How is it that a "major and small bowel" procedure at National Park Medical Center in Hot Springs is billed at an average $333,470, but only $19,740 at St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro? Or that "infectious and parasitic diseases with OR procedures" are billed at $257,369 at National Park and $44,446 at St. Bernards?
Back during grad school, way down in Louisiana, The Observer met a man who — and we're a solid 85 percent sure on this one — was probably in the witness protection program. We can't remember his name anymore after all these years, but we do remember that it was a name as white as mayonnaise. John Something. Or maybe Jim Something. The last name wasn't anything as milquetoast as Smith or Jones, but we do remember that it was beige and forgettable, hence our forgetting, and hence the reason we suspect it may have been selected for him.
As a physician from a small community in South Louisiana, I believe that I can speak for my fellow citizens when I state that our most sincere sympathies go out to the residents of Mayflower with regard to their environmental plight.
"What mighty contests," wrote 18th-century satirist Alexander Pope, "rise from trivial things." The poet had sex in mind, although something similar could be said about Americans and their pets. If you think people get worked up about politics, say something "controversial" about dogs or cats. Then prepare for action.
Any public-university trustees considering merger of their tax-supported teaching hospital with a Catholic hospital should ponder these wise words from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
If you are a beltway Republican, no antidote for the blues matches extended congressional hearings on a real or imagined national horror — that is, if it might heap dishonor on a Democratic administration. If Hillary Clinton will be the dishonoree, so much the better.
Also, 'J Dilla Change My Life' at The Joint, Nathaniel Rich at South on Main, Good Time Ramblers at Stickyz, 607 Presents: Block Monster Party at Revolution, Running of the Tubs in Hot Springs and 'Buzz-B-Q' at the North Little Rock RV Park.
The morning report:
* EXXON MOBILE CAUGHT MASSAGING MAYFLOWER SPILL DAMAGE: Interesting post on Daily Kos about documents obtained by Greenpeace through a Freedom of Information Act to the state Department of Environmental Quality.
I hinted earlier that evidence was mounting that the securities salesman who provided confidential information to the FBI was Steele Stephens, the broker who began enjoying a huge share of Treasurer Martha Shoffner's bond business in 2010.
Before last Friday night, the saddest, most "depressing" Depression-era story I had read was Horace McCoy's "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" However, after watching The Arkansas Repertory Theatre's opening performance of William Inge's "A Loss of Roses," I can attest that this play is as rough and unflinching as that Depression-era tale, or any other.
Perhaps U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin might want to reconsider his earlier decision not to include Republican Rep. Loy Mauch on the list of Republican candidates he'd asked not to use his campaign contributions, having read some of what they'd written.