Friday, August 3, 2012


Malvina Reynolds [1900-1978] was a bit of a stirrer from the Woody Guthrie/Pete Seeger school of stirring. Other hits - usually made popular because better singers recorded them - include Morningtown Ride, and stuff about working class people, the great depression and the evils of big business.
She would definitely be on my list of people I'd most like to invite to a dinner party. 

Is there something ironic about a magazine called The Economist costing $11 in Australia? Once the crochet and knitting patterns disappeared from the New Idea that was the end of buying mags for me.

Medical waiting rooms often have the remnants of mags sitting around. The older mags are not so bad. Did you know the Russians have sent a dog out into space and it came back alive!!!!?

Mags of a more recent vintage [e.g. less than 10 years old] are useful only for exercising the page flipping muscles. Note to self: don’t wet thumb to turn pages – most of the people who have flipped through these pages before were waiting for help with a medical problem.

Who are the people in these photos in these mags? Just as my score in the Hun quiz hangs predictably around the 6 mark, the average number of ‘people’ I recognise in mag photos [if spectacles are to hand] is around the 2 mark. Sometimes this means 2 photos of the same, one recognisable person per mag.

The stories/ captions / comments in these mags could be bitchy or vicious, if only they were about anything of consequence. Do I care if someone is leaving a junk food shop wearing sunglasses and an ensemble that does not match? Is it any of my business who other people bonk, don’t bonk, whether they bonk at all, are only pretending to snog for the benefit of their favourite paparazzi ?

But I digress - none of this has anything to do with an article I found in a 2012 edition of The Economist in the patient lounge of a rural hospital recently.

‘Over-regulated America: The home of laissez-faire is being suffocated by excessive and badly written regulation”

This article contains lots of juicy examples, and takes a swipe at both democrats and republicans, but let me share with you a bit about Obama-care:

“Next year the number of federally mandated categories of illness an injury for which hospitals may claim reimbursement will rise from 18,000 to 140,000. There are nine codes relating to injuries caused by parrots, and three relating to burns from flaming water-skis.”

[Australian readers should note that, in context, the reference to ‘flaming water-skis’ appears to be a reference to water-skis on fire; the word flaming here not being used as an alternative to the great Australian adjective.]

The Health Information Management Association of Australia [HIMAA] website says our own clinical coders use an Australian version of an international coding standard. If this all sounds Greek-geek to you, here is something a tad more comprehensible from HIMAA:

Clinical coders convert information from a patient’s medical record into alphanumerical codes according to a health classification system. The health classification system used in Australia is the International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision Australian Modification (ICD-10-AM), the Australian Classification of Health Interventions (ACHI) and the Australian Coding Standards (ACS).
These codes form part of a data collection that is used for research, funding and health care planning. The use of a classification system makes it easier to store, retrieve and analyse data.

… which means coders scour hospital patient records for every conceivable opportunity to claim money from the government as well as providing data such as all the ways we can harm ourselves. “Ooh, application of bandaid… and it was a 1 inch wide cloth bandaid, so that’s code DBAO24424… no, wait, the injury was a paper-cut” sort of thing.

Clinical Coding is an extremely well-paid occupation requiring years of study and practice. The Clinical Coders of America must be laughing all the way to the bank.


  1. The conservatives in the US hate Obama health care. From what I understand without actually finding out, it is just compulsory health insurance. Why oh why can't Americans see that, for all the faults of our and the Euro/Brit schemes, that they are so much better, and cheaper.

    PS My father used to sing that song. I've not thought of it for years.

    1. Andrew, perhaps you could omit the last three words from your first sentence and it would still be valid. Or to be fair, it might not be hate so much as a more moral approach like indifference.

      US-ian things are often unnecessarily complex, and having just taken a peep at a Wiki explanation of their health care system discovered why so much health insurance is provided by employers - it's a WWII hangover as wages were fixed and so benefits were used to steal other companies' workers. It seems there's a public system for olds, another for poor people who don't qualify for other poor people's care, employer sponsored, problems of portability if one loses one's job, etc... and so for 70 years one act after another has been passed to try and plug up all the holes in a very leaky sieve. The author of the article suggests all legislation should include a sunset clause so governments can wipe the slate clean and start again. It also seems state v fed bunfights are even more vicious than here.

      The Other and I went to Wantirna yesterday to do the tax return thing, and passed the ugliest new housing estate in the history of man. We both burst into song at the same time. The Other can hold a tune but takes dreadful liberties with lyrics.

  2. Actually, it's really quite simple. Americans are all brainwashed by the corporations and greed and don't know any better. Of course, I am not one of these Americans. Ha.

    I remember this song but for some reason I always thought it was about the houses in San Francisco.

    1. Hi Rubye, Wikipedia tells me you are spot on about the houses of San Francisico. I just included the mini-bio because I rather admired Malvina's spirit.

      Of course you are brainwashed - better that than a dirty red. Oops, please forgive my Australian racial insensitivity - by 'Red' I naturally mean communist.

  3. Wow! At risk of making light of other's misfortunes, how does one go about setting ones water skis on fire?

    Dirty 'Red', huh?! Well, that gives my on-line name a whole new meaning!!!!

    1. Red, I once had a neighbour who did not spontaneously combust [in the self-immolation sense] but who somehow managed to be the medium by which all sorts of things did - lawn mower, stove... you name it she could set fire to it. More to the point, why are there 3 different ways to burn one self in a water-ski fire? What about jet-skis? The world of a medical coder is surely a fascinating one.

      Now, how can I grovel my way out of the personal slight I have unwittingly and without any thought to harm - or thought at all, perhaps - sent your way? Perhaps I can use the ambiguity of the English language as a poor excuse?

      The many readers who know and love you will just say 'tosh' to the insult to you, and those who don't must go to Red's Australian Round-up [using the link provided in the sidebar] and meet the real you for themselves.

      forelock tuggingly,

    2. You know "Dirty Red" has another connotation.. it applies to a rather handsome dog of great "prowess" in certain quarters. He was a Red Heeler well known in Queensland for providing many offspring...a much admired feat of the XXXX crowd.

    3. Aah, "red blue heelers" can be like that. They are the epitome of filthy communism in action - taking what they want whenever they can simply because they can, and spreading it around again so everyone gets a bit whether it's of any use to them or not.

      That this would be admired by a people who cannot even spell the word 'beer' should be no surprise to anyone. Oops, am I displaying a typical Australian's political incorrectness by singling out one group for disparagement?

      "Dirty Red", of course, was a dog whose exploits have been elevated to the level of urban myth.
      Neither the critter nor the behaviour bear any resemblance to our own 'Red Nomad Oz' whose tales and photographs of her Australian travels [with her trusty sidekick Pilchard] delight and amuse readers around the world.