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November 30, 2004

No longer Businessman of the Year

I ignored the first fax from Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee telling me that I’ve been chosen as Businessman of the Year. But the second fax had a plaintive note that got me to call the 800 number.

Rose answered. “First, Tom Reynolds wants to thank you for your support in our tremendous victory.” In fact, because of my efforts, I have been awarded Businessman of the Year. Not just nominated, but awarded it.

“Why?,” I asked. “There must be some mistake.”

“It’s based on your past support of the Republican Party.”

“I really didn’t do anything.”

“I don’t know the exact selection process.”

I told Rose I hadn’t contributed any money. She said that she knew that, but they valued my role as honorary chairman of the Massachusetts Business Advisory Council.

“I assume there were dozens of those.”

“Yes. There were several.” She then told me what I’d won: An invitation to the inauguration, and participation in a ceremony to be held during the tax summit in DC in March where the award would be given. There are several Businessmen of the Year awards given in each state. Ah, and my name would be listed in an ad in the Wall Street Journal.

“I think there must be a mistake. I didn’t do anything at all to support your electoral efforts.”

“We value your support.”

“I actually didn’t even vote for Bush.”

Rose chuckled. “You didn’t vote for him?”

“I don’t like his economic policy and I sure don’t like his foreign policy.”

“Would you like me to remove your name from consideration?,” she asked pleasantly.

“I think that would be best.”

Too bad! When they start rounding up the enemies of the state, flashing my Republican Businessman of the Year award might have given me a ten-minute head start.

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Berkman Lunch: National Health Information Infrastructure

Alan Goldberg of Goulston & Storrs (and HealthLawyer) is giving a Tuesday lunchtime talk on the national health information infrastructure.

He says it’s a big deal: Medicare has 1 million providers who are involved in 1 billion claims per year. NHII crosses political boundaries; everyone from Bush to Hillary, from Ted to Newt, all support having an infrastructure that enables electronic record sharing. The NHII will require technologies, standards, systems, values, applications, and laws.

The standards are arising from the industry (says Alan), not from the government, although the government’s adoption of these standards counts for a lot.

He says NHII has four areas of concern:

First area of concern: Uniformity of privacy laws. HIPAA says that stricter state laws on privacy override the baseline federal standards. That complicates things. And you have to balance privacy against the desire to share medical information among providers. “Maybe we have to change HIPAA” says Alan.

Second area: Access & control of patient medical information. NHII can exacerbate the tension between the “duty to warn” patients of medical risks vs. the right to privacy. “Should you be entitled to access information via the NHII to find out if your spouse-to-be” has a sexually transmitted disease?

Third area: Secondary uses of medical information. Secondary users of health information may not be covered by the HIPAA privacy rules.

Fourth area: Miscellany. Is NHII conduit, custodian or architecture? Who owns the info contained in NHII? Should the data be mined for the greater good? Should the FDA regulate parts of NHII?

A couple of days ago, the head of the NHII issued a Request for Information, i.e., public comment, about communication among doctors and health institutions.

Alan says that Bush is the more committed to creating an NHII than any other president. [On the other hand, he set up the NHII without budget, employees or the mandate to propose law.]

Q: The linchpin is patient privacy. If people think the system doesn’t protect their privacy, they’ll filter the information they provide, which will result in worse medicine and more malpractice cases. In fact, AG Ashcroft in the partial birth abortion case said that HIPAA means there’s no longer a presumption of privacy. What’s missing from this infrastructure if patient consent.

[HealthLawyer.com looks useful but, jeez is it ugly and overly disclaimed.]

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The Factual Core

I have an article on facts and values (using uBio as an example) up at Esther Dyson‘s re-done site. (Free registration is required.)

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How to de-stink a Volvo

Note: Before following these instructions, be sure to read the first comment on this entry, from the Head Lemur.

We recently managed to pour a full half-gallon of milk from the front passenger seat in our 2001 Volvo S60 (“The Car that Cluetrain Bought”) on to the floor. Here’s how to de-stink your car:

Use main force to remove the end caps from the four ends of the two runners on which the seat sits. They snap on onto either the front or the inside edges. Yanking hard with a screw driver did the trick. (Ah, yanking hard…what can’t it do?)

Get out your ratchet set. The seat is held in by four 14mm bolts. Once you break the lock-tight seal, they should come off pretty easily.

Try not to let all four bolts roll down a storm drain. If you put them in four different places, you are more likely to preserve one as a template, although you are also just about guaranteeing that you’ll be making a trip to the hardware store with the template bolt in your pocket.

Tilt the entire seat forward in order to scrape your knuckles mightily. Yank the back carpet out from the molding into which it’s been neatly tucked. You will have to pull the rear seat up. It unsnaps, but so does everything if you pull on it hard enough.

Remove the driver’s seat the same way. Yank the rest of the carpet out from underneath it.

Rock the passenger seat back and remove the front carpet. You will have to undo a plastic, slotted turn-y thing under the glove box.

Repeatedly hose down the carpet and the molded foam underneath it, squeezing soapy water through it by stamping on it. That may or may not get enough of the stank out of them. It will, however, make you feel better.

If the stank remains, purchase new Volvo carpets. Our local dealer sells the right front carpet for $167.38 and the rear carpet for $222.59. Consider visiting your local junkyard. (Hint: Use your other car.)

Close up the car for an hour. If when you open the door, you are pushed back two feet by a smell that is on the verge of achieving self-awareness, the spilled milk was also absorbed by the passenger seat.

You can replace the passenger seat’s bottom cushions for $232.24 and the upper backrest for $274.30. The foam padding for the right front button cushion is $75. Or, you can go on ebay and find an entire Volvo S60 seat for $150 (including shipping).

If you need to replace the seat itself, you will need a torx (sp) wrench — the ones with star tips. Our Volvo has heated seats (“The Warm Ass that Cluetrain Bought”), so you have to remove some electrical bits first. On the bottom of the seat are two black boxes, each held on by a single torx screw. Remove and deposit at the bottom of a storm drain, just to teach yourself a lesson. The big black box has wires going into it that you’re going to want to detach by pulling out the plug. DON’T. Instead, pop up the entire back end of the box — it has a hinge on one side that you should keep attached. The entire assembly detaches that way. That just leaves the seatbelt. For that you’ll need a big torx screwdriver. I didn’t try it.

Read these instructions backwards to reassemble.

Throw the left over parts down the storm drain.

Note: I am an irresponsible moron. It is entirely possible that if you do what I say, you will hurt yourself, destroy your car, or make your car unsafe by wiring the seat heater to the airbag or by not tightening the seat bolts so the next time you come to a stop sign, the rear carpet replaces your brain pan. In short, if you hurt yourself or destroy your car by following these directions, you are a moron for listening to me.

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Braff Blog

Garden State (the movie) has a blog written by Zach Braff, its author and director. He’s also the star of Scrubs, of which my son and I are inordinately fond. Zach’s latest post tells how he drunk-dialed an Australian movie reviewer.

Yes, the blog takes comments…lots and lots of ‘em. Yes RSS. No blogroll. No Creative Commons. Yes, a video thank-you to bloggers (yes, complete with a plug for the Garden State dvd).

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Place dream

I woke up with a start this morning. All I remember from my dream is the image of a satellite above the beautiful earth and the idea that a place is not where you are but what you see.

1 Comment »

November 29, 2004

Halley’s sitcom

In “My New Jewish Husband,” Halley documents the beginning of a new genre: Reality sitcoms. All she needs is one more encounter with those Hadassah ladies and a guest appearance by Jason Alexander…

1 Comment »

Glenn on Firefox

Glenn “Unsolicited Pundit” Fleishman was on public radio today talking about Firefox and security. Here’s the Real Audio.

2 Comments »

Lovemarks and the Clown Suit Rule

The Head Lemur has a scathingly funny bit about Lovemarks. Let’s just say he’s not as kind to the idea as I was. A snippet:

When I was a teenager we had lovemarks. They were called hickeys. That is where you sucked on the body of your partner until you raised a bruise.

And Doc‘s not feeling too well-disposed towards the idea either:

“To me, lovemarks achieves 100% marks in both rationalization and delusion. An expensive psychosis, if not an especially harmful one.”

Gotta love the title Doc gives his piece: “Cool! Involuntary tatoos I might love!”

3 Comments »

AKMA’s meaning

I just noticed in AKMA‘s sidewall the published version of an essay of his that I’d seen (and blogged about) in draft a couple of years ago. It’s on the ethics of interpretation, and it’s a beautiful piece of work. AKMA is such a fine writer. For example, here he’s explaining the idea (that he does not agree with) that a text has meaning even when people don’t know what it is:

The presence of a cement floor in my basement provides sufficient evidence for me to infer the existence of its opposite side; the presence of a text in my hand provides sufficient evidence for me to infer the existence of its meaning.

AKMA is trying to find a ground between saying there is one right interpretation of a text (particularly the Christian Bible) and saying every interpretation must be taken as valid:

A differential hermeneutic permits practitioners to see in interpretive variety a sign of the variety in human imagination (in establishing historical facts as well as in drawing theological inferences), to account positively for difference among interpreters, to envision the practice of biblical interpretation less as a contest of experts and more as the shared effort of Christian communities, and at the same time to provide clearer, more specific and more modest criteria for correctness and legitimacy in interpretation.

…practitioners of differential hermeneutics observe that the act of offering an interpretation involves not only the author and the text but also one’s interpretive colleagues and the audience of the interpretation. interpretation. Hence, interpreters must devise interpretations that are accountable not only to text and author but also to rival interpreters and audiences.

AKMA is such a Jew! : )

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