freeloadersTexas is moving to become the newest state to allow terminally ill patients the ability to try non-FDA approved medications.

This story, of a Jewish student who was arrested for posting an image of a swastika he’d gotten while in India, raises some interesting questions about iconography and context. Leaving aside freedom of speech (ie even if we assume the legal right is there), are there words and images so offensive that there is no context in which they can be acceptably reproduced?

The DC Cinematic Universe looks like a real trainwreck. Bizarrely so, in my view, given that all they had to do was hire Paul Dini.

Dear DC Comics, cut this $#!+ out, please.

It feels a bit like corporations are going out of their way to make H1-B visas look bad, but the reality is that they have little reason to care about public opinion. More from Dave Schuler.

At CATO, Jason Kuznicki argues that property rights matter more for the poor than the wealthy.

Jeb Bush supports Puerto Rican statehood, but I have to agree with the National Review that it’s not presently a good idea for anybody involved.

Our wild 1,500 to be a barber.”>very regulated west.

Lydia DePillis looks at Puerto Rico to see what a massive minimum wage hike to $12 will do, because they had a hefty rise from $2.03 to to $3.35. It tries to explain away a whopping 9% drop in employment (Might have happened anyway!) and emigration (It’s good for people to leave!) and despite admitting at the end that raising the minimum wage didn’t do its economy much good. Despite an optimistic tone, it does little to alleviate my concern about what a $12 minimum wage would do to Mississippi.

The territory is raising its taxes to settle a budgetary shortfall, but Ike Brannan of the Weekly Standard argues that it should be allowed to declare bankruptcy. Jeb Bush wants statehood, but while that would fix the “can’t declare bankruptcy problem, I have to agree with the National Review that it’s not presently a good idea for anybody involved.

When should men wear short pants?

There’s something wrong with David Brooks.

Joe Battenfield argues that if things don’t work out with Hillary Clinton, the Democrats can always go with Kerry. Before Mitt announced he wasn’t running, I was pondering the violently (if unlikely) dull prospect of a Kerry-Romney election.

Muslim shopkeepers in China are being required to sell alcohol and cigarettes.

Category: Newsroom

Conservatarian values collide on the question of guns and employment. Specifically, a Tennessee law that would bar employers from taking action against employees who bring a gun to their work place. There was a law passed that allowed people to legally take their guns on to others’ property as long as they kept it in their car. The law was amended to prevent employers from firing employees for doing this.

Dustin Siggins and Doug Mataconis argue that the law goes too far because it infringes on the property rights of the employer. Jazz Shaw argues:

There is also the question of where the employer’s “property” ends, which Dustin correctly notes in his piece. True, the parking lot is the property of the employer, but does that make the employee’s automobile their property as well? You either allow employees to park in your parking lot or you don’t. What they have in their cars – assuming it’s legal – is really their business if it’s not being brought into the workplace and potentially affecting the owners and staff. In a parallel case, many employers with security concerns do not allow workers to bring their cell phones into the office because of the camera and audio recording capabilities of modern phones. But they pretty much universally allow the workers to lock them in their cars while at the office. And most importantly, that scenario applies to a device which isn’t even covered by your constitutional rights.

This law seems to me to have been a good compromise. The employer can bar carrying weapons in the workplace, but the employee’s car is not the workplace. And punishing them for such storage is an unreasonable burden on their constitutional rights.

On the property rights question, I am actually squarely on Shaw’s side. When I was substitute teaching, I was technically violating city law and school policy because brought tobacco on to the premises. However, my belief is that since it stayed in the car, it was more on my own property than theirs until or unless I took it out of the car. (Which, also technically I did, but only to transport it off school grounds so that I could smoke, but we’ll forget that for a moment.)

The conflict to me is not between the Second Amendment and property rights, but the Second Amendment and the right of employers to hire and fire as they please. And here, I actually side with the employers. While I would criticize any employer who refused to hire people who (for instance) own guns at home, I don’t believe that gun ownership should be – at the current time – a protected class. If such policies become sufficiently widespread, then I might reconsider. Such policies are likely to be more widespread when it comes to “No guns in your car” policies, but the rationale for such a policy is notably more acute.

So my split-the-baby solution is that, given that Tennessee is an employment-at-will state, I would allow them to fire employees under the EAW doctrine. However, I would not view that particular reason for doing so as a “For Cause” firing. Meaning, the employee would be eligible for unemployment provided that at no point they presented a danger to anyone else (by either taking the gun out of the car, or threatening to).

Category: Courthouse, Newsroom

Will’s comment here got me thinking about times in my customer service jobs when I refused to bend the rules but probably should have bent them. Here are two examples, both of which pertain to my time as a bank teller.

Example #1: A young girl, probably 8 or 9 years old, came in with a jar of loose change and wanted to use our coin counter. The rule was only account holders could use the counter. I refused to count the change because when I asked her if she had an account, she said no.

Example #2: A young man came in with a cashiers check for $1,000 made out to his mother. His mother had endorsed the check, and because his mother was a regular customer, I even recognized the signature as hers (or strongly resembling hers). I was reluctant to cash the check because I had never met this man before. (The rule in this case was quasi-unofficial. Theoretically, if the check is endorsed by the payee, it’s negotiable. But in practice, we wanted to be very sure before simply giving away so much money.) He said his mother was outside in his car, but according to him was very sick. I told him to bring his mother in so I could verify that it was her. He did, but as the bank was very crowded, they had to wait in line, and by the time they got back to my teller window, she was so weak she almost collapsed onto the floor and would have if her son hadn’t caught her.

I should have bent the rules in both cases. For example #1, I should have just run the coins through the machine. I don’t think the little girl cried, but she was probably upset or embarrassed that I didn’t help her. And I remember what it’s like being a kid and trying to negotiate an adult world with its seemingly arbitrary rules.

For example #2, I think I was right to insist to talk to the mother, although that is debatable because the signature was probably valid. But I could have said, “Bring her into the bank. You won’t have to wait in line. Just let her sit down and I can skip out of the teller line and verify with her.

I think in both cases the “rule”  was defensible, or at least non-arbitrary. But enforcing them the way I did and with such consistency seemed and seems cruel.


Category: Bank, Market

At Over There, I’ve written a post about the Model Employment Termination Act (or META), which would replace the law’s default assumption that employment is “at will” with a default assumption that employment is “for cause.” (One thing I didn’t mention at OT is that the META (click here to read a summary) would permit employees to waive his/her “for cause” recourse in exchange for “severance pay upon dismissal equal in amount to one month’s pay for each full year of employment—up to a maximum amount of 30 months’ pay.”

I don’t have a problem with the criticisms that have been raised so far in the comment thread. I share the concerns about how it might discourage employers from hiring or how it might lead to an increase in “temporary” or contract employment or an increase in erratic scheduling. To me the best criticism is whether arbitrary firings are in themselves a big problem.

All I have to say is that I hope the bad effects will be minor and that the following will be the happy-ish result from a META:

1. Fewer firings of people for racist, sexist, etc., reasons.

2. It would be more difficult to fire people who exercise their free speech rights outside of work.

3. More employers would adopt more explicit employment practices and give more process to their employers when it comes to discipline. I hope that employees would therefore be on a surer footing in knowing where they stand at work.

4. It might make unionizing easier because retaliation for union support would be harder. (I’m conflicted about unions, and I didn’t mention this particular point at OT. But for those who support unions, this could be a plus.)



Category: Elsewhere


Canada made the decision to close one of its borders in the night-time hours, which left residents of an eastern Alaska town in a lurch because there is no emergency care otherwise. Fortunately, they came to an arrangement.

According to Brookings, fracking is responsible for 47% of the fall in natural gas prices.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Tabasco Sauce. (Well, fifteen things.)

If you’re looking for a way to get rid of ants, you can’t get rid of them by getting rid of gravity.

According to a new book, addiction may not be what we think it is.

David Shultz wants to know if you’ll be able to read modern-day articles in 1,000 years, with an eye towards antiquated hardware. To answer his question, I think the answer is “yes” for text, due in large part from the transition from binary to marked up text. You won’t necessarily have the formatting, but you’ll have something readable. I’m less sure about image files, and skeptical about anything dynamic like video games or interactive anything.

Tom Lindsey writes about Texas’ ongoing effort to make college genuinely affordable.

Javier Grillo-Marxuach attributes the majesty of modern prestige television to bad parenting, MTV, and ADD-style editing.

Maybe I should talk less about Kansas City, and more about Fresno?

Discovered during my research: How America was named.

Ben Schwartz argues that we are in an age of a comedic bubble and satirical excess.

Category: Newsroom

georgebushDave Schuler believes that, without a doubt, that George H Bush is our greatest living former president. A poll from last summer just about agrees, giving Bill Clinton higher approval but also higher disapproval. I am inclined to agree as well.

Bush the Elder is getting more elderly. He turns 91 in a few months. Reagan and Ford lived to be 93, so he’s not exactly living on borrowed time. But he’s not looking really good, either.

In case you may not be away, his son Jeb is all-but-running for president. I am, personally, rather bearish on Jeb’s odds of becoming president. I am honestly not that bullish on his odds of even getting the Republican nomination. I know, I know, the GOP always dates the radicals and marries the establishmentarian, but this time feels different. More or less from the moment Huckabee announced he wasn’t going to run in 2012, I believed the nomination was Romney’s. I don’t feel that way about Jeb. He seems extremely out of touch about how out of touch he is with the party. He’s just proven to be a lackluster candidate so far, and this time around there are other options. I think he has a better chance than any other individual candidate, but if I were betting for or against him, I’d bet (lightly) against him.

JebUnless, that is, his father dies sometime between now and then. Which gets me to the point of this post. His father is somebody that it’s become kind of hard to say much negative about, generally speaking. Republicans see him as one of their own and from the Reagan era at that. Democrats see him as fundamentally different from the current lot of Republicans. It’s considered poor taste to speak ill of the just dead, but I think there will be less tongue-biting.

Which makes his father’s death, if it occurs between now and next November, a potentially important thing.

If it occurs during primary season, it could really give Jeb a boost. He may only need a boost. Just a bit of separation between him and everybody else. Rubio’s funding could then dry up. People looking for alternatives may stop looking. Then we may see a 1-on-1 race between Jeb and Walker or Jeb and Perry with the full weight of the Republican establishment squarely behind the son of the fallen hero.

If that doesn’t happen, and if Jeb wins the nomination, it could be salient in the general election, too. It’s become fashionable to view voters as these immovable objects who don’t respond to anything, but I don’t think that’s particularly true. There may not be as many independents and swing voters as there used to be, but they exist, they exist right on the margin, and their vote counts twice if they switch (-1 for the person they’re switching from, and +1 for the person they’re switching to). If it’s close, and it could be, it could help Jeb. Not only because Bush the Elder is his father, but because one of Jeb’s faults is that it feels like he’s running a 90’s campaign on the teen decade and though he physically takes after his mother, there does seem to be more of his father in him than there was in George W. It could also help reorient “The Bush Connection” away from the most unpopular living former president towards the least unpopular recently living president.

Category: Statehouse

So we got a new mattress! It was ordered off Amazon and came rolled up. Basically for the next 48 hours we have to let it be and let it find its own shape.

Lain, however, didn’t want to wait…


Nor was she particularly disturbed by the lack of a blanket, because the wrapping was right there and would suffice.

The box, meanwhile…


Went to work as a dumpster. I have learned that if I want Lain to clean up everything in the room, all I need to do is introduce a box and then everything goes into it. Worth remembering when it’s next time for vacuuming.

That only lasted for about fifteen minutes until she was out of loose articles to toss into it. Then…


Of course it became a house. (I’d actually set it up to be a house first, but she put it upright so that it would be a dumpster.

Category: Home

dogatpollingplaceThe “cadillac tax” was billed by Jonathan Gruber as a backdoor to getting employers out of healthcare. Some House Democrats want to quash it.

President Obama is touting community colleges. That’s not the particularly cool part, though. The cool part is that he’s doing it in South Dakota. Thank you, Mr. President.

Some have grumbled at the obligation we have incurred by providing defense for the Marshall Islands, but Greenpeace says they’ve paid a price for it. And for those worried about the Maersk Tigris, while the administration and the Pentagon punted, it was released, and we’ve taken to escorting ships.

Norway is reducing the incentives to buy electric cars, and in response to Charlie Hebdo retiring it’s blasphemy law.

PRI shares the story of an American who saved 250,000 people during the Armenian genocide.

Putin and Medvedev have been comparing their annexation of Crimea to the reunification of Germany, but some historians take issue with that.

Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re somebody that has (a) stolen a bike and (b) disemboweled a Portland man, you are a “Disemboweler who stole a bike” rather than a “Bike thief to disemboweled a Portland man.”

One of Montana’s most wanted is caught when he “likes” his most wanted poster on Facebook.

A woman’s daughter dates her mother to kiss a random, good-looking stranger. Which she does, and then tries to use social media to catch his attention, and caught his wife’s instead.

An aide to California Attorney General Kamala Harris is evidently part of a secret society dating back to… well there’s some confusion over that.

Montana joins New Mexico in clipping the wings of asset forfeiture.

An employee at a Waffle House in Georgia was caught on camera pleasuring himself. The only thing missing from this perfect story are the words “… in celebration of his favored SEC team winning a championship.”

Jesse Walker wrote an opinion piece on Jade Helm 15 for the LA Times, which a publication in the UAE reproduced… except they cut off the second half, leaving it on a pretty ominous note.

Liberland, mentioned last week, had a good run, but that run is at an end as the nation was invaded and its president arrested by Croatia. Here’s an interview.

A flight from Florida to Portland was diverted to Salt Lake City after a tantrum by a teenager with autism who wanted/needed hot food.

Category: Newsroom

Burt Likko responds to Kristin Powers, speaking of how universities can walk the line between free speech and hostile-environmentalism. Powers says that official speech codes are the worst, and Likko goes into the legalities involved.

I don’t know what they taught at Georgetown, where Ms. Powers went to law school, but I know at my own law school, anti-discrimination law was not taught as something that had all that much Constitutional implication. A significant lacuna in my professors’ presentation of anti-discrimination law. As a newly-minted attorney I believed, because I had been taught, that anti-discrimination statutes were an unambiguous good and a moral imperative upon the body politic to enact. The corpus of larval lawyers of which I was then a member had been exhorted: “Go ye forth, and enforce these laws, through civil litigation!” Such preaching convinced me — a younger, more conservative version of me than the me actually practicing this brand of law today — that being a private attorney general like this would be a way to simultaneously seek both personal enrichment and public justice.

Turns out, soon after picking up that banner I encountered defendants who protested, “Don’t I have freedom of speech?” The answer is, “Not if your speech creates a hostile workplace environment, you don’t.” Which sat uncomfortably with me because freedom of speech is important, too. So there has to be some point of balancing if we are to have both a discrimination-free environment and freedom of speech for individuals.

I think Powers is wrong. Speech codes are talked about because they sound scary, ominous, and Orwellian. The bigger concern I personally have is among the student body, and more importantly how the universities respond to the views of the student body.

I’m less worried that schools are going to formally declare that certain words and thoughts are out of bounds than I am that administrators will indulge student bodies’ determinations of what’s reasonable by using the powers they invariably have. There’s no question that universities have the power to, for instance, decide who to pay to bring to campus to speak at a commencement or other event. They are responsible for recognizing clubs, and in many cases forming them. If they’re doing their job, they or one of their subsidiaries arrange student events of all kinds. They permit, or don’t permit, displays on campus. Often, as a practical matter, they have to limit who can do what, because not everyone can always be accommodated even if everything is completely viewpoint-neutral.

But it doesn’t have to be viewpoint-neutral. And if it’s not, it doesn’t have to come out and admit it.

Over at Ordinary Times, I briefly became the symbol of millenial-hatred by refusing to automatically grant the protests over American Sniper as being reasonable. Maybe they were, if it was just a matter of the time and place of the screening. That, you know, it wasn’t the showing of the movie but the showing of the movie at this particular mixture. But controversies erupted at the University of Maryland and George Mason over special screenings, and people at Eastern Michigan actively disrupted a screening there. So I still don’t think it’s unreasonable to interpret these objections not as “Can’t we have a mixer without this movie?” but “I don’t want this movie to be shown on campus.” You can “how about not doing that here” something into being nowhere.

The UMd and GMU stories have happy endings, only because the universities or other student groups stepped up to make sure that it happened. That only happened because of the backlash, and past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The left is experiencing a cultural apex at the moment, especially at universities, and seem to be wondering why they should have to tolerate speech that they’re not comfortable with when can theoretically have the tools at their disposal to displace it without actually having to go afoul of the First.

It can become even harder if things reach a certain tipping point, where people with unpopular ideas simply stop speaking up. The window of socially acceptable dialogue – even if protected by Freedom of Speech – can move to the point that young people who voted for the side that just won a national election feel the need to keep their views to themselves.

Here in the University of North Carolina student paper expressed grave disappointment that Duke University invited Mitt Romney to speak at their campus. Romney, who came within a few million votes of becoming the President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of its military.

Just as they concede with Romney and David Horowitz, who the piece is primarily about, have a right to free speech, I will concede that the Tar Heel has a right to run stupid editorials. The University should not pull its funding and they should not be thrown in jail. Like I said, this isn’t especially about the First Amendment. It’s not that the Universities will shut down speech. It’s that they’ll stop stopping the students and some faculty from running speech off.

Category: Coffeehouse

Sarah Kliff and Vox believe they know why Electronic Medical Records in the US suck:

For patients, it would be great news if any doctor or hospital could access their medical history. They could turn up at any office in their city, maybe even in the country, and with the click of a button a doctor could bring up their various scans and tests and personal history. It would become way, way easier to get a second opinion or switch to a new provider.

That’s exactly why interoperability is bad business for hospitals: it makes it easier for patients to switch providers and take their business elsewhere. Hospitals with interoperable records would be taking away all the friction that’s associated with switching providers in the current health-care system.

There are other incentives pushing hospitals to make electronic medical records that do talk to each other. One is patient satisfaction: if other hospitals offer a better experience, with portable records, patients might vote with their feet and head elsewhere. So far, though, the figures above suggest that hasn’t been enough of a driver to force widespread adoption.

Maybe a little? But not really. At least, not in the way presented. It can definitely be said that interoperability is not a priority and this affects whether and how EMR is adopted. But while I am familiar with some of the things that hospitals do to enhance their financial picture, this one really doesn’t register. Not the least of which because most hospitals aren’t hugely worried about losing business. And when I have seen or heard of a battle for patients, it’s been between physician groups within the same hospital. And from what I have gathered, the real money is not in attracting patients so much as maximizing the revenue per patient. So it’s an extremely low priority to make things work across hospitals, I have seen nothing to believe it is something actually blocked.

So why, then, does the state of affairs described in the article exist? I would say that there are two parts to that question.

The first part is why adoption has been so slow. A lot of that is on the doctors themselves. The above scenario would rely on hospital directors making the decisions about EMR, but I haven’t really seen it work that way. They tried doing that in Arapaho and the doctors, never an organized or collective voice, revolted. While hospitals have some leverage, and while they tend to believe that they have more leverage than they sometimes do, the typical employer/employee dynamic isn’t the same when it comes to physicians. If you try to give doctors an EMR system that they don’t want, and they revolt, you can’t as easily say “If you won’t do it, we’ll go and find somebody who will!”

Which means that, at least at the places Clancy has worked, the physicians themselves have been given latitude to choose what EMR system to implement. Some portion of them don’t want to implement anything, and so there is some foot-dragging. There isn’t much of a consensus among the rest. There isn’t a whole lot of information out there. Two hospitals Clancy has worked at have been burned by bad programs, adopted and almost immediately aborted. The order of the day is not profiteering, or even outright hostility, but simple inertia.

The second part is why, once adopted, there isn’t that much interoperability. As mentioned above, I believe that’s a matter of prioritization. And to some extent, the market fragmentation that exists out there. It rural hospitals and urban hospitals and health clinics are all using different things, it takes some effort to get everyone to talk to one another. Which, without motivation, is not effort that will be extended.

Which are real problems. Collective action onse at that, since the costs of the action and inaction are being borne out by others. As loathe as I am to say it, there is a good chance this is going to going to require a top-down solution if it is going to get resolved. Or, more likely, we’ll still be asking ourselves some of these questions ten years from now.

Category: Hospital


Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.

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