Better by Atul Gawande: Chapter 6

The focus of this chapter, titled "Piecework," is on doctors' pay and its inevitable connection to the health insurance industry. Gawande develops his thoughts on health insurance further in his New Yorker article on health care costs which was published this summer. Doctors' pay is also informed to some degree by the malpractice lawsuits they face, the subject of the previous chapter.

Random thoughts because I feel guilty about not adding in a while.

So I am sitting in BJ's watching the Chargers, enjoying a Piranha Pale Ale, and have decided to add many random thoughts since last Wednesday.

I love micro-breweries. BJ's Piranha Pale Ale today, Rock Bottom's Pale Ale on Friday. I always enjoy them.

Sitting in a random sports bar, watching your favorite team, but it's not the local team, it's always nice to sit down next to someone cheering for your team as well.

I LOVE pickup football games. I prefer tackle, but I'll take touch or flag. I can throw pretty well, but in a pickup game, as the QB, it's more important to make sure everyone on your team has some good catches and/or TDs they can remember.

It makes me happy to see the bruises on my arms and legs from a tackle football game.

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 11/24

This just in! Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The Niners dropped their tampering charges against the Jets related to Crabtree. Wow - that was hard to predict; the only surprise about the story is that it came so late. Perhaps the Niners simply wanted to avoid looking like the initial filing wasn't completely empty by not dropping the charge immediately after signing Crabtree last month.

In related news, Crabtree scored his first TD this past weekend - a beautifully thrown pass from Smith, followed by a legitimate, "I've been in the league a while" play by Crabtree. My thoughts on this, and more, after the jump.

Better by Atul Gawande: Chapter 5

Titled "What Doctors Owe," the fifth chapter of Better continues the discussion of doing right and focuses on malpractice lawsuits.

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch (on Friday) - 11/17 (or 20)

FYI - I was getting my arse kicked in Vegas on Tuesday, which hopefully explains why this is late...

I get a feeling that last Thursday's "win" was what Coach has been looking for this past year.


The defense shows up in all the important instances.

The offense "manages the game": Gore goes for 100 and a TD as Smith doesn't lose the game for us.

Creative Blogs that Impress Me

I just want to share a series of cool blogs I read regularly that really impress me with their creativity. Generally speaking, I am most impressed by people who do things well that I can't do well myself (I call this the Dwight K. Schrute Tipping Rule, in honor of a great line from The Office). The following three blogs are creative in ways I am not.

A Life in Translation, run by Jamie Varon, has a joyous layout and style. It covers Jamie's life in Italy and her writing style is creative and fun; the blog is also full of great photos.

Une Femme Curieuse is, as far as I can tell, a lifestyle blog simply run by a creative person. The layout is very cool and the subject matter generally touches on interesting subjects, similar to Smile Like You Mean It.

I consider Your Ill-Fitting Overcoat the poet of the bunch. I am regularly blown away by the writing on the site, and the photos, language, and subject matter stoke my imagination on a regular basis. Plus you get recipes thrown in the mix, which is nice.

You have any suggested blogs to add to my favorites?

Better by Atul Gawande: Chapter 4

The fourth chapter of Atul Gawande's Better moves the book into its second section, titled "Doing Right." This is one of three core challenges Gawande laid out in the book's introduction and which we briefly touched upon in one of our earlier discussions. The chapter is titled "Naked" and concerns the exam room etiquette that doctors and patients expect from one another and often uncomfortably tiptoe around.

Bill Simmons is popular

The New York Times has a Media & Advertising columnist writing about Bill Simmons, probably because his "Book of Basketball" was #1 on the New York Times non-fiction Best Sellers list last week. One things he tried to do was get a discussion with readers, so I tried to create a new email address for FIWK readers (quick betting line: O/U 7.5 readers* not counting the four of us?) to contact us directly without having to add a comment.

But FIWK@gmail doesn't work because Gmail requires at least 6 characters and F*ckIfWeKnow doesn't work because Gmail doesn't allow special characters (*). Ideas? Do we even need a separate email address?

*I'm counting readers as people who have come directly to our site to see if we have put up a new post.

HowStuffWorks Dominates Us

I read regularly. I love their blogs. I listen to their Stuff You Should Know podcast weekly. The site is awesome, it's packed with interesting stuff. It covers a spectrum of topics. I am always learning something. The research is solid and frequently leads me to other interesting sites or articles. In short, it does a lot of the stuff that FIWK tries to do - but a whole lot better than us.

Have you ever visited HSW and, if so, how do you feel about they way they present information? Too much stuff all shotgun blasted at the reader at once, or an interesting selection of articles for you to parse at your leisure?

Best Places to Raise Your Kids

I love everything about the "Best Places to Raise Your Kids" list on BW right now. I love reading about these suburbs and towns, I love the real estate angle, I love that they picked a place in each of the 50 states, I love the unintentional comedy of placing superimposed pictures of people doing unrelated activities over scenic shots of the towns, I even love the failed attempts at choosing some of those scenic shots. Just look at the first example in Tallahassee - they couldn't have found a better pic of Dothan that doesn't include a knocked-over Yield streetsign and an overgrown stucco wall? Really? Why are the mother and child in Montana wearing snow gear and shades to visit the town hall in summer? It remains unclear.

No, it does not bother me that I am apparently a shill for Business Week. And yes, I am curious why none of BW's best cities to live in appear on this list - a message that cities are not good places to raise children?

The Morality of Incentives

In keeping with my niche of "Business Week reactions" (as Scott called me out on), I found this BW article on the morality of incentives fascinating. The general idea is that introducing money into the equation takes morality out of the equation. A bit counterintuitive, and this assumption is backed up by some studies I am not familiar with, but I find the concept and the suggested fix intriguing.

Do you buy the argument that the current incentive system is harming morality in business? If so, and you were a shareholder of a bank, would you be in favor of completely removing incentives from the executive positions?

Favorite Cultural Aphorisms from Sports

You know what I'm talking about: a saying from the world sports which aptly describes a common situation in society at large. It can be a theme or an idea or a situation-specific descriptor. Anything at all.

What are your favorites? Some of mine:
- swinging for the fences
- he outkicked coverage
- a pancake block
- a buzzer-beater
- we have this on the goal line
- the full court press
- the point guard for a project

BusinessWeek: How to Cut Health Care Costs

BusinessWeek's cover article this week is titled "Why Wait for Health Care Reform?" and features the article 10 Ways to Cut Health Care Costs Right Now as well as an accompanying slideshow of ways hospitals can reduce their expenses.

Many of their suggestions are similar to suggestions Atul Gawande made in his New Yorker article over the summer. I would argue that the BW cost cutting plans don't go deep enough - for instance, how can insurers or the gov't mandate "fewer tests" without the medical profession altering the culture in which the decisions to order those tests get made? Gawande makes a strong case that this mentality is deep-seated and growing in the medical profession. Another question I have is that, if insurers have the power to do this now and BW is correct that it would help them, regardless of insurance reform, then why are costs still going up? Why are none of these fixes being considered? Why the inertia preventing improvement? The answers remain unclear.

The Transformation of Adam West

Back in the day Adam West played Batman on TV. At some point he transformed his trademark role from being known as the caped crusader to being known as the Mayor of Quahog on Family Guy. I assume most young people know him better for the latter role than the former. He's taken on the persona of an incredibly self-referential comedy figure on the show who has taken on a life of his own. So how did he go from this to this:

NFL Week 10 Picks

In lieu of linking to the increasily unreliable Bill Simmons and his MIA picks column, here is a link to Rick Reilly's most recent column which cracked me up.

Here are the picks I like this week:
New Orleans -13.5 at St. Louis
Tampa Bay +10 at Miami
Denver -3.5 at Washington
Green Bay +3 vs. Dallas

Who ya got?

The Metaphysics of Pop Culture

Pop Culture is a bizarre phenomenon - part science, part art, part WTF?!

People & fads come and go, and popular is usually in the eye of the beholder - or whoever is choosing the latest cover for US Weekly. I've always had a strange fascination with the deeper movements in, around, and behind Pop Culture: the metaphysics of Pop Culture, if you will.

It all started with a simple enough question: Do the characters on Friends watch Seinfeld?

Better by Atul Gawande: Chapter 3

To continue the chapter-by-chapter discussion of Better by Atul Gawande, here's a quick overview of Chapter 3: Casualties of War. It covers the efforts of battlefield surgeons in Iraq and Afghanistan to save as many wounded in the wars as possible.

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 11/10

"The Crabtree Curse"?

Better by Atul Gawande: Chapter 2

It has been over 2 months since my chapter 1 recap of Atul Gawande's Better. I've delivered very little after chapter 1 and Gawande's bio discusssion a while back. Despite my lack of activity, I have been progressing and feel the book is important enough to continue discussing.

Chapter 2 is titled "Mop-Up" and covers the World Health Organization's efforts to minimize the spread of a polio outbreak in India a few years ago.

HTC "You" phone commercial

I think this commercial does an awesome job of visual storytelling

NFL Week 9

I know, LT isn't what he used to be, but this is the first Google Image when you search 'chargers vs. giants.'

Simmons wrote about his book signing tour along with his Week 9 picks. Mikael and I witnessed him pull out his Blackberry to take a photo of the Grizzlies fans. Another guy came by later wearing a Pau Gasol black Memphis jersey, but did not get his picture taken.

Simmons poor showings the last two weeks have mirrored my own setbacks, even though I often make my picks before Simmons releases his column. This week, I'm going with
San Diego +4.5
Baltimore -3
San Francisco -4
Green Bay -9.5
Denver +3

And shit, that matches Simmons exactly... I'm screwed.

The Greatest of All Time - Unitas vs Einstein vs The Beatles

It started with a simple enough question - Who would you list as the top 5 QBs of all time? Seemed like a reasonable list of guys like Marino, Montana, Favre, Manning, et al until Aaron threw in an older name: Johnny Unitas. Wha? And then I had to get all meta-debate on us... Isn't the question at the crux of any "best of all time" debate really how much credit to give to the pioneers of a given field, and how much do you credit the record-setting achievements of those whose work is made possible by their forebears?

It applies across any field

Is Penelope Trunk calling us out?

Looking through some of her posts that I missed, I found this one, titled: Blogs without topics are a waste of time. As a blogger, this hit me right to my core. It felt like the first time I realized I was not going to grow up to play professional baseball. (I think I was 12 at the time.)
Although, I really don't like to consider myself a blogger, and I usually conisder this blog a form of entertainment, rather than a productive endeavor. So maybe I'm happier this way? Or maybe I'm just deluding myself.

Home Workspace Ideas

Our friend C-Mac at Smile Like You Mean It wrote a very interesting blog about creating a home workspace for your personal business needs. I like a lot of her suggestions.

I like UCLA and drinks.

The first one was taken a few years ago. The second was taken a few weeks ago. Both were taken by Jessica.

Rebuilding the Berlin Wall?

The Economist's daily chart today truly shocked me. I've inserted it below, but it can also be found here.

I'm not all that familiar with Eastern Europe, but a few recent articles on the Economist, such as this one, suggest that many Eastern European countries have been more severely hurt by the "Great Recession" than those of the more developed Western Europe. An interesting study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace further notes that this is the case.

With that in mind, I'd love to see results from public opinion polls a few years back to see how those stacked up against the 1991 base year. I'm thinking the 2005 results would show the "glow" brightening.

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 11/3

There are no moral victories for Mike Singletary, but there sure as hell are for Scott, and the Niners game this past weekend was about as big a moral victory one can have without actually winning the game (can one consider an actual victory a moral victory as well?). I'm gonna keep this one short. We've played 6 quarters with Alex Smith as our QB, and have looked decent in all of them (better than decent some would say). Crabtree's looked good, and the defense has played very solid (although Clements is out for 6-8 weeks).

I'll ask one question: who wins the NFC West?

Buzz Beast: Sweet Hollywood Crib

In the spirit of Hot Properties, cool places and the cool things posted daily on Buzz Beast, here is an absolutely sick (in a good way) house near Lake Hollywood taken directly from Buzz. I love everything about this house and recommend visiting the link for a large selection of photos.