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September 29, 2008

Moral Hazard — Episode 2: Blast from the past


Now that the term is daily front page fodder, why not a look back at what finally enabled me to understand exactly what it means?

Here's my January 11, 2006 post on the subject.

    World's Best Example of 'Moral Hazard'

    It appears on the front page of today's New York Times.

    The paper's been running a multi–part series examining the plight of diabetics in New York City: Ian Urbina wrote today's story (part three), headlined "In The Treatment of Diabetes, Success Often Does Not Pay."

    The graphic (top) accompanying the article illustrates the moral hazard: the worse the patient outcome, the more money the doctor takes home.

    And the difference isn't trivial: a diabetes center loses an average of $455 each time a patient comes in for a checkup, but when complications occur and a diabetic's foot must be amputated a hospital stands to make between $1,499 and $11,360.

    Moral hazard is a term often used in business and economics but its precise meaning had eluded me until now.

    I've tried really hard to get a handle on it, even reading a novel (excellent, by the way) entitled "Moral Hazard" (below) by Kate Jennings — who spent enough time embedded in the world of investment banking and Wall Street as a speechwriter to know whereof she scribes — but it too left me befuddled.

    Alas, a state in which I spend most of my (what I believe to be — but one can never be too sure, can one? I'm thinking of the wonderful Spanish epigram, "Toda la vida es sueño, y los sueños sueños son*) waking hours.

    But I digress.

    In other words, a moral hazard is a situation in which someone benefits from someone else's misfortune and in which there is an financial incentive — enormous in the case of diabetics and their caregivers in New York — to make the bad situation worse.

    *Life is a dream, and dreaming a dream as well.

    Better in Spanish, isn't it?



Good book.

September 29, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

nano Coins


From the website:

    Mini Coin Set

    Our set of U.S. coins are accurate in every way — except for their tiny size!

    Now when friends and relatives ask for a "small loan" you have just the right thing to give them.

    Set of 6 coins (one each penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar and dollar) shown next to a real quarter.




September 29, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Treadmill Workspace — Early Days

My crack research team just unearthed a 1989 study entitled "Walking on an electric treadmill while performing VDT office work."

Does Dr. James Levine know about this?

The abstract of the nearly two-decade-old paper concludes "... that treadmill walking and routine word processing can be performed concurrently without a decrement in work performance, and that certain physiological and psychological benefits may result," which is certainly borne out by my own personal experience.

You could look it up.

Here's the abstract.

    Walking on an electric treadmill while performing VDT office work

    The physiological and psychological health problems associated with sedentary office work are well documented, but their solution has proved elusive. In this study a specially designed office permitted the comparison of conventional word processing (sedentary condition) to word processing performed while walking on an electric treadmill at 1.4 to 2.8 km/hr (active condition). Five subjects after several days of practice produced two test trials each consisting of six 20-minute intervals of word processing. For the sedentary condition the subjects were seated, during all six intervals. For the active condition, treadmill-walking and seated intervals were alternated. Variables measured included word processing performance score, stress and arousal indices, and body complaint count. The first of these was tested with a repeated ANOVA and Newman-Keuls post hoc, and the latter three with correlated t-tests. No significant differences were found between the two conditions for performance or body complaints. Stress was significantly lower (p < .05), and arousal was higher but not quite significant (P < .07) for the active condition. We conclude that treadmill walking and routine word processing can be performed concurrently without a decrement in work performance, and that certain physiological and psychological benefits may result.


My guess is that VDT stands for video display terminal — why, you got a better one?

September 29, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Motorized Flying Ghost


From the website:

    Motorized Flying Ghost

    Creepy ghost flies back and forth through the air, waving his arms and shrieking.

    Moves on (included) 25-ft. cable for indoor and outdoor use — sound activation sets it in motion.

    3-foot-tall ghost is made from polyester fabric and fill and has posable arms.

    Requires 3 AA batteries (not included).


"Waving his arms and shrieking" — sounds like my crack research team's default setting.


September 29, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Typographic Trees


"typographic tree columns created in collaboration with gordon young


at crawley library — work in progress —


library opening january 09."

[via why not associates, PAN-DAN and Milena]

September 29, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Geeks Gone Wild' Wedding Rings (Cat 5-Compliant)


Designed by Jana Brevick.

From the website:

    Cat 5-Compliant Wedding Rings — A Wedding Set For The Unconventional

    The Female ring comes in five opaque colors: Orange, Yellow, Turquoise, White or Black; the Male ring stands tall and dramatically transparent.

    Switch up the sexes, or order two of the same gender — each ring is made to order.

    After all, the world is your technological oyster.

    Can also be made adjustable.



$340 for the set.

[via Alistair Why]

September 29, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Universal dictionary — English to any of 35 languages, all from one page


You could look it up.

[via Milena]

September 29, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Fanny Bank — bookofjoe stoops to a new low


How else to describe how this disgusting item earned pride of place here?

From the website:

    Fanny Bank

    "Fanny” bank makes saving money a real GAS!

    Just drop a coin in the strategically-placed slot of this tushy-shaped bank and listen as it lets out the loudest rip you've ever heard.

    Add more loot, hear more toot!

    Up to six flatulent sound effects, guaranteed to make you laugh your “assets” off!

    Coins remove easily when bank is full.

    Requires 3 AA batteries (not included).

    6"H x 6"W.


Note: Accepts foreign coins as well as domestic.


September 29, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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