Mapping the tax man

Since Google Maps now works in Safari, and I had to get our property taxes paid today, I thought I would give the new service a whirl. I prefer it to the other map sites, since the interface is contained inside a single browser window. It’s also fast compared to the other sites; it’s snappiness reminded me of using Gmail, which is the fastest web-based e-mail system I’ve ever used.

Great moments in socialized medicine

Dave Murphy, for the San Francisco Chronicle:

From the time Tilly Merrell was a year old, doctors told her family she would never have a normal life — or even a normal meal.

British doctors found that the food she swallowed went into her lungs instead of her stomach, causing devastating lung infections. They said she had isolated bulbar palsy, and their solution was to feed her through a stomach tube. Forever.

But having a backpack with a food pump wired to her stomach wasn’t much of a life for a girl whose favorite smell is bacon frying — a girl who once broke through a locked kitchen door in an effort to sneak some cheese. So her family got help from their community of Warndon, about 120 miles north of London, raising enough money to take Tilly, now 8, on a 5,000-mile journey they hoped might change her life, a journey to Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University.

Doctors at Packard were intrigued that she had no neurological symptoms often associated with the palsy. In all other ways, she was a normal child with a mischievous smile and a truckload of energy. After seeing her Feb. 7, they ran three tests and found out what was wrong with her.

Nothing.
And you wonder why conservatives froth at the mouth over such nonsense as HILLARY!Care.
[Via Jack on World_SIG.]

About those unblocked pop-up/under ads

In case you’ve ever wondered why you keep getting pop-up or pop-under ads, even though you have pop-up blocking enabled in Safari or Firefox, MDJ has the answer in today’s issue:

Several people have noticed more pop-up and pop-under Web ads recently, even if Safari’s pop-up blocker is turned on. Safari can’t block them because they’re not coming from JavaScript – they’re coming from Macromedia Flash content. Macromedia has spent the past few years bragging about Flash’s browser ubiquity, convincing developers to create everything from simple animations to full-fledged video in Flash because every browser can run it.

Now we’re seeing the dark side of that – Flash content can also open windows, and advertisers are using it to subvert standard pop-up blocking, which typically prevents JavaScript code from opening new windows unless you clicked on a link to do so.
So there you have it. Yet another reason to hate Flash.

New long distance record in Iraq

A U.S. Marine, Staff Sgt. Steve Reichert, has scored a kill shot while engaging the enemy in Iraq, and the shot was over a mile away. For his actions, Staff Sgt. Reichert has been awarded the Bronze Star for Valor.

In the after-action report, the platoon leader made a remarkable account: that Reichert made the shot from 1,614 meters – about a mile away. His accuracy was the deciding factor in the outcome of the firefight.
For the math-impaired, 1,614 meters translates in to 1765.0918662 yards. There are three feet in a yard, so that number times three yields 5,295.2755986 feet. Staff Sgt. Reichert scored a kill shot at fifteen feet beyond a mile. Boys and girls, that’s a long, long way for a rifle shot.

Identity thieves targeting medical patients

Read this article now, as it will become subscriber-only after March 1st.

The biggest vulnerability of hospital patients is that their Social Security numbers often double as a medical identifier. For identity thieves, “Social Security numbers are the key to the golden kingdom,” says Mari Frank, a California attorney specializing in identity theft.

[…]

Often, the culprit in medical settings is a rogue employee. Identity-theft experts recommend that patients and loved ones protest any visible use of Social Security numbers, such as on wristbands or unguarded charts. At the very least, patients may be able to darken a couple of numbers. Patients should refuse to answer aloud any verbal request for those numbers when they might be overheard.

Patients should also resist the impulse to trust their fellow patients. “If you and the other guy were at the counter at Costco, you’d be careful in a way that you’re not when you’re wearing hospital gowns,” says Mr. Cox, the Michigan attorney general. His office recently extracted a guilty plea from a cancer patient who stole the identities of nine other cancer patients.
The best thing to do is, if at all possible, have the hospital assign you a non-Social Security number for identification purposes.

Flying the American Flag

I got a postcard in the mail from a local real estate agent, and on it was a helpful list of flag-flying days. Some of these will already be on iCal’s U.S. Holidays calendar, but I decided to make a separate calendar you can download for iCal or any other calendar app which supports a .ics file. The dates are:
+ New Year’s Day (January 1)
+ Inauguration Day (January 20)
+ Martin Luther King’s Birthday (3d Monday in January)
+ Lincoln’s Birthday (February 12)
+ Washington’s Birthday (February 22)
+ Washington’s Birthday (Observed) (3d Monday in February)
+ Patriots Day (April 19)
+ National Day (2d Sunday in May)
+ Memorial Day (Last Monday in May, fly flag at half-staff until noon)
+ Flag Day (June 19)
+ Independence Day (July 4)
+ Labor Day (1st Monday in September)
+ Constitution Day (September 17)
+ Columbus Day (October 12)
+ Navy Day (October 27)
+ Veteran’s Day (November 11)
+ Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November)
+ Christmas Day (December 25th)
I did not include Easter, since Easter Sunday varies from year to year. The flag can be flown on Easter. The flag should also be flown on election days, can be flown on state and local holidays, a State’s Birthday, and any days as proclaimed by the President of the United States.
I welcome any additions or corrections.