Music Monday: Happy New Year


In Closing: My new favorite blog; disgraceful; AC saves lives; damned if he doesn’t sound reasonable; no deal may well be better than a bad deal, but it doesn’t matter because there will be no vote tonight; yeah, that does sound kinda dumb when you put it that way; Baby Boomer Nuns; they wouldn’t be there if they could farm it legally; we never had a chance; even a broken clock is right twice a day; and somebody must write a sci-fi epic based on this picture.

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.

A Really Bad Week for Music

In the last week, we have lost a bunch of fine musicians.

First, Dave Brubeck.

Then, Jenni Rivera — with whom I was not familiar prior to her unfortunate death.

Yesterday, Russian born Soprano Galina Vishnevskaya.

And today, Ravi Shankar. Apparently, somebody forgot to tell him these things happen in threes.

In Closing: turns out the Feds did good on this investment; the return of on the job training (waaah, it costs more than miraculously finding people who already have the skills!); the right to work for less; record period of no freezing in Vegas couldn’t possibly be because of global warming!; reinventing the wheel; even Wal-Mart is feeling it; if you can, give a hand to JP; and congrats to Ornery Bastard.

Quite Possibly the Most Offensive Christmas Song Ever

Don’t play it if you don’t have a sense of humor. Don’t play it if you don’t want to hear “bad words.” You probably shouldn’t play it at work.


In Closing: the choice to fail; the majority of Americans want common sense; tweeting pope; and you thought American banks were bad; on the economy; explaining Iceland; let me save you some reading; NDAA sucks and the new version is no better; “And when a story has enough obvious holes in it that small children roll their eyes, its literal truth is going to be a tough sell”; all the econo-talk you can stand in one place; on Grover Norquist; avoiding the cliff; and the smartest thing I ever read about small business taxes is “My company and my competitors never made a decision based on taxes.  They made decisions incorporating what the tax structure is because we can’t change it.”

I think I have a better idea….

So Clark County School District — the 5th largest school district in the nation — has a “successful” pilot of a program to keep track of students on school busses. Parents can theoretically find out whether their kids got on the bus, and where the bus is. Roughly 700 of the 110,000 students who daily ride the bus got special ID cards and were tracked for 4 whole weeks. Clearly something short of a representative sample. However, “because of financial problems, the district has shelved any large-scale program.”

Good for administrators for realizing that there were concerns about losing passes, and concerns about the costs of the system.

However, here’s the thing. There’s already a great technology in the hands of many middle school students and virtually all high school students that parents can use to keep track of their kids. Better yet, there is absolutely zero cost to the school district for this technology; most parents willingly — nay, eagerly — pay for implementation and all necessary equipment. I personally tested it for 4 years within the Clark County School District Transportation Department, and I feel certain that other parents here and elsewhere have similar experiences. In one case, I was even alerted to a wreck involving the school bus. This of course not only delayed pickup, but changed the pickup location. Use of this amazing technology saved the school district the time and expense of individual notifications to parents in most cases.

It’s called a cell phone.

Stop trying to reinvent the wheel, and stop pretending that a child’s RFID tag is necessarily in the same location as the child.

In closing: good call; inconvenient truth for anti-porn crusaders; Heinlein; I guess none of the researchers ever played the “telephone game”, or they could have saved a lot of research; so some busybody docs and pharmacists think they know more about women’s reproductive health than gynecologists; support a political cartoonist; hackers, crackers, and black swans; Expert Ezra; what could possibly go wrong; income inequality; the Buffett Rule; sure, there’s no such thing as inflation; and Cat Heaven Island. Enjoy an early Caturday.

Music Monday: Life Pro Tip


If you ever find yourself asking “Should I Drink Another Drink,” the answer is almost certainly NO! At least this song is conscious of that fact.

In Closing: sigh our “liberal” administration that is “lax on terror” sure loves them some warrantless surveillance (and how many arrests have there been as a result? Yeah that’s what I thought); maybe if you paid enough that somebody could take the job?; Missouri shows me the common sense; the fiscal cliff and you; Penny Marshall; “Sure, increase the number of chickens you have to inspect in a minute by a factor of 5! What could possibly happen?”; because every kid who scores less than 3 out of 5 is a waste of $80 (yes, I see what the pressure cooker does to kids that actually belong in those classes); where does “work ethic” meet “unrealistic job expectations”? Are workers entitled to a life?; zingers; private equity; on polling bias; Pediatric concern trolls strike again; no wonder they never get ahead.