This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne, also known as Sam Minter. In addition to the blog below, be sure to check out the other sections of the site above and to the left! IM me on AIM as Abulsme or email me at abulsme@abulsme.com. Comments are always appreciated! Thanks!

 

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Fri 29 Oct 2004

Florida Proposed Amendment No. 7

Ok, here comes another one. I know this is becoming like all election all the time, but hey, it is just a few days away. A few more days of this and it will be over... maybe. Anyway, next is this one:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
ARTICLE X, SECTION 22

PATIENTS' RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT ADVERSE MEDICAL INCIDENTS

Current Florida law restricts information available to patients related to investigations of adverse medical incidents, such as medical malpractice. This amendment would give patients the right to review, upon request, records of health care facilities' or providers' adverse medical incidents, including those which could cause injury or death. Provides that patients' identities should not be disclosed.

The direct financial impact this amendment will have on state and local government revenues and expenditures cannot be determined, but is expected to be minimal. State agencies will incur some additional costs to comply with public records requirements of the amendment, but these costs will be generally offset by fees charged to the persons requesting the information.
Once again though, we'll need the real full text, not just the summary:
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF FLORIDA THAT:

1) Statement and Purpose:
The Legislature has enacted provisions relating to a patients’ bill of rights and responsibilities, including provisions relating to information about practitioners’ qualifications, treatment and financial aspects of patient care. The Legislature has, however, restricted public access to information concerning a particular health care provider’s or facility’s investigations, incidents or history of acts, neglects, or defaults that have injured patients or had the potential to injure patients. This information may be important to a patient. The purpose of this amendment is to create a constitutional right for a patient or potential patient to know and have access to records of a health care facility’s or provider’s adverse medical incidents, including medical malpractice and other acts which have caused or have the potential to cause injury or death. This right to know is to be balanced against an individual patient’s rights to privacy and dignity, so that the information available relates to the practitioner or facility as opposed to individuals who may have been or are patients.

2) Amendment of Florida Constitution:
Art. X, Fla. Const., is amended by inserting the following new section at the end thereof, to read:
"Section 22. Patients’ Right to Know About Adverse Medical Incidents.
"(a) In addition to any other similar rights provided herein or by general law, patients have a right to have access to any records made or received in the course of business by a health care facility or provider relating to any adverse medical incident.
"(b) In providing such access, the identity of patients involved in the incidents shall not be disclosed, and any privacy restrictions imposed by federal law shall be maintained.
"(c) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
"(1) The phrases "health care facility" and "health care provider" have the meaning given in general law related to a patient’s rights and responsibilities.
"(2) The term "patient" means an individual who has sought, is seeking, is undergoing, or has undergone care or treatment in a health care facility or by a health care provider.
"(3) The phrase "adverse medical incident" means medical negligence, intentional misconduct, and any other act, neglect, or default of a health care facility or health care provider that caused or could have caused injury to or death of a patient, including, but not limited to, those incidents that are required by state or federal law to be reported to any governmental agency or body, and incidents that are reported to or reviewed by any health care facility peer review, risk management, quality assurance, credentials, or similar committee, or any representative of any such committees.
"(4) The phrase "have access to any records" means, in addition to any other procedure for producing such records provided by general law, making the records available for inspection and copying upon formal or informal request by the patient or a representative of the patient, provided that current records which have been made publicly available by publication or on the Internet may be "provided" by reference to the location at which the records are publicly available."

3) Effective Date and Severability: This amendment shall be effective on the date it is approved by the electorate. If any portion of this measure is held invalid for any reason, the remaining portion of this measure, to the fullest extent possible, shall be severed from the void portion and given the fullest possible force and application.
OK. So looking at this, this is exactly what I said I WOULD support when I was talking about Amendment 8. Rather than automatically forbidding doctors to practice with a certain number of black marks on their record, just make sure that the record is publically available and people choosing doctors (and hospitals hiring doctors for ERs and such) can make an informed decision.

So... if this was a proposed new law in the legislature, I might very well support it.

But the problem is that this is not a proposed normal law. This is a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution. Now, the "Statement and Purpose" says this is to "create a constitutional right for a patient or potential patient to know".

I said that having things like a "Bill of Rights" in a Constitution (or amendments thereto) is appropriate... but what is appropriate there is definitions of governmental restrictions... in other words places where government is prohibited to act because certain rights are reserved to individuals. In other words, what are called "negative rights". Things that the government is prohibited from interfering in. "Positive rights", which are actually not rights at all, but rather entitlements... things which

Now, personally I am very dubious about the idea of positive rights in any context. I'm not sure there actually is any such thing. The idea that an individual should be protected from many forms of abusive government action seems obvious to me. The notion that people somehow should be "entitled" to specific things bestowed upon them by the government does not.

Now, that does not mean that I believe that under no circumstances should government every bestow things on people. In some cases they should, and regulations in many areas while to be avoided if possible, is sometimes necessary or desireable. But those things should be matters of policy, and I do not think they elevate to the level of a "right". And thus I think those sorts of things should be decided OUTSIDE of a constitution.

So, in this case I actually SUPPORT the policy goals of this amendment. I think it would be a good thing if something like this was enacted as a LAW. However I think it is inappropriate for something like this to be included in the state constitution. So...

My vote is: NO


Abulsme - Fri, 29 Oct 2004, 16:07:37 PDT - News
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Darkflash: Heading West

The last one scrolled off the front page, so time for another Darkflash! This one was originally sent to friends and family September 5, 2004 14:25:22 UTC.

After that last update, we did decide to go ahead and stay in Apalachicola for another night. We had plenty of time until the storm got this far, and it was good to just hang out for a day. We rested, we answered email, we watched the Weather channel. Amy watched some DVDs we got for her. Amy really really wanted to swim in the hotel pool, but we had not brought her swimsuit. But eventually late in the evening we let her go ahead and just swim in her clothes along with several other kids who were there. She had a blast and needed the release.

Anyway, overnight and this morning we are watching the Weather Channel. They don't have any of the news networks on the TV here at the hotel. They have CNN headline news and a couple of local channels, but that is it. So Weather channel had the best coverage. One of their reporters is in Palm Bay, which is the location of the house we put an offer in on and is right near Melbourne. We got to watch him get pummeled and see pictures of the types of damage happening there. They say it is mostly trees down and "minor structural damage" (and of course power outages) rather than massive destruction. Hopefully it will stay that way. Right now as I write, the center of Frances is just a few miles away from Palm Bay. The area reportedly had at least one tornado too.

Meanwhile, the predicted track has it going directly over Apalachicola tomorrow sometime. (Well, somewhere within 50 miles on either side of here one you add the margin of error on the predictions.) They say by that time it will almost certainly just be a tropical storm, not a hurricane, although there is an outside chance it could be a minimal hurricane. The local news here is saying that we should expect flooding and power outages. The flooding could end up isolating some areas by cutting off the access roads. Hmm. Sounds fun. And we are RIGHT off the Gulf Coast.

Now, we have every confidence that we could indeed weather the storm quite safely here. But with the strong potential of flooding close by and of power outages, it doesn't sound like the most pleasant of stays. If this was the prediction back at home, we'd just stay put. They are not evacuating this area at this time. But this isn't home, this is a hotel. And we can easily move. So we are going to leave and head west again within the next hour.

Don't know where exactly we will go of course. We'll point the GPS at New Orleans again and just head in that general direction. We'll probably still do some back roads, but we may consider switching to major highways since we are relatively far away from the main evacuation areas. As long as the highways aren't still bumper to bumper, I'm OK using them. Although back roads are much more fun!

Don't know how far we'll actually go. Until we are tired of driving probably. Maybe see how far we can get before midnight? Dunno. Probably not all the way to New Orleans. We'll see. :-) When we decide to stop, we'll just take the next pet friendly motel along the route. Then we'll stay there until we the storm passes and they say on TV that it is OK for people to return. Then we'll start on the way back...


Abulsme - Fri, 29 Oct 2004, 15:32:16 PDT - Personal
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Florida Proposed Amendment No. 8

I am so not doing enough of these fast enough. I'll have to really work on the weekend. Anyway, it is lunch time, and I'm all woozy from prescription cough medicine (I've been sick for about a week now), so I figure I have a few minutes to do another one of these before trying to get my woozy head around finishing writing a couple of documents I have to write for work today... Anyway:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
ARTICLE X, SECTION 20
PUBLIC PROTECTION FROM REPEATED MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

Current law allows medical doctors who have committed repeated malpractice to be licensed to practice medicine in Florida. This amendment prohibits medical doctors who have been found to have committed three or more incidents of medical malpractice from being licensed to practice medicine in Florida.

The direct financial impact on state and local governments resulting from the proposed initiative would be minimal. There will likely be additional costs to the state of less than $1 million per year, but these costs will be offset by licensure fees.
OK, but like a couple of others, this is the abbrivated ballot text, and to really judge this one needs to look at the full text...
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF FLORIDA THAT:

a) Statement and Purpose:
Under current law, a medical doctor who has repeatedly committed medical malpractice in Florida or while practicing in other states or countries may obtain or continue to hold a professional license to practice medicine in Florida. The purpose of this amendment is to prohibit such a doctor from obtaining or holding a license to practice medicine in Florida.

b) Amendment of Florida Constitution:
Art. X, Fla. Const., is amended by inserting the following new section at the end thereof, to read:
"Section 20. Prohibition of Medical License After Repeated Medical Malpractice.
"a) No person who has been found to have committed three or more incidents of medical malpractice shall be licensed or continue to be licensed by the State of Florida to provide health care services as a medical doctor.
"b) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
"i) The phrase "medical malpractice" means both the failure to practice medicine in Florida with that level of care, skill, and treatment recognized in general law related to health care providers’ licensure, and any similar wrongful act, neglect, or default in other states or countries which, if committed in Florida, would have been considered medical malpractice.
"ii) The phrase "found to have committed" means that the malpractice has been found in a final judgment of a court or law, final administrative agency decision, or decision of binding arbitration."

c) Effective Date and Severability:
This amendment shall be effective on the date it is approved by the electorate. If any portion of this measure is held invalid for any reason, the remaining portion of this measure, to the fullest extent possible, shall be severed from the void portion and given the fullest possible force and application.
Some of my questions on the measure based on the abbreaviated text were answered by reading the full text. Anybody voting on these things should always read the full text and not rely on the summaries... Also, this is an ammendment to an existing document, so one needs to look at the current language too...

OK, WTF... According to the copy of the Florida Constitution on the official Florida Senate website, there is ALREADY an Article X Section 20 (Dealing with "Workplaces without tabacco smoke"), whereas this says Section 20 will be added onto the end of Article X... something is screwy here. Perhaps a couple of the old sections were repealed and the website hasn't been updated yet? I don't know, but I don't like this!

OK, lets assume this is just some numbering snafu, and I just don't have a current copy of the constitution, even if it is on the official government website... lets look at a couple other things about the ammendment...

But before I do that, I just have to say, Article X is "MISCELLANEOUS". What kind of structure is that? This is a constitution! There shouldn't be a section like that! And Article X Section 21 is "Limiting cruel and inhumane confinement of pigs during pregnancy." Excuse me??? Now, I'm not saying that I advocate cruel and inhumane confinement of pregnant pigs, and this might very well make a great normal LAW. But it has absolutely no place in a CONSTITUTION.

Constitutions (national, state, whatever) are supposed to at a high level define the basic structures of government, how they interact with each other, how offices are filled... that sort of thing. And perhaps basic definitions of rights and responsibilities. (Such as the Bill of Rights in the US constitution.) Issues of specific governmental policies on specific narrowly drawn issues have no place in a constituation. Those types of issues should be resolved through the normal legislative process as implemented by the executive and interpreted by the courts. To put them in a constitutional document is to corrupt the value of the constitution and to improperly elevate policy issues into the basic structure of government. This is wrong. And will effect my vote on this issue as well... and perhaps most of the proposed ammendments...

OK, now back to this specific amendment. Basically it imposes a three strikes and you are out rule on doctors with regard to malpractice. I was worried when I just read the summary about just how one was determined to have committed malpractice, if there were mechanisms for appeal, etc. The full amendment defines that a bit more. A "final judgement" is needed, meaning that an appeals process is available before that point. However, there is still no mechanism here for evaluating the comparative seriousness of incidents. That is troubling. Not all cases of malpractice are equal, some are worse than others. Also the opponants arguments about this chasing away doctors does have some weight, but my main concern on this item from a pure policy point of view is simply that it is arbitrary, and takes choice away from the individual, and instead mandates a puinshment for the doctors. I'm not saying I'm for bad doctors continuing to practice and hurt people... I just don't think this is the correct way to deal with it.

I'd be for a policy requiring full disclosure, so you could look up a Doctor's history and see exactly what issues they had in the past, and then make an educated decision. But I don't want the government making that call for me. So on a pure policy basis, I would be against this.

However, and I take this to be even more important, as I indicated above... this is a policy issue which can and should be decided by the legislature. This is NOT something that should be included in a State Constitution. (Although I understand the way the initiative process is structured... it can apperantly only ammend the constitution, not other laws, makes this very tempting.) Matters of governmental policy, rather than governmental structure and organization, have no place in the constitution. If laws need to be passed on this subject, the legislature should do this. This is not the right place or method. Therefore...

My vote is: NO

Lunch is over. More later.

Looking over the next few ballot questions though... the next 7 of them are all constitutional ammendments. And they ALL seem to relate to policy issue rather than structural issues. So I may already know my vote. But on each one I will make a seperate evaluation on the policy issue and state what my opinion there is. But, even if I am for the policy, I most likely will be AGAINST the ammendment... simply because policy issues should not be corrupting a state constitution. That is not what they are for. Or at least not what they SHOULD be for... even if that is how they are obviously being used. That is what the legislative branch is for. (And in some cases the executive and the courts.)

Proposed Amendment No 6 is slightly different, but I'll talk about that one when I get to that one...

Also, I am strongly reconsidering my earlier stated position on Brevard County Referendum 2. I'd said my position was already weak. I may be about to flip. If I do, I will of course post an update. :-)

Hmmm... what I've been talking about here may also apply to the Brevard County Charter Amendment 3. I'll have to think about that one a little too. If I change my mind on it, I'll be sure to post about it. I'm sure you all will be waiting in great suspense.


Abulsme - Fri, 29 Oct 2004, 10:00:58 PDT - News
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More Electoral Fun!

Drat electoral-vote.com for warning this Ohio elector and spoiling all the fun! But here are a few more fun possibilities...

Electoral-Vote.com Oct 29th Update

Stupidity news revisited: Yesterday I pointed out that one of Kerry's Ohio electors, Rep. Sherrod Brown, is constitutionally ineligible to be an elector because he is a federal officeholder. He resigned yesterday as elector, undoubtedly due to my pointing this out to 650,000 people. Suppose he had stayed on and Kerry won the popular vote and Ohio and the electoral college 270 to 268. If the Republicans had gone to the Supreme Court and gotten Brown declared ineligible and also gotten a ruling saying that Ohio could not replace him with someone the voters had not selected, the score would be Kerry 269, Bush 268. Since Kerry would no longer have the required 270 electoral votes needed to win, the House, controlled by the Republicans, would then choose Bush. We could have had a situation in which Kerry won the popular vote, Kerry won the electoral vote, and Bush became president. I don't think that would have been good for the country.

Even more unlikely news: A reader pointed this out to be. Suppose the EC is tied 269 to 269 and the House deadlocks 25 states to 25 states. This is exceedingly unlikely, but just suppose. Then the Senate gets to choose the vice president. Also suppose the new Senate is divided 50-50, a very real possibility. Then the sitting vice president, Dick Cheney, gets to cast the deciding vote, electing himself as the new vice president. In the absence of a president, Cheney would be acting president for four years. This is not likely to happen because the Republicans are virtually certain of controlling at least 26 state delegations in the House. Still, scenarios like this one support the case for electoral college reform.
Actually, I think it supports the opposite. Start teaching people again about how we do NOT live in a democracy, how pure democracy does not properly protect people with minority viewpoints and is inherantly unstable, and how what we live in is a constitutional republic NOT a democracy, and this is actually a good thing. And point out how the electoral college is a very important way of balancing the interests of small and large states, etc. And start teaching people how they are really electing electors, and not the president.

And even better, go back to how it is supposed to be... where the electors actually form a deliberative body and select the president in December, completely detached from any popular election at all. If anything, the elections in November should be for the people to pick people from their state they trust to be electors. Those people would then meet and go through a process of picking a president and vice-president. There should be people running for elector, NOT people running for president...

(Or alternately, let the state legislatures pick the electors... that also works within the current constitutional structures.... between the weakening of the electoral college, and the popular election of senators, the representation of the states in the Federal government has eroded much too much in the last 200 years... letting the state legislatures pick electors rather than choosing electors based on popular vote would be one step toward fixing that problem.)

Um, I know my views on this are a couple centuries out of date though. But I look at how it was originally set up and it makes so much SENSE. The fact that it has been corrupted over the years annoys me no end.

Mark my words though, if the electoral college is ever abandoned in favor of a pure popular vote for President, the United States will break into multiple countries within 150 years of the change! If it even takes that long...

Um, I'm digressing. Anyway, look at the fun and interesting to watch scenerios that can happen if electors get uppity and actually act as independant rational actors the way they are supposed to rather than just as rubber stamps for the popular vote in their states... it could get fun!

But it probably won't. :-(


Abulsme - Fri, 29 Oct 2004, 06:28:15 PDT - News
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Electoral Shedding

Oh please, oh please, oh please! We couldn't possibly get this much fun, could we???

Tie Goes to the...
(Matt Glassman, Tech Central Station)

Interested in becoming president this year? If so, hope for an electoral college tie. With an unlikely, but plausible, perfect tie -- 269 electoral votes for both George W. Bush and John Kerry -- anyone meeting the Constitutional qualifications for president could end up president. Here's how.
(via Fark)

Read the whole thing, it goes through the whole scenerio. That would be awesome!!!


Abulsme - Fri, 29 Oct 2004, 04:40:57 PDT - News
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Thu 28 Oct 2004

Sara is Famous!

At October 28, 2004 18:36:46 UTC out of the blue I got an email from Frank:

Sam,

Did you know one of YOUR pictures is "famous"?  I just got this e-mail, and I immediately recognized one of the pictures. (You've got to admit, that's a classic photo!)  Speaking of which, what happed to that and other pictures that used to be on your web site?  I went looking for them (cuz I couldn't remember your dog's name) and couldn't find them.

- Frank
And forwarded along under the message was one of those emails that gets forwarded all around the Internet with inspirational little messages interspersed with cute pictures of animals. But lo and behold, one of the pictures in the email was this one. From my website!

That is a picture of Sara, the puppy I found trying to cross I-95 in July 2001. The picture is from August, when I came home one day to find out that Sara had basically torn up the whole house. I had posted the picture on PhotoSig where it is still the fifth highest rated picture using the camera I had at the time. Then this guy saw it there and made it the Daily Pet Photo on his site (with permission). And I guess someone saw it there, or somewhere else, and decided to add it to this inspirational email thing and then forward it to all their friends, who forwarded it to all their friends, who forwarded it to all their friends, until it eventually got to someone who knew me and had seen that picture before.

On the one hand, it is uncredited, and that isn't the coolest thing, but on the other hand, my very own picture of my very own dog (well, my mom's dog now) is making the rounds in one of those email messages that gets passed around forever all over the place! How cool is that?

I've seen bunches of versions of this email with most of the same pictures and slightly different messages, but this is the first time I have seen one with my picture of SARA in it!!! Sara is famous now!

Here is the message itself, including my pic and all the rest that were in the email. This is the best I could reproduce the email in this forum...
Thoughts for good days

Always try to help a friend in need.



Believe in yourself.



BE BRAVE!....



But remember... its ok to be afraid sometimes.



Give lots of kisses.



Don't be overly concerned with your weight,
its just a number!



Always try to see the glass half full.



Meet new people, even if they look different to you.



Remain Calm...



...even if it seems rather hopeless!



Take a nap if you need one..



Have a good sense of humor and laugh often.



Love your friends, no matter who they are.



Don't waste food.



Take an occasional risk.



RELAX... EVEN, ON THOSE STRESSFUL DAYS!!



Try to have a little fun each day



AND its important, no matter what...



...to work together as a team,



Share a joke with your friends and neighbors,



and fall in love with someone special



Say I love you often.



Express yourself creatively.



Always be up for surprises.



Share with a friend.



Remember the saying,
Good things happen to good people!



There is always someone who loves you
more than you know.



Exercise a little each day!



Live up to your name.



Hold on to good friends;
they are few and far between!



Remember this advice and have a wonderful day!


Abulsme - Thu, 28 Oct 2004, 20:55:24 PDT - Fun
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