Goodbye Cosimo

Got the news this morning that Cosimo has a laundry list of problems, most significant of which is that his liver is failing.

The vet was ready to keep him alive but I told him it was time. So this afternoon I have to perform the sad duty of saying goodbye to Cosimo. I thought he’d be the last cat to go. Instead he’s the first.

ONDCP Still Telling Fibs

This piece on The Huffington Post blog tells the real story that the Office of National Drug Control Policy would rather you didn’t hear.

I’ve known this for quite a long time. After all, the laws against marijuana have as their foundation extreme xenophobia. Yes, you read that right. The main entry point for marijuana in the first half of the 20th century was Mexico. And it was thought that if women smoked it, they’d become powerless to stop the advances of Mexican men.

We’ve all been told half truths and lies for so many years so I’m happy that someone finally calls out ONDCP in a logical manner. Lets see them refute this one.

Cosimo is a very sick boy

Over the past few days I’d noticed some odd behaviors and signs regard my youngest cat, Cosimo. I noted he seemed to be losing weight, that he was yowling at the litter box, etc. So I got him to the vet today.

It turns out poor Cosimo has several health issues going on.

First and foremost is a UTI. His bladder was humungous in the x-ray. But that’s been taken care of.

Now we’re awating the CBC results to see if there was any kidney or liver damage. If there is, I’m more than likely going to have to have them put Cosimo down.

His other problems, all of which are related to his being morbidly obese:

Pads on his feet are so dry that he has no traction on smooth surfaces.

Arthritis in the left hip and right knee.

He can’t clean himself because he’s so big (24 lbs.). So now he goes on a diet, depending on whether or not he survives.

I’m so sad about this. He is my favorite cat – the most laid back cat you’d ever want to meet.

Barbara Ehrenreich hits one out of the park

About what is wrong with our medical system. She posted this on her blog and I’m wholeheartedly in agreement. Been a fan of hers since reading Nickle and Dimed.

But I wish someone would just come right out and say it, that the real problem is the hospitals, billing companies and insurance companies. When all three are for-profit you know things are going to go seriously wrong. This is why a single payer health insurance system would be such a good idea in the United States. But of course the lobbyists for the hospitals, billing companies and insurance companies will never let the cash cow run dry.

I know of one egregious example of a billing company on the take. They’re getting pretty big and will remain nameless however I’ll tell the story using pseudonyms. We’ll call the doctor Dr. Justice, and the billing company Profit, Inc.

At the time I was working at the state AG’s office. Seems Dr. Justice got into a little trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. So to make up the difference, he started upcoding all his patient visits. In some cases he’d seen as many as a dozen patients in an hour. Where he went wrong is that he started upcoding Medicare patients. Alarm bells went off in our Medicare Fraud Unit.

After getting his billing data we noted that the curves on both his IRS payments and his upcoding coincided nicely. Ok, there’s motive.

We brought in executives from Profit, Inc. as well as their I.T. director and requested data from them, only to be stymied. So I as the I.T. director for the AG’s office layed into their I.T. director. A couple of days later we had all the information we wanted.

The billing company not only knew he was upcoding, they encouraged it. Of course in the meeting they couldn’t admit that, but that didn’t matter at all since the data told the true story. We found out that in some instances they’d warned Dr. Justice in writing that his patient load and upcoding were going to become an issue. But in those same memos they encouraged him to keep on upcoding.

So now Dr. Justice has been convicted of Medicare fraud and will be doing a stint in Club Fed. Profit, Inc. is still under federal investigation.

Now comes the true irony. We needed someone to manage our CVRS systems so gathered resumes, scored them, and then brought in the top four candidate. Who should one of the candidates be but the I.T. director from Profit, Inc. And guess who we hired.

Turns out my suspicions about Profit, Inc. were dead on. It’s a company so bent on profit that they completely screwed one of their own partners.

This is what is wrong with medicine in the United States. Too many hands in the pie.

And is even more scary. Peter Rost paints a very dismal picture of the United States being controlled by greed. But that is precisely what is going on. We’ve allowed the New Robber Barrons control of our lives, of our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We need to clamp down on corporations more today than we ever did in the past. Corporations in the United States are all about short term profit. Japanese companies use to be the antithesis of that but western influence has pretty much ruined that. Now that I think about it, citizens of all G8 nations are firmly under the thumb of corporate interests.

The question is, how do we throw off this yoke?

I for one would be more likely to incorporate if I didn’t have to worry about health care, and didn’t have to pay what I consider onerous minimum taxes to the state I live in. And I’d be more likely to hire employees for that business. But for now I won’t do anything because the current scheme doesn’t support how I’d like to run a business.

But maybe if we could change the health care paradigm we might actually see increased economic benefit. Alas, I’ll be long dead before that happens.

Comcast, Cox, Verizon et al up to their old tricks

Apparently a group in Boston is trying to put together a city wide WiFi network and running into opposition. Funny isn’t it.

Curiously we pretty much have universal WiFi, at least in my little corner of Providence. Just drive down a street with a wireless computer and see how many open networks there are.

And interesting that Verizon didn’t oppose the City of Providence installing Motorola’s MESH network for public safety. I mean, you’d think that Verizon would want their so called superior network used.

That’s the thing – just put together a seamless WiFi network and don’t publicise it. Verizon et al will never know what hit them.

Understanding the Ricer Culture

I define a Ricer as one who uses cosmetic and mechanical modifications to a vehicle, particularly those manufactured by Honda, Nissan, Toyota, and Hyundai but even domestic models are getting the treatment lately.

Here is a quick rundown on what might make one a ricer.

Thing is, I understand the ricer culture. As a kid we used to get old beaters like 1970 Chevrolet Camaro’s and 1967 Pontiac GTO’s and hop them up, put wild paint jobs on and then take out and wreck them shortly thereafter. Only so many telephone poles you can wrap a car around I suppose.

Just look around at stock manufacturer models today. They all pretty much look the same. There isn’t anything unique about mass produced models. This has been the theme since the first Model T rolled off the production line. So it isn’t any surprise that people want to modify their vehicles to express their individuality.

I suppose you can only beat a dead horse so many time, probably why Bryan’s Rice-Boy page hasn’t been truly update since 2001. But it is still up there for all to see.

But then there’s Joe’s Riced Rides page. Not quite as extreme as Bryan’s page it’s amusing none the less.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I just don’t understand all the haters out there. As a lapsed gear head, I really don’t get it. I guess we looked at mechanical first and cosmetic second. The 1967 GTO referenced above was primer white and primer black. But that car could move.

It’s nice to see the Ricer community starting to tumble to true performance mods. But it isn’t easy on newer vehicles. I’m a tech guy and understand the underpinnings of that makes an IC engine tick along with an understand of the electronics necessary to make them meet performance and emisssions standards. But modifying a new car would scare the crap out of me.

But it isn’t me alone. Friend of mine bought a brand new Expidition back in 1999, with the 4.5L engine. Curious thing was that on cornering the engine would stall.

We found out that it was a flaw in the engine control firmware. Apparently what was happening was that the fuel injectors on drop to idle weren’t supplying enough fuel to keep the engine running.

Ford’s solution was to give him a new Expidition with the 5.4L engine which didn’t ahve that particular problem.

Ok, enough rambling.