A backdrop for the girls and boys who just don’t know or just don’t care

Auto Tune and lip synching.  The scourge of modern music.  It wouldn’t have happened back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, right?  People believe music back then was authentic.  And great acts like Queen would never mime.  Right?

Some of the most blatant miming ever – and still a command performance by Freddie Mercury.

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PSA: Always haggle over hospital bills in America

After my last post on healthcare costs I was asked whether I could put data on some individual conditions together for a comparison between Britain and the US.  And when I did one thing leapt out at me – hospital bills in the US are something the hospital expects you to haggle with.  Do so!

Hospital Bills

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I get by with a little help from my friends

In my last post about healthcare costs I compared the amount spent under the British system to bills from the American system, and it was far my most popular post so far.  One of the most popular questions was about costs by procedure or condition, something which lead me to do a little research as last time I checked the American data simply wasn’t available – it now is.

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Costing an arm and a leg – Healthcare wonkery/workings

In my last post about healthcare costs I compared the amount spent under the British system to bills from the American system, and it was far my most popular post so far.  One of the most popular questions was about costs by procedure or condition so I started doing some research.  And I ended up breaking the follow up post into three; one for Brits, one for Americans, and a nerd-post in which I share my workings.  This is the nerd post; feel free to scroll past – that’s why it’s separated out from the UK and US healthcare posts.

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And I said “Now pretend you’ve got no money”

It’s coming up to Christmas – and I’ve already spoken about the Salvation Army.  There’s one other Christmas warning: Monopoly is only slightly a more suitable game than bare knuckle boxing.  Just don’t do it.

There are plenty of people who say monopoly sucks.  And as a game played at Christmas they are right.  But Monopoly is very good at what it was designed to do (part of why it’s lasted).  It’s just not suited for a family game (but is far better if you use the actual rules).

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How much is that cystectomy in the window?

There are regularly stories (either in the news or viral) about how much American healthcare costs.  I’ve blogged in the past about some of the causes.  British healthcare is free at the point of delivery, so the patient doesn’t see the cost and people don’t know how expensive healthcare should be.  But British internal prices are public information, so it’s easy to see approximately how much things cost in a well-run health service.

The prices do, however, need some interpreting and the government’s “simple guide” runs to 72 pages.  I’m going to explain the system in a single (long) blog post.  And then I’m going to take estimates of how much a British hospital bill would get for each of the linked hospital costs.  The current costs are here (next year’s includes a 3.8% “efficiency saving” (read: underfunding)).

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Gators gonna gate, gate, gate, gate

People who are active online, especially on Twitter will have noticed something called Gamergate – which among other things includes a campaign of harrassment including driving people out of their homes and threats of terrorism.  If you don’t know what it’s about, Wikipedia has a summary of the facts – and on the subject of the facts I’m with Cracked when they said “do you realize that if what they’re saying is true, then this is still the most pointless fucking bullshit anyone has ever forced us to read?”  Which leads to the question of who they are and why they are doing what they are.

It’s all very well to mock their ethics in game journalism claims.  I agree that they are ridiculous.  Which means something else must be going on.  And I’m glad to not be at the centre of this.

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Lonely Starbucks Lovers

For the last few years I’ve been using Taylor Swift to irritate hipsters; using her either as an example of authenticity in modern music or a singer/songwriter/musician of the sort some claim have died out.  But not actually listening to her for most of it (and most of her music, and particularly her early music, is not written for me).  And certainly since Kanye West invaded the stage at the VMA awards people have been looking for excuses to take potshots at her. Me, I find the whole thing interesting.  Taylor at least as much as her music.  She’s an outlier – someone who invented her own market (teenage Country music).

And before the fold I’m going to mention her current row with Spotify.  She claims they don’t pay enough when 60% of their revenue goes to the labels.  The problem here is a step deeper.  Spotify gives consumers a level of access that people who’ve bought the albums have, but charge as if they were radio.  The record labels make their money out of back catalogue – but it doesn’t help new artists (or even minor labels like hers).

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The value of a well-fitted suit

No knowledge is useless, and the world is fascinating.  Even knowledge about the most seemingly inconsequential information can be incredibly revealing as I found out recently, and am going to share.  A working knowledge of fashion shows a lot of what was wrong with what looked initially like an incredibly successful, powerful, and effective empire: The Third Reich, and its snappy uniforms.

Urban legend says they had great dress sense and it’s a pity they had Hugo Boss working for them, and his sense of style.  (For the record he worked for the Nazi Party, not the Wehrmacht).  Urban legend also says the Germans were great engineers and equipped their troops well early in the War.  Looking at the standard Wehrmacht uniform (the M36 Feldbluse) we’re going to see whether this is true or whether it demonstrates a lot of what was wrong with the Nazi mindset.

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