Saturday, July 28, 2007

Heroic medical personnel not indicted

I can't write about this case rationally. I can't believe anyone would prosecute a case like this unless they had very clear evidence a physician or other hospital employee was murdering patients. After 4 days, if the staff had any ability to think at all, it's a miracle. Instead of being heroes, the hospital staff (but not the administrators?!?!?!) are paraded around like criminals. Shameful.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sports- going to seed

"Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? Your place has been taken by thugs and crooks and cheats."

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle is lamenting the sad state of our athletes and one official. It sure make for an eye-catching headline. And there is no better way to make fans feel better than pointing out the many foibles of millionaires.

But, um, isn't there more to the story than these people are bad and evil and must be stopped? I think I can figure that out by myself. If I am reading a column I want more than "Dog fighting is wrong and should not be tolerated." How about at least some info about the ASPCA or some detail about the mental and emotional state of a person who engages in dogfighting.

Now, in Mr. Justice's defense, yesterday he had a glowing column about how great Craig Biggio has been for the last 20 years, and how Biggio is the true embodiment of a great player, family man, and role model.

But Mr. Justice is ignoring many facts. Back in the good ole days, Babe Ruth was a womanizing drunk, Joe DiMaggio was a wife beater, and NBA referees and college basketball players were involved in gambling scandals (in fact, NFL Hall of Famer Paul Hornung missed a year of pro football due to a gambling suspension). The 1980's gave us a wide variety of recruiting scandals with "under the table" money in college football, while basketball and baseball had a cocaine problem. Bad news is not new. Overblown coverage with preachy columnists is new.

By the way, Houston Texans running back Ahman Green paid for someone's down payment on a home last week, in exchange for a jersey number. Teammate Jason Simmons and team owner Bob McNair were involved as well. In other news, the afore mentioned Craig Biggio spends a lot of time raising money for kids with cancer (see this link to help Craig help kids!!)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Why soccer might succeed this time

No, not Mr. Posh Spice, although I watched a game involving an MLS team for the first time, while texting a friend the entire time. He's part of the reason.

But soccer has a chance because the other 3 major leagues are all having serious problems. Baseball's owners and commisioners can't explain why they let steroids go unchecked, thus compromising the integrity of the game. Fortunately, Barry Bonds is making sure that even the good headlines bring bad news.

Speaking of Bad Newz- the NFL players are are embarrasing the league, (boat cruise strippers, Vegas strippers, illegal weapons, drunk driving, Whizzinators, Dog fighting with executions, and the Bengals). It's easy to "get tough" with Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson, and Chris Henry. But now that it's the highest paid player in the sport, getting tough is getting tough to do. Can someone tell me why this is bigger news than wife beating and killing people while drunk? (because this is the first time it made the news, I know. I'm just anti wife beating and anti drunk driving. My public service announcement is over. Thank you)

And the NBA now has a gambling saga with a twist- a referee has been implicated. After last year's NBA Finals when Dwyane Wade shot more free throws than the Mavericks, I assumed the refs were under duress to make the series close. But to have outside people (like the mob) influencing the officials? And everyone's reaction was, "I bet it's (insert referee's name here)."

Heck, even wrestling is having a major crisis (complete with an all-to-real tragedy).

The last time a major sport lost a major chunk of fan base due to its own stupidity was in 1994 with the baseball players' strike. A lot of fans (including me) boycotted baseball. And just at that moment, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras began to dominate tennis and captivate the media. Meanwhile, Tony Hawk and Dave Mirra started getting famous for their X-Games X-ploits. It took baseball 3-4 years (and a lot of roided up players) to catch up. Meanwhile, I still watch tennis occasionally.

Please note hockey has made 2 of those mistakes. A coach and Wayne Gretzky's wife have been implicated in a gambling ring. And the sport took a year off to discuss union issues, thus losing pretty much every American fan. Here's my advice to the NHL- INCREASE SCORING and fighting.

So for the first time, soccer has a legitimate chance to become mainstream. It's main competition is busy damaging itself as we speak. All they have to do is play well, which Beckham's LA Galaxy squad did not do against the Chelsea side. Cuahetemoc Blanco is coming from Mexico. We have Canada's best player in Houston (DeRosario). They have until Labor Day weekend (FOOTBALL- American football) to keep my attention. Will MLS become the next NASCAR or XFL?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sicko moment

With apologies to Michael Moore....

A particular health insurance company has been the bane of my existence. They lost my paperwork when I enrolled. Their physician payment rates are lower than anyone else's, unlike their stock price or bonuses to their executives. They have been hosing patients, too- increasing payments and having inconvenient "glitches" causing them to lose money in their HSA accounts.

Then when they said I could get paid to see their patients, they entered the wrong address, phone number and Tax ID number, so they could not send any payment for 3 months. Then, they denied payment on some claims because we did not submit them properly (with address and Tax ID number matching their database) within 90 days. According to our calculations, this company owes my office at least $10,000.

But here's the kicker: this week, they actually mailed me a bill.

Yep, they claimed to have overpaid my office for one claim, so they want a refund. Insurance company "X" has gone from underpayment, to denying payments, to charging payments when doctors see their patients.

On a related note, the same company was going to fine doctor's offices $50 every time one of their patients was sent to a non-contracted lab.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Going to the dogs

Did you hear that Michael Vick was indicted in a dog fighting ring? How about (insert lurid detail here)!???!?!?!

The op/ed and sports columnists are having a field day riding their high horses all over the place with this one. It's an emotionally charged story with a little bit of race relations thrown in. Good sales all around.

But wait, with all of the news scandals (Iraq, Vick, Va. Tech, Congress, corporate backdating, steroids in sports, Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, Big Oil) newspaper subscription rates are down. My theory is this:

I already knew dog fighting is wrong.

If I'm paying for good journalism, I want to know the following:
1. How do people get involved in dog fighting?
2. What is the appeal in this "sport"?
3. Where is the righteous indignation about cock fighting? And why is the University of South Carolina not being asked to change its "Gamecocks" mascot?
4. Why did the Falcons let their 2nd string QB go to the Texans for a 2nd round draft pick when Federal charges were being considered for the first string QB?

Instead, I get a bunch of stories and columns about gruesome details and pontification about how bad this is and Vick should be punished. Duh....

By the way, I don't think coverage of this story smacks of racism. When everyone was doing the same bad journalism when the Chris Benoit story broke, no one said this was because he was white and Canadian. Ditto with Ken Lay, Jason Giambi, Congress, the Iraq war, corporate backdating......

Addendum- Rev. Al Sharpton is now involved. Does he just sit around the bat cave by the bat phone waiting for injustice to occur so he can call a press conference? Can't dogs get a better advocate than the always available Rev. Al?

Why 14,000 ain't what it used to be

You know how the stock market keeps hitting new highs, while the spending power of most of us is getting lower? Here's some perspective why. This is also why I read more than one newspaper- to get more from a story besides a number and quotes from useless talking heads.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Slime in the Ice Machine

Marvin Zindler also performed a baton twirling routine at Rice's Homecoming in 1993 (my senior year). He was really good. Just hurts to see a major part of your personal history get cancer.

an excuse to say Vince Young

The best thing about the last week in June is that the COLLEGE FOOTBALL preview magazines come out. I can not remotely talk about the upcoming season because by the time I've read the 3rd magazine I am convinced that Rice will make a bowl game.

Oh wait, that happened last year.

This years Athlon guide did just that in two good articles. One is about the details that go into play calling for an offensive coordinator and staff.

The other, a review of the top 40 recruits in 2002. Out of those 40, only 2 were first round draft picks (Haloti Ngata and some guy who couldn't make the Texans "team"- VINCE YOUNG!!!!!!!). More than half of the players did not get drafted at all. Injuries, better players and legal problems catch up to a lot of people, including gifted athletes. Just a good look back at the experts predictions.

Oh, and Vince Young did turn out to do well in the NFL, too.

Scooter Libby

Everyone has had their take on Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff. Everyone has said their piece. Here's the one thing that bugs me about this:

No one seems to be pointing out the administration lied about the fact that Iraq did not get enriched plutonium from anyone, and when that was pointed out, they outed a CIA agent.

Let me say this again, the Administration outed their own spy.

So people behind Libby talk about his years of service. How did he serve the citizens of the USA by helping in this lie, which started a war on false pretexts.

And the beat goes on.....