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 Amazon.com 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.

Exam­ples

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 Newsvine.com. 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. []