Cancer eating your ribcage? No problem! We’ll just 3D-print you a new one!

September 18, 2015
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Pushing the boundaries

This is amazing:

A 3D-printed rib cage made of titanium has been implanted into a human for the first time, received by a man from Spain suffering from a cancerous tumor.

Surgeons at Salamanca University Hospital in Spain asked Anatomics, an Australian firm, to create the rib cage for the patient, who had part of his own removed after his cancerous tumor grew around his ribs and sternum, according to The Mirror U.K.

The design team customized the 3D rib cage using CT scans from the patient and a printer from the Australian national science agency CSIRO.

“The reason 3D printing was desired for making this implant was because it needed to be customized exactly to suit the patient,” Alex Kingsbury, additive manufacturing research leader at CSIRO said, according to The Mirror.

“No human body is the same, so therefore every implant is going to be different,” Kingsbury continued. “It would have been an incredibly complex piece to manufacture traditionally, and in fact, almost impossible.”

And yet human ingenuity once again makes the impossible possible. (Prophets of Doom for the Cult of Global Warming should take note.)

It’s been said the Internet “changed the world.” Well, 3D printing has the potential to be just as transformational in ways we haven’t even dreamed of, yet.

I wonder if this guy’s friends now call him “Terminator?”

via Jonah Goldberg

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Theater of the Absurd: taxes force Spanish theater to sell porn to stay open

December 5, 2014

“Detrás de la puerta verde?”

Here’s another wonderful example of the ridiculous situations created when a bloated, unsustainable social welfare state forces politicians to tax anything and everything they can think of in order to feed the beast. In this case, a Spanish theater that presents the plays of Spain’s “Shakespeare” has to sell pornography to reduce its crippling tax burden:

Crippled by colossal tax rates and falling ticket sales, the Spanish cultural sector is taking creative action to cut its tax bill, including one theatre which has changed its main business to pornography to avoid having to pay high taxes.

The tax charged on cultural performances in Spain has shot up from eight to twenty-one percent since 2011 as the government attempts to balance the books, and has drawn a broader range of products into the local VAT-like ‘sales tax’. Some have noted the uneven application of the new higher taxes, which have hit high culture but not erotica and magazines.

Theatre director Karina Garantivá said: “It’s scandalous when cultural heritage is being taxed at 21 percent and porn at only at 4 percent. Something is wrong”. Her company, which performs works by the “Spanish Shakespeare” Pedro Calderón de la Barca has decided to circumvent the new, punitive taxes by registering as a distributor of pornographic magazines – and is offering free performances.

Punters buying €16 worth of hardcore-swingers magazine Gente Libre from the company receive a ‘free’ ticket to a performance of the highly regarded 17th century comic drama El Mágico Prodigioso.

Garantivá said the law as it stands made theatres feel as if they were “in a straitjacket, suffocated”, and that “We want people to ask what kind of a society makes this kind of decision. That they compare pornography and Calderón … and reach their own conclusions”.

A tax on “cultural performances?” That might make even gentry liberals here howl in outrage.

Ms. Garantivá asks the right question in the above highlight, but I have to wonder if someone raised in Spain’s all-encompassing social welfare system could easily come to the right answer? The problem is welfare statism itself, which spends far more than it can afford and faces continual pressure to spend even more to support an aging population, while dealing with a declining birth rate. The government’s increasing tax demands thus fall on a shrinking tax base, taking more per person. It’s a recipe for economic stagnation at best and collapse at worst. It’s a growing problem confronting much of Europe, but the people most burdened by the taxes often shriek the loudest at any effort to cut taxes and benefits to more rational levels. And we’re not all that far behind.

Meanwhile, you also have to wonder about politicians who tax “Shakespeare” more than smut.


More European Union signs of Doom

May 30, 2012

We all know that Greece is a mess… No, wait. Scratch that. We all know that Greece is a hot, steaming, radioactive mess that threatens to mutate into a blob that eats the EU alive.

Everyone knows that.

But it’s even worse than you think when the tax system literally is run by the Mob:

“The basic question is that a German has to increase working from 65 to 67 and that is to pay for Greeks retiring at 50. The 17th of June is the perfect opportunity to say either ‘we’ll behave’ or ‘we’ll carry on cheating,’” he said.

Harsh words, but they are confirmed by many Greeks I know. A Greek member of parliament told me recently that tax reform was “almost impossible” to achieve because “our tax system is run by the Mafia.” I laughed and said that many countries had people who thought of their tax collectors that way. “No, no,” the parliamentarian insisted. “I mean that organized crime really runs the tax agencies for their benefit, taking a cut of the reduction in taxes they give out to citizens. Every person appointed to reform the system has been pushed out. Respect for authority is nil.”

Unless Greeks suddenly show a level of maturity and moral courage they haven’t shown since, well, Salamis, I don’t see how they avoid collapse, which could well take the Euro and the EU itself with them.

PS: Want something even scarier? While it may not sport a Mafia-run tax system, Spain looks like a far worse horror show ready to get underway.

via Jim Geraghty

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Commence Operation “EU crack up,” phase two!

May 8, 2012

Phase One was the unending financial crisis that began in 2008 and the Europeans’ unwillingness to anything that would really address the problem, instead choosing to keep feeding the beast of debt and taxation. Sickened by the failure of their political class (and made delirious by their own addiction to the teat of the State), European voters are responding by throwing the bums out and putting radical bums in their places: a hack Socialist demagogue in France, and communists and neo-Nazis in Greece.

Now comes word that Phase Two, the bailout of banks in Spain has begun:

It was only a matter of time before the next bank bailout began despite all those promises to the contrary. Sure enough, as math always wins over rhetoric and policy, earlier this morning the shot across the Spanish bow was fired after PM Rajoy did a 180 on “no bank bailout” promises as recent as last week. From Dow Jones: “Spain may pump public funds into its banking system to revive lending and its recessionary economy, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Monday, signalling a policy U-turn. The government had pledged to not give money to the banking industry that is struggling in the wake of a collapsed, decade-long, housing boom. “If it was necessary to reactivate credit, to save the Spanish financial system, I wouldn’t rule out injecting public funds, like all European countries have done,” Rajoy said in interview with Onda Cero radio stations.

Spain is Europe’s fifth-largest economy, and its economic problems are huge, but bailing out the banks won’t make much of a difference, if any; it will merely transfer the debt burden from Spanish banks to the Spanish government, which will have to borrow the money or seek its own bailout, further burdening both the already over-taxed Spanish public — as well as German patience. It’s robbing Pedro to pay Pablo, but the bill will still come due — and it will be enormous.

With the EU’s fragile unity already threatened by a likely clash between Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and France’s new President Hollande, will the added pressures of a potential Spanish financial collapse (which would make Greece look like a block party) push the European Union and the Eurozone to the breaking point?

My guess is for at least a partial breakup within the next year, as Greece and other fiscally profligate Latin states leave the Euro so they can devalue their currencies enough to restart growth, while Germany and the other “adult” states are glad to see them go.

But with the rise of political fantasists in Greece, France, and elsewhere, one wonders if that will be enough?

via American Power

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


You think the Greek and Irish crises were bad?

November 29, 2010

Wait until Spain’s economy goes into meltdown. That could be the blow that triggers the end of the Euro:

Economists say that given Spain’s large deficits and poor long-term growth prospects, any failure to achieve government targets for cutting the deficit, and/or any rise in Spanish bank risk, could cause a market panic and turn Spain into the next victim of market contagion.

A financial meltdown in Spain would have repercussions far beyond the Iberian Peninsula. For starters, many analysts believe a debt crisis in Spain would trigger a similar meltdown in Italy, which is the fourth-largest economy in the eurozone, and which suffers from many of the same financial woes that are plaguing Spain. What’s more, Italy has one of the world’s highest public debts, expected to reach a staggering 118 percent of GDP in 2010.

Given the relative size of the Spanish economy, financial turmoil in Spain would likely also doom the single European currency, and with that more than 60 years of European dreams of transforming the continent into a superpower-like United States of Europe capable of counter-balancing the United States of America on the global stage.

Germany, which arguably has more invested in (and also has benefited more from) the European Union than any other country in Europe, is alarmed by the potential unraveling of the euro. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the prospect of serial European bailouts is “exceptionally serious,” and that while she does not want to “paint a dramatic picture,” it would have been hard a year ago to “imagine the debate” now taking place in Europe.

I know about as much about government finances as I do Buddhist theology, but, Chancellor Merkel’s desire to save the Euro aside, it would not surprise me to see, in a crisis created first by a Spanish and then an Italian crash, Germany withdraw from the Euro in order to protect its own economy. Germans already hated the bailout given to the profligate Greeks, and I imagine there’s grumbling about the deal given the Irish. Just wait until they’re presented with a bill from Madrid and Rome. I could well imagine even the Chancellor throwing up her hands and shouting Wir haben genug!

In any event, do read the whole article. It’s a good overview of both the problems Spain faces and the limited options it has to address those problems, given its entitlement-addicted people, inflexible labor market, and the power ceded to the European Central Bank.

Question: If the Euro zone does collapse like the wet paper bag it is, does that kill the European Union, too? In the abstract, the death of that burgeoning bureaucratic dictatorship would seem to me a desirable thing. But it would be potentially very, very messy. As in “We’re angry, resentful, feeling hyper-nationalistic, and we don’t like you” messy.