October 18, 2007

Carnival Barking (101807)

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 8:30 am

The 87th Carnival of Ohio Politics, assembled by fellow Wide-Opener Jill at Writes Like She Talks, is here.

Privatize This: The Beeb

The BBC attempts to join the 21st Century, and is facing crippling labor actions as a result:

Battle lines have been drawn because — following the Government’s decision to sanction a much reduced licence fee settlement — the BBC has to fill a £2 billion funding gap over the next six years.

The plan is to “transform” the way news is gathered by the BBC by ending the system of journalists from radio, television, News 24 and online all covering the same story backed by their own producers, technical and planning staff.

They will be required, where possible, to work across all three media to reduce duplication. The unions jealously guard the existing system.

A senior BBC source said: “Typically when a newspaper or commercial broadcaster contacts an organisation about a story one or two calls are made. When it’s the BBC it is more like 26 because of the duplication. Sometimes three separate producers can be involved handling a report coming from a court case which could be handled by one person. We are behind the times in news gathering.

This is a case study in government-inspired bloat if I’ve ever seen one.

Memo to Gordon Brown that will most likely be ignored: Privatize most or all of it, or sell if off. Perhaps some of the self-admitted pervasive bias would go by the wayside as well.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (101807)

From the “Looking for, and Not Finding, a Dark Cloud on a Sunny Day” Department (HT Confederate Yankee, who says “you can almost feel their pain”):

‘Fragging’ Is Rare in Iraq, Afghanistan

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From the “Inventing a Dark Cloud on a Sunny Day” Department:

As violence falls in Iraq, cemetery workers feel the pinch

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As a Mac user, I wish I could, but I can’t:

Yeah, I like working in OS X. I’m looking forward to Leopard. And yes, I find myself using Boot Camp a lot, spending half my time in Vista on my Macbook Pro. Both OSes have merits. Apple deserves plenty of credit for a lot of what they do, and genuinely puts out some great products. Hell, there’s nothing even close to the value, functionality, and elegance of iLife on Windows. But the more time I spend on the Mac, the more I end up interacting with a group of people who obviously and transparently treat their favorite company by a different set of rules than everyone else. And worse, don’t realize it or won’t admit it. To all you Mac users that are calm, rational, objective, and fair: god bless you. Now, could you please give the Cult members a hard kick in the ass? They’re making you look bad.

I could spend the rest of my life doing following the author’s suggestion, and it would hardly make a dent (so to speak).

Here’s a post (“Three Reasons [At Least] Why Mac Users Need to Cool the Smugness and Condescension”) from 2 years ago on this very topic. Though today’s specifics would be different, the general points still hold.

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Let me be the first to say it: It’s becoming painfully clear (link requires subscription) that Mitt RomneyCare in Massachusetts is blowing up, and will get nothing but worse between now and November 2008. If he’s the nominee, he’ll be playing the same game Michael Dukakis played unsuccessfully in 1988 — covering up the Bay State’s disastrous financial situation. Except this time, the other party controls the Governor’s Office. Deval Patrick will gleefully point to the mess he has inherited, and will then tout HillaryCare II as the “better, more comprehensive” solution.

For this reason alone, I believe that Mitt Romney should NOT be the GOP nominee. Period.

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Talkers Mag says Rush’s audience is 13.5 million listeners in any given week. Brian at Radio Equalizer offers strong evidence links to three news articles claiming it’s more like 20 million.

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Last week, although he didn’t frame it this way, John Stossel offered another reason for the left to despise Wal-Mart:

Speaking of Wal-Mart, medical clinics are popping up in Wal-Mart stores and in other similar markets. The clinics offer people with simple problems like sore throats and ear infections relatively hassle-free care cheap. Almost everything costs $59 or less. And the clinics are typically open seven days a week.

Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, a health-policy research organization, explains how these clinics thrive: “They’re figuring how to do something faster, better, cheaper! They’re responding to consumer demand because they see that they might make some money on this.”

When consumers pay for medicine themselves, saving insurance for the big things, and doctors deal directly with consumers, doctors begin to compete. They start posting prices and work to keep them low.

And consumers gain more control of their health care. Instead of governments and insurance companies deciding for patients, patients decide.

Competition gives consumers more choices. And choice gives them power. Remember that when you hear a politician promise to make health case accessible and affordable through the force of government.

Earlier in the piece, Stossel writes of a general practitioner who (gasp!) won’t accept insurance:

His mostly uninsured patients save money, too. Unlike doctors trapped in the insurance maze, Berry works with his patients to find ways to save them money.

These examples offer two things:
a) proof that many of the uninsured have access to care, and aren’t required to huddle in gutters with their untreated children because of the “greedy” medical system;
b) hope that, despite the already considerable barriers, what’s left of private medical care can address a large portion of the uninsured population, and eliminate the hue and cry for comprehensive “government-paid” (i.e., taxpayer-funded) health care.

The ultimate alternative: This (“Hospitals ‘failing’ hygiene tests”). If a 2001 link is too old for you, try this one (“Horrific state of hospitals blamed for lethal bug outbreak which killed 345″; HT Sweetness & Light) from just a week ago. Almost 7 years later, the British National Health System, despite ginormous increases in funding, and four more years of big increases on the way (see last few paras at link), is a crumbling mess.

No thanks.

Positivity: 11-year-old school boy hailed a hero for 999 rescue drama

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From York, UK:

6:32pm Saturday 6th October 2007

James Norman, a pupil at York’s Archbishop Holgate CE School, was one of a group of six friends who helped a woman who they found lying unconscious in woods on their way home from school.

The group were making their way home from school at 3.45pm on Wednesday when they found the woman on the ground in woods near the Next Generation Gym on Hull Road, close to James’s home in Thief Lane.

James used a friend’s mobile phone to call 999 and tried to rouse the woman and kept talking to her until the ambulance arrived, a short while later.

Now James’s calm reaction and Good Samaritan instincts have earned him praise from both the ambulance service and his head master, John Harris.

James said: “We were walking home when my friend said he saw a woman lying on the ground. I said to phone the ambulance because she might be hurt and took his phone to phone the ambulance.

“She was on the ground and I didn’t know if she was conscious. She seemed to come round and I spoke to her but she could only tell me she was called Becky and she was in respite care.

“She seemed really confused, so I stayed with her until the ambulance came. It all happened quite fast really.”

The woman was taken by ambulance to York Hospital to be checked out.

A spokesperson for Yorkshire Ambulance Service said: “James’s actions were extremely brave. For a young boy to help someone who has collapsed, by calling 999 and waiting for an ambulance, is commendable.

“His ability to have kept a cool head when faced with this daunting situation greatly helped the patient.”

Mr Harris said: “James and five of his friends from Archbishop Holgate’s showed real initiative and prompt action.

Go here for the rest of the story.