Monthly Archives: August 2009

health care reform: bulljive in america

lately it seems you cant turn on the tv or radio without hearing about health care reform…  it seems everyone is an expert even though most everyone has no real understanding of the economics or logistics of our nation’s hospitals.  anyways, according to this article i read on NPR’s website, one of the insurance companies former PR executives has been encouraging health care reform, claiming that insurance companies have been scrambling to prevent expensive, but much needed, reform to the health care system.

communism!

communism!

i think too much of the conversation about health care has been taking place between people who A.) have no connection to the health care industry and B.) have no understanding of the economics or logistics of hospitals and major health care reform.  the reality of US politics is the people who make all of our national decisions (and in the case of the media, shape our opinions) are tragically underqualified and often working not in the name of our collective interests but instead their own private agenda.  i digress, but let it be known that i work in one of the largest US hospitals (not for the hospital, but in the hospital) and i still feel like i am under-informed on the whole health care reform process.  below i have attached three news articles from the economist, my favorite and most reliable news source, that have helped me understand the current health reform bill.  furthermore, i found this article (with quotes from UNC’s own jonathan oberlander, no less) on npr’s website that i think explains a lot of the confusion and hyperbole surrounding the bills – as the same scare tactics have been used agains health care reform for a hundred years..

Health Reform: What Now for Obamacare? from the economist – explains the actual reforms along with costs of reform and current costs of our system

America’s Hospital Industry: Taking a Scalpel to Costs from the economist – explains the potential gains from reform as well as a perspective of the hospital management

Congress’s New Health-Care Plan: Soak the Rich from the economist – explains the problems with the bill, a few ways reform could be funded

obammunism

obammunism

without sounding overly preachy, although that time may have already passed, i have talked a little here and there with various surgeons and doctors and residents here at the #3 hospital in the country and i cant seem to understand the opposition to the bill.  it seems it concurrently saves money, increases quality and coverage as well as more specifically defines the standard of practice.  it just makes logical sense from the patient and health provider point of view.  i think the only good reason i have heard why it has taken such harsh criticism is that it is democratically sponsored and could potentially uninflate the enormous profits made by insurance companies.  otherwise it seems like people are cookin up a big ole pot of american bulljive about why this bill shouldnt pass.  i welcome concerns, questions and criticisms.

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the ghosts of our former youth

today i talked to a friend i hadnt heard from in a while.  ive noticed recently that these sorts of conversations always go the same way; hows life, what are you doing these days, where are you working…  after that the dialogue pretty much always dries up.  as if the only connection we can still make is the physical names of places and all things prior have washed away.  all of those important events and relationships from our youth that we thought would last forever  have since eroded through years of new friends, new places and major changes in our life.  which got me thinking…

once as young adults we laughed and argued, enjoyed the best of the world and most mundane of ordinaries, and otherwise did all the things that people do in good friendships.  years of such accumulation have piled mounds of these memories in our limited brain space, and eventually some are squished out or in the least mashed up enough to barely contain the whole original.  like true darwinists, the weak of our memories have died off while the success of our favorites has guaranteed their permanence.  some of the best remain, sure, but even these take some prompting, whether it be a familiar song or the smell of grandmas backyard somehow transported through time and space to reappear here, today.  and then there are the more obscure memories which are only relived after finding a formerly lost and forgotten photograph or an old birthday card, some physical connection to the past that’s possibly half remembered and half filled in with sepia-toned patches.

today i got to thinking about the latter type of memory.  one late night we all sat on the sidewalk as a good friend was about to move away.  in our twenties, these types of changes seem to happen all the time and without much noise and racket, but to a kid the world may as well have stopped spinning and sent us all careening into the night.  the world changed forever for us that night, and one of us (in my head i seem to think it was me, but of course we all know how time can make our memories into liars) said something like “things are going to change for all of us in the next year (as we go off to college) but i just know we will all be back together again someday…  i have faith in us”.  maybe that day is still to come but…

a hard days work

a hard days work

is it time and the sheer bulk of new things that happen during college and into our adulthood that dull us to these moments, have we become numb to what we once felt?  had the naivete of youth put bastard words into our mouths so that we thought a commonplace moment was so much more novel and dear?  did the child in our hearts really believe so much more in what we had, or did we just not know what else to think?

someday will i look back on to the memories i hold most dear today and roll my eyes with a wry grin, remembering the how vulnerable i was to sentiment?  or will these days and the people within them burn themselves into forever?

faustian economics

today i read an interesting piece from the may 2008 edition of harper, Faustian Economics: Hell Hath No Limits. in general, the piece is about a corollary to the pseudo-economic Parkinson’s Law which states that ‘consumption increases to meet the supply of resources (but not the other way around)’.   the supposed ‘faustian fault‘ of modern society is that we have forgotten how to create a reasonable limit to our lives; if our resources are in theory so prolific that we couldn’t forseeably consume them all, what is to stop us from wrecklessly burning through our worldly supplies?  a great example from the essay:

The entire contraption of “Unbridled Energy” is supported only by a rote optimism: “The United States has 250 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves—enough to last 100 years even at double the current rate of consumption.” We humans have inhabited the earth for many thousands of years, and now we can look forward to surviving for another hundred by doubling our consumption of coal? This is national security? The world-ending fire of industrial fundamentalism may already be burning in our furnaces and engines, but if it will burn for a hundred more years, that will be fine. Surely it would be better to intend straightforwardly to contain the fire and eventually put it out! But once greed has been made an honorable motive, then you have an economy without limits. It has no place for temperance or thrift or the ecological law of return. It will do anything. It is monstrous by definition.

Faust

Faust

further, the essay goes on to explain how humans have come to see the world as a bottomless treasure chest:

Perhaps our most serious cultural loss in recent centuries is the knowledge that some things, though limited, are inexhaustible. For example, an ecosystem, even that of a working forest or farm, so long as it remains ecologically intact, is inexhaustible. A small place, as I know from my own experience, can provide opportunities of work and learning, and a fund of beauty, solace, and pleasure—in addition to its difficulties—that cannot be exhausted in a lifetime or in generations.

space junk

space junk

to paraphrase the conclusion, there is no way we can go back and undue the wastefulness or re-evaluate the efficiency with which we consumed the first half of our petroleum resources.  only now, with maybe half of the original supplies, we can consider ways to change our habits.

i know this is so zeitgeist, bashing the wasteful habits of generations on a blog without providing any suggestions to fix the problems.  i just enjoyed the article and thought i would pass it forward.  anyways, my dad forwarded me some information about a new type of wind power generator (i guess i should explain that my dad works in the renewable energy/wind power section of General Electric’s renowned power and infrastructure division).  i put some pictures below and some specs on the device, which i think is a pretty cool idea but probably not the solution to all the worlds troubles.

Magenn Air Rotor System (MARS)

Magenn Air Rotor System (MARS)

magenn deployed above arctic research

magenn deployed above arctic research

MARS vs. conventional turbines

MARS vs. conventional turbines

how it works

how it works

The Advantages of MARS over Conventional Wind Turbines are:

1. low cost electricity – under 15 cents per kWh

2. bird and bat friendly

3. lower noise

4. wide range of wind speeds – 2 to more than 28 meters/second

5. higher altitudes – from 200 to 1,000 feet above ground level are possible without expensive towers or cranes

6. fewer limits on placement location – coast line placement is not necessary

7. ability to install closer to the power grid

8. mobile

9. ideal for off grid applications or where power is not reliable.

san diego zoo

one weekend in may my parents came to cali and we went to the san diego zoo… the resultant pictures were EPIC

free agency

this is the summer, and everyone and their sister knows what that means: NBA offseason free agency.  if you are like me (and maybe if you arent, also) then you have been attentively watching all the wheelings and dealings of your favorite NBA teams and players.  i am happy for ‘sheed and shaq, who have new homes among Eastern powerhouses (celtics and cavs respect), as well as Ron Ron and L.O. who have made their way to LA.  likewise, i feel sorry for steve nash who re-signed with an aging and increasingly ineffective phoenix team in what will likely be a futile attempt to rekindle the 2005ish 7 seconds or less magic.

guaransheed

guaransheed

but despite the HUGE moves made by some of the already top notch teams, a lot of good players are still left on the market for teams willing to dish out seemingly chicken scratch.  but we are in a recession and some estimate that 2/3 of NBA teams are losing money right meow.  so players such as David Lee, Allen Iverson and Nate Robinson are without homes (while others, like Carlos Boozer, are being shopped for cheap with no takers).

this got me to thinking… lets pretend to be david lee.  i am 26 or 27, a decent 6’9 powerforward who is only going to get better in the next 3 years.  on top of that, i always played hard and unselfishly on some of the most terrible and mind-fucked teams in the history of professional sports.  i have a reputation as a guy who over acheives, doesnt necessarily have the most skill or athleticism but gets the most out of what he has where most players in the NBA cruise on their talent.  although my stats may have been inflated because i was on a crappy team that played at a break-neck pace, theres no doubt that i have some good qualities that could be useful to any team in the NBA, yet i have no suitors.  what would i do?

g-force

g-force

man, when life hands you lemons say fuck lemons!  i would call up the 4 best teams in the league and say “how do you like the idea of me playing on your team, riding the bench, never seeing playing time except when im needed, but working hard every day, filling in when someone gets hurt, pushing my teammates to practice hard and play hard and the whole time i will not complain about my stats or playing time or anything.  on top of that i will ask for whatever meager salary you can give me.  i dont care if its the league minimum.  i want to play for someone who is thankful to have me, rather than the opposite.  and when i win a ring with you guys i will get it fitted for my middle finger because fuck the other 31 teams.”

i mean, is one season at the league minimum (which is still hundreds of thousands of dollars) really all that bad?  besides there is a good chance you would get a ring and increase your value tremendously for the upcoming offseasons (assuming you sign a 1 year or 2 years deal). i would be personally offended by the lack of an offer and i would be PISSED.  and theres no doubt that anger would be cemented by signing for the league minimum, which would remind me every day to work hard to get back at everyone that turned me down.

ronron

ronron

on the flip side, if you are the spurs or celtics or cavs or lakers, or hell even the trailblazers nuggets and magic, wouldnt this be a huge blessing?  you get a guy committed to getting his revenge, willing to swallow his pride and work hard to make your team better.  plus, the older teams (and im looking at you spurs and celtics) could use the added depth.  other teams like cleveland and blazers and nuggets could afford some more frontcourt.  im just saying.  a man on a warpath.  it would be awesome to see, and wouldnt it instantly make you a david lee fan?