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December 2006

Scott Adams writes that his little problems aren't bad because . . . they're little. Big problems aren't really bad because he makes time to work on them.

So the really troubling problems are middle-sized problems. "The middle-sized problems are entirely solvable, but they would require more time and effort than the solution warrants."

Glenn Reynolds notes that a modern anti-arrhythmic drug, Tikosyn, has greatly helped his wife and he continues:

But it occurs to me that -- while so-called "Big Pharma" may not be perfect -- drug companies have done a lot more to make my life better than their critics have. Maybe someone should point that out more often.

A fine column by Jonah Goldberg on Medicare Part D.

In 2000, when the prescription-drug crisis was reaching a crescendo — Al Gore seemed to find old ladies who had to choose between pills and food everywhere he went — senior citizens were nonetheless the most insured Americans. All of them were entitled to Medicare, most had other insurance, and four out of five of them already had prescription-drug coverage by a third-party provider. Yes, some poor seniors needed help, but as a group, old people spent more of their money on entertainment (5.3 percent) than they did on drugs (3.2 percent). And yet the federal government refused to create a new entitlement to cheap Matlock DVDs.

Notice for the public record.

Part of my undergraduate syllabus has long read as follows.

PLEASE NOTE: You are responsible for taking all tests on the dates designated. Only under extraordinary circumstances beyond your control (such as a death in your immediate family or your severe illness) will absence from an exam be excused. An unexcused absence gets a 0. If you believe that you have a problem severe enough to warrant special treatment, you should talk to me as soon as possible. Please note that if your absence from a midterm is excused, no make-up exam will be given. I’ll put the weight for the excused test on the later test or tests.

Effective 1/1/07, this passage will be supplemented as follows.

I can’t specify in advance all the specific circumstances that qualify for an excused absence, but here are three examples.

1. An 18-wheeler runs a red light and strikes your car in the intersection.

2. A meteor, 25 meters or more in diameter, hits your dorm room while you are in it.

3. The day before the test you contract bubonic plague.

Here are three examples of circumstances that do not qualify.

1. Your alarm did not go off. Even if the electricity to your residence went out.

2. You asked your best friend when the test was and he or she told you the wrong time.

3. The night before the test your roommate went into convulsions, so you went with him in an ambulance to the hospital and you stayed up all night sick with worry that he might die, but on the morning of the test you don’t remember the name of the hospital, and your roommate has already left the hospital anyway, and he is not back at your dorm recovering, but he instead has flown home, to California, to a city you don’t remember the name of.