December 31, 2005

The Question Of Paris Hilton

Category: General — Cranky @

A lot of people have said a lot of very unkind things about Paris Hilton. That’s understandable, really… she does represent the ultimate in spoiled rich daughters. Part of the jet set crowd, born pretty, and toting a wide streak a mile across, she seems like she was born undeserving into the perfect life.

She’s been called airheaded, a slut (and much worse), a leech, and an insignificant nothing… and she just keeps on going. The thing is, between her modeling and her turn on “The Simple Life”, she’s managed to turn those negative images around, and reap millions. Her fathers wealth is beside the point – she’s rich on her own skills, such as they may be.

So in the past I’ve always kind of assumed that there’s a very sharp brain in behind that blonde, vapid exterior, despite what seems to be honest stupidity on her reality show.

Then I happened to see a Much Music special, “Paris Hiltons Most Shocking Moments”, or something to that effect. In it she’s shown wearing a shirt bearing her trademark catch phrase, “That’s hot”. So presumably the shirt is her design, since she’s embraced that phrase as her own.

Then they showed the back of the shirt. “Your not”.

Two words, and she couldn’t even get them right. Perhaps she is just an airhead making it good after all.


December 29, 2005

Ambulance Chasers

Category: Social — Cranky @

I can’t imagine being a doctor. Trying to treat the average person must be like trying to play chess with a monkey. The monkey knows there’s something fun afoot, but makes up the rules as he goes.

People come in indeterminate symptoms. A guy comes in with a pain in his stomach, but because he’s macho, it’s “not that bad”. His bleeding ulcer says different. A girl comes in with a pounding heart and a fever, but doesn’t mention she’s been on a 3 day cocaine binge. People lie blatantly, or by omission. Throw in the fact that the human body is amazingly complex and its failures intensely varied, and it becomes clear how difficult it is to be accurate in a diagnosis.

In the average medical setting a practitioner has a very limited time window in which to diagnose a patient. Mistakes are inevitable. And hovering around like evil little vultures are the lawyers who devote their careers to medical malpractice suits. I was up early this morning (not sure why – I’m on vacation), and I happened to catch a couple of ads for Jim Sokolove’s law practice.

Victim: “I had a pain in my chest, and my doctor told me it was heartburn. It was a heart attack. I made him pay.” Cut to Jim telling us how he gets huge sums of money for people when doctors make mistakes.

There’s a very old, and oft repeated joke: “What do call 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? An excellent start.” I heard it first in a film called, “The War of the Roses”. When it comes to these types of lawyers, I agree wholeheartedly.

Slowly they are driving the cost of medical malpractice insurance through the roof. People are turning away from the profession. I can actually foresee a day when nobody wants to be a doctor, and those who are doctors already leave the profession. Then it is my hope that the lawyers who preyed upon them all get injured. Equally culpable are those “victims” who pursue the scent of easy money. May they also require medical attention and be unable to find it.

Yeah, doctors make mistakes. So do people in every other occupation. And while I do believe in accountability, there has to be some reigning in of the ambulance chasers. Imagine having your career shattered and your personal situation ruined because of a mislabeled bottle, or a single misdiagnosis?

Doctors are a precious commodity. If you have to decide between one or the other, I’d say punt the lawyers. Ambulance chasers are leeches fixed firmly to the underbelly of a real profession.

If it were possible, I think there should be a database made of all claimants who have sued a medical practitioner more than once, and another one containing all lawyers who specialize in medical malpractice. These databases should be made available to all hospitals, clinics, and other medical centres, and the doctors should be allowed to turn away anybody who made the list.

It’s either that or watch the situation degrade further. I want a doctor to be there when I’m legitimately sick.


December 28, 2005

A Home Without A Phone

Category: General — Cranky @

For about the past 14 years or so, I’ve enjoyed the same phone number. We had our problems, like any couple. At one point somebody with the same name as me was wanted by creditors in a significant way, and they kept calling me, despite having been warned. And over the years the number of charity groups calling me has increased to such a degree that it’s a rare day when nobody tries to hit me up.

I’ve become rude, even to charities I respect. My mistake in the past was donating to anybody at all via phone. As soon as you do that, your phone number is exchanged with other organizations, and the cycle begins. So lately my response has either been to hang up without a word, or to say, “Don’t ever call here again”, and then hang up. No more mister nice guy.

I’d been searching for a cellular phone plan that was reasonably priced and fit my calling patterns, but historically I couldn’t find one. Then a woman from Telus called me with my new ADSL account information. I hadn’t ordered ADSL. She got angry and actually accused somebody in my house of some sort of fraud, which is funny since I live alone, and the first phone number she had wasn’t mine. So, having had my opinion of Telus eroded even further (which I didn’t know was possible), I went out again and looked. This time I found one. The call to cancel my Telus line was a wonderful one to make.

Sadly, the woman who took my call gave me no satisfaction at all. I wanted her to ask, “Why are you canceling?”, or at least express some disappointment over the loss of a long-term client. But she was polite, efficient, and didn’t ask a single question. I felt slightly cheated. But then again, it certainly gave me the impression that a cancelled land line was nothing new for her, and for Telus.

For about a month I’ve had a cellular phone with a new number. No telemarketers have called. It’s working perfectly. The first bill arrived and it’s exactly what I expected it to be – about $25 less than my land line.

But there is one interesting thing that has happened. When I get home, my home feels less like my base of operations than it used to. I would come home and more often than not there would be messages waiting. Of course now there are not. For that brief moment when I walk in the door, it seems like a disconnected storage box.

It’s a very strange sensation, and it’s already fading, but it makes me ponder how we think about concepts like the “home”. It’s an amalgamation of many things, including those that live with you (unless you’re a single curmudgeon like me), your possessions, your attached memories, and even things like your phone being connected to it. When any of these things are taken away, something seems amiss, and your concept of the home has to adjust.

It was worth it.