At only 27 of the 40 garages did mechanics tell Mr. Schneider that he had a disconnected battery cable, the very problem to which he had pointed them by saying his car didn’t always start. Only 11 mentioned the low coolant, a problem that can ruin a car’s engine. Ten of the garages, meanwhile, recommended costly repairs that were plainly unnecessary, like replacing the starter motor or the battery. (Tellingly, his results were in line with what the Automobile Protection Association found when it performed its experiments in Canada.)
In all, only about 20 percent of the garages deserved a passing grade. “And that’s with a pretty low bar,” Mr. Schneider told me. “I’m even allowing them to have missed a blown taillight that should have been caught.”
Yet by studying a fairly narrow question, Mr. Schneider discovered a larger truth: the expert service problem really does appear to be a serious one. It isn’t that reputation is irrelevant. “Very few businesses will stay in business ripping off their customers,” Tony Molla, a spokesman for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, argued after I sent him the study.
But when a situation is too complex for an amateur to grasp — and when it involves shades of gray — you probably shouldn’t expect to get a purely objective diagnosis from someone who has a financial incentive to give you something else.
That, in fact, may be the biggest flaw with today’s health care system. (Yes, even bigger than lack of health insurance.) If anything, Professor Hubbard argues that the expert service problem is more serious in medicine than in auto repair, because most people are less willing to question a doctor than to question a mechanic. Any effort to reform American medicine has to grapple with these conflicts of interest.
I see that Derek Jeter’s defense has become so wretched that the Gold Glove has finally gone to a good defensive shortstop instead. However — because God forbid we go a year without a popular New York player winning a Gold Glove with his bat — David Wright somehow won the NL Gold Glove at third. I don’t mean to suggest that it’s similarly egregious; Wright is OK defensively, maybe better than his reputation. But you’d have to be crazy to think that he’s better than Feliz or Zimmerman.
Which reminds me: recently King Kaufman wrote about the all-time Gold Glove team. There are a couple people who won with their bats: Morgan was a good second baseman but although as a player he arguably had the highest peak between Mantle and Bonds he was no Mazeroski
with the glove. Griffey was a decent CF in his prime, but overrated; just among ones I’ve seen play every day Grissom and Cameron were better and Beltran not significantly worse. Parker probably wasn’t as good as Hernandez but was good, and I kind of like the idea of there being more light-hitting defensive specialists. The fun comes, however, in the runners-up:
What surprises me about this silly exercise is that current players didn’t dominate. Derek Jeter finished second in the shortstop voting, ahead of Vizquel, Concepcion, Aparicio and Belanger. That’s ridiculous, but at least he didn’t win.
Wow. Like, wow. It’s not like Jeter is a good-but-overrated defender like Griffey or Alomar. He’s a bad shortstop. This is clear if you watch his range, and also empirically unassailable. Only recent Prospectus numbers show him as even OK, and that 1)requires the implausible belief that he suddenly greatly improved in his early 30s, and 2)can’t be detected by more sophisticated methodologies, which show him as being just as bad as ever. To rank him above these guys is like claiming that Brad Ausmus is a better hitter than Manny Ramirez. Anybody who thinks that Jeter is a better defensive shortstop than Vizquel should never be permitted to watch a major league game again for their own good; they obviously don’t know what they’re watching anyway…
Silly Matt; if Musharraf really is like the Shah, won’t it just give us the opportunity to demonstrate that, were it not for Jimmy Carter, a few well placed bombs would have forestalled the Revolution and saved Iran for… er, “democracy”?
I mentioned during the Althouse/Valenti dustup that justly earned the former a Golden Wingnut Award that comments sections were awash in claims that Clinton was a serial sexual harasser, groper, etc. The problem is that such claims crucially rely on the claims made by Kathleen Willey, and these claims were so lacking in credibility that even Chief Whitewater Snipe Hunter Ken Starr wouldn’t go forward with them. So what has Willey been up to lately? Well:
In a new book alleging a campaign of slander and intimidation orchestrated chiefly by Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Willey points a finger of suspicion at the former first couple for the death of her husband, who was believed to have killed himself.
Willey, who claims she was groped by President Clinton in the White House, acknowledged in an interview with WND today that she stands by the speculation she poses about her husband’s demise in “Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton,” set for release this week by World Ahead Publishing, WND Books’ partner.
Asked if she suspects her husband Ed, a lawyer and son of a prominent Virginia lawmaker, was murdered, Willey replied, “Most definitely.”
A highly credible source, no question. Given these crank accusations, however, only one question can remain: when will she be appearing on Hardball? The fact that Hillary Clinton is now the alleged source of the conspiracy makes her an even more attractive guest for shows where it’s now going to be all-90s-era-Clinton-lunacy-all-the-time!
Well, we American lawyers have been put to shame by our peers in Pakistan. After President Pervez Musharraf (one of Bush’s A#1 allies, don’t forget) suspended the Constitution, dissolved the high courts, and got rid of private television media, the lawyers got mad. Despite being beaten by plainclothes and uniformed police officers and arrested in droves, they are taking to the streets to protest this dissolution of democracy (happening, perhaps not surprisingly, in the name of democracy. Sound familiar?). Of course, Musharraf’s crackdown has absolutely zero to do with shoring up democracy against terrorism and everything to do with his own power (familiar again)?
I’m ashamed to admit that I agree with an astute law professor of Robert’s acquaintance who pointed out by email that “[i]t’s difficult to imagine, even if Bush suspended the Constitution and disbanded the courts, U.S. lawyers taking such an active, in-the-streets role. We’d be sitting in our offices, just writing vitrolic postings to our blogs….”
Guilty as charged.
With 90% reporting, its Beshear 59%, Fletcher 41%. Democrats also win Attorney General, Auditor, and Treasurer.
Fletcher had some serious corruption problems that hurt the entire ticket, but it’s still nice to see the Republicans getting crushed in a state that went 60% Bush in 2004. It’s actually rather a pity that McConnell doesn’t have to run at the same time as Fletcher…
D’Ho in fine form, courtesy of Max Blumenthal:
Pacing the stage like a drunken circus clown impersonating some bygone demagogue, and standing beneath a massive image of a woman being shot in the head, Horowitz launched into a long, frenetic rant about his own persecution at the hands of a shadowy liberal conspiracy.
The best part comes at the end, when he drifts off into a soliloquy about Jerry Springer and Jerry Falwell — who, last I recall, surrendered his carbon a while back — bringing social justice at the point of a gun, or something . . .
I’m glad that Matt alerted his readers to this classic SDB essay, which helpfully divides humans with vaginas into two categories: “women” (i.e. strippers and women who, hypothetically, will sleep with SDB or at least be incredibly flattered by awkward come-ons from co-workers) and “female persons” (women who won’t sleep with SDB.) This typology would be helpful if applied in other manifestations of wingnuttery. For example, perhaps future idiotic abortion regulations can be more explicit by dividing subjects into classes of “women” (i.e. people who share Rick Santorum’s conception of gender roles and hence can be presumed to be acting freely) and “female persons” (who reject 18th century conceptions of gender roles and hence need to have their most intimate personal choices extensively regulated.) I expect the essay to be quoted in the next Kennedy opinion upholding an arbitrary abortion regulation…
If you didn’t read Molly Ivors’ latest deconstruction of Maureen Dowd — which appears to be part of a much-needed if unintended series — you owe yourself the pleasure. (It was linked here the other day, with additional commentary from Scott.)
Having done that, you’ll find yourself in greater appreciation of this piece of abject stupidity from esteemed “law blogger” Ann Althouse:
Dowd has always paid attention to truth about the Clintons and feminism. I’ve really appreciated that.
Yes, and Chris Ruddy has always paid attention to truth about the Clintons and Vince Foster. I’ve really appreciated that.
As to the overall merits of Commentary these days, Scott provided an apt summary the other day. As to the overall merits of the magazine’s blog, I can’t offer much more than this from the new editor, whose views of, say, the Spanish Inquisition or the Amboyna Massacre might be described as awfully generous:
Punishment techniques like waterboarding were invented precisely not to be acts of torture as commonly understood, but rather to simulate acts of torture. In the case of waterboarding, the intent is not to drown or nearly to drown (a classic torture method) but to invoke the primal fear of drowning. In both cases, of course, the purpose is to cause the sufferer to become so fearful that he will do whatever it takes not to endure the experience again. But when someone’s head is held under water, he may actually be drowned. When someone is waterboarded, he will not.
Earlier, Podhoretz confuses torture with mere sadism by claiming that “the intent” of torture is to produce injury; this allows him (or so he thinks) to insist that waterboarding “is actually an avoidance of physical brutality” and thus — like mirthfully smothering your little brother with a pillow — amounts to nothing more than “psychic game-playing,” a “gruesome fake-out.”
Of course JPod is wrong on nearly every count here, just as he stands universally in error about movies and television. I’ll defer to the actual philosophers who read this blog, but his notion of human psychology appears to be frozen somewhere in the 17th century. More consequentially, he seems not to have read anything about the technique he aims to defend. If he had, he’d at least be aware (as Malcolm Nance wrote last week) that the physical risks of water torture are extraordinary; it isn’t, Nance pointed out, a technique that “simulates” drowning; it is drowning. Finally, Podhoretz and others should be reminded that the “gruesome fake-out” is nothing less than a mock execution, which is a violation of international law in its own right. When photos of “gruesome fake-out” firing squads surfaced in Afghanistan in 2004, the Army destroyed them to avoid further embarrassment after the Abu Ghraib disclosures. I have yet to find Podhoretz’s glowing review of this “gruesome fake-out,” but I’m sure it exists somewhere.
All of this is of course beside the point, which is that defenders of waterboarding are now reduced to scribbling one incoherent brief after another on behalf of a practically and morally indefensible procedure. Why anyone would want to stake his or her intellectual and moral reputation on this is beyond me, but I suppose someone with nothing to lose is capable of anything.
It’s election day in Kentucky, and Ernie Fletcher is about to become a lame duck. In general, it’s a good idea to be following Bluegrass Roots, Ditch Mitch, Bluegrass Report, and Hillbilly Report. All of them should be blogging all day and into the evening.
In addition to reporting on the robo-calls purporting to be from gay organizations on behalf of Steve Beshear, Media Czech at Bluegrass Roots also recently covertly attended a meeting of the American Family Association of Kentucky, an organization dedicated to uncovering the hegemony of the
Jews gays in Kentucky life. Among other things, the Jews gays are responsible for African-American impoverishment in Lexington; this must be the first time that a conservative organization has voiced concern about African-American poverty anywhere…
Cross-posted to TAPPED.