Friday, November 17, 2017

Opuscula

Selecting provider
For Medicare plan

THE FOLLOWING are some considerations when selecting a Medicare Advantage plan.

Finding a plan in your area Medicare plans are location dependent. A plan that’s offered in Washington may not be offered in Florida. The best place to find out what plans are available in your area is to go to MEDICARE.GOV. Unlike commercial sites, Medicare.gov lists ALL the plans available in your area. Some commercial plans fail to tell you about plans that may be best for you.

Selecting a Primary Care Physician (PCP) If you have a PCP you want to keep, go to the web sites of the plan providers in which you are interested. Locate the plan's PROVIDERS LIST. This lists primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care providers. Bookmark this page; you will come back to it when checking other providers.

Are the plan’s PCPs “capitated?” Some Advantage plans claim patients can see any specialist in their network. If the primary care physician is “capitated,” that physician has an abbreviated list of specialists to which you may be referred; the desired specialist may not be on the physician’s “capitated” list. Finding out may require a phone call or email to the plan and a call to the PCP.

Does the plan cover your prescriptions and what “tier” are the drugs? If you have long-term medications, go to the provider’s web site and find it’s FORMULARY page. Find the drug(s) you take and look at the drug’s TIER level. Most plans have four tier levels and most plans have $0 copays for Tier 1; some have $0 copays for Tier 1 and Tier 2.
To determine the copay for each tier, get the plans EVIDENCE OF COVERAGE from the plan’s web site. This is the MOST IMPORTANT document on the plan’s web site..

The Evidence of Coverage, EOC, is a Medicare-approved document that commits the plan to provide certain services at specific copays for the calendar year. The EOC may be downloaded from the web site; a hard copy will be provided if you sign up for the plan.

    Providers may change, and modifications may be made to the formulary, but benefits are fixed for the duration.

About the EOC Most EOCs closely follow the same format. Benefits are alphabetized – usually in Chapter 4 of the EOC -- and presented as a two-column table or “chart.” The first item on the chart should be Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening with Services not covered as the final entry. (I found one EOC that failed to follow the standard; I quickly ruled that plan out as a possibility.) Many benefits, e.g., breast cancer screenings, PAP smears, colorectal cancer screening, and prostate screenings are $0 copay due to Medicare requirements.

Copays Copays – the patient’s out-of-pocket costs – vary widely. Most, albeit not all plans, have a $0 copay for routine visits to the patient’s PCP. Many have copays for visits to specialists. If you are like many seniors, PCP visits are frequent and specialist visits come with greater regularity than before.

Emergency room visits – always expensive for both the insured and the insurer – are discouraged for “minor” problems, e.g., URIs, cuts and abrasions, even cuts requiring sutures; instead plans wisely direct patients to urgent care facilities. Some plans cover an urgent care visit 100%, others require a copay that always is less than the copay for an ER visit. Most plans offer emergency care worldwide, so subscribers are covered no matter where they need medical care. All plans include the caveat: If you think the ER is necessary, GO!

Hospital stays When I was talking to sales people for my first Advantage plan I was concerned about hospital costs. Some had $0 for the first “n” days then high copays for additional days. The salesman told me – and after three major surgeries I confirmed he was correct – that most hospital stays are five days or less.

Everything else in the EOC deserves your attention since items that apply to you may not apply to others. The EOC’s “chart” is easy to understand and the plan’s Customer Service Reps (CSRs) are available via toll-free numbers for clarification.

I created a spreadsheet listing MY critical issues and then expanding the list by copying each EOC “chart” items. Since I was comparing a number of products, it took several hours, but in the end, I think it was worth the effort.

AGAIN, THE STARTING point is Medicare.Gov



PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Opuscula

No statute of limitations
For sex-related crimes?

IT IS INTERESTING to watch both men and women come forth to claim they were abused by someone many years in the past.

It seems that the people seeking justice are behaving like wild animals who, having smelled their victim’s blood, rush to claim their pound of flesh.

I do not sanction sexual assault — not on women, not on children, and not on men. While adult males are most often accused, adult women and juveniles also commit sexual crimes.1, 2

Women are not the only victims of rape although they unquestionably are the majority of victims. 3

My problem: apparently there is no statute of limitations on sexual assaults.

I AM NOT suggesting that a victim of sexual assault — or any other attack on his or her person — should remain silent.

What I AM suggesting is that claims of sexual assault — even in its broadest terms — have a reasonable statute of limitations.

Claims of sexual abuse of an adult — 18 and older — that occurred more than 20 years ago should be looked at skeptically.

For adults, if the victim has not come forth in 20 years and suddenly, when someone else claims to be a victim, the quiet victim finds a voice . . . that makes me suspicious that the latest person to claim abuse is simply climbing on the bandwagon; especially if — and it seems only of — the alleged abuser is a “high profile” personality.

AS FOR children, my suggestied 20-year limitation would start when the child reached 18, regardless of the age then the child was molested.

I think the term “abuse” needs to be narrowly defined.

The problem today is that one person’s abuse is another’s flattery. If a man tells a women she looks nice, is that sexual abuse or flattery? If a woman comments about how a man fills out his trousers — “Are you happy to see me, or …” is that sexual abuse? Depends on the man; a man of the cloth might take umbrage at such a remark; but then again, he might not.

If a girl wins a spot on the school wrestling team and during a contest a male opponent touches her in a way that might be inappropriate during normal (non-competition) times, is that sexual abuse? It could be, depending on the duration of the contact, but probably not. The same applies to the girl who is trying to pin her opponent.

For all that, “no” means “no” whether it’s a kiss in passing or an invitation to something more serious. No matter who the aggressor — and sometimes it is a female who may want to “tease” a male (or female) acquaintance.

RECIDIVISM4

According to SMART.GOV5, there is widespread recognition today that recidivism has a direct impact on public safety and that recidivism reduction should be a key goal of the criminal justice system. This is particularly true with regard to crimes that are sexual in nature, given their impact on individual victims and the larger community (see chapter 1, "Incidence and Prevalence of Sexual Offending," in the Adult section).
Unfortunately, recidivism remains a difficult concept to measure, especially in the context of sex offenders. The surreptitious nature of sex crimes, the fact that few sexual offenses are reported to authorities, and variation in the ways researchers calculate recidivism rates all contribute to the problem.

I do not continence sexual abuse by anyone, but I think we need better ground rules to define:

    a. What IS sexual abuse and
    b. An established statute of limitations to prevent the sudden “piling on” of long-silent victims that seems to designed to make headlines.

Maybe Abuser “X” did indeed violate someone’s (sexual) sensibilities, but it seems strange that Victim “A” suddenly comes forth after 20 or more years and after another person alleges abuse from Abuser “X”; I look at such revelations with a jaundiced eye.6


1. Child sexual abuse: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_sexual_abuse

2. Statistics on Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse: http://tinyurl.com/y9vzustm

3. Statistics about sexual violence: http://tinyurl.com/y85vt6wg

4. Recidivism: http://tinyurl.com/zrrmmnc

5. Smart.gov: http://tinyurl.com/zbg72ls

6. Jaundiced eye: http://grammarist.com/idiom/jaundiced-eye/

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Opuscula

In other words,
Translation, please

THERE IS A PUBLIC LIBRARY almost within walking distance for me of my abode.

I am a frequent visitor to the library, a “habit” I acquired when I was in first grade c 1950 when the main library was a block down the alley from where I lived.

I’ll read almost anything, but I the favor mysteries that my neighborhood library conveniently marks with a blue dot. (It has colors for other genre as well.) I am working my way through the authors alphabetically.

Some of the authors are English, and their English is somewhat different than mine. Someone — Geo. Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill have been credited, perhaps blamed — said that "England and America are two countries divided by a common language."

As a former technical scrivener writing to an international audience, I know some of the words the Brits used to identify what Yanks call something else.

As examples:

    Bonnet = automobile hood
    Knock me up = wake me at an agreed to time
    Petrol = gasoline
    Spanner = wrench

But every so often I encounter a new “Britishism.” Most can be figured out by the word’s context. Occasionally I’ll resort to an on-line dictionary, and worst case, I’ll turn to my aging unabridged dictionary.

J.G. Goodhind’s Walking with ghosts introduced me to “trainers.” From the context, I concluded “trainers” are the equivalent of “sneakers.” This in the first five pages.

A word I DID look up was “anorak.” I’m not certain this word travelled across the Atlantic — it allegedly came from Greenland — but it pops up in many stories penned in the UK. There, it means both the coat with a hood — a waterproof hoodie — or , according to Wikipedia, British slang which refers to a person who has a very strong interest, perhaps obsessive, in niche subjects. This interest may be unacknowledged or not understood by the general public. I have only read it in the first sense.

In the U.S. traffic goes around a circle; in England and elsewhere, they go around a “circus.” Why a “circus?” As an American by guess would be because the way inconsiderate drivers push their way into the flow with no concern for others’ vehicles. A circle/circus also may be called a “roundabout.”

When a European lives on the first floor, that person lives on what would be the second floor in the States. The European who lives at street level — American’s first floor — lives on the ground floor. If the building has many floors, it probably has a “lift” (elevator).

An umbrella is not a “bumbershoot — that is an American word. In England, an umbrella is a “brolly.”

“Bumbershoot,” for all its American background, led me to Glossary of British terms not widely used in the United States, a site that lists, I’m guessing, more than (never “over”) 100 Britishisms with translations into American English.

Having a decent vocabulary — gained mostly by reading books freely available from the local lending library — is a definite advantage when seeking employment. It puts the reader head and shoulders above many collegians, even those with masters degrees (too many of whom are unable to correctly spell or to put together a grammatically correct sentence)

If the job is in any place where the English ruled (except of coourse for the U.S.), British English is the common English. It pays to know some “Britishisms.”

Besides, sometimes it’s just fun.


PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Opuscula

Death penalty:
Some thoughts

MOST PEOPLE EITHER ARE for the death penalty for certain crimes or against the death penalty for any crime.

Many countries have eliminated the death penalty. Some keep it on the books but don’t utilize it. A few, such as the U.S., have a mix, depending on the makeup of a state’s population. Israel, which has the death penalty for very specific crimes is considering broadening the crimes deserving of the death penalty. (The Israeli military courts can order an execution, but this never has happened.)

The bottom line question: Does the death penalty deter capital crimes?

WIKIPEDIA1 provides an alphabetized list of countries with and without the death penalty. There are 58 countries that still have executions2.

Amnesty International offers a table listing the “10 countries with the most executions” between 2007 and 20123. China leads the list with “thousands” of executions.” Iran comes in at #2 with more than 1,600 suffering capital punishment. Amnesty fails to provide figures for terrorist groups such as Deash and Al Qaeda that regularly behead-before-cameras anyone who disagrees with their philosophy. That of course does not include the murders of “non-believers” committed by Daesh, Al Quida, and other Islamic groups’ followers,

There is an on-going debate: Is the death penalty a deterrent to capital crimes (murder, rape)? The Internet is replete with articles on both sides.

An Associated Press article in the Washington Post 4 states that “A series of academic studies over the last half-dozen years that claim to settle a once hotly debated argument _ whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. The analyses say yes. They count between three and 18 lives that would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer.

The reports have horrified death penalty opponents and several scientists, who vigorously question the data and its implications.

On the other hand, Zachary Rickens, writing on the PennLive site5 contends that “Death inflicted by the government in itself is cruel and unusual, a clear violation of all citizens’ Eighth and 14th Amendment rights. The oft-used justification for capital punishment is that it is justified retaliation for the murder victims. It is supposed to give the victim’s family a sort of closure, but retaliation is just another word for revenge. As Mahatma Grande once said: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

It is worth remembering that the non-violent Gandhi told the Jews of Europe that they should surrender to the nazis and quietly die sans resistance6. Fortunately for Jews alive today, the Jews Gandhi wanted to die quietly disagreed. For Gandhi’s appreciation of Palestine, read “Where Tutu (and Gandhi) got it wrong” (LA Times at http://tinyurl.com/y8cmke2p)


http://all-that-is-interesting.com/gandhi-facts-quotes-dark-side

On the “no death penalty” side is AmnestyUSA7 that holds that “The murder rate in non-Death Penalty states has remained consistently lower than the rate in States with the Death Penalty.

“The threat of execution at some future date is unlikely to enter the minds of those acting under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, those who are in the grip of fear or rage, those who are panicking while committing another crime (such as a robbery), or those who suffer from mental illness or mental retardation and do not fully understand the gravity of their crime.”

The ProCon site8 offers opinions on both sides of the issue. It may be the only site that provides sane, side-by-side arguments for and against the practice.

The financial cost of executing a person is a consideration for some over and above any moral convictions.

The Death Penalty Information Center9 claims that “Cases without the death penalty cost $740,000, while cases where the death penalty is sought cost $1.26 million. Maintaining each death row prisoner costs taxpayers $90,000 more per year than a prisoner in general population.” The statement did not specify if these were a nationwide average or state-specific.

Given the number of DNA tests that freed prisoners on death row, and the number of people committing capital crimes who are found mentally deficient, there seems to be ample grounds to carefully consider limiting application of the death penalty to a few specific crimes, terrorism being one.

While many death penalty advocates site the Bible’s “eye for an eye” as justification for executing a person who murders another, they fail to cite another Biblical admonishment. According to the Bible, before a person can be put to death, at least two eye witnesses to the crime must testify AND that the murderer was warned before the crime was committed that (a) murder is wrong and (b) the penalty for a murderer is execution. One witness is one witness too few, and sans a warning immediately prior to the crime, the death penalty cannot be invoked. It is said that the ‘eye-for-eye’ never was carried out; a monetary penalty equivalent to the value of the eye was ordered.

Something to consider.


Sources

1. Wikipedia: http://tinyurl.com/nduz9jp

2. 58 countries: http://tinyurl.com/ya3y2qtw

3. Amnesty table: http://tinyurl.com/hz3wk89

4. Washington Post: http://tinyurl.com/ls5mgn

5. PennLive: http://tinyurl.com/yckuzkr8

6. Grande on Jews and nazis:

    “Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves in the sea from cliffs…. It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany…. As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.” http://tinyurl.com/y9vl2qug
    If only the Jews of Germany had the good sense to offer their throats willingly to the Nazi butchers’ knives and throw themselves into the sea from cliffs they would arouse world public opinion, Gandhi was convinced, and their moral triumph would be remembered for “ages to come.” If they would only pray for Hitler (as their throats were cut, presumably), they would leave a “rich heritage to mankind.” http://tinyurl.com/k8swqaj
    Gandhi wanted the victims of Nazism to remain courageous, and to adopt positive non-violence -the strength not to use force- in dealing with the killers. In 1938, just after Kristallnacht, when the Nazis systematically destroyed Germany’s and Austria’s synagogues, Gandhi wrote these shameful words where he urged Europe’s Jews to joyfully accept the Nazi onslaught. http://tinyurl.com/z62lr76
    "If I were a Jew and were born in Germany... I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon.... And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy.... The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant.” http://tinyurl.com/y9zlze8f

7. AmnestyUSA: http://tinyurl.com/yd4wtpze

8. ProCon: http://tinyurl.com/y8gnfep2

9. Death Penalty Info Center: http://tinyurl.com/meztsze


PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Opuscula

U.S. media:
Blind in one eye,
Can’t see with other

Cite EU terror attacks; ignore attacks on Israelis


In a not-at-all-surprising evidence of “Israel doesn’t exist” thinking, U.S. networks, discussing the latest Islamist attack in New York City, cited similar attacks in Europe.

Israel, which has suffered similar attacks for many years, was ignored with the exception on one (1) instance noted by CNN.

But then, so was the alleged “white supremist” attack in Charlottesville, VA.1

A quick sampling from the Internet

In 2016 alone, there were 12 vehicular ramming attacks and 100 stabbing attacks thwarted by security forces in Israel. From September 13, 2015 to August 2017, 55 people were killed in terrorist attacks and 812 people (including uninvolved Palestinians) injured. There were 184 stabbing attacks and 129 attempted stabbings; 161 shootings, 60 vehicular attacks, and one vehicular (bus) bombing – as well a higher rate of miscarriages, depression, and a 50% increase in post-traumatic stress disorder among young children. 2

In Israel, car-ramming attacks have featured heavily in a wave of Palestinian terrorism and violence that has killed at least 34 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese since October last year. Some 215 Palestinians have been killed in the terror wave; Israel says most were attackers or would-be attackers who died in the course of carrying out attacks. Additional car-ramming attacks, some of them lethal, were carried out by Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank in late 2014.

In May 2013, two Islamists smashed their car into British soldier Lee Rigby before attempting to behead him on a London street in broad daylight.

The pair, who were of Nigerian heritage, said they attacked the 25-year-old fusilier to avenge the deaths of Muslims at the hands of British troops.

Just 18 months later, a man claiming to be acting in the name of radical jihad ran over and killed Canadian soldier Patrice Vincent, also injuring a second man.3

A snapshot of planned and executed attacks on Israelis in Israel ... and elsewhere (including NYC): http://tinyurl.com/y9smgvdg 4

A Palestinian terrorist struck and wounded three soldiers as they walked with their unit on the side of Route 60, near the Shiloh junction in the West Bank around 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Two of the soldiers were seriously wounded, and were transported – one by helicopter and the other by ambulance – to Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. The third soldier, Lt. Daniel Albaz, was taken to Beilinson Medical Center in Petah Tikva where he described for reporters how the white four-door car plowed into them.5

Benjamin Netanyahu, flanked by security service agents, spoke into the television camera. The truck attack that had just resulted in the deaths of four Israeli soldiers in the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood of Jerusalem was “part of the same pattern inspired by Islamic State, by ISIS, that we saw first in France, then in Germany and now in Jerusalem. This is part of the same ongoing battle against this global scourge of the new terrorism. We can only fight it together, but we have to fight it, and we will.” Netanyahu, speaking on January 8, was referring to the ISIS-claimed truck attacks in Nice, which left 86 people dead on Bastille Day, and in Berlin, which left 12 people dead at a Christmas market in the center of the German capital.

Anyone reading Netanyahu’s statement at face value would believe that the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) had inspired scores of Palestinians to conduct vehicle attacks in the group’s name. The Jerusalem attack was perpetrated by a 28-year-old Palestinian named Fadi Qunbar. While Qunbar may have been inspired by the extremist group—evidence for that is yet to surface—this is not the case more generally in vehicle attacks perpetrated by Palestinians, experts say. They say that ISIS and other jihadist groups witnessed the success of vehicle attacks used for years by Palestinians, and then adopted those tactics for attacks in Western countries.6

(CNN) Once again, a driver has plowed into a crowd of innocent pedestrians, turning a car into a lethal weapon.7

This time, it was in New York's lower Manhattan, where the driver of a rental truck drove down a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center. The city joins a list of cities worldwide that have fallen victim to a growing trend.

Here's a look at some recent similar attacks and the possible motives behind them.

CNN then lists a number of vehicle-as-weapon attacks; with one exception (Charlottesville VA) the vehicles all were driven by Islamists. The list includes (I = Islaamist attack):

— New York, October 31, 2017 (I)

— Barcelona, August 17, 2017 (I)

— Charlottesville (VA), August 12, 2017 (Racist)

— London, June 3, 2017 (I)

— Stockholm, April 7, 2017 (I)

— London, March 22, 2017 (I)

— Nice, July 14, 2016 (I)

— Berlin, December 19, 2016 (I)

— Columbus (OH), November 28, 2016 (I)

— Jerusalem, January 8, 2017 (I)

— St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, October 20, 2014 (I)

All other attacks in Israel were ignored by CNN’s “journalists,” but other media ignored even that.

(CNN) Here is some background information on terror attacks involving vehicles used as deadly weapons by radicalized individuals or terror groups.8
Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch encouraged its Western recruits to use trucks as weapons. A 2010 webzine article, "The Ultimate Mowing Machine" called for deploying a pickup truck as a"mowing machine, not to mow grass but mow down the enemies of Allah."

In September 2014, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani called for lone wolf attacks using improvised weaponry, "If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock or slaughter him with a knife or run him over with your car or throw him down from a high place or choke him or poison him."

While only a few of the attacks happened on U.S. soil, President Trump has called on Homeland Security to use extreme vetting for potential visitors and immigrants to the U.S. The left, as expected, objects to this as focusing on Islamists . . . despite the fact that of the majority of the vehicles were driven by Islamists.

NOT ALL MUSLIMS are jihadists, terrorists. I have known and worked with Muslims — some observant and some not — a number of times in the U.S. and ridden in Arab buses and taxis without concern in Israel. I do not believe “the only good (pick an attribute) is a dead (attribute).” AT THE SAME TIME, given the preponderance of attacks on “infidels,” — that is, anyone who is not a member of Daesh9 or similar extremist group — by Islamists, I fail to understand why the U.S., or any country, would welcome, sans “extreme vetting” by qualified personnel, people whose goal is to maime and murder the country’s citizens. I’m not convinced that Homeland Security has the ability to perform the vetting, but I am convinced U.S. embassies and consulates lack any capability in this area. Should the U.S. continue to let locals vet potential tourists and immigrants – that is, to this scrivener’s mind, akin to having the fox watch the chicken coop and, as the attacks around the world prove, not a satisfactory option.

Bear in mind that ramming vehicles into people is just one of many ways vehicles have been used by Islamists, Basques, home-grown crazies (e.g., Timothy McVeigh) and others10.

Resources

**1 New charges for Charlottesville car attack suspect James Fields Jr.: http://tinyurl.com/y96cnst4
**2 Sacrifice the Children: http://tinyurl.com/y769r4zx
**3. Before Nice, Palestinian terrorists used cars as lethal weapon: http://tinyurl.com/ybosng6r
**4 Jewish man among 5 Argentineans killed in NY attack: http://tinyurl.com/y9smgvdg
**5 Palestinian strikes three IDF soldiers with vehicle in west bank terror attack: http://tinyurl.com/qa8jrvo
**6 Experts say ISIS ramming attacks were inspired by Palestinians, not vice-versa: http://tinyurl.com/ycfos63f
**7 Vehicles as weapons: http://tinyurl.com/m4sr8e8
**8 Terrorist Attacks by Vehicle Fast Facts: http://tinyurl.com/ybshehae
**9 What does Daesh mean? ISIS 'threatens to cut out the tongues' of anyone using this word: http://tinyurl.com/o7dzwyq
**10 List of mass car bombings: http://tinyurl.com/ycxlzscc

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Enterprise Risk Management

Ignorant congresswomen
Don’t recognize problem;
Their plan: Spend more

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL 23rd District), and fellow Demo congresswoman, Fredericka Wilson (D-FL 24th District) are planning to introduce legislation in the U.S. House to prevent another Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills (FL) event.

The event — a power outage caused by Tropical Cyclone (Hurricane) Irma cost the lives of 14 Center residents.

The problem is: Neither congresswoman has a clue to the underlying problem and, consequently, their expensive “fix” will prove useless.

Wasserman-Schultz (in)famously distinguished herself by being fired from her job as DNC chair1 and, in the process, helped her candidate lose the election.

She also is known among many of her constituents as not being particularly helpful when her assistance is requested.

Wasserman-Schultz made local tv news on Monday, October 23, 2017, when she told tv reporters that she was introducing legislation to require nursing home owners to install back-up electricity generators with sufficient fuel for 90 hours. She also wants to make restoration of power a Priority One for the power companies.

Given her brief time in front of the cameras, she lacked the time to note her Miami colleague, Rep. Wilson, was introducing a similar bill. Wilson was beating the drums for such legislation even before the Center disaster in which 14 people lost their lives2.

The Problem


Forcing nursing home to install emergency generators with 90 hour — or even 90 day — fuel supplies is a bandage; a bandage that will cause push-back from nursing home owners — many of whom are politically powerful and have influence with both parties — that will tie up any legislation for years if not decades.

Lack of emergency generators, which are prone to failure in any event even if there is abundant fuel for them, is not the problem.

Neither is forcing the power companies to make nursing homes a restoration Priority One — along with hospitals, shelters, and other Priority Ones.

The solution to the problem is basically simple:

Force nursing home to implement policies and procedures— and to practice them — that will move residents to other locations “in the event of.”

Caveat: When I was a young lad I was a military medic; I know moving a patient is NOT the first option. I later worked as an Enterprise Risk Management practitioner who played the “What if?” game to identify risks and to find ways to avoid or mitigate the discovered risks.

The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, the immediate focus of the proposed legislation, is across the street from a Level One trauma center, Memorial Regional Hospital. Literally across the street.

The hospital, which DOES have — and practices — policies and procedures “in the event of,” had space available to accommodate the Center’s residents. Memorial discharged as many patients as possible before the storm, and rescheduled admissions until after the storm passed. (The Emergency Room remained open and staff was on hand to care for patients forced to remain in the facility.)

Irma’s intensity was not consistent throughout its “stay” in Hollywood. (I know; I’m a Hollywood resident who “rode out” the storm at the house.) Between wind and rain bands, patients could have been moved to Memorial. Ambulances could have shuttled between the Center and the hospital when other forms of resident transport were contra-indicated.

The power issue timeline3 reads like a “He said, She said.” The bottom line is that when temperatures inside the Center started to rise, and then resident body temperatures also rose, the Center should have initiated evacuation of the most sensitive residents.

Again, a Level One trauma center with available space was just across the street. If the Center’s personnel were not qualified to move residents, Memorial had staff to move them … in the end, Memorial personnel moved residents to the hospital or helped evacuate them to other facilities.

The congresswomen want to penalize the nursing homes for failing to have long-term emergency power. Better, congress should insist that these facilities

    (a) have policies in place “in the event of” and
    (b) practice implementing the procedures “in the event of”

“In the event of” is not limited to loss of commercial power nor is it limited to relocating residents and personnel. It must — must — cover all eventualities.

What congress should do is to insist that every nursing home and medical facility have well-publicized and practiced policies and procedures and that (at least) twice-a-year exercises are monitored by outside teams. In the case of Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, both the local fire department’s Emergency Medical personnel and Memorial personnel — doctors, nurses, and other patient care personnel — should monitor the exercises.

Should residents be relocated during the exercise? Preferably no, but perhaps one in four exercises should include relocating patients. The VA hospital in St. Petersburg FL recruits volunteers as “patients” when it does its annual, in the public's eye, exercise.

Depending upon generators is, at best, foolish.

    Is the fuel supply reliable?
    Will the generators start when needed?
    Will the generators perform to specifications under full load and for how long?
    Are the generators sufficient to provide power for all the facility’s needs?

I have “sticked” more than a few fuel supplies, and I have manually confirmed that generator batteries were charged (else I would be pulling starter ropes in the rain). I am not a generator expert; I don’t know ALL the things that can fail. I do know that “things happen.” The only way to prepare to respond when “things happen” is to have practiced policies and procedures in place.

Fourteen people died. Useless legislation is being proposed — and may never be passed, depending on the clout of the nursing home industry.

Legislation, preferably STATE legislation perhaps based on Federal guidelines for a more or less national consistency, is needed.

But not misguided legislation that fails to address the core problem.


References

1. Fired: http://tinyurl.com/yb8k5ntv

2. Wilson before event: http://tinyurl.com/y7u9et9d

3. Timeline: http://tinyurl.com/ybjg38nv

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Opuscula

Medicare Advantage
Annual plan review

Comparing plans


IT’S “THAT” TIME OF YEAR AGAIN. No, not halloween nor Thanksgiving. It’s Medicare Advantage plan decision time.

Like any annual (or in come cases, semi-annual) contracts, Medicare plans need to be compared.

This concerns only Medicare ADVANTAGE plans. Extra cost Medicare “Supplement” plans are noted only in passing.

ANYONE WHO THINKS THEIR monthly $104 (plus or minus) payment to Medicare pays for Advantage (or Supplement) plans is mistaken. The government pays the private insurers — and pays them handsomely — for each Medicare customer the insurance companies sign up, ergo in some “senior-heavy” areas, competition for customers is fierce. It’s a toss up who pays for more tv advertising: car dealers introducing the new model year or insurance companies trolling for customers.

Evidence of Coverage


All Medicare Advantage and Supplement plans must be certified by Medicare. Most insurers put their Medicare-approved plans on-line. Once approved, the plan benefits cannot be easily changed. (Providers — physicians, medical facilities, pharmacies — may change and certain prescription drugs may be changed, but the basic benefits are “cast into concrete.”)

    Medicare.gov’s Advantage1 information is the best place to start to find plans by ZIP code and insurers2.

Since I do this exercise annually for myself and some friends, I create a spreadsheet. My spreadsheet starts off with things critical to me:

Primary Care Provider/Physician (PCP): Is my PCP listed?

    If not, am I willing to change? Plans normally make their list if providers (ibid.) available on-line.

Specialists: Do I have any specialists I need to continue seeing? Is the specialist on the provider’s list?

    If not, am I willing to change?

Medications: Are all my medications listed and how much is my co-pay. Prescriptions are “tier” based; the higher the “tier,” the higher the co-pay.

    All of my medications are Tier 1 or Tier 2 ($0 co-pay) for all but one plan I reviewed; that plan has the same medication listed as Tier 3 with a $47-a-month co-pay.

Finally, I try to see if the plan’s PCPs are capitated. “Capitated” means that while the plan may list hundreds of specialists, a plan PCP may refer only to a limited number of these specialists.

    I had a capitated plan — once. Never again. If I want to see Specialist “A” who is on the plan Provider’s List, I don’t want to be told my PCP cannot refer me because that specialist is not on my PCP’s list. (I kept the PCP and changed plans.)

The Evidence of Coverage (EOC) lists the co-pays by tier. In order to find out (a) if a drug is supported and (b) what tier the insurer has assigned the drug (Tier 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5) you need the plan’s Formulary — drug list — this also should be on-line.

EOC standard format


MOST EOCs follow a standard format. For 2018, I found only one that fails to follow the standard Medicare EOC format. Because the one offering failed to follow the standard format, I eliminated it from consideration.

Since most plan EOCs follow the standard alphabetical format — albeit some with very minor variations — it is relatively easy to compare benefits. Medicare requires that many benefits have $0 co-pay and $0 deductibles.

Two areas potential customers need to address are hospital costs and outpatient surgery costs.

My first Advantage plan (AvMed) had $0 co-pay for the first 5 in-patient days, and then $40/day for Days 6 through 20, than back to $0 co-pay for the remaining days. The sales person told me that most hospitalizations were for 5 days or less; three operations later, the sales person’s statement has proved to be 100% correct. The same concern applies to mental health care.

For some reason, most plans charge a higher co-pay for outpatient surgery at a hospital and substantially less at a stand-alone day surgery facility.

All plans discourage trips to hospital emergency rooms (ERs). In lieu of running to the ER, plans promote use of urgent care clinics. Some plans have a $0 co-pay for visits to clinics while requiring an $80 (or more) co-pay for ER visits.

On the other hand, if the ER visit ends up with an admission to the hospital, the ER co-pay is waived, so any “life-threatening” issues still should be taken to the ER.

Ambulance co-pays also vary widely by plan.

Some plans offer an Over-the-Counter (OTC) medicine benefit. For 2017, one plan offered to pay up to $45-a-month for OTC products. The same plan for 2018 is offering $25 for three months , the suggestion is that Medicare Advantage and Supplement plans are “bleeding money” and looking for ways to reduce costs.

Insurance, even Medicare Advantage and Supplement plans, is a profit centered business, ergo the number of local and national (e.g., Aetna, Blue Cross, Humana, United Healthcare) insurers are aggressively seeking new members (customers).

A quick comment on referrals. Most Advantage plans now require PCPs to refer patients to specialists. In my opinion, this is a good thing. The PCP is the patient’s primary medical contact. It is for the patient’s benefit that the PCP knows what a specialist ordered — especially medications — so assure that there are no contra-indications. (Actually, when it comes to drug interactions, the pharmacist is the best source of information.)


Advantage or Supplement plan


Many — most — Advantage plans are zero EXTRA cost — they are not “free” or “no cost” since the customer still must pay the monthly Medicare fee. All Medicare Supplement plans have a “supplemental” fee.

    (Supplement plans also are called “Medigap” plans.)

Some plans, such as UnitedHealthcare’s AARP Supplemental plans, require membership in the related organization (e.g. AARP).

According to Mediare.gov3, Every Medigap policy must follow federal and state laws designed to protect you, and it must be clearly identified as "Medicare Supplement Insurance." Insurance companies can sell you only a "standardized" policy identified in most states by letters.

All policies offer the same basic benefits but some offer additional benefits, so you can choose which one meets your needs..

Each insurance company decides which Medigap policies it wants to sell, although state laws might affect which ones they offer. Insurance companies that sell Medigap policies:

  • Don't have to offer every Medigap plan
  • Must offer Medigap Plan A if they offer any Medigap policy
  • Must also offer Plan C or Plan F if they offer any plan

The Medicare.gov site has an internal link to a list of Supplement plans by ZIP code and by cost, along with a list of companies offering each plan type.4


CAUTIONARY NOTE: The most reliable sources for Medicare Advantage and Supplement plans is Medicare.gov. Some commercial (not “.gov”) sites fail to include all available plans since not all insurers are willing to pay to be listed. Medicare.gov lists ALL plans available in a particular ZIP code.

Medicare Resources

1. Advantage: http://tinyurl.com/opgeeqz

2. Available plans: http://tinyurl.com/2c6o5fh

3. Supplement: http://tinyurl.com/h5vfups

4. Compare plans: http://tinyurl.com/y8ooewmj


PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Opuscula

Trump: We’ll destroy
Enemies unless
Changes are forthcoming

TR would be proud

I CAN HEAR ALL MY LEFTIST acquaintances saying “Woe to us, the world is coming to an end because Trump threatened North Korea and Iran.”

PRESIDENT Trump — and like it or not, he IS POTUS — said to the UN what he’s been saying to Americans, and anyone else who cared to listen, that we will not be cowed any longer by rogue nations and nation want-to-be’s (e.g., Daesh, Taliban).

The U.S., once a leader of the “free world,” has for several presidencies fallen from that lofty position to that of, as China’s leaders once opined, a “paper tiger.”

Is President Trump doing something new, unheard of?

Hardly.

If a bully — be the bully be in a school yard or sitting in a seat at the (dis)United Nations — threatens, act to thwart the threat and to convince the bully that threats bring retribution.

The Republican Roosevelt (Theodore) sent the Great White Fleet1 around the globe from December, 1907, to February, 1909, to impress others of America’s power. It never fired a shot in anger, but it did convince other nations that the U.S. was serious about protecting its shores. Unfortunately, it did not prevent Germany and Austria-Hungry from attacking Serbia in 1914, kicking off World War 1.2. After the war, American President Woodrow Wilson managed to convince a number of nations to form the League of Nations, an unsuccessful forerunner to the (equally unsuccessful) United Nations.


No credit given

President Trump’s version of the “Great White Fleet” is a mix of sea and air power and land-based ICBMs; the president’s threat that the U.S. can “totally destroy” North Korea to the “missile man” (Kim) is well within America’s capability.

HOWEVER, at the same time, the president, in his maiden UN appearance, commended China and Russia for attempting to convince Kim to tone down his rhetoric and belligerent behavior. President Trump did NOT tell the UN assembly that the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea; only that it could. One letter (“w” vs. “c”) makes a major difference.

The president’s exact words, according to the Washington Post3, no particular friend of POTUS, were: ”“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” Trump added, “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”

Hopefully, Kim will take the president seriously and, finding a way to save face (the [pick-an-ally] made me do it), rejoin the society of nations. He has, after all, proven North Korea can make bombs and that North Korea can build delivery platforms. Iran is in a similar situation and needs to consider that the U.S. could “totally destroy” it, too. Again, it’s allies — primarily Russia — can greatly influence the ayatollahs and imams to take a more civilized position.)

Nations the U.S. has saved — some several times — have been thumbing their noses at America’s do nothing presidents. Unfortunately for President Trump, he may have to make good on his word regarding North Korea (or Iran, which ever comes first). Also “unfortunately,” President Trump has said — promised — some things he has been unable to deliver, e.g., a better-than-Obamacare health plan than has support across the aisle, the stop infiltrators fence at Mexico’s northern border (ex-president Obama already paid for a wall across Mexico’s southern border — no help for the U.S. and another hit on the U.S. taxpayers’ pocket). To be fair, the decline in American prestige began long before Obama (Bush 1 and his incomplete Iraq incursion and Bush 2 with his “we have won in Iraq” foot-in-mouth fiasco quickly come to mind).

The problem, and there always is a problem, is that there is a reasonable certainty that not everyone in North Korea — or Iran — is behind their self-proclaimed glorious leaders. Destroying either country would cause the deaths of many who want regime change. Unless the U.S. has a popular leader to fill the void left by Kim’s or the ayatollah’s demise — and their sycophants who cling to their leaders’ skirts, nothing will be gained as proven in Iraq. This has been a frequent failure for American governments (the Bushs’ Iraq, Obama’s “Arab Spring” are cases in point.)

During World War 2, the Japanese considered their emperor a god; Japan’s population suffered greatly and many willingly died for him, but it wasn’t until the events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in which thousands of civilians died or were injured, that Japan sued for peace.

The question: Will Kim and the ayatollah sacrifice their people for their personal glory?

Granted, “collateral damage” is a consequence of any war, particularly a war fought remotely (with missiles fired from ships or planes). If nuclear weapons are involved, and both Kim and the ayatollah assure the world they WILL use their nukes — the former on America and the latter on all “infidels,” starting with Israel, will the U.S. (and Israel) respond in kind?

There is no guarantee that attacking North Korea won’t cause Iran to fire its missiles at anything within range — including nearby U.S. ships.

President Trump may have been less than “politically correct” in telling Kim and the ayatollah that the U.S. will not be bullied.

    A word about his “America First” statement. The full statement reveals that he said he believes in America First, and that the leaders of ALL the nations represented at the UN also should put their countries first; it’s a leader’ obligation to put his or her country’s interests above those of other nations. It does NOT mean brow-beating other nations; it does NOT mean ignoring other nation’s plights, but it DOES means that the incumbent will consider America’s needs — including freedom from fear of North Korean or Iran nukes — ahead of trying to appease megalomaniacs.

Perhaps my leftist acquaintances are uneasy with his speech, but they at least can rest easy that any threat from North Korea or Iran will be dealt with harshly so they can continue to try to undermine the elected government.

For a leftist “take” on Trump’s appearance at the UN, read The New York Times4 “editorial as news” article.



1. Great White Fleet: http://tinyurl.com/nrvgo7a

2. Start of WW1: http://tinyurl.com/q93c37x

3. Trump at UN: http://tinyurl.com/y7hydtln

4. NYTimes “newsatorital”: http://tinyurl.com/yaopkpta

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Opuscula

Test in controlled
Environment is not
The same as ‘real world’


Taurus revolvers and Liberty CD ammo: Incompatible?



I OWN A TAURUS Model 605 wheel gun. It’s made to fire .38 Special and .357 ammunition.

Firing 20 rounds of “range” ammunition is OK; but when that amount is exceeded, as it often is at a firing range, “bad things” happen.

Likewise, trying to fire more than five rounds of Liberty Civil Defense .357 ammunition requires an exercise in patience.

A FEW WORDS about the Liberty Civil Defense ammunition.

Get the lead out

From an “environmental” point of view, the ammunition is “friendly” in that is lead free. From a self-defense point of view, the ammunition is pretty good; it’s “a deep cavity projectile” (a/k/a “hollow point”) and fragments inside the target. From a shooter’s point of view, the .357 claims “reduced recoil.” Compared to American Eagle’s .357 that’s 100% accurate; shooters' hands quickly feel the difference.

According to Liberty’s web site1, all Civil Defense ammunition is “copper, monolithic, hollow point, fragmenting, (for) personal defense.”

My experience with the Liberty .357 product in the Taurus 605 has been “fire five rounds and wait.”

While I never intend to get into a gun fight, having to wait approximately 5 minutes between reloads even at a firing range — most of which charge by the hour — can be, at best, frustrating. It seems that the Liberty copper, monolithic etc. cases swell and cannot be removed (ejected/extracted) from the Taurus until the cases cool and return to their original diameter.

This did NOT happen with the Federal “range” ammunition; fire five rounds, tip up the revolver, the cases fall out. No need for the extractor rod.

A Taurus problem or a Liberty problem?

My experience with Liberty the company has been even worse than with Taurus..

I complained both to Liberty and Taurus. Taurus eventually responded — more on that soon — but even after web mail AND snail mail, Liberty still ignores the customer.

I posted the issue to a gun owners’ web site; the response from fellow shooter — NOT Liberty — was that perhaps Liberty was packing a bit more powder than the Taurus’ tolerances can handle. Another shooter on the Smith and Wesson user web site reported no complaints using the Liberty .357s, but that shooter was firing a Smith & Wesson revolver.

What I told Taurus


When I FINALLY got Taurus’ attention, I explained that I had two (2) problems with the 605.

Problem 1: The Liberty issue; cartridges go in but won’t come out.

Problem 2: The cylinder gets out of alignment when more than (about) 50 rounds of ammunition are fired. The barrel of the weapon also gets more than “warm” to the touch. (The temperature is not a concern by itself.)

Mind, with the 605, the shooter loads five rounds, fires five rounds, dumps the spent cartridges, and loads another five rounds. I don’t use a speed loader2 and I save my brass, so it’s not a quick process and there is some “cool down” time between “salvos.”

I explained to Taurus that I fired about 30 rounds of Federal .38 Special 158 grain LRN (target) ammunition and then fired American Eagle .357 158 grain jacked soft point ammunition. I managed to fire perhaps 20 rounds before the cylinder misalignment occurred. (I’d rather fire 100 rounds of Liberty’s .357 than 10 rounds of the American Eagle — the recoil is painful.)

What Taurus did


To its credit, Taurus paid shipping both ways. Then it kept the gun somewhat longer than the estimated six weeks — I didn’t complain; we had an unwanted guest named Irma that disrupted everything.

In the end, I got a call from Taurus telling me the gun was fine. When the gun was returned, I read that Taurus had fired 20 (only 20) rounds of .357 range ammunition and that nothing was amiss.

    Of course nothing was amiss. Taurus could not or would not replicate the conditions under which I reported the failures.

I offered to hand carry five rounds of Liberty Civil Defense .357 to their gate. “We can’t accept that.” Well, how about calling Liberty — the company is less than 200 miles north of the Taurus facility — and asking Liberty to send a box (of 20) cartridges … Liberty probably would have sent the goods gratis. Nope; not an approved vendor.

Basically, Taurus “tested” the 605 in ITS environment, not the shooter’s. If I know in advance that a product will fail if it is pushed past a certain point or will fail if an unusual product is used — yet not a prohibited product, and the Liberty is NOT “prohibited” on any Taurus literature I have seen — I will make certain to stop testing before reaching the failure point or will refuse to test in the customer’s environment.

Taurus is satisfied it met its “lifetime” warranty agreement, albeit it did nothing to resolve either problem.

Liberty remains silent.

And the customer fumes.

Since I cannot get a response from Liberty, I am forced to buy a competition’s product. How not to increase market share.
I would LIKE to fire a box of Liberty CD .38 Special ammunition, but I am loath to spend the money and wait a week, or three, for the ammunition to arrive and then face the very good chance that the .38 Special cases will stick in the 605’s chambers as did the .357s.

Cartridges vs. bullets vs. shells vs. cases 3


 1.  Liberty information: http://tinyurl.com/y93hb5oa

 2.  Speed loaders: http://tinyurl.com/ybqkxcvb

 3.  Ammunition definitions: http://tinyurl.com/y95xpdo3


PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Opuscula

FREE
GIFTS

And other abuses of the language

Yes, I KNOW English is a “living language” and, as such, constantly is open to modification.

But I ALSO know, in part due to the educational system that molded today’s parents’ appreciation — or lack thereof — of the language, it is sorely abused.

I am NOT referring to Ebonics1, ghetto English that found favor among the liberals a few decades past; I writing about “tv English” as spoken by tv “personalities” and advertising “spokespeople” of all races.

Free gift in one of my least favorites.

If whatever is offered is a “gift,” it MUST be free; “free” and “gift” in this case are redundant.

At least the good folks who designed the old Cracker Jack box never promised a “free gift.” The box let kids (of all ages) know there was a “surprise” inside. When I was a kid, the prizes were pretty good; today, not so much.

But wait …

As we near Thanksgiving (in the U.S. and Canada) the song Over the river and through the woods comes to mind. In this instance, “over” is used correctly; the sleigh and the passengers riding on it will literally pass over the river — assuming there is a bridge or the river is covered with thick ice. Over means “above,” not “more than.” (Lazy spelling, e.g., “thru” for “through” is another matter for another time.) The same problem occurs with “under.” The troll lived “under” the bridge; but quantities are “less than” not “under.”

I am amused when someone tells me this or that object is “cheap.” It may indeed be cheap, but what the speaker usually means is “not expensive.” “Cheap,” for this scrivener, always had the connotation of “shoddy workmanship with inferior materials” or, currently, “Made in China.”

Years ago, when cigarettes were advertised on radio and tv, the Winston commercial read “Winston takes good like a cigarette should” to which another voice corrected the first announcer’s grammar with “Winston tastes good AS a cigarette should.” Bad grammar won out; a company for which I labored as a technical writer asked me to comment on a proposed advertisement. I made the notation about grammar and pretty soon I was looking for a new job.

Fowler’s followers regularly end sentences in propositions. I presume they are too lazy or too impressed by their words to rewrite the thought to avoid the faux pas. Winston Churchill apparently was a Fowler follower, at least in respect to ending a sentence with “to.”

THEN WE HAVE “unique.” I hear how a product is “very unique” or “most unique” and I know the copy writer never got past the third grade (if that far). When we are gathered together “en familie” and hear “most unique” it’s a race to see who can point out the error first.

When I was a reporter in Trenton NJ (Times-Advertiser) the night editor had a pet peeve: a “landfill” was, according to Sam, a “dump.” He was right … and he was wrong. The basic difference between a dump and a landfill is that the waste dumped into a “landfill” is covered over, unlike a dump. I think Sam just enjoyed needling the local township politicos.

I will concede that I am a language curmudgeon — pedant may be a nicer descriptive, albeit not by much. I for too long labored as a reporter, editor, or technical writer, the latter work demanding precision of language; ambiguity in language could cause injury or death to a reader.

As a junior high student the chorus performed the music from My Fair Lady an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion with words and music by Lerner and Loewe2. To this day I STILL wonder Why the English can’t speak … the language, only in my case, I substitute “Americans” for “English.”

I don’t expect the average citizen to have a vocabulary to match that of the late Hubert Horatio Humphrey Jr. or Wm. F. Buckley Jr., but it would be nice if schools —and parents — helped today’s youngsters expand their vocabulary. Reading books — hard cover, soft cover, “e” — is the easiest way, but having three grandchildren, I know prying them away from their smart phones or tv is a “challenge.”

Seeing Mr. Humphrey and Mr. Buckley, I am reminded of yet another language faux pas: So-n-So SENIOR. Unless “senior” is on So-n-So’s birth certificate, So-n-So should be referred to as “the senior Mr. So-n-So.” Normally “junior” is dropped from a junior’s name at the senior person’s demise.



1   Ebonics: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ebonics

2   My Fair Lady: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Fair_Lady

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

Comments on Free Gifts


Monday, October 9, 2017

Opuscula

Remembering
A better time

North Korea, Iran, left wing extremists, right wing extremists, mass murders, ersatz news, et al and etc.

I’m tired of it. I can turn off the tv, unplug the radio, cancel the “news” blogs, and walk past the newspapers at my local Publix, but what do I have to fill the void?

At my age, memories; good memories mostly.

Memories are made of this



I started making a list of things I liked thinking about. Even alphabetized it — yes, I am THAT type person.

As a small child in Indianapolis I remember a large 7-Up sign on a building at a 5-way intersection that flashed 7-Up You like it It likes you. I also remember walking — unescorted — down the alley to the public library and, starting with first grade, to P.S. #2, Benjamin Harrison Elementary. PS #2 has been replaced by a newer, sleeker version, but the library still is at the end of the alley.

I remember walking to an A&W Root Beer stand1 with a “sitter.” I suppose we could have caught a street car or trackless trolley — back in the day there was a distinction. I have no idea how much a mug of root beer cost, but a nickel was all it took to make a call from pay phone. Try and FIND a working pay phone today.

I miss billboards. I remember when Lady Bird Johnson decided they were a blight on America’s landscape and had to go. I also recall Ogden Nash’s doggerel: I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree. Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I'll never see a tree at all Having traveled the country from North to South and East to West on several occasions — I was a reporter and editor in my younger years — I miss the billboards.. They helped keep me awake and looking forward to whatever was ahead of me — South of the Border comes to mind or Wall Drug.

I really miss Burma Shave signs2. I remember them as a passenger in a 1948 maroon Ford coupe — back when “coupe” meant “two doors.” We’ve allowed ourselves and our offspring to get sloppy with the language. A “moment” used to mean, according to the dictionary, 90 seconds; not more, not less. Now a “moment” is like an Einstein explanation of time: relative. (Whose “relative” is anyone’s guess.)

Motels used to have “personalities.” There were motels that offer individual cottages for guests, and there were motels that offered quarters shaped like a teepee, albeit they were called “wigwams.”3.

It’s hard to find a non-chain motel and even harder to find a motel that doesn’t look like every other motel you passed the last 200 miles.

Hotels used to be “semi-grand,” but save for a few brands in a few cities, most were close to bus or train depots that usually were situated in less desirable parts of town. I stayed in a nice hotels in Montgomery AL and Baltimore MD and a not-so-nice hotel in Boston MA.

When I was a kid in South Florida, the movies were a quarter and for that two bits kids saw cartoons, a serial, and a suitable-for-their-age feature. Movies also had news reels; tv was in its infancy. What movies did NOT have were commercial after commercial for outside-the-theater vendors. Now I pay too much and I still have to sit though advertisements for things I neither want nor care about.

Still on movies — and this may be unique to Phoenix AZ c 1956 — but I used to hitchhike into the local drive-in. Cars were $1 no matter how many people crammed into the flivver; walk-ins were 50 cents. I was one of many with a thumb out. The theater had bench seats for the walk-ins and stow-aways.

Back in the day hitchhiking was commonplace. While the military officially frowned on hitchhiking even back in 1960, it was a way to get from Point A to Point B on “air”; “A’re you going my way?” Hitchhike today? Not likely.

I did thumb my way from Orlando to Miami one night. The cops in a string of Palm Beach County towns, to keep me moving and out of trouble, hauled me from city limit to city limit. One cop had a Ford with an Interceptor V-8 … we went though his town at “slightly” above the speed limit.

Cracker Jacks used to have real toys — a “surprise in every box.” Today, there still is a surprise — a disappointment. I suppose the prize went away with the 5 cent Coke.

Stuckeys4 road side gas and food stops. I thought all the Stuckeys were associated with Texaco (and the Man with the Star) but on looking for Stuckeys on the WWW I discovered it also had deals with other oil companies, many of which are just memories.

Driving across country meant seeing different oil company brands — Pure, Phillips, Union, 76, Esso, Sohio, Standard, Cities Service. Some still survive: Shell, Mobile (but sans Pegasus), Sunoco. I can’t recall the last time I saw a Texaco station. I vaguely recall seeing a Pure station somewhere, but maybe not. I pumped gas and washed windshields at the Cities Service station on the Broad Causeway5 between North Miami and Bay Harbour Islands “back in the day.”

Back in the day, gas stations were (a) full service and (b) had actual mechanics who could get the vehicle running.

Texaco reminds me of “Uncle Miltie” and Milton Berle’s other major sponsor, Nestles: N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestles makes the very best. Maybe, maybe not.

Times seemed quieter then but perhaps that’s because there were other things in — and on — the news besides murder and rape. There were problems; many of those problems remain, in exacerbated form, today. On the other hand, there have been thousands of technological and medical advancements that, in one way or another, benefit us all.

I like my memories, but I would not want to revisit the reality of the time.


Sources

 1.  A&W stand: http://tinyurl.com/yct3h927

 2.  Burma Shave: http://burma-shave.org/jingles/ and https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2289808

 3.  Teepee vs. wigwam: http://tinyurl.com/y97qffx7

 4.  Stuckeys: http://tinyurl.com/y9jewd4k

 5.  Broad Causeway: http://www.pbase.com/image/132047198 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_State_Road_922

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

Comments on Memories


Sunday, October 8, 2017

ERM-BC-COOP

Las Vegas massacre:
Could it have been
Avoided or mitigated?

HIND SIGHT, MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACKING, reflecting on what I know from the media, is more than an interesting pass time.

As an enterprise risk management practitioner — albeit a retired one — I always provide an “after action” report, if only for myself.

COULD THE MASSACRE have been predicted?

Probably not. By all accounts, the killer's kin and friends contend the killer wasn’t angry at any particular group — race, religion, ethnicity, etc. His inamorata left for her parents in, I believe, the Philippines a few weeks before the rampage. A peaceful parting?

Still, there were those proverbial “red flags.”

One: Local man checks into a local lodging.

    While it happens that a person with a relatively local address might check into a local lodging, it’s not that common.

Two: The guest, a single person, checks into the facility with TEN suitcases.

    I’ve known actresses who checked into a hotel with LESS luggage.

Three: The guest — with his 10 pieces of luggage — extends his stay beyond a day or two.

    It is said that the killer was a gambler, and no matter how lucky, the house odds are in the house’s favor; win $5, lose $10. If you are big in Vegas, add several zeros to the $5 and $10.

Four: Apparently no one found it odd that the killer’s closet wasn’t stuffed with 10 suitcase’s full of personal haberdashery.

    Most lodges offer to change their guest’s linens at least weekly. Perhaps the killer’s arrangement with the inn was one of “Do Not Disturb..” Still, the killer apparently ordered room service.

Bottom line: There WERE red flags had any one been alert to them . . . and had anyone SHARED the information with others. Shades of 9-11-2001 when one federal agency had information it failed to share with another federal agency that had other information it would not disclose. More than 3,000 people perished, largely due to a turf war between federal agencies.

    In Nevada, and much of the Intermountain West, turf wars between the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are infamous.

Given the availability of mail order ammunition, and the relatively low price of .223 caliber rounds, it would be nigh on impossible to know if the killer was stockpiling thousands of rounds of ammunition. A thousand rounds of .223 costs about $230.

Lessons learned

Of course this is all just Monday morning quarterbacking, but it might prove useful to prevent, or at least mitigate, a similar tragedy in the future. I’ve heard more than one person suggest that there are others “out there” who want to beat this killer’s record of dead and wounded.

The one thing I always preached was BE ALERT TO ANYTHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY. To my mind, 10 pieces of luggage for a single guest would seem “out of the ordinary.”

But then I’ve never been to Las Vegas. (Nevada, yes; Las Vegas, no.)


PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Opuscula

Two major airlines
Strand passengers

Do governments have obligation to aid passengers?

Within the last 60 days two major airlines have called it quits. Neither airline was the national carrier for the country in which the companies were registered.

Germany’s AIR BERLIN was the first to fold, leaving some passengers stranded far from home. For some airline watchers, including savvy travel agents, the Air Berlin demise was hardly a surprise. Other travel agents, particularly in the U.S., kept on selling tickets on Air Berlin flights right up until the end. A check of one of Air Berlin’s web sites, https://flights.airberlin.com, does not suggest the company is grounded; potential passengers simply cannot find future flights.

England’s MONARCH AIRLINES shut down without warning, stranding passengers far from home.

According to the BBC (http://www.bbc.com/news/business-41466722) there were four reasons for Monarch losing its crown.

The BBC claims that Monarch failed because

    1.   Fuel prices
    2.   Competition from rivals, both UK and elsewhere in Europe
    3.   Change in market plan from “long haul” flights
    4.   Terror attacks in several of Monarch's destinations.

CNN under a headline reading German airline goes bust after Etihad pulls plug (http://tinyurl.com/yaehowwe) because Abu Dhabi's Etihad, Air Berlin’s major stockholder, “refused to finance another bailout.” The story was dated August 15, but thanks to a German government handout, Air Berlin continued to sell tickets to the unsuspecting.

Abu Dhabi's Etihad also “pulled the plug on Alitalia earlier this year, prompting the Italian national carrier to enter administration. The Italian government is now trying to find a buyer.”

Meanwhile, Germany’s flag carrier, Lufthansa, is considering options to acquire some of Air Berlin, but there has been no suggestion that Lufthansa would honor Air Berlin tickets.

Unlike the United States, many countries are heavily involved with national businesses; government representatives sit on company boards, as do bankers.

For stranded passengers, or those still waiting for refunds for unused tickets, neither the Germans nor the English have offered help. The English Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has put a plan in place to bring stranded Brits back to the island, but there is nothing, to date, for people either in England or elsewhere to return to their point of origin or even to return to the island for flights home, wherever that might be.

One airline, Abu Dhabi's Etihad, within a year brought down three major carriers: Air Berlin, Alitalia, and Monarch. According to CNN Etihad announced Tuesday that group CEO Australian James Hogan will step down in the second half of 2017 as the company conducts a strategic review of the growth model he pioneered.

"We must ensure that the airline is the right size and the right shape," said board chairman Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei.

Interestingly, Abu Dhabi's Etihad refuses to carry Israeli passengers because the United Arab Emirates—its home country—does not recognize the Israel (http://tinyurl.com/yas8yah5).

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The state of American sports

Baseball

Football

Basketball

Soccer

Tennis

Sports "medicine"?


ERM-BC-COOP

ADA web requirement
Really is nothing new

YEARS AGO, WHEN I had my own web site, I discovered the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had some very specific requirements for ADA-compliant sites.

A quick visit to https://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap5toolkit.htm provides 99% of the things any web developer needs to know about compliance. The information is free, so there is no excuse for not knowing what’s required.


Image of blind man using computer    http://tinyurl.com/nz5av8a

ADA-COMPLIANT PAGES are designed so that a screen reader can “read” and “speak” what is written.

When it comes to graphics, the ADA requires that site developers “Add(ing) a line of simple HTML code to provide text for each image and graphic will enable a user with a vision disability to understand what it is. Add a type of HTML tag, such as an “alt” tag for brief amounts of text or a “longdesc” tag for large amounts, to each image and graphic on your agency’s website.”

I'm not certain HOW that can be accomplished on blog sites ssuch as "Blogger" but most commrcial web sites don't use such applications.

While “alt” has been around since (at least) HTML 2 (it is described in my Netscape 2 Unleashed book as “a text string that will be displayed in browsers that cannot support images”), “longdesc” is new to me. It is described, and examples provided, at https://www.w3.org/TR/html-longdesc/

It appears that not everyone must be ADA-compliant. If the site is a government site, it must be compliant. If the site received public money, it must be compliant.

PDF. Portable Document Format (PDF) documents are, as far as browsers are concerned, images. Screen readers can’t “read” images, so a PDF page needs a link to an HTML or RTF document containing the same information. Easily accomplished with a link — or link to the PDF file at another URL.

Who needs to be compliant?

The Department has consistently interpreted the ADA to cover Web sites that are operated by public accommodations and stated that such sites must provide their services in an accessible manner or provide an accessible alternative to the Web site that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (http://tinyurl.com/ya2e6z4p) The specific case in point was a ticket agency.

From the same site: Although the language of the ADA does not explicitly mention the Internet, the Department has taken the position that title III covers access to Web sites of public accommodations. The Department has issued guidance on the ADA as applied to the Web sites of public entities, which includes the availability of standards for Web site accessibility. See Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities (June 2003), available at www.ada.gov/websites2.htm. As the Department stated in that publication, an agency (and similarly a public accommodation) with an inaccessible Web site also may meet its legal obligations by providing an accessible alternative for individuals to enjoy its goods or services, such as a staffed telephone information line. However, such an alternative must provide an equal degree of access in terms of hours of operation and range of options and programs available. For example, if retail goods or bank services are posted on an inaccessible Web site that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to individuals without disabilities, then the alternative accessible method must also be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Additional guidance is available in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), available at http://www.w3.org/TR/WAIWEBCONTENT (last visited June 24, 2010), which are developed and maintained by the Web Accessibility Initiative, a subgroup of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C®).

The Department did not issue proposed regulations as part of its NPRM, and thus is unable to issue specific regulatory language on Web site accessibility at this time. However, the Department expects to engage in rulemaking relating to Web site accessibility under the ADA in the near future.

Bottom line If a site is ADA-compliant, it is more accessible to customers. If the site lacks ADA-compliance, the ADA may soon mandate that the site be upgraded to comply with ADA regulations.

The ADA regulations are not onerous and they do make the web site available to more people. Assuring ADA compliance when initially building a site is just good business; it’s also less expensive — time and money — than re-engineering a site.


PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Opuscula

Your opinion
Has no value

FREEDOM OF SPEECH; every one in America has it.

But for the leftists, only they can express an opinion.

Take a knee? That’s OK; Leftists support that.

Suggest the kneelers be fired … THAT’S wrong, wrong, wrong.

As someone suggested, “Leftists want everyone to think as they think.”

Shades of Orwell's 1984.

WHILE I HAVE NOT checked each individual’s record, I am confident that few, if any, of the kneelers served a day in service to their country.

No enlistees. No AmeriCorps VISTAs.

A FEW give back to their communities, and they are to be commended.

Few complain that these Big Buck jocks lack basic flag courtesy; rarely does any player (of any sport) place his hand over his heart as the National Anthem is played or the nation’s flag is raised.

OK, I’m old, and in my school days, students and teachers stood and placed hand over heart during the pledge and whenever the anthem was played. Yes, I know that where the hand rested was not over the heart’s true site. Tradition is strong.

I’ll also concede there are times when I’d like to place my hands over my ears when some screecher wails the hard-to-sing anthem — there are more easily sung and equally suitable songs for the anthem: America the Beautiful and God Bless America come to mind, but the latter can’t be sung since it is not “politically correct.”

Not everyone who dodged the draft, e.g., Trump, Obama, Bush1, and Clinton, is as disrespectful of flag and country as the jocks — and some so-called “comedians” and network talking heads — the president and ex-presidents at least show respect for flag and country.

The jocks ARE entitled to their opinions, but so is President Trump.

If the jocks — and “comedians” and talking heads — have an issue with life in America they can pick another time to make their point. Stand for the anthem, put you hand on your heart, then go onto the field and SIT ON YOUR BACKSIDE . . . and take the team owner — your master (why do you think he’s called the team “owner”?) — with you.

I’m confident the leftists will support you by buying season tickets; they’ll have to fund your antics since thinking American’s will boycott the games. Sorry, thinking Americans’ opinions don’t count — except at the gate.

America is NOT perfect and problems need to be addressed. If any Big Buck jock — or “comedian” or talking head — thinks another country can offer them a better life, then go; America does not prevent anyone from leaving. There are 193 countries in the UN; America is only one so the kneelers and other disrespecters of flag and country have 192 options. How about North Korea; it’s leader hates America, but it’s really cold in winter — ask the Americans who fought in the Korean “police action” — or perhaps Iran, another country with leadership that hates America, the Big Satan; I’m sure both countries will welcome you with open arms. ‘Course if you behave in North Korea or Iran as you do in the U.S. your quarters could be prison until your execution. Misogynists should head to a Muslim-dominated country.

If the leftists’ cause is that blacks make up a larger part of the prison population than non-blacks, perhaps blacks should consider WHY. Even if every cop is a racist (how can that be when almost every department has black cops?), surely not every black will be falsely arrested or shot. (No question that too many blacks ARE falsely arrested or shot; but there also is no question that most black killings are by blacks.2)

“Taking a knee” is dramatic, but hardly effective.

If the jocks, et al, want to be effective they need to effect political change, either through the ballot box or through the courts. Antagonizing a large part of the population will NOT help them politically.

America is a free country where everyone — even the president — is entitled to express an opinion. The leftists need to learn that what is “good for the goose” also is “good for the gander.” Either we have free speech for all or free speech for none.

That’s a lesson the leftists have yet to learn.


1.   Geo. W. Bush (Bush 2) enlisted in the Air National Guard and managed to stay safely in the States until he received an EARLY discharge. See http://tinyurl.com/qjumhq5

2.   93 per cent of black victims were killed by blacks http://tinyurl.com/y8hgzc2m

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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