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Giuliani spent only 29 hours at ground zero

For Giuliani, Ground Zero as Linchpin and Thorn - New York Times

A complete record of Mr. Giuliani’s exposure to the site is not available for the chaotic six days after the attack, when he was a frequent visitor. But an exhaustively detailed account from his mayoral archive, revised after the events to account for last-minute changes on scheduled stops, does exist for the period of Sept. 17 to Dec. 16, 2001. It shows he was there for a total of 29 hours in those three months, often for short periods or to visit locations adjacent to the rubble. In that same period, many rescue and recovery workers put in daily 12-hour shifts.

“I think Mayor Giuliani did a fine job as mayor during probably the most difficult time in American history, especially in New York history,” said Michael J. Palladino, president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association of New York City. “Having said that, it’s unfair for him to characterize himself as being in the same position as the first responders.”

"I'm the proud owner of Karl Rove’s father’s solid gold cock ring."

Full story here. Pictures of pierced and be-ringed cock probably Not Safe for Work.

(via)

Medicare will no longer pay for hospital errors

Medicare Says It Won’t Cover Hospital Errors - New York Times

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 — In a significant policy change, Bush administration officials say that Medicare will no longer pay the extra costs of treating preventable errors, injuries and infections that occur in hospitals, a move they say could save lives and millions of dollars.

Private insurers are considering similar changes, which they said could multiply the savings and benefits for patients.

Under the new rules, to be published next week, Medicare will not pay hospitals for the costs of treating certain “conditions that could reasonably have been prevented.”

Among the conditions that will be affected are bedsores, or pressure ulcers; injuries caused by falls; and infections resulting from the prolonged use of catheters in blood vessels or the bladder.

August 18, 2007

A list of things to improve your novel

Luc Reid - That Certain Something

Instead, let me try to offer a list of some of the kinds of things that can make a novel rise above:

- An exceptionally vivid setting, like Twain's Mississippi River town of St. Petersburg or Frank Herbert's Arrakis

- A character who is fascinating to watch at his or her work, like Tolkien's Gandalf or Defoe's Robinson Crusoe or Frank Abagnale's self-depiction in Catch Me if You Can

- An endlessly entertaining voice, like most of Twain's or Vonnegut's work

- An idea that is so rich and fascinating that it helps drive the story and locks the reader in a sense of wonderment that sticks, like Pullman's daemons or Stevenson's Jeckyll and Hyde tranformation or Asimov's Laws

- Intricate and surprising plotting with secrets and revelations, like Rowling's entire Harry Potter saga or the movie Identity

- Painfully important stakes that make the reader desperately sympathetic with the character, like the destruction of the Ring in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

- A character who inspires an unusual amount of sympathy, like Dickens' Oliver Twist or Wally Lamb's Delores in She's Come Undone

- A situation that provides wish-fulfillment, like (again) the Harry Potter books or Abagnale's Catch Me If You Can

Trailer: Harold & Kumar 2

Movie-List - Harold & Kumar 2 Trailer Page...

US Military Practices Genetic Discrimination in Denying Benefits

US Military Practices Genetic Discrimination in Denying Benefits

Eric Miller's career as an Army Ranger wasn't ended by a battlefield wound, but his DNA.

Lurking in his genes was a mutation that made him vulnerable to uncontrolled tumor growth. After suffering back pain during a tour in Afghanistan, he underwent three surgeries to remove tumors from his brain and spine that left him with numbness throughout the left side of his body.

So began his journey into a dreaded scenario of the genetic age.

Because he was born with the mutation, the Army argued it bore no responsibility for his illness and medically discharged him in 2005 without the disability benefits or health insurance he needed to fight his disease.

"The Army didn't give me anything," said Miller, 28, a seven-year veteran who is training to join the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Warcraft mount sells for $2,000 real world dollars

World of Warcraft's Spectral Tiger sells for $2000 - Joystiq

A Spectral Tiger from the World of Warcraft: Trading Card Game recently sold on eBay for $2000. If we'd have known that the Spectral Tiger that WoW Insider gave away last month would sell for $2000, we would have said. "Contest be damned! We're going to Vegas baby!" The reason the card is so special is because it also gives you a rare mount inside of WoW once you input a code.

Another reason the card sold for so much is that the card set it comes form, Fires of Outland, won't even be out until August 22nd. Beyond that, it's still apparently a rare card. As WoW Insider points out, $2000 is 11 years of game time -- and yes, that's the way they think about these things. Of course, like all things WoW, people go nuts and spend all this money and time on something to only have to be made completely uncool and pointless by something else a month later. But, you know, you're still World of Warcraft cool for a whole month.

This is a very bad sign: A run on the banks

A rush to pull out cash - Los Angeles Times...

August 17, 2007

Ursula K LeGuin's advice to a young writer

Ursula K. Le Guin: A Few Words to a Young Writer

Socrates said, "The misuse of language induces evil in the soul." He wasn't talking about grammar. To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.

A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.

Fun with Flickr

Two neat tools found over at Boing.

Flickr Set Manager creates sets of your most popular or most recent pictures. These sets update automatically, as more pics get added. Very cool.

My most popular set is here. It seems to be all pictures of Halloween, or of my lovely wife.

And DeskLickr is a screensaver for Macs that grabs pics off Flickr, either from your sets or from random tag searches. I can't wait to get home and install this.

Yes, I realize I'm a huge geek.

Working in a book farm: Mysteries, Penises and Canadians

The Optimistic Curmudgeon: My First Job

There were books that were simply bad and formulaic, like the romance novels. Then there were the books that were bad in an almost entertaining way, like a seventy-five page story about the first years of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that suddenly turned into a murder mystery with five pages left, or the sci-fi novel about the Canadian space program that helped repopulate the Earth. You see, the Earth was in such bad shape that they had to build a spacecraft in space, one that would take them to Alpha Centauri and back. Canadians, space, environmental concerns – all that and romance too! Well, someone had to be on the ship when it came back hundreds of years later.

Then there was the soul-sucking trash. One book I was forced to read was about four members of a gynecological office, three men and one woman, who go on a private boat ride. Two of the men and the women are then mesmerized into being taken advantage of by “Ralph’s tremendous penis” (a phrase that I believe actually appeared in the book. I once swore if I had time to get a band together ever again, I would name it “Ralph’s Tremendous Penis”). There were eight or nine hundred pages of frolicking in the stirrups, followed by another couple of hundred pages of revenge by the woman. The resolution involved local anesthetic and a surgical procedure that would have provided a wonderful transplant for some lucky recipient, had the results not been flushed down a drain. That, as I have described it to you, was a week and a half of my life that I will never see again.

Every day, someone in the office bore witness to genuine, breathtaking stupidity. Often they would stand up from a manuscript, their eyes wide, shaking like they had just been given terrible, secret news and walk out laughing madly.

Trailer: Walk Hard

Looks to be an extended parody of the recent biopics of Johnny cash and Ray Charles. Though Jack White as Elvis looks hilarious.

Charlie Stross: Advice on authors reading aloud

Charlie's Diary: Tools of the Trade: Readings

A friend, who recently sold her first novel, wrote to me (paraphrased): "help! I'm supposed to be giving a reading from my work at a science fiction convention! What do I do?"

Readings, like signings, are one of the epiphenomena of writing: not a central part of the business, but people give you funny looks if your first reaction on being invited to do one is to shriek and hide up a tree. Unfortunately, although there are plenty of books with advice wise and otherwise on other aspects of writing, I've yet to run across any advice about readings. So here's what I've learned about reading in front of strangers.

Rule #1 is that the audience is not your enemy.

Odd though this may sound, a certain subset of writers never quite get their heads around this concept. Writers are, almost by definition, unaccustomed to public performance: writing a novel isn't something you do live in front of an audience. (If it was, the audience would have to be so laid-back they'd make the spectators at a five day test match look as if they were in a mosh pit frenzy; writing books is slow.) So most of us, have no idea about how to behave in front of an audience.

urban Landscape Flatware

Urban Landscape Plates (techyum)