If you want your head to spin, read the Wikipedia entry on UK phone numbers. It explains why there’s so much variation in formatting. It’s bewildering, and I’m certain that when I tell my phone number, I confuse people in how I break it up.
Have I written about this before? I think I have. But it’s crazy to me how many accents there are in the UK. It’s actually caused me to be unable to distinguish accents I could hear before. Like, I could tell Scottish vs. Irish before. Now, because I hear so many different varieties, I can’t tell anymore. Like a Leeds accent, or a Manchester accent. Since the buckets aren’t as clearly isolated as they were for me before (on film or TV), it’s harder for me to distinguish them.
It’s crazy how many varieties there are in London alone, distinguished by both location and socioeconomic status. I.e. there’s a fairly distinct East London accent. There’s also a distinct “posh” accent. And they’re all jumbled together. So natives, when talking to a Londoner, can kind of tell both where they’re from in London and their class. It’s crazy.
I’m terrible at consoling women. The other day Abby was crying about something or other (I think missing America) and I kept asking her questions, trying to understand and console her, but my questions just made it worse, until Jieun finally and firmly told me: “Stop talking to her.” Pretty much the same thing happens when I talk to Jieun when she’s upset also. I only make things worse.
I think I’ve written about this before also, but one reason why I’m completely against the conservative position on health care, that it should be driven by market forces, is that the free market can’t work in health care because there’s no information and it’s essentially driven by cartels. No information meaning, there’s no real data on which hospitals are better than others. In the absence of that, people rely on rules of thumb that are only superficially related to quality, like how long it takes to get an appointment. But from what I’ve seen in people I know, another rule of thumb is price. At work, you can go with a Kaiser HMO or more expensive PPO plans. People frequently choose the PPO because it’s more expensive. The rationale being, if it’s more expensive, it must be better. And sure, why not assume that, since there’s no other data? I rant about this frequently because when researchers talk about effective health care, Kaiser always comes up as an excellent model. But people either don’t know or don’t care about that. They go with what’s more expensive because expensive must be better. That’s a free-market failure.
In any case, it heartens me that they’re starting to publish more data. For example, they’re starting to publish data on billing rates, how much hospitals charge for the exact same things. That’s useful. They recently started publishing data on death rates for the exact same procedures. Also useful.