Buy Used Netflix Movies

Netflix now allows users to buy used discs from their library. They include a case and the original cover. Prices (of the ones I’ve seen so far) range from $5.99 to $9.99, which isn’t bad at all to add a movie you really like to your collection. Of course, the current selection (for purchase) is slim and there doesn’t appear to be any television series discs. I would think the next logical option would be to allow the user to simply keep a movie they’re rented (by adding the charge on their monthly fee) and have Netflix just send on the next off of their queue. Of course, this all assumes Netflix isn’t just selling off the back catalog to switch to a download service. (Sorry, no link. If you’re a Netflix user, just look for the new Buy DVD’s tab.)

McSweeney’s List of Dangerous Children’s Books Per Sean Hannity

The Five Most Dangerous Children’s Books Ever Written, According to Sean Hannity. On The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: It should also be noted that Twain, who invented cancer and hates puppies, is not even using his real name. Samuel Clemens, wherever you’re hiding, if you have any integrity, you will appear on my show and defend your irrational and unpatriotic beliefs.

The Wonders Of Modern Medicine

Well, you usually don’t hear anything about pharmacists in the news. We have heard a lot over the last week or so, and it hasn’t been all that favorable.

I’ve been debating on writing this blog article for 10 months now. I didn’t want to offend any friends with it, since I have a number who are pharmacists, many who are conservatives, still more who are Christians. However, I don’t think they’ll be offended at all if they’ll just read what I have to say.

Pharmacists are like engineers in at least one way: when they make the news, it is almost never a good thing. Last Spring, a number of pharmacists made national headlines when they refused to fill prescriptions for The Morning After Pill, which isn’t so much a single pill as a short regiment of pills. Brand named Plan-B, made by Barr Pharmaceuticals, went against these professionals’ religious beliefs and so they stated that they could not in good conscience sell it. The facts have seemed to me hard to pin down on exactly what happened in any one case, but I have found some records 1. Particularly, to what level were these women denied having the prescriptions filled? Some reported that two women were simply told to come back at another time and consult a different pharmacist who would be comfortable dispensing the medication. However, other women stated that a pharmacist had taken their prescription, refused to fill it or even give it back so they could go elsewhere. Further yet, some stated that they were given lectures by pharmacists on abortion and religion.

In response, the governor of Illinois signed into law a rule requiring pharmacists to fill these prescriptions without delay. Five pharmacists from Walgreens were suspended or fired, along with at least one from Target. Several more states are considering a variety of laws, from requiring prescriptions to be filled to providing rights of conscience for pharmacists and other health care workers. The pharmacists from Walgreens are suing in Illinois, claiming they were fired in violation of the state’s healthcare worker’s rights act for not agreeing to uphold the new without delay law. More recently, the Massachusetts state Board of Pharmacy required Wal-Mart to begin stocking and selling Plan-B to comply with the state’s law for stocking all commonly prescribed medications.

Allow me to attempt to outlay some of the dangers of both sides of this argument. First, as a licensed professional, telling a pharmacists to just ‘shut up and do your job’ has severe dangers entailed. They don’t sell paperclips back behind that counter. Prescription medications are often dangerous or even life threatening if not taken properly. The pharmacist serves as a safety guard between the physician (who typically only has one course in medications and the pamphlets the drug reps leave behind) and the patient. The number of calls made by the pharmacist to a doctor or nurse alone regarding mis-prescribed drugs is enough to merit their role. They do much more, but let’s be clear: they have a license for a reason. They are trained health care professionals whose judgment helps patients’ lives. Telling license professionals to shut up and do their job results in tragedies, and when technically ignorant lawmakers step in to force that mentality, the public is receiving a disservice. Particularly in the case of pharmacists, telling them to just fill whatever comes across the counter is a recipe for forged prescriptions, doctor shopping, and drug abuse.

Now, on the other side, becoming a licensed professional requires one to make certain promises to the public, for it is they in the end who have granted us the license to practice. Through a proxy of a state-board of professionals appointed by an elected government, we answer to the public. Not individually, but by consensus. Further, we do not have the authority to think that any one of our judgments so vastly outweighs those of the rest of our field that we can simply ignore any rule or code. Also, we must not be activists for some cause that is wholly separate from our work when performing those duties. We are not robots, and all have our own morals. However, morals must never be confused with professional ethics2. Again, in the case of pharmacists, they must refrain from forcing their views upon patients. It is not their professional role to judge and enforce laws which aren’t associated with their license.

If a pharmacist is uncomfortable from filling a prescription, for whatever reason, this should be made clear to employers and patients in advance (yes, even posting signs to that effect). When a patient does present such a prescription to the pharmacist, then it is their duty to give them the opportunity to have it filled by another staff member or a pharmacy in the immediate area. Barring that possibility (think rural areas), the pharmacist should fill the prescription. This is essentially what the Illinois law requires and is what the APhA states [pdf] is it’s policy on the matter. The notion of being able to deny health-care services to someone a professional does not feel comfortable providing for is a dangerous concept. I can assure you, someone out there doesn’t want to help you because of something you are or have done. None of us will be benefited by allowing that to happen (fortunately, the vast majority of health care workers understand that their oaths does not allow for moral judgments of others).

Lastly, and more to the point of this case of Plan-B. I really think that the pharmacists in questions should familiarize themselves more with the science of how the drug works. In laymen’s terms, the drug cannot work if if a woman is already pregnant. All it does is prevent the egg from being released or the sperm from fertilizing the egg (it is just a strong dose of birth control, after all, not RU-486). It is no more an abortificiant than a condom is, or for that matter, the fact that you’re reading this and not having sex is (blog reading is a very efficient form of birth control). If life begins at conception, as many maintain, then this simply cannot be aborting life. Life by that definition has not yet happened. Pharmacists are health care professionals, and it seems a disgraceful mark on the few that don’t wish to be bothered with understanding biology that might conflict with knee-jerk judgment.

My final point: shut up and be a professional. It’s a high standard, but it is what you are trained for.

Am I completely off the mark here? Is everyone offended at this point? I hope not, but say so below. This is your place for discussion as much as it is mine.

  1. Lazy web, go do my bidding: feel free to comment on any one case or as a whole as you find them. []
  2. The reason why those are different fills volumes and I’m not going to go into it now. []

Amazon wiki

Following up on a previous post: I just happened to notice that has had wiki posts dating back to as early as late November of last year. I think it’s a great feature which utilizes Amazon’s product evangelists (who are legion). However, it currently appears to be only open for games, books, and movies. I would think electronic gadgets, computer hardware and software could really benefit from this as well. Update: I just saw a Wiki space on my printer’s site at Amazon.

Why HDTV Isn’t Going Mainstream Anytime Soon

When you tell so many people that their electronics won’t do what they should do—what they paid for them to do—many of them are not going to like it. Ars Technica has a great article on why HDCP, as well as other content protection systems, are actually going to drive customers more towards piracy and, I think, simply watching less content. Your new plasma television isn’t going to be playing HD-DVD or Blu-Ray DVD’s anytime soon, friend.

Google Library

Sci-Fi author and blogger Cory Doctorow has written an excellent article at BoingBoing on why Google Book Search is one of the greatest things to ever happen to the internet. Typical of his writing, it’s well worth the read and he demonstrates, at least in this case, how Google’s building of the new Library of Alexandria is good for all of us, even writers and publishers. If you haven’t tried using the Google Library feature yet, you should check it out. I have been amazed at just how large of a collection they are serving up.(I had begun a post on Google’s Book Search for media week, but never got to posting it since last week was also insanely-busy-at-work week. Doctorow makes a better argument than I ever could, anyway.)

If you haven’t tried using the Google Library feature yet, you should check it out. I have been amazed at just how large of a collection they are serving up. According to Wired, this doesn’ t yet include the disputed works. I’ve been able to find some very obscure engineering texts as well, but just typing in the name of the book and searching.


So far, this feature is not unlike the "Look Inside The Book" feature at Amazon. However, having the world’s texts in searchable format has the potential for enourmous change in research. Of course, it will take someone like Google to sort out all the information and actually find something relevant.

The IT Crowd

I watched the first three episodes of Channel 4’s The IT Crowd last night. IT’s a show done by the writer behind Father Ted, also a very funny show. IT doesn’t disappoint, either. IT is online at Channel 4’s site, but only available to UK residents. I’d love to see this formally brought over to this side of the Atlantic, but at least we have BitTorrent (I don’t think BBC America shows series from other networks here). The show has many subtle background references to geek culture, such as the FSM drawing on the wall (literally in the background).

Chuck Norris Facts

Okay, so I had read about Chuck Norris facts on BoingBoing, but just didn’t find the humor in it. That, of course, was because I hadn’t read any Chuck Norris Facts. Are you all beginning to see that I’m about about two steps behind the cool kids on the internet? My favorite one (so far): "Chuck Norris doesn’t actually write books, the words assemble themselves out of fear.

The New(s) Source

Yesterday, I wrote about how, after three months, Digg left a bad taste in mouth for Web2.0 news sites. Then I remembered an e-mail that a friend had sent a month or so earlier:

My pal Trey recently sent me an invite to It’s still in private Beta, but invites aren’t too hard to come by (I’ve probably got a few left, if you’re interested). Amber Mac recently interviewed Mike Davidson, one of the co-founders of NewsVine, on Inside the Net, which is worth a listen as well. The site has a much broader news scope1, offers a variety of ways of filtering the news, and combines the best of Digg and a multiple source news site, like Google News.

The site takes its news from two sources: professional hard journalist producers (Rueters and the AP) and from user-submitted articles. The user submitted articles then come in two varieties: either "seeded" links or user written entries. Users can vote stories up (or report them, similar in nature to Digg) and leave comments on any story2. Users can also upload photos, use built-in chat feature, and meta-tag each article. These meta-tags are also a strong feature of Newsvine. These cross classify news stories and editorials for better search-ability.

All things considered, I think that Newsvine has a lot of promise. I’ve been excited about all the features that keep coming out everyday and that the creators (just five guys; talk about your Web2.0 startups with skeleton staff) are very open to suggestions and responsive to problems. The amount of work that is going into is is really ipmressive and the ability to hone iin on news that interests you is really great. Check it out, because I think you’ll enjoy it.

  1. Much broader scope in comparison to Digg, currently. Kevin Rose has stated that plans are to open Digg up to other news streams as well in the future. []
  2. Currently, the comments are non-threaded, which is something I would like to see changed. I really feel that this leads to more discussion and less shooting from the crowd. []