On Boston

My tax day post was obviously pre-written, and the actual events of the Boston Marathon Bombing left me with nothing coherent or original to say.

As things stand, there are few answers and much worthless conjecture. If anybody tries to tell you that “everybody knows,” remember that once upon a time “everybody knew” that the earth was flat, that the sun revolved around it, and that witches kept cats as familiars. For example, here’s a collection of stories that are not true about Boston. As usual, you can count on a level head from security expert Bruce Schneier.

Now we have a nutcase Congressman who is against immigration reform because “We have people that are trained to act Hispanic when they are radical Islamists.” Forgive my bluntness, but that is a reason we need immigration reform: so they don’t get jobs in agriculture where they can poison our food (and oh boo hoo we might have to pay minimum wage to legal workers). The fact is that the overwhelming majority of voters — you remember, the people who elect Congressmen — support immigration reform.

However, since there is not yet any evidence of who was behind the events in Boston let alone why, I’d like to focus on a blog post by someone who lives within walking distance of the tragedy. Oddly enough, this was the bit that got me thinking:

[N]ote to emergency planners–don’t assume people from out of town or who don’t speak English well will understand where things are, even if they’re really close by[.]

Now Boston has its share of tourists and I do not dispute this. However, I live in a city whose economy lives on tourism. We had over 39,000,000 annual visits to a metropolitan area that — on a good day — has a population of barely 2,000,000. And not only do those tourists come from all over the world, we have a large population of immigrants as well. On a trip to a nearby grocery store, it’s not unusual to hear conversations in Spanish, Cantonese, French, or Russian. The local Home Depot has staff members who speak Japanese and Tagalog.

So, as we carry out our own Bad Thing Happens In Public Place drill, will we account for those whose English skills are poor, or lacking?

How will we account for the fact that a bombing attack such as happened in Boston might force the evacuation of multiple huge hotel-casinos?

Traffic on the Strip sucks on a good day; what happens if all that traffic has to be re-routed to roads like Paradise and Decatur — two roads that also have frequent congestion? What if it has to be re-routed for more than a couple blocks, as with the taxi incident?

I realize that there’s no planning for the extremely unlikely, but emergencies do happen.

In Closing: Complete noobs wanted for toughest assignment in the system; wow; the student loan crisis is worse than you think; “It’s pretty exciting to be on a list that frequently features Mark Twain, Harper Lee, and Maya Angelou”; Eric Schmidt is right; and pissing contest.

Medical Problem: the Law of Supply and Demand is Still in Effect

As we all know, all too soon we Americans will be required to purchase health insurance from the highly profitable corporations that got us into the health insurance “reform” debacle. Even people who should know better think we just have to have mandatory insurance to abolish pre-existing conditions because after all “people would buy insurance on the way to the hospital!” Clearly people who can say this with a straight face have never attempted to purchase health insurance.

Here’s the problem, as Massachusetts has already found out. All those newly insured people? They are going to want value for their money! They are going to want to see a doctor! We already have a physician shortage — which is being made worse by Baby Boomer retirements. Nevada has had a shortage for a decade, and it’s not getting better (don’t get me started).

Now there is news that — officially — it’s not going to get better for at least 4 years. It seems that even though medical schools are churning out doctors, those newly degreed docs with six figures of student loan debt sometimes can’t find residency programs! No residency, no full license, no insurance reimbursement, no job as a doctor. What a waste. Gee, your doc doesn’t seem so greedy now that you know what bills he’s facing, does he?

Want to bring down medical costs?  You’d better find a way to make more doctors, more ways to train them, and better ways to pay for their education.

In Closing: a couple comics; the cat film festival will return for a second year; oh well then I’ll just try not to look like a dissident; if anybody finds any follow-up on FPS Russia, please let me know; oh the things musicians will argue about; and duh.

I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time

USA Today tells us that thanks to patient surveys, hospitals are kissing our butts:

Special air-blowing vests keep patients warm pre-surgery. Private rooms are the norm. Staffers regularly check in with patients to anticipate their toilet and showering needs to cut down on call-light usage. Patients are given clear discharge instructions. Cleaning is no longer done at night. Patients are taught the difference between “pain-free” and “pain-controlled.”


Amenities such as free lattes and valet parking are not new to hospitals. They began offering them years ago in a high-stakes fight to lure patients. However, what hospitals are doing now is, for the most part, tailored to the survey questions they know patients will be asked.


“The problem is America is a free-market economy,” [Rajesh Balkrishnan of the University of Michigan] said. “We need to give patients a way to speak on what they think about health care, what works for them, how health care professionals work for them, because those factors go into determining whether treatments are successful.”

I don’t think any of us have a problem with the idea that they are trying to make a hospital stay a more pleasant experience. It’s hard to recover from whatever when there is too much noise to rest, for example. It’s great that staff is making a better effort at explaining what’s going to happen. Anticipating needs? Well that is mighty fine customer service. However, I think now we are starting to go too far.

For one thing, who the heck is paying for these valets, lattes, and pre-surgery warming vests? In the end, you and I are through higher premiums and taxes. Could we perhaps make do with a clean blankie and a coffee maker?

Second, all this nonsense loses sight of Reality. In Reality, people choose a hospital based on two factors and only two factors: What hospital will my insurance company pay for? or What hospital is closest to the site of the accident? The overwhelming majority of people don’t have the luxury of saying “General Hospital has a better record of surgical outcomes” or “St. Elsewhere has free espresso drinks!” Let’s stop pretending that any of this is considered by Joe and Jane Average when Joe’s having chest pain.

Speaking of Reality, I understand that Obamacare means more insured patients means more demand for physician services. But where exactly does Stacy think she’s going to find doctors for that medical office space she’s trying to rent out?

In Closing: it would be nice if reporters would actually read scientific studies before telling us what they say; light up crosswalks; they had to get water from somewhere; college readiness may be more than academic skills; some taxes are going up regardless of what gets decided about the fiscal cliff (at this point I’m mighty tempted to say let’s just go there and watch the backpedaling); OBEY; and the ultimate helicopter parents.

Oh sure, I totally know him.

I’m blaming Busted Knuckles for invoking his name in comments:

In Closing: effing candyman; maybe a clue why is in the previous post’s comments?; follow up; more follow up (attackers knew irony?); Military wants to save you $3,000,000,000 but Congress won’t let them; sorry Wendy, when you serve burgers in paper wrappers on plastic trays, you are not “higher end”; can you help JP out?; and find the problem in this picture. The sad thing is I don’t know how many times I’ve driven past this sign without noticing.

Shorties Awakening

When Al Jazeera points this out, it’s a problem: School to Prison Pipeline. If you find this topic interesting (or horrifying, whatever), the ACLU is a great place to start.

Old Flowers: In this case, 32,000 years old. For those keeping track, that’s over 5 times as old as young-Earth creationists think the world is. <sarcasm> Miracle, or Satan’s lies? </sarcasm>

The Last Ninja: Is an engineer who admits that most of what he learned has no place in the modern world.

Break it down: Here’s where Google’s ad revenues come from.

Burnout: Half of doctors report some signs of it. I’m really disappointed that they didn’t even try to look at why they might feel that way.

It’s not your imagination: The middle class earned less than they did a decade ago.

Apparently Alabama law allows death threats on the job: Seriously.

That can’t be good: For all the news coverage of Romney talking about his energy plan, he specifically refused to go into details where the press might hear it (If this is true, shame on the press for not pointing out that they have an incomplete story). So, does he plan on making up details to suit his audience, or is his plan so out there that he doesn’t dare risk the general public learning the details? Either way, do we want him in charge? What is already known is attracting criticism from many places.

Cyrus: Shorties of a Serial Killer

8 Years: Somehow I managed to overlook my Blogiversary.

Next time you have a hard time getting through to your doctor’s office: Remember that the Feds are tying up the line trying to figure out how hard it is for you to get an appointment.

He’s just so nice: Matt Damon is trying to find ways to help African people get clean, safe water. And he’s good looking, and he can act.

On Fitness: Ladies, please ignore the fact that it comes from a publication called “Men’s Journal.” The Truth is unisex.

Let’s Get This Out of the Way: Everybody knows that yet another appeals court says there’s no Constitutional problems with the Affordable Care Act, right? Ok, moving on then.

In other news, Bill Gates Doesn’t Understand Capitalism: Ignoring the diseases of poverty isn’t a failure, it’s a sign that there’s no money in it. That’s why it’s called “poverty.”

Shut up and get back to work!: Yeah, it sure would be nice to have paid sick days. I have no idea how you’d do that for those of us who are self-employed.

Professor is Correct Again: Cutting the budget deficit won’t put a single person to work. In fact, it will put some government employees out of work. It will also reduce GDP — which by definition includes government spending. Who are the President’s economic advisers? The ghost of Herbert Hoover? A least he understands that there is no way to balance the budget without taxes.

Computer Security: Don’t stick strange memory sticks in your computer! You don’t know where they’ve been! Stupidity makes hacking possible.

Missing Cute White Girl of the Week Club: Why it’s bad for all of us. Amen, brother.

Senator Bernie Sanders: Speaking Truth in a place where it has been lacking.

To those of you who just got out of medical school: Sage words of a Dinosaur.

Too Big To Fail: Simply must be Too Big To Exist.

Sahara: The sign is going to be at the Neon Museum.

Most expensive used car ever: A painstakingly restored 1963 Volkswagen Microbus.

Looking forward to it: Shatner‘s latest film is a documentary wherein he interviews all 5 actors who have played a Star Trek captain.

Speaking of documentaries: Everything you know is probably wrong.

Screw Infrastructure: Apparently it is more cost effective to build a bridge in China and have it shipped here. We won’t have any lasting recovery until we get away from the Latte Economy.

Tomorrow, I’ll have some exciting news for you. In the meantime, stay cool.

Just another day in Vegas

I took this picture yesterday from the third floor of the Clark County Courthouse, around noon. It was a beautiful day.

In Closing: “And the recess appointment power doesn’t work why?”; common sense; keeping their priorities straight; yeah, I think many of us would have bought the T-shirt; NY Times catches up to the end of private practice (they’re only about a decade late); now can we work on the unemployment problem?; and as much as I hate to even think about it, lessons from the Baby Sitter’s Club.