Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sukkot and last week's Catholic Gospel, Mark 10: 17-30

Last Sunday, we had for me the harshest Gospel. It was about the man who asked Jesus what he needed to do to have eternal life. Jesus mentions Mosaic Commandments and was pleased by the man's response that he followed them but then was crestfallen when Christ told him to give away what he had to the poor and follow him. The man left. The Jewish holiday of Sukkot happened the week before. In that festival, people sit around outside in a temporary shelter and symbolically are represented by four fruits, one represents Torah learning, another good deeds; one of them however represents being a nothing. All of the individuals or fruits atone for each other and are part of the community, part of the group in the Sukkot. Perhaps the difference in the Gospel and in the Sukkot in regard to the person with nothing is in the active or passive voice in the way they got there. In the Gospel, you have achieved and given away. In the Sukkot, you may not have achieved, couldn't, or what you had might have been taken from you; and yet you still have value and it is said that everyone to some extent at different times is represented by one of the four fruits of the Sukkot. Thus being a nothing perhaps subtly represented by being 'poor' in the Gospel leaves you still having value.

Friday, July 24, 2015

John McCain vs. Trump

The Senator is a war hero because as a Navy pilot of his rank he was exempted from flying above a certain parallel in attacking North Vietnam. Obviously defenses near Haiphong were better and flying further North was more dangerous. He declined the privilege of flying in more relatively safe areas only and was shot down. Yes, his behavior in captivity plays some role in his being considered a hero, but it starts with his willingness to take risks in the attack. Trump on the other hand plays on feelings of anger and humiliation while seeming to lead people into more dangerous areas.

Friday, July 03, 2015

About that Flag or Why We Put the E in Robert Lee's Name

The Declaration of Independence has something in it about justifying war with England. An ideal had not been recognized. Thus wars happen. General Lee's men fought, killed and died for their view of an appropriate cultural order. After he surrendered though there was peace. He was a gracious loser in the conflict. So the battle flag of the Confederacy can express an attitude of being willing to stand up for what you believe in. The legacy of Robert E. Lee doesn't authorize however a private war against black people. The flag symbolizes being able to lose a conflict, possibly even graciously.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Explaining Hilary

Megan McCardle goes a long way in explaining Hilary for me. One of the things I object to is academic high mindedness about the relationship of pharmaceutical companies to doctors. In part this is, for me, about profitable interchange of ideas that may occur at dinners to promote a product. For instance I learned more about the physiology of pain at a talk on Neurontin. Or it may just be about things that make life a little easier or more fun. For instance I weigh patient's on an Equetro branded scale. I didn't know about the type of scale it is an example of. These things are now not apparently permissible. Many politicians know this but there are obviously strains of 'reform' that oppose their existence, similarly in campaign finance and across the spectrum of social interaction. These reforms are to keep the big players from influencing what happens to the 'little people.' Now Hilary is in the camp that is for the little people and so she speaks as a lawyer for that point of view. She however knows otherwise and doesn't apply it to herself, think cattle futures, think Bill's sexual affairs, think debt forgiveness in Whitewater, emails. De nada as a new constituency would say but it doesn't mean not being a lawyer for 'reform,' 'transparency,' FOIA requests requests, all things important to a part of her base.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Greg Mankiw, Chairman of Harvard's Economics Department, Favors the Abolition of the Estate Tax

Here. My own view of it is that it is a burden on high middle earners and their offspring. Given that you have enough funds, you can engage in estate planing and work to avoid the tax like people used to avoid income taxes, not so inclined or having the time, the estate gets taxed. That would tend to fall on people who are not primarily significant financiers.

Saturday, May 02, 2015


I think the facts of The Freddie Gray case, the false arrest, the brutal ride in the paddy wagon are a surprise to most white Americans. The fact that police authority in this case has been subject to a flanking attack by a Pennsylvania state attorney will open up more hope to black people and together these events are the most positive for interracial comity in many years. We love you, poor Freddie.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Oklahoma University Conteoversy

Having graduated from Jesuit High School and seen my children graduate from Highland Park High School, even my limited experience assures me that there is no more a right wing group wanting to lynch black people than there is a left wing conspiracy to outlaw the NFL in favor of a national scrabble tournament. What we have is youths saying ‘bad words’ in response to the chanting of evidently ‘bad facts’ by others. The limited experience of the white youths did not let them see that the chanting of ‘bad facts’ was related to experiences which may have been true enough(1). But the privileged graduates also were not talking about a true behavior, lynching, that they wanted to engage in, only celebrating having equal time in saying ‘bad words.’

1. TNC article in the Atlantic

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thoughts on Leaving Private Practice (Equipment and Business Methods)

The most surprising outrageous thing involved a Brother printer. We had trouble with a network connection; so someone called the helpline. They in turn were referred to someone else who did solve the problem but 'noticed some intrusions in our computer' and scared this HIPAA sensitive staff person who asked for authorizations of $600 and $300 to clear the matter up and 'have something placed on the computer to monitor.' A complete fraud from some outfit in India as it turned out. In printers I have appreciated the speed of the HP Officejet Pro 8600 which has some good HP support tools. The Samsung basic small rectangular box has been a reliable printer of patient notes. RxNT is an excellent eprescribing solution and has helped with qualifying for the associated 'meaningful use' parameters involving computers. The ability to link to LabCorps and Quest Laboratories for your patient results is very nice. Billing we did with Lytec and is a subject which is rewarded by reflection on possible deviations from expected. In retrospect one of the most amusing related to Medicaid. I relocated my office. Part of the process of that was informing the state office of the change of address. We continued to have Medicaid patients and to get EOBs telling us what we would get paid from Medicaid. About 2 years after we moved though the billing person noticed a footnote saying that a payment had not been sent, we had electronic funds transfer, for lack of an address. 'The left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing,' so to speak. Medicaid knew my address well enough to send us mail explaining what we would be paid but not well enough to electronically send us money for services which for proper arrival didn't depend on my office address anyway. A few polite letters and phone calls did resolve the matter. As far as I know the back pay was accounted for. One more device I found awesome is the Black & Decker shredder model BD AF7500. For my office it was heavy duty, very convenient to use. Checkmark Payroll has been a useful software for payroll, 940s, and 941s. I use QuickBooks, but, in this context it would be useful to have just a check writing software.