Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why, I Oughta...

I cannot recommend strongly enough this week’s “This American Life”-part two of their series on health care. It is informative, and, as the promo promises, the most entertaining description of health insurance you will ever hear-guaranteed.


In the “Where the hell have YOU been” department, the “Shuffle-Albums” feature on an IPod is worth some love. If you’ve never tried it, it kind of does what it says-it plays all the songs it has tagged under a given album, and then picks another album and does the same thing. I had always used “Shuffle-Songs” before, but it turns out I am liking this one better.


If you’re not watching “FlashForward” on ABC, you should be.

If you are, this week was a tremendous downer. It’s an interesting feeling to enjoy something that makes you so sad and worn out.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old Ad

From Digg ( very cool old cigarette advertisement. I have always loved old ads for some reason. They fascinate me.

The Question Is Moot (Five Questions, at least Two of Which are Serious)

Read this, an article in Newsweek about the lack of evidence being used in cancer care, something I have long complained about. We don't know who the best doctors and hospitals are, because they are not required to share their outcomes.

How, then, does a patient with an HSA decide upon the most cost effective treatment? Who besides the government can compel outcomes reporting and research to decide what works?

Is having more Oscar contenders going to ensure that more small films win?

What ever happened to the five cent cigar?

And why can't anybody beat the Yankees?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Media What Which I Consumed Lately

Robert B Parker-"Brimstone"-A Virgil Cole novel, set in the late 1880s in the American West. This is the third of this series, and as always, Parker's writing is brilliant, sparse, and lovely.

"Night and Day"-The 8th Jesse Stone novel. Another one of Parker's series, this involves a small town police chief, and is also, as always, well done.

Robert L. Sawyer-"Rollback"-Another book by the author of Flash Forward. This one involves aliens, but not in any overwhelming way-even non SF fans might like it.
"The Terminal Experiment"- Another engaging tale with just a tinge of SF. Very highly recommended.

"Year One"-Another deeply silly Jack Black vehicle, purporting to be a tale of a caveman who winds up embroiled in prehistory.
"Monsters and Aliens"-A very cute little cartoon about, well, Monsters. And Aliens. It has its moments, though.
"Tropic Thunder"-An utterly silly tale of a fake Vietnam movie that becomes a real adventure. It's full of showbiz inside baseball, but Tom Cruise does a good job as profane studio head Les Grossman.

But I'm glad I didn't pay for a ticket for any of them.

"I may not have a brain, gentlemen, but I have an idea."

A recent Gallup poll indicates growing support for marijuana legalization.

I tend towards the Bill Hicks point of view here-marijuana is not a health food, certainly, but it is by far less dangerous than tobacco and alcohol. I don't have any problem with legalizing it-as the old joke goes, not only do you get the tax revenue, you also help the snack food industry.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Things What Which Got To Stop

The scheduling of the baseball playoffs has really got to stop. I live about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia, which is where tonight's NLCS game is being played. And folks, cats and kittens, its friggin' cold here. It is frigid. Not depths of winter cold, but to play baseball outside? Cold. It affects the quality of play, and during the most important part of the year, it shouldn't.

Now, I know the schedule is made for the convenience of TV, and it is the billions that TV provides that helps pay for the sport. I get it.

But how do you impress TV and get them to continue to shovel bucks at you? Give them a compelling product that people want to watch. How to you do that? Schedule the games when it is appropriate for baseball to be played. If a Northeast team is involved, they can't play games at night in mid October. Period.

Along with this, improve the product on the field. Bill James explains in his books that there are probably a dozen changes you could make to speed up baseball games, and baseball could implement them tomorrow if they wanted to. Faster game, better product, TV wants in. (For example, James points out the following-Batters don't get to call timeout, umpires do. Aside from the obvious reasons (sand in the eyes), umpires just stop calling time. Signal the pitcher that it's time to pitch, and start calling strikes-see how long it takes David Ortiz to get into the batter's box then.)

As a subset of that, officiating in all sports needs to be dramatically improved. I'm really sick of obvious rule violations being ignored in all sports. The thing that got me hottest was during the Philadelphia Eagles football game today, when the Eagles' DeSean Jackson gets tackled halfway to the concession stands without a penalty, and on the other hand, when an Eagle tries to tackle a Raider who isn't yet down on the ground, he gets a flag. It's insane, and it's got to stop.

Please indulge me once again...

"Yesterday it was my birthday-
I hung one more year on the line-
I should be depressed-
My life's a mess-
But I'm having a good time."

-Paul Simon, "Have A Good Time"

(New readers: I post this lyric every October 18. I now go back to being snarky and cynical again.)