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April 1, 2005

BehindTheMedspeak: HospitalCompare.com — Is your hospital a death trap?


After many years of resistance, not just passive but actively fueled by many millions of lobbying dollars in Washington, D.C., the antediluvian hospital industry has been dragged kicking and screaming into 21st-century daylight by order of the United States government.


On HospitalCompare.com, for the first time, anyone can easily get access to any hospital's data on how it stacks up in 17 widely accepted quality measures in treating heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia.

The website went live earlier today.

Now, before you go off and start looking to see why things went so well — or poorly — the last time you were in Elsewhere General or Little Angels of the Night, consider that the numbers you're going to find on the new site are quite limited in terms of some very important measures, such as mortality rates from cardiac surgery.


Nevertheless, it's a start.

All but 60 of the nation's 4,200 general hospitals are "voluntarily" turning over data for the Hospital Compare website.

I'm reminded here of Lee Iacocca's earnest commercials for Chrysler after he took over the then-moribund company: he told us how devoted to our safety Chrysler was.

This is the very same man who, as a Ford executive, fought tooth-and-nail against mandatory seat belts, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the crippling and maiming of millions more who continued for decades to ride in the Big Three's death traps.

So don't tell me about "voluntary" or its equivalent.

Only the big foot of the U.S. government pressed against the neck of the hospital business — specifically, the cash register that receives Medicare funding —


enabled this miraculous "voluntary" reporting to happen.

One more thing: it's rather irrational, the basis of how people come to believe a hospital — or a doctor — is any good or not.

Here's a true story.

Back when I was at UCLA Hospital on the anesthesiology faculty, Los Angeles magazine came out with an issue that purported to list the best doctors in Los Angeles.

I almost fell over laughing when I saw that the top family doctor in Los Angeles was none other than... Tom Morgan, M.D.

Why was this so funny to me?

1) Tom Morgan was last — yes, last — in his UCLA Medical School class the year before I graduated. Truly, the old joke, "What do you call someone who finishes last in his medical school class? Doctor." was no joke.

2) Tom lived just below me in the small, six-unit Spanish-style apartment building in which I resided. He drove his Ferrari around, revved it up at all hours in the driveway, had a wacked-out flight attendant girlfriend who did dope all day waiting for him to get home, and himself did all manner of drugs. A total doofus. Yet there he was, the best of the best in Los Angeles magazine.

The reason?

He returned his phone calls promptly and had an excellent office and bedside manner.

His patients mistook his earnestness for knowledge.

Caveat emptor.

April 1, 2005 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Scharffen Berger Chocolate Lip Balm — 'It stays on the lips, not the hips'


Now available nationally, a new lip balm line called "Ganache for Lips".

The product isn't just some ersatz Chap-Stik-like grease with artificial flavoring but, rather, contains real Scharffen Berger chocolate, considered by most afficionados the best commercially available chocolate made in the U.S.

Comes in seven flavors: chocolate mint, chocolate orange, chocolate raspberry, chocolate almond, chocolate hazelnut, mocha latte, and lemon mousse.

$4.00 for .15 oz here.

This concept has great potential, in my opinion: lip balm with any one of a number of flavors, containing high-end ingredients, might well turn out to be a superb calorie- and weight-control measure.

I mean, it should taste so good you just want to lick your lips.

And then you simply apply some more.


[via skin-care.blogcarnival.com]

April 1, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Spring is here — my first daffodil has erupted


You can see it above, just as I did this afternoon when I espied it while looking out the window.

Combine this with balmy, 65° weather like it's been here for the past few days and you've got yourself a recipe for spring fever.


I like it.

April 1, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

4 Bonfim Key Chain — Good luck, Brazilian–style


This Brazilian good luck charm is made from brightly colored ribbons and includes charms like a four leaf clover, a silver flower, a key for happiness and a small jar of real salt.

Clip it on your bag and everyone'll be asking you where you got it.


But it's your secret.

$45 here.

April 1, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Inflatable Massage Chair — Only $159.98


Time was you'd spend thousands of dollars for a behemoth of a piece of furniture like this.

Now, taking advantage of recent advances in compressed air technology, you can have your very own, "heavy-duty, muscle-relaxing Inflatable Massage Chair."

Comes with its own pump and inflates in 1 minute.

"Set-up is fast, so you'll be ooohing and aaahing in no time!"

Bonus: the whole shebang packs up in the included storage bag (below) —


take it to work and be the envy of your office.

Just make sure there's no one in the office who's likely to stick a pin in your balloon-chair.

"Upper/lower back and seat massage zones."

Also included is a remote control handset (below)


to give you your choice of 3 massage intensity levels.

"This sturdy black chair is made of heavyweight 16-gauge PVC, weighs just 21 lbs. [without air], and holds up to 250 lbs."

$159.98 here.

Why pay more?

Like the website says, "Nothing caps a hard day like a well-deserved massage."

I couldn't have said it any better.

So I won't.

April 1, 2005 at 12:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

LookAlikeFinder.com now in beta


When I wrote about this new website on February 15, it just said "Coming soon" when you clicked on it.

I had a look just now to see what their definition of "coming soon" was/is, since a recurring theme in computer/internet-related companies is the vaporware-to-be phrase, "real soon now."

But lo and behold, they've moved past "under construction" and have up what appears to be a potential blockbuster of a concept.

The idea is, instead of fantasizing about a movie star you wish you could date, you instead tell the website whom it is you've got the hots for and it then uses proprietary image-recognition software to find real people who've signed up and who most resemble your idol.

Very, very cool.

Then you send the person a message and don't hold your breath waiting for a response. Or is that too realistic?

I mean, why wish you could go out with Beck or Beyoncé or their ilk: now you can get as close as you're ever gonna get.

No, I haven't signed up, so don't go looking for my doppelgänger there just yet.

April 1, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Ichizawa Hanpu is the world's most luxurious bag company' – Tyler Brûlé


Tyler Brûlé writes the weekly "Fast Lane" column for The Financial Times, focusing on what's best of the best in all areas world-wide.


He also writes "Perfect Bound," a column which appears in the New York Times Magazine Style supplement.


In his March 19 column in The Financial Times he defined a luxury brand as follows: "Exceptional craftmanship, timeless design, limited production and limited access."


He then declared Ichizawa Hanpu, a small Japanese shop in Kyoto that began making canvas sails for Japan's imperial fleet, "the world's most luxurious bag company."


He wrote, "The thing that puts Ichizawa Hanpu in a different league from Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton is price. A rugged, hold-everything tote military green will set you back ($49)."

He continued, "Part of the store's appeal is that shoppers have to arrive early, because bags are produced in small runs and once they're gone may not return."

The shop will happily take special requests and make any style, in any color combination you like.


I enjoyed exploring the company's website, even though my Japanese is long since gone.

April 1, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Museum of Online Museums


I'm sorry.

I'm really sorry.

It was probably wrong of me to have put this site up as today's first post, considering that if you decide to take a look, your role as a functioning, productive member of your company's workforce may well have come to an end for the week.

The reason I say that is that the Museum of Online Museums is an unbelievably great collection of online museums and much, much more that falls under the rubric of "collections."


If you can imagine it, someone collects it.

If by some miracle you exhaust the Museum and its links, as well as the links from the links, why, don't despair: there's the annex, which lists sites recently acquired but not yet fully indexed and described by the Museum.

I said I'm sorry, already.



Oh, I almost forgot: the illustrations for this post came from The Gallery of Stove Top Burners.

[via Sarah Boxer and the New York Times]

April 1, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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