Archive for May, 2011

Taking Privacy A Step Too Far?

Recently, a local hospital system announced it had fired more than two dozen employees, all of whom had committed the same offense – viewing patient records they didn’t have a need to.

It’s nice that they’re being proactive in protecting peoples’ privacy… but I have a really strong suspicion they jumped the gun a bit.

Here’s the thing – all the employees accessed patient records of some young men who were hospitalized after overdosing on synthetic cannibanoids they’d bought over the internet. It was, as the hospital notes, a very high-profile incident, locally; one man died from overdosing on what is, technically, thanks to loopholes, a perfectly legal substance.

The victims were not celebrities. They were not – are not – famous. There’s little to no opportunity for salacious gossip in their medical records.

If you’re a medical professional, however, and you (correctly) anticipated that you might be called on to treat such an overdose in the future, I’d think that their records would include some very valuable information that you’d have a professional interest in seeing – what treatments were administered, say, and how the kids responded to the treatment. What symptoms the victims presented. What bloodwork was done to identify the drug, and what the results were.

Maybe it’s just my analytic background, but I think that attempting to familiarize yourself, professionally, with an emerging medical issue is perfectly adequate reason to access medical records of “high-profile” nobodies. I’d certainly rather have medical professionals relying on (shock!) medical records for their information than, say, a newspaper. Or Wikipedia.

I’m sure that even as I type this the union(s) is/are preparing to appeal what seem to be pretty much summary dismissals, but I still find it sad that in this day and age a responsible employee can be fired (if only temporarily, one hopes) for giving a shit about their job…

Published in: General, Security | on May 9th, 2011 | Comments Off on Taking Privacy A Step Too Far?

Old Found Photos: Shiny Happy People

As before, more old found photos, the product of the dusty and overlooked corners of some antique stores here and there in Minnesota. (Previous collections here, here, and here.)

This time, three photos spanning perhaps as many as forty years…
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Published in: General, History | on May 4th, 2011 | Comments Off on Old Found Photos: Shiny Happy People

Old Found Photos: Meet Karl

I was recently in an antique store near here, browsing through boxes of old photographs looking for something interesting to post. (I’ve done this before here and here, should you like this sort of thing.) The problem with finding old photographs like this is that they’re often entirely devoid of context – no names, no dates, no explanations… no nothing. Sometimes you have to do a little bit of detective work to figure out who, or what, you’re looking at. Sometimes you have to do a lot of detective work…

And, sometimes, you come across something inexplicable that grabs your imagination. To that end… meet Karl.
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Published in: General, History | on May 3rd, 2011 | 4 Comments »

High Risk. High Reward. Low Confidence?

By now I’m fairly confident you’ll have heard at least one account of the rather unexpected news that Usama bin Laden has been killed by American special forces deep within Pakistan. Odds are just about as good that you’ll have heard at least one pundit, analyst, or commentator wax eloquent on the significance of this story.

What few will discuss, I expect, is just how little faith in success the United States appears to have had in this effort succeeding.

What struck me most as I watched the President’s address live on television late last night is this:
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Published in: General, History, Security | on May 2nd, 2011 | 1 Comment »