22
Feb
15

Roundup – Paperboy 3: The Hard Way

Best of the Best:

Dog Bites and Lost Fingers: An Ebola Doctor’s Diary [Douglas Lyon via Bloomberg News] (12/2/14)

A day later, a pregnant staff nurse arrived. She had been bitten by a neighbor’s wild dog and wanted to be vaccinated against rabies. I could see the bite had broken the skin. It didn’t look infected. I checked to see if we had vaccine and immunoglobulin, which is used to kick-start an immune response. We had a very limited supply and strict guidelines for use. We could only offer treatment after a careful investigation to determine if the animal was infected. I gently told the nurse that she would have to find and isolate the dog before we could review her case. I was both uneasy and relieved. For at least another day there would be no needles, no blood, and no need for protective suits, but I felt crummy that we had pushed any potential resolution back to the patient – which fell far short of what I really wanted to do for her.

How NBC’s The Voice Sold 20 Million Songs Without a Single Star [Claire Suddath on Bloomberg Business] (12/3/14)

It’s surprising that millions of people are downloading Voice songs, and not just because it means they’re paying amateur singers to cover existing songs that have already been recorded much more deftly by other artists. The Voice’s Matthew Schuler has a nice voice and all, but both Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley have all the “Hallelujahs” you’ll ever need. And what’s most surprising about the 20 million milestone is how successful The Voice has been at marketing its music without producing a star.

Obamacare’s Future: Cancer Patients Paying More for Medication [John Tozzi on Bloomberg Business]

People with Obamacare coverage who take medications for cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, and other chronic diseases might pay more out of pocket next year. A greater share of insurance plans sold in the healthcare.gov marketplace will require consumers to pay 30 percent or more of the cost of specialty drugs, according to a new analysis from consultant Avalere Health. Cost sharing is one of the ways insurers can limit premiums. Patients pay for a greater portion of the medical care they need through deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance. That last technique splits the bill for medical care, with patients paying a fixed percentage of the total cost and the insurance plan picking up the rest. Avalere looked at how much cost sharing was required for drugs insurers considered “specialty” medicines. There’s no consistent definition of specialty drugs; the term generally refers to medicine used to treat severe or rare illnesses. The doses can cost thousands of dollars a month. Asking patients to pay 30 percent of that can mean some people skip doses they can’t afford. Yet the share of silver plans—the most popular tier of Obamacare coverage—that required that level of cost sharing jumped to 41 percent, from 27 percent last year, according to Avalere. The analysis included plans on the federal healthcare.gov marketplace and state exchanges in New York and California; other state-based exchanges were not included.

At CIA Starbucks, even the baristas are covert [Emily Wax-Thibodeaux on The Washington Post] (9/27/14)

The new supervisor thought his idea was innocent enough. He wanted the baristas to write the names of customers on their cups to speed up lines and ease confusion, just like other Starbucks do around the world. But these aren’t just any customers. They are regulars at the CIA Starbucks. “They could use the alias ‘Polly-O string cheese’ for all I care,” said a food services supervisor at the Central Intelligence Agency, asking that his identity remain unpublished for security reasons. “But giving any name at all was making people — you know, the undercover agents — feel very uncomfortable. It just didn’t work for this location.”

41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground [Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian] (11/24/14)

The drones came for Ayman Zawahiri on 13 January 2006, hovering over a village in Pakistan called Damadola. Ten months later, they came again for the man who would become al-Qaida’s leader, this time in Bajaur. Eight years later, Zawahiri is still alive. Seventy-six children and 29 adults, according to reports after the two strikes, are not. However many Americans know who Zawahiri is, far fewer are familiar with Qari Hussain. Hussain was a deputy commander of the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group aligned with al-Qaida that trained the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, before his unsuccessful 2010 attack. The drones first came for Hussain years before, on 29 January 2008. Then they came on 23 June 2009, 15 January 2010, 2 October 2010 and 7 October 2010. Finally, on 15 October 2010, Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator or Reaper drone killed Hussain, the Pakistani Taliban later confirmed. For the death of a man whom practically no American can name, the US killed 128 people, 13 of them children, none of whom it meant to harm.

Bouncy Houses Are So Fun and So Dangerous [Karen Aho on Bloomberg Business] (7/16/14)

Although news of a bouncy house that blew away with kids inside went viral in June, the far more common hazards are broken bones, sprains, and hard head bumps. Almost 11,000 children, most between ages 6 and 12, were treated in emergency rooms for bouncy house injuries in 2010, up fivefold over the period from 1990 to 2005, according to the latest data available…Small bouncy house providers that aren’t adequately insured may arrive with waivers in hand, which could hold the homeowner responsible for additional damages, Baird says. Homeowner’s insurance covers guests injured in a bouncy house on the property, with basic plans providing $100,000 in liability coverage. “It does expose you, the homeowner, to a significant amount of risk,” he says. Especially if it blows away.

Israel Can’t Be an Unequal Democracy [Noah Feldman, professor of constitutional and international law at Harvard University, via Bloomberg Views] (11/28/14)

Insisting on equality of treatment and participation is what keeps democracy from devolving into the dictatorship of the majority. Guarantees of equality, alongside guarantees of liberty and the rule of law, are what make constitutional democracy special. Without them, democracy would mean nothing more than majority rule — and could include any regime where the government came to power by a vote. In the past, Israel’s basic laws, like its declaration of independence, have reconciled the Jewish nature of the state with fundamental equality values by referring to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state. Although the exact meaning has always been contested, Israel’s courts as well as its legal scholars — and frequently, its politicians — have generally agreed that Jewishness and democracy were being placed upon an equal footing. Palestinian citizens of Israel have therefore always been legally entitled to equality despite not being Jewish.

Can a ‘Jewish State’ Be a Democracy? [Daniel Gordis, senior vice president and Koret distinguished fellow at Shalem College in Jersualem, via Bloomberg View]

‘A Universe Beneath Our Feet’: Life In Beijing’s Underground [NPR] (12/7/14)

In Beijing, even the tiniest apartment can cost a fortune — after all, with more than 21 million residents, space is limited and demand is high. But it is possible to find more affordable housing. You’ll just have to join an estimated 1 million of the city’s residents and look underground. Below the city’s bustling streets, bomb shelters and storage basements are turned into illegal — but affordable — apartments.

Law Puts Us All in Same Danger as Eric Garner [Stephen L. Carter via Bloomberg View] (12/4/14)

On the opening day of law school, I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce. Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you. I wish this caution were only theoretical. It isn’t. Whatever your view on the refusal of a New York City grand jury to indict the police officer whose chokehold apparently led to the death of Eric Garner, it’s useful to remember the crime that Garner is alleged to have committed: He was selling individual cigarettes, or loosies, in violation of New York law…The legal scholar Douglas Husak, in his excellent 2009 book “Overcriminalization: The Limits of the Criminal Law,” points out that federal law alone includes more than 3,000 crimes, fewer than half of which found in the Federal Criminal Code. The rest are scattered through other statutes. A citizen who wants to abide by the law has no quick and easy way to find out what the law actually is — a violation of the traditional principle that the state cannot punish without fair notice. In addition to these statutes, he writes, an astonishing 300,000 or more federal regulations may be enforceable through criminal punishment in the discretion of an administrative agency. Nobody knows the number for sure.

The Pearl Harbor Myth [Alan D. Zimm on History Net]

In just 90 minutes, the Japanese had inflicted a devastating blow: five battleships were sunk, three battleships, three cruisers, and three destroyers were damaged, and nearly 200 aircraft were destroyed. The most devastating loss was the 2,403 Americans killed and 1,178 wounded. Michael Slackman, a consulting historian to the U.S. Navy, described the attack as “almost textbook perfect” in his book Target: Pearl Harbor (1990). Gordon Prange, the battle’s leading historian, judged it “brilliantly conceived and meticulously planned.” Another prominent historian, Robert L. O’Connell, author of Sacred Vessels: The Cult of the Battleship and the Rise of the U.S. Navy (1995), likened it to the perfection of a “flashing samurai sword.” Even the recorded narration on a Pearl Harbor tour boat says the attack was “brilliantly conceived and executed.” Yet a detailed examination of the preparation and execution of the attack on the Pacific Fleet reveals a much different story. Even after 10 months of arduous planning, rehearsal, and intelligence gathering, the attack was plagued by inflexibility, a lack of coordination, and misallocated resources. A plan for a likely contingency was cobbled together by three midgrade officers while en route to Hawaii. The attack itself suffered significant command blunders. Though armed with enough firepower to destroy up to 14 battleships and aircraft carriers, the Japanese landed killing hits on only three battleships; luck, combined with American damage control mistakes, added two more battleships to their tally. Not only was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor far from brilliant, it also narrowly avoided disaster.

Oscars Voter Says ‘There Was No Art To Selma,’ And Other Idiotic Things [Vince Mancini on FilmDrunk] (2/18/15)

This person is actually using the studio’s Oscar campaign as a basis for their Oscar vote. This article is an artist’s suicide note.

10 Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You’d Get From Fantasy Books [Lauren Davis on io9] (2/20/15)

Actually, if you were a high-ranking individual, chances are that you had high-ranking servants. A lord might send his son to serve in another lord’s manor — perhaps that of his wife’s brother. The son would receive no income, but would still be treated as the son of a lord. A lord’s steward might actually be a lord himself. Your status in society isn’t just based on whether or not you were a servant, but also your familial status, whom you served, and what your particular job was. Something you might not expect about servants in English households in the late Middle Ages: they were overwhelmingly male. Mortimer points to the earl of Devon’s household, which had 135 members, but only three women. With the exception of a washerwoman (who didn’t live in the household), the staffers were all men, even in households headed by women.

Curiously Strong Remains:

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