Monday, October 31st, 2022


Trick or Treatment?

We're all so used to seeing insanely high medical bills that most of us don't even question the numbers. But what if you had the time and expertise to actually challenge each service and product itemized on your bill? Sunita Kalsariya decided it was worth effort to challenge the $7,922.62 bill her husband got after going to the ER with a broken arm—then getting charged an arm and a leg. "Kalsariya had no way of knowing then that she was embarking on a crusade that would take over a year, send their bill to debt collections, lead her to complain to the Illinois attorney general, and discover that the hospital charged nearly $7,000 for a procedure that was never performed." NBC: A billing expert investigated her husband's ER bill. She was able to knock thousands off the charge.


Monster Mashed

"The huge challenge that Lula has will be to pacify the country. People are not only polarized on political matters, but also have different values, identity and opinions. What's more, they don't care what the other side's values, identities and opinions are." (Sounds familiar.) Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has done it again: Twenty years after first winning the Brazilian presidency, the leftist defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro Sunday.

+ "More than 12 hours after Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was pronounced the winner of Brazil's 2022 presidential election, incumbent Jair Bolsonaro has yet to publicly acknowledge his loss." (Sounds familiar.)

+ The earth may have been saved by way of the Amazon by a 50.9% to 49.1% advantage.
Every vote counts, here, there, and everywhere. Vox: What Lula's stunning victory means for the imperiled Amazon rainforest.


Night of the Living Ed

"If you're Black, you're more likely to be in an under-resourced school. You are more likely to be taught by teachers who are not as qualified as others. You're more likely to be viewed as less academic as having less academic potential. Why do you want the admissions officer to say, ‘I'm not going to look at the race of the child to see if they had all of those socioeconomic barriers present?" That was Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the Supreme Court today where they're hearing arguments in the cases that could end affirmative action. And, of course, the conservative majority is there to undo laws like these. Justices appear poised to curtail affirmative action in college admissions.

+ More from CNN. And here's some background on the two cases from Scotusblog.


The Twitter Chainsaw Massacre

Well, those worried about the misinformation risks associated with Twitter's new owner had to wait about five minutes for their concerns to be validated. In a Tweet later deleted, Musk amplified a conspiracy theory about the attack on Paul Pelosi posted "by a fringe website, the Santa Monica Observer, an outlet that has previously asserted that Hillary Clinton died on Sept. 11 and was replaced with a body double." This was just hours into his tenure as the leader of a company he bought for the 'good of humanity.' The bigger story here is how far up the chain of political and economic power these insane conspiracy theories can spread. Meanwhile, the fact that he's the owner of multiple massive companies but still has time to sit around and fire off imbecilic tweets proves the point I made on Friday. Elon bought Twitter because he is a Twitter addict.

+ There's the fake free speech of hate mongers and violence instigators who think they have the right to voice their bile on privately owned platforms. And then there's real free speech. And Elon Musk's First Move Was To Fire The Person Most Responsible For Twitter's Strong Free Speech Stance.


Extra, Extra

Seoul's Halloween Tragedy: "The squeezing became more like crushing, and soon bodies were pressing against her so tightly that her feet were no longer touching the ground. What the 23-year old remembers next is being in a pile of people, her lungs flattened, her legs going numb as she took shallow breaths. She remembers people screaming for help, then falling silent as bodies around her grew limp." From WaPo: After more than 150 people were killed in a human crush, a reckoning awaits Seoul's crowd tragedy.

+ Bridge Collapse: "Police in western India arrested nine people on Monday as they investigated the collapse of a newly repaired 143-year-old suspension bridge in one of the country's worst accidents in years, officials said. The collapse Sunday evening in Gujarat state plunged hundreds of people into a river, killing at least 134."

+ Amusement Stark: "However, those awaiting their freedom at Shanghai Disney can console themselves with one positive: rides are continuing to operate for those trapped inside The Happiest Place on Earth." Visitors to Shanghai Disney are experiencing China's Covid zero policy and are unable to leave without negative Covid test as park shuts.

+ Water Guns: Power and water supply hit across Ukraine in 'massive' Russian missile strikes.

+ The Fascist and the Furious: "Several thousand black-clad fascist sympathizers chanted and sang in praise of the late Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on Sunday as they marched to his crypt." It's bubbling up everywhere, folks.

+ Grass Skirt: Need some good news? Experts are giving you an excuse not to rake your lawn this year. Of course, your lawn is dirt because we're out of water. Why experts say you shouldn't bag your leaves this fall.

+ Water Guns: "A painting by abstract Dutch artist Piet Mondrian has been hanging upside down in various museums since it was first put on display 75 years ago, an art historian has found, but warned it could disintegrate if it was hung the right side up now."


Bottom of the News

Let's end today with a Halloweenish horror story that turns out to be a riveting and important tale about not giving up on a diagnosis you don't trust. Great story and illustrations from Epic Magazine and NowThis: Swamp Boy. "On October 30, 2015, Judy Campbell drove her son Michael home from high school. The trees were ablaze in autumn colors. It was the day before Halloween, and the houses in their Midwestern suburb were festooned with ghosts, skeletons, and jack-o-lanterns. As they pulled into the driveway, Judy noticed that Michael was unusually quiet. She glanced over at her adorable fourteen-year-old. He was tall and gangly, with a mop of brown hair that flopped over one eye. Their eyes met. 'I need to talk to you and Dad,' he said. 'It's serious.' Judy's mind raced. What could it be? When they got home, she called her husband, Scott, into the living room. They sat on the sofa. Michael took a deep breath and began: 'I think I'm the evil, damned son of the devil.'"