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Recent Articles
The Cost Conundrum
Posted by: mmc 12:08pm, Friday, 5 June 2009
What a Texas town can teach us about health care.
Local executives for hospitals and clinics and home-health agencies understand their growth rate and their market share; they know whether they are losing money or making money. They know that if their doctors bring in enough business—surgery, imaging, home-nursing referrals—they make money; and if they get the doctors to bring in more, they make more. But they have only the vaguest notion of whether the doctors are making their communities as healthy as they can, or whether they are more or less efficient than their counterparts elsewhere. A doctor sees a patient in clinic, and has her check into a McAllen hospital for a CT scan, an ultrasound, three rounds of blood tests, another ultrasound, and then surgery to have her gallbladder removed. How [do they know] whether all that is essential, let alone the best possible treatment for the patient? It isn’t what they are responsible or accountable for.
mmc says: Disturbing and insightful view into the perverse incentives that shape our health care system.
In the Basement of an Ivory Tower
Posted by: mmc 11:09am, Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Fascinating look, from an adjunct professor's perspective, at the morality of higher education. Should schools limit someone's access to college education after they've proven incompetency (over and over again)? Or keep soaking them for tuition in the theory that everyone with enough money and time has the right to a degree, eventually? And are degrees truly useful to all vocations?
One of the things I try to do on the first night of English 102 is relate the literary techniques we will study to novels that the students have already read. I try to find books familiar to everyone. This has so far proven impossible. My students don’t read much, as a rule, and though I think of them monolithically, they don’t really share a culture. To Kill a Mockingbird? Nope. (And I thought everyone had read that!) Animal Farm? No. If they have read it, they don’t remember it. The Outsiders? The Chocolate War? No and no. Charlotte’s Web? You’d think so, but no. So then I expand the exercise to general works of narrative art, meaning movies, but that doesn’t work much better. Oddly, there are no movies that they all have seen—well, except for one. They’ve all seen The Wizard of Oz. Some have caught it multiple times. So we work with the old warhorse of a quest narrative. The farmhands’ early conversation illustrates foreshadowing. The witch melts at the climax. Theme? Hands fly up. Everybody knows that one—perhaps all too well. Dorothy learns that she can do anything she puts her mind to and that all the tools she needs to succeed are already within her. I skip the denouement: the intellectually ambitious scarecrow proudly mangles the Pythagorean theorem and is awarded a questionable diploma in a dreamland far removed from reality. That’s art holding up a mirror all too closely to our own poignant scholarly endeavors.
mmc says: I think Professor X is totally wrong about science being an easier subject to teach meaningfully than English, but this is a great essay nonetheless.
Four Days in Denver
Posted by: mmc 3:03pm, Friday, 18 April 2008
Awesomely bitter and funny Democratic national convention fanfiction, by a West Wing writer. The premise is that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton arrive in Denver, neither having sufficient delegates to gain the nomination nor a decisive majority in the popular vote.
A buttock? Male, female? Muscular. Hair. More hair. Definitely male. REVEAL hard-core gay sex scene between a flawless blond bodybuilder-hooker and a bald, middle-aged 300-pound man. A cell phone rings. The fat man reaches for it, hits a button to stop the ringing. Back to sex. A hotel phone starts ringing. And ringing. And ringing. The fat man picks it up and hangs up to stop the ringing. It rings again immediately. The fat man tries the same trick. And it rings again immediately. Finally, the phone wins. As the fat man talks on the phone, the hooker continues to do his job.

Fat man: Yeah … Harold, can I call you ba— … Uh-huh … I still haven’t deci— … This really isn’t a good time for— … Please. I have to— … I just— … I need— … (Desperate to get back to sex, gives up.) Okay … Yes, I’m saying yes … No, you can’t announce it yet … I’m giving you my word … I’ve got to hang up now … Okay. (Hangs up.)
Hooker (looking up from his work): Are you a superdelegate?
How subprime lending works
Posted by: mmc 4:38pm, Wednesday, 5 March 2008
The subprime mortgage meltdown, in stick figures.
Transsexual African bat bugs
Posted by: mmc 2:14pm, Friday, 30 November 2007
Male bat bugs inseminate any adult bat bugs by stabbing them in the abdomen and injecting sperm. Some males developed fake vaginas supposedly to guide these stabs more safely. To retaliate, the female bat bugs have started imitating the male vaginas.
"We ended up uncovering a hotbed of deception," said evolutionary biologist Klaus Reinhardt at the University of Sheffield in England. "Nothing like this exists anywhere else in the animal kingdom."
mmc says: Possibly even stranger than leopard slug-fucking.

Recent Comments
false economy
Posted by: mmc 3:05pm, Friday, 18 December 2009
Popov at 80% list price still has negative value! Thanks for the fun read.
Chris Dodd wants to make it opt-in
Posted by: mmc 11:37am, Tuesday, 22 September 2009
and your mother, too
Posted by: mmc 9:16am, Thursday, 8 January 2009
Ha, I was just about to post this. The art is just as interesting as the text.
be a snack?
Posted by: mmc 1:40pm, Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Hardly surprising that you liked that one. Anyway, a a study from UCLA that found more brain activity in experienced searchers:

Can't find the link to the actual study, though.

Lobster Liberation
Posted by: mmc 6:05pm, Monday, 15 September 2008
The hilarious thing is that Lobster Liberation co-opted his essay in support of their cause. I like how they summarize key points while leaving out any PETA mockery.