Wednesday, July 15, 2015

There’s Something Not Right About Us Earthlings

The federal Medicare Fraud Strike Force obtained indictments of 243 people in June in a variety of alleged scams and swindles, and among those arrested was Dr. Noble U. Ezukanma, 56, of Fort Worth, Texas, who once billed the government for working 205 hours in a single day (October 16, 2012). Other indictees were similarly accused of inflating the work they supposedly did for Medicare patients, but Dr. Ezukanma clearly had the most productive day of the bunch.

Yunessan Spa House in Hakone, Japan, recently began offering guests supposedly soothing, skin-conditioning baths -- of ramen noodles (elevating to health status what might be Japan's real national dish). The pork broth that fills the tub is genuine, but because of health department regulations, only synthetic noodles can be used, and it is not clear that the artificial ramen achieves the same (allegedly) beautifying collagen levels as actual noodles.

California inventor Matt McMullen, who makes the world's most realistic life-sized female doll, the RealDoll (with exquisite skin texture and facial and body architecture, and which sells for $5,000 to $10,000, depending on customization), is working with engineers experienced in robotics to add animation -- but according to a June New York Times report, faces a built-in problem. As a pioneer Japanese robotics developer observed, robots that become too humanlike tend to disgust rather than satisfy. Hence, the more lifelike McMullen makes his RealDolls, the more likely the customer is to be creeped out rather than turned on -- perhaps forcing the virtuoso McMullen to leave enough imperfection to reassure the customer that it's just a doll.

Because the walkway in front of a Publix supermarket in Fort Lauderdale had seen its share of Girl Scout cookie sellers, Patrick Lanier apparently thought the venue a natural for his product. On June 4, he plopped down a live, 5-foot-long shark he had just captured, and which he hectored shoppers to buy, asking $100 (and occasionally tossing buckets of water on it to keep it shimmering). He had less success than the cookie-peddlers, and in short order loaded it back into his truck, took it to an inlet and released it. However, he did avoid the police; it is illegal to sell fish without a commercial license.

The New York Court of Appeals ruled in June that, when a body is taken for official autopsy and organs are removed (including the brain), the deceased's family does not necessarily have a right to receive the body with organs re-inserted. "(N)othing in our common law jurisprudence," the judges wrote, mandates "that the medical examiner do anything more than produce the ... body." The family had demanded the entire body back for a "proper" Catholic burial.

Today's Reflection:
I tried singing in the Church Choir once.
200 people changed their religions.

Live Long and Prosper...

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