October 23rd, 2009


Hurray for Uruguay!

I'm really proud of Uruguay for setting such a high standard in information access for young people. Other nations should try to catch up! Plus, they didn't break the budget to accomplish this. Look for Uruguay to make its mark in cyberspace in ... say, 5-10 years ... as the kids currently in school begin to graduate.

Uruguay Becomes First Nation to Provide a Laptop for Every Child
Since the final batch of XO laptops were delivered on October 13, it is now official: Every last pupil in Uruguay's primary school system now has a portable green and white internet connected laptop. Over the last two years 362,000 Uruguayan pupils and 18,000 teachers became part of the One Laptop Per Child project.

Malpractice and Safety

I came across this call to action about malpractice lawsuits and patient safety:

For people like Merlyna Adams, "frivolous" is a painful word. After a
series of medical mishaps, her routine kidney stone removal procedure took
a turn for the worse, resulting in infections that ultimately led to the
amputation of her hands and both legs below the knee.

Contrary to what for-profit health industry lobbyists are telling
Congress, Merlyna's lawsuit and others like it are not frivolous. Right
now, some members of Congress are listening to those lobbyists and
proposing to let negligent doctors and medical facilities off the hook.
The health care reform bill should not be used to reduce accountability
for harming patients.

Instead, Congress should focus on real malpractice reform: improving
patient safety. Read our blog post about what Merlyna and other victims of
medical malpractice had to say this week to members of Congress at

Medical malpractice is at epidemic levels in this country. The Institute
of Medicine estimated in 1999 that up to 98,000 people die every year in
America's hospitals from medical errors. There's nothing "frivolous" about

We need to fight the distorted industry arguments that recklessly promote
stripping patients of their right to hold negligent medical practitioners
accountable. Go to our blog at http://CitizenVox.org and learn more about
what can be done.

Tell your members of Congress: Improve patient safety to save lives and
money. Oppose any amendments to the health care reform bill that would
limit access to court for severely injured patients and their families.
Take action at

Thank you for all you do!

Rick, Angela and Glenn
Your Advocates at Public Citizen

First, this got me thinking about malpractice awards in a new way: comparing them to the annual cost of medical care now required by injured party due to the effects of the malpractice. There is no cap on the cost of medical care; practitioners and insurance companies can charge consumers whatever they wish, and if you can't pay that's just too bad. This makes me less inclined to support caps, which I had been somewhat favoring. You may or may not agree with me on this point.

But the main thing is, I spotted another area of probable agreement among people who usually disagree on health reform. I'll bet that almost everyone will agree that improving patient safety would be a good thing. Right now, about 98,000 people die each year from preventable medical mistakes; many more suffer non-fatal harm. Much could be done to improve safety, such as special lectures and follow-these-steps signs. For a modest up-front investment, we could save large amounts of money on medical care and lawsuits, and prevent a great deal of human suffering. I'd like to encourage everyone to lobby for improvements in safety.

The Leaf-Colored Cat

For those of you who enjoyed "Felis dendrophila," I thought you might enjoy these photos. I actually have a leaf-colored cat. Unfortunately, she's skittish, so in order to get a picture of her in the leaves, I had to shoot through the door.

Here you can see Macavity sitting on the back patio next to the leaves. She is a sort of blond tortoiseshell.

Here she is curled up in the leaves with Skimbleshanks, a brown tabby.

See what I mean? Come autumn, she is camo cat. She disappears into the leaves.

Studying Death Threats Against Obama

I've been keeping an eye on the level of hatred directed at President Obama.

An Unprecedented Number of Death Threats Against Obama
Mary Susan Littlepage, Truthout | NewsWire: "A recent Boston Globe article stated that an unprecedented number of death threats against President Obama, an increase in racist hate groups, and more antigovernment passion have put much pressure on the US Secret Service. On the other hand, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said there hasn't been an unusually large number of death threats against the president."

I think the Secret Service is a moderately reliable source. They surely have the information; there's a chance they might lie about it if they felt that would protect the President. However, they have certainly kept him alive this far, which is quite an accomplishment. It looks like they're doing a good job.

I would, by the way, be happy if it turns out that the rate of objection to this President is no higher than average.