping, murder, etc. In my view, society should be forever protected from people who have demonstrated certain criminal tendencies. Having felt the intense violation and fear that comes from being a victim of far lesser crimes, I can only begin to dimly imagine the horror one might feel as a result of this sort of sexual assault. I do not support Todd Akin or anyone espousing archaic views about women, sexuality, gender, etc. I just want to ensure that all of us can communicate about these topics, can freely discuss them without the ignorant, knee-jerk politics or political correctness that only entrenches people further in their ignorance. Only through that openness is there any hope for them or for us.
The situation was this... I awoke Sunday morning to find a bat flying circles around my bed. I opened the window and with a little encouragement the bat flew out. A few hours later I read that according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) anyone sleeping in a bedroom where a bat is found should receive the rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (RPEP) if the bat is not submitted for testing. Bats have a documented history of transmitting rabies to people as they slept. (Had I known this before releasing the bat I would have had a separate moral dilemma, would I be willing to pay $10,000 to avoid causing the death of a bat.)
Rabies is 99.99999999% fatal if not treated long before symptoms occur; treatment is 100% effective. Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (RPEP) is very expensive, treatment fees (from web-based patient reports) range from $5,000 - $15,000, depending on location, hospital, availability of vaccine, etc. Insurance will likely only cover a portion of my treatment, and as my girlfriend has no insurance I'll be on the hook for the full price of her treatment. I had roughly 72 treatment-effectiveness-limited hours to decide what action, if any, I would take. What would you do?
I find it a fascinating situation to be in, a fascinating problem to wrestle with, because unlike many of the more nebulous philosophical questions relating to morality, ethics, the nature of existence, etc. this is so elegantly, cruelly simply.
You can't know if you were infected, but you can estimate the likelihood that you were infected. You will absolutely die if you were infected and do not get treatment, but you will not suffer any ill effects if you were infected and get treatment. If it cost $1 almost everyone would get treated (in my situation), but it cost $100,000 almost no one would get treated (in my situation). Somewhere between $1 and $100,000, somewhere between a 0% chance of infection and a 100% chance of infection exists the divide between getting treated and not getting treated.
I spent the first 24 hours after exposure trying to find where this line of demarcation lay.
Estimating the likelihood of infection was critical. If it were large the decision would be easy. I found that various studies put the rate of rabies infection in bat populations at anything from less than 1% to 6%. Bats observed in their natural environment seem to have a lower than 1% rabies infection rate, while bats which have encountered humans, been captured, and sent in for testing have a rate as high as 6%. Periodic public rabies panics which caused more people to test more bats found inside their homes suggests that the real infected rate related to human-bat encounters is more like 3%. Thus, it seems reasonable to assume my bat had no more than a 3% chance of being rabid. But of course to become infected I would have needed some contact with the bat. Surely the likelihood that it bit or scratched me as I slept was low, as my prevailing theory was that I woke up as a result of hearing it somehow wiggle its way through the screen window and then flap against the blinds. In the end I arbitrarily estimated that there was no more than a 33% chance that I had contact with the bat. Combining these I estimated my risk as certainly no higher than 1%.
And so it is I spent the evening and the next morning pondering whether I would spend $10,000 to save myself a 1% chance of semi-immediate (and by all accounts agonizing) death. I was leaning strongly towards not seeking treatment, not wanting the financial devastation over what surely was a small likelihood of grievous harm.
My girlfriend was not so resigned as I to accepting the risk, and as a result I ended up spending more than an hour trying to pin the billing department of the local hospital down to an actual price range for the treatment.
The local hospital's cost for treatment ended up being lower than the average I'd seen online and was roughly $5,100. That amount broke down to $2,500 for the Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG) drug, $1,800 for four separate Imovax/Rabavert vaccines, and $800 for the administration of those medications across four visits. With the estimated costs half of what I'd been expecting, and with the anxiety my girlfriend would continue feeling indefinitely had we not sought treatment, getting treated now made sense.
We were treated, and I am enjoying my new found nearly complete immunity to rabies. I have been volunteering myself and this new super power to friends or family, hoping they may be having a problem with a rabid or otherwise suspicious animal; thus far I have sadly found no one who needs my help...