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Generic Confusion

When you leave, my blog just fades to grey
Nu ma nu ma iei, nu ma nu ma nu ma iei

News? Check. Politics? Check. Music? Check. Random thoughts about life? Check. Readership? Ummm.... let me get back to you on that. Updated when I feel like I have something to say, and remember to post it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Al Gore's new book

ZombieTime.com took a photo of Al Gore holding his new book. However, since the glossy book cover reflected the flash, he opened it up to readers to fill in the blank-appearing book. The resulting suggestions are quite funny, particularly the Civilization reference.

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Lawyers: you just can't escape them!

Following a large-scale battle in an ongoing Dungeons & Dragons campaign, one of the players posted the following:

Hello...my name is Denzel Valentine of Valentine & Valentine-Attorneys at Law.

Have you been injured during the recent "Defense of Tricaster?" If so, you may be entitled to compensation and reimbursement for your lost wages and pain & suffering at the hands of the Orc horde. Please contact our office...uh tent outside the walls of Southguard to discuss your rights.

We at Valentine & Valentine work hard to get our clients the wheatsheafs they deserve, just listen to this testimonial...


When my husband's flesh was torn from his body and fed to old wicked's minions at the battle of Admunfort, Valentine & Valentine not only got me compensation, but he also got me this strongly worded letter of apology from the Boneheart Cranzer. Thanks Valentine & Valentine!


But don't just take her word for it! We also do worker's compensation claims!

*young urchin*

When I hurt myself delivering a message in Drowntown, I couldn't work for weeks and the messenger threatened to fire me. Valentine & Valentine not only helped me keep my job, they helped me get my TTD payments AND compensation from the bargeowner whose negligence caused my injury...Valentine & Valentine gets REAL results!


So come on in and see us at Valentine & Valentine...we're on YOUR side!

And a satisfied customer responded:

My name is Orestes Mark. I owned the Imperial Mark Casino and Bar in Tricaster - or at least I did when it was vandalized by the orc horde. I called Valentine and Valentine at 1-800 ILL-CON-U for help and they got me immediate relief AND found me a replacement cocktail waitress. Of course, she's a half-orc, but she's got a heart of gold. Now I can take care of my loved ones while Valentine and Valentine takes care of me!

Thanks Denzel!

Those lawyers... they just get involved in every little thing! Can't an adventurer take on a little risk now and then?

(From I.H. and V.V.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Medical Care... with a Warranty!

The group, Geisinger Health System, has overhauled its approach to surgery. And taking a cue from the makers of television sets, washing machines and consumer products, Geisinger essentially guarantees its workmanship, charging a flat fee that includes 90 days of follow-up treatment.

Even if a patient suffers complications or has to come back to the hospital, Geisinger promises not to send the insurer another bill.

I like this idea, mostly because I would prefer to see medical care presented with a constant price. As the article points out, "Under the typical system, missing an antibiotic or giving poor instructions when a patient is released from the hospital results in a perverse reward: the chance to bill the patient again if more treatment is necessary." To have each hospital set a price for each treatment, which will cover normal costs and the expected cost of followup care, would serve to allow hospitals to compete on cost. If one hospital charges $5000 less, with a guarantee of covering necessary followup care, you can be fairly certain they're not going to save that money by skimping on your care.

I don't necessarily agree with the article's next sentence, "As a result, doctors and hospitals have little incentive to ensure they consistently provide the treatments that medical research has shown to produce the best results." There can be multiple treatments, with one far more cost-effective than another. If one treatment costs $100 and is 98% effective, and another costs $10,000 and is 99.5% effective (where "not effective" is not life-threatening), then it doesn't make much sense to use the vastly more expensive treatment first.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Another athlete accused of rape

A terrible news story out of Indianapolis. A student athlete is accused of rape, on the grounds of what is considered a fairly safe high school. Immediately, commenters attribute this crime to being an athlete, one who can get away with unacceptable behavior because he's an athlete. (Some bring race into the equation.)

And they do this while the resolution of the Duke false rape case is fresh in our minds.

There are some rather interesting comments (in a thread that seems to have been closed), where those claiming to be students think this may be a false accusation, one intended to deflect unwanted attention after being caught in the act.

Obviously, we don't have enough information to know what happened. The alleged rapist has been arrested, and will be tried as an adult. The case will be investigated. And the state will have its chance to prove his guilt.

I think it goes completely without saying that rape is a heinous crime, and should be seriuosly punished. Less commonly said, though, is that a false charge of rape is one of the worst crimes among those that do not do physical harm, doing terrible damage even without any direct harm to body or property. Though not at all comparable in damage to violent crime, this crime must be punished as well, with significant prison sentences.

Yesterday, a horrible crime was committed, and the criminal must be punished, and the victim protected. We'll have to wait for the investigation and trial, though, to know who's who.

Exercising civil rights in private

In reference to a Tennessee paper who published a list of concealed-carry permit holders, Andrew Sullivan asks, "If gun rights are civil rights, why would anyone feel the need to hide the fact that they own one?"

Glenn Reynolds immediately turned the question around to abortion. But my original thought was to something dearer to Mr. Sullivan. "If engaging in homosexual sex is a civil right, why would anyone feel the need to hide the fact that they do so?"

And before anyone claims guns can be dangerous, let me refresh one's memory: In the mid-80's, AIDS single-handedly reduced the life expectancy of homosexual men to Third World levels.

There are a lot of actions that are civil rights that you may not want anyone to know. What politician you voted for is one obvious example. Privacy should still be respected.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Dateline: May 1997

The Miami Herald decides to reassign Dave Barry, ending his humor column, to instead have him work reporting the local beat.

Stupid? Yes.

So here's Dave Barry's reaction to the decision of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's decision to reassign James Lileks from his quirky humor column to local news:

This is like the Miami Heat deciding to relieve Dwyane Wade of his basketball-playing obligations so he can keep stats.

Sometimes I don't understand the newspaper business. What's left of it.

And here's Lilek's remarkably civil comments on the matter. I rather like his ideas on a new direction for the Star-Tribune web site. It's too bad he's not actually going to be able to do it.

Nancy Nall, with a somewhat mean-spirited response, does offer some good advice, based on her similar experience. I'm inclined to agree the Star-Tribune wants Lileks to quit voluntarily.

And here's Don Surber, with a summary of links and a memorable quote: "hot type thinking in a digital world."

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Asking the hard questions

New York Post editorial writer Tom Elliott criticizes the media for admitting "not asking the hard questions" after certain events in Iraq (particularly, not finding the WMDs that are most likely in Syria) didn't come out as expected, then continuing to not ask the hard questions.

For example, here are some hard questions:

» Is a timetable for withdrawal intended to hasten victory — or defeat?

» If victory, how will withdrawal help?

» If defeat, how will that help national interests?

» How will abandoning Iraq’s burgeoning government affect America’s reputation in the region?

» A Taliban spokesman recently stated Osama bin Laden is coordinating insurgent attacks in Iraq. If true, how is it possible to simultaneously fight the war on terrorism but not insurgents in Iraq?

» What are some possible worst-case scenarios of withdrawing from Iraq?

» Should such a scenario manifest, what are Democrats’ contingency plans?

» The bill mandates the last of Iraq-stationed U.S. troops to leave by September 2008. What’s significant about this date other than being two months prior to the next presidential election?

As he says, there's a simple reason for that:

These questions never came because the answers are obvious: Abandoning Iraq will hasten an American defeat; leaving the country halfway broken will leave a permanent scar on America’s regional reputation; it’s impossible to fight the war on terrorism but not Iraq’s insurgents; leaving Iraq could beget a full-fledged regional war; Democrats have no plan should such a contingency arise; the final pullout date is arbitrary aside from its intent of removing Iraq from the next election’s political equation.

I have to agree with Elliott's arguments. At times, people make decisions that are so jaw-droppingly stupid that they defy explanation. Crystal Pepsi might be a fine beverage, but "Crystal" and "Pepsi" are such opposing terms that failure was pretty much assured. Leaving Iraq when that's been made entirely clear that it will be spun as victory by Islamists, and abandonment by Iraqis working with us, is similarly unthinkable.

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