Sunday, August 31, 2008

Took the words right out of my mouth!

At one of my interviews so far, I've gotten this question: "What do you want us to know about you that's not on your resume?" I mumbled something borderline incoherent about my "journey to law school" and certainly don't expect to receive any sort of call-back. [UPDATE: I totally called that one: no dice. And good riddance!] I thought it was a silly question, and a new contributer at Nuts & Boalts said it well enough that I'm just going to quote him instead of writing something myself.

"What is the one thing you want us to know that is not on your resume?"

A lot of firms asked me this, even some I really love, so I don't mean to make fun of them. But this question is pretty ridiculous. I put everything I want you to know on the resume. That's what it's for. Anything I say in response to this question is, therefore, post-hoc b.s. Still, I thought of a few good answers, including:

--[whispering] "I'm Batman."
--[rapping] " AND I CANNOT LIE!"
--[glancing around and silently mouthing] "They're listening."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Coen love

I must, I must see this movie.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I must be in California

Palm trees.
The 101.
Peet's Coffee.
In & Out Burger.
I'm here! Happy!

No monuments.
No kittens.
No Five Guys.
No Mocha Hut.
No metro.
No GW.
No friends.
No Fella.
I'm gone. Sad.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


My time in the seat of government is coming to an end. I'm leaving this glorious city and heading off to the west coast wilderness known as "the San Francisco Bay area." The blog will be officially on hiatus until I get settled in my new life. But please don't forget about me! I'll be back soon.

DC, it's been fun. See you soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008


OMG! Did you just see the US snatch victory from under France's nose in the men's 4x100m freestyle relay?!? It was unbelievable. We were jumping up and down and screaming along with Michael Phelps and his teammates. If you missed it live, do yourself a favor and find it on YouTube ASAP. The water cooler crowd will thank you tomorrow.

UPDATE: video here. Ho. Ly. Crap.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Olympic opening ceremonies

I missed most of the opener because I was on the train, but I'm back in time to catch the athletes' parade. The speeches are going on now. When the Chinese guy (a party leader) was making his speech, the announcers talked alllll over it, giving only a vague translation of what he was saying instead of a word-for-word translation or subtitles. When the IOC dude got up: total silence.

And now, a Chinese children's chorus is singing the Olympic theme, in perfect pitch, in Greek, and the stupid announcers are talking all over it! What is wrong with them!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Amtrak regional to Boston

Observations from my eight hour train ride:
  • Standing in line at Union Station is a sucker bet. It's always better to slide in through the side once boarding starts.
  • Train seats are significantly cushier than plane seats. My legs haven't fallen asleep once.
  • New York City is really pretty from far away. Going north, sit on the left side of the train.
  • Amtrak coffee isn't bad.
  • During a brief stop, the conductor announced: "We're waiting for the fancy-pants Acela to pass us on the right..."
  • The track in Connecticut sucks. So do the roads there in the winter. Sand on snow isn't a good idea, folks. Do us a solid and just pay for the salt, okay?
  • If the train had wifi, I'd never fly again.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Health care

There's something that's always bugged me about the idea of injecting market incentives into the health care system as a check on patients' consumption of services. As far as I understand it, the idea goes like this: if patients have to bear more of the cost of their health care, they will decide to purchase the combination of services that is most economically efficient for them. People will go to the doctor when they need to, they will stop getting unnecessary tests and treatment, and the overall costs of health care will go down.

The problem is in the assumption that people should consume health care services the way they consume other goods. Take shoes. Say I have two possible shoe insurance plans. With Plan A, I pay a flat fee (copayment) every time I visit a shoe store, but while I'm there I can pick up almost all the shoes I want. For the really really expensive ones, the Manolos whatnot, I have to convince the shoe shop owner that I really need them. But if I can prove that I need them, I can have them, and it'll only cost me a fraction of the price. With Plan B, instead of paying a flat fee, I have a shoe deductible, so that in one year I have to pay for the first $1000 of shoes I buy. But, if I end up needing lots and lots of shoes, the Plan will cover much of the cost over the first $1000. Having to pay that first $1000 out of pocket is going to be a big deterrent for buying shoes, so I'll almost certainly consume a lot fewer shoes on Plan B than on Plan A, and then only the ones that I need, rather than the ones that are just really pretty. Plan B is therefore minimizing my shoe purchasing costs.

With health care, on the other hand, there's a big difference between the cost of primary preventive care (a check-up, an HIV test) and the cost of catastrophic care (pregnancy, cancer). There's also the link between the two, such that consuming the right amount of primary care can reduce your consumption of catastrophic care: getting a patient to exercise and stop eating butter and shrimp when they come in with high cholesterol is much cheaper than hospitalizing him for a heart attack. High-deductible plans put the cost of primary care on the patient but cover the cost of catastrophies. What kind of incentive does that give to the patient? If I have a cold, and I have to pay for my doctor and my meds out of pocket, I'm more likely to wait until I have pneumonia before getting treatment.

The incentives are backwards! We want people to get primary care. We want everyone to go to the doctor at least once a year, to go to the dentist at least once a year. Some healthy people should do more: women should get annual pap smears, pale people should get annual skin check-ups. This care should be free, or at least very very cheap. And I'm sorry, but $500 a month in health insurance premiums is not cheap.