You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

September 20, 2011

Back Complaining

I've been helping out on the launch of this, and that combined with some personal troubles has kept me so busy I haven't been able to use this space to complain about human existence. Fortunately things are less frantic, so I hope to be back complaining every day.

The personal troubles have had a happy ending, but I urge every single person in the U.S. to read The Life You Save by Patrick Malone about how to avoid preventable medical error when dealing with America's healthcare system. There is great care available if you push for it, but hospitals and the medical system generally are far more chaotic and dangerous than you would like to believe.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at September 20, 2011 05:37 PM

... hospitals and the medical system generally are far more chaotic and dangerous than you would like to believe.

Based on my family's and my experiences I, for one, appreciate the incompetence and danger. Which is why all that guff about an "insurance" "mandate" made me pretty upset.

Posted by: Cloud at September 20, 2011 08:00 PM

I have missed you. "There is probably great care available, If you push for it" and of course it goes without saying, are one of the "blessed" who have the means to pay for it. I'm not begrudging anyone medical care that can afford it, just saying and second your warning based on my experiences when I could afford it.

Posted by: knowdoubt at September 20, 2011 08:05 PM

Welcome back Mr Schwarz. You have been missed terribly. Complain as much as you wish about Human Existence....... there is enough to complain about. But there are good things too..... e.g. your returning to ATR.
AND, I could not agree with you more about your description of our Health Care System.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 20, 2011 08:17 PM

Given the choice, I guess I would prefer to hear Moore talking about his childhood rather than listen to him moaning in ecstasy about the new, populist Obama.

Posted by: Happy Jack at September 20, 2011 08:44 PM

Jon--I'm glad you've survived the ordeal you hint at. Hospitals are indeed dangerous, but at least doctors generally try not to kill a person, unlike your average MBA, and they do manage to save a lot of people, often without reimbursement, because saving lives isn't considered all that medically necessary by misnamed payers, who have Protocols that are far more important than the lives of Cloud's family, among others.

Be well, and don't let the bastards get you down.

Posted by: N E at September 20, 2011 09:27 PM

Good to have you back; good to hear there was a happy ending.

Posted by: weaver at September 20, 2011 11:30 PM

Thanks every1. (I'M SO BUSY I DON'T HAVE TIME TO WRITE OUT "ONE.") The troubles actually haven't involved me directly but rather a member of my family. Nevertheless it's all-consuming, especially when you realize that no one is going to take care of some basic safety precautions and ask necessary questions unless you do.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 21, 2011 12:26 AM


Point taken about being able to pay for it. We've been UNBELIEVABLY LUCKY in that respect. Seriously, lucky like essentially no one in America is lucky anymore.

That said, this book claims that medical catastrophes are not that much more common for people who have crappy or no insurance. (I'm not sure I buy that, though the point in the book is to never assume you'll be fine just because you've got great coverage.)

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 21, 2011 12:30 AM

In several years of hauling my parents (who were insured as thoroughly as state employees could possibly be) from one doctor's appointment to another in our local hospital, with multiple procedures and operations on each parent, I witnessed numerous instances of mistakes of every conceivable type that were barely prevented by my persistent watching and questioning. All were result of simple confusion and occasional negligence.

Posted by: artguy at September 21, 2011 02:29 AM

glad to see you back again.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at September 21, 2011 11:39 AM

this post is just a fancy way of saying the squeaky wheel gets the grease- indeed, the best patients are the ones (along with family members/loved ones) who pay the most attention, ask the most questions, and challenge the most perceived errors- the worst patients are the ones who acquiesce to the clinicians, much like goin to the mechanic and anteeing up, cuz u got no idea what the hell the carburetor (or pancreas) does

Posted by: frankenduf at September 21, 2011 01:16 PM

Been there done that with family members... Writing things down is important because keeping track isn't possible any other way - and asking all the questions you can think of is essential to your peace of mind later, however things turn out.

Glad things have worked out for you and yours so far.... Keep up the good work! Glad you're back.

Posted by: Grandpa Ken at September 21, 2011 02:51 PM

This is NOT related to this post.
BUT for those who missed a great documentary about non-violent resistance against occupation, it is available for 24 hrs for free. It is a MUST WATCH documentary.

Budrus will be made available for free online for 24 hours at on September 21st, 2011,
the International Day of Peace.


Please give a few seconds after clicking on the link to load the site. Thanks.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 21, 2011 04:47 PM

Now if only Bernard would come back!! I still miss his posts on music.

I play guitar and have studied music for over 25 years, but I always learned something new from Bernard's posts. Sigh...

Welcome back Jonathan hope all is well with you.-Tony

Posted by: tony at September 22, 2011 02:16 PM

I'm glad to see you and your family are okay, Jonathan. As someone who has lost one parent to negligent medical care and as someone who is currently navigating the other parent through medical care, I can say that one effective technique for getting healthcare providers to focus on your loved one's case is pulling out a computer/PDA/Ipad/notebook and taking notes during all provider contact. Let them now that you're taking notes because you like to keep track of things for your family members and need to have documentation. I found that this, along with asking many questions and not being intimidated by wrinkled noses, makes all the difference. I don't know your case, but with respect to the elderly, if patients don't have a strong family advocate, they, by default, receive laissez faire healthcare.

Posted by: n8o at September 22, 2011 11:29 PM

Your complaining is some of the best on the internet. Mine isn't fit for any space bigger than that allotted by the Twitter character maximum.

Posted by: Amanda Rex at September 24, 2011 02:31 AM