Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What it means

Some things were meant to be sung.

Some of those things make absolutely no sense otherwise.

One of my favorite songs in college was "Plush" by Stone Temple Pilots. To this day, I can not tell you what the hell he's singing about:
Where ya going for tomorrow?
Where ya going with that mask I found?
And I feel, and I feel
When the dogs begin to smell her
Will she smell alone?
WTF? Yet it works as a song (particularly as a pop song, for which the bar of coherence is quite low).

With that said, perhaps the biggest mistake Sarah Palin made (aside from, oh, everything else) was delivering an "I Quit" speech instead of an "I Quit" song. Or, if you long for days of berets and smoky cafes, a poem:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Healthcare in Canadia

This is a complete repost from someone on Democratic Underground calling themselves "Canuckistanian" regarding socialized medicine.

I'll only add that when I heard Rep. Louie Gohmert (R - Texas) say, "I know enough about Canadian care, and I know this bureaucratic, socialized, piece of crap they have up there, it gives them a generalized standard of care ... 1 in 5 people have to die because they went to socialized medicine," all I can say is, Louie, just to remind you, they have this thing called "democracy" up there, and if they really hated it so much, I'm sure they'd change it.


As a Canadian I marvel at all of these terms that are so common to Americans, but are virtually unknown to us.

Here's a partial list off the top of my head:

1. "Out of network"
There are no "networks" in Canada. Doctors and hospitals are not affiliated with private insurance companies. Doctors are private business entities and hospitals are usually run by non-profit boards or regional health associations.

2. "COBRA"
Health coverage is NOT tied to your place of employment in any way. So any COBRA-like scheme is unnecessary.

3. "Co-Pay"
The government pays 100% of basic care, 100% of the time. Drugs are not covered, but are subsidized by government to a point. And because of mass buys, discounts are obtained from the drug companies. That's why our prices are so much lower. Most employers offer a drug plan that pays for 100% of drug cost coverage.

4. "monthly premium\deductible"
Wazzat? We don't consider our health to be the same as our possessions.

5. "waiting for approval"
Doctors are the sole decision makers for health care. NOBODY influences or delays their decisions, warns them of costs or prevents them from giving treatment for any reason.

6. "Government interference"
The provincial government in each province PAYS for whatever services doctors provide. No questions asked. Unless the procedure is experimental, not medically necessary or unwarranted, doctors cannot deny basic care - by law.

7. "Health insurance lobby"
There are NO insurance companies for basic care, only companies for providing insurance for travelers. No money to be made here.

8. "bureaucracy"
When we visit a hospital or doctor's office, we walk in, get treated, walk out. No "applications", "registrations" or any other kind of paperwork is required. We NEVER have to talk to a single "government official" or wait for a "judgment".

This is such a foreign concept to us. A Canadian's usual reaction to the explanation of this term is astonishment.

I'm glad to see that a sane health care system is within reach in America. Fight for it. It's WORTH it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Music, Music, Music

File this under "Meet the Blogroll," but don't file it away. I knew "Pop Argot," the author of "Baby I've Been Thinking," back in college, and stumbled across his 'blog a few years ago. I don't remember exactly how.

Anyway. If you're a lover of pop music, or just music, you've got to check out his site. Nearly every day brings a new hit, or an obscure pop tune that deserves more exposure, or a list of great tunes from a certain era or on a theme -- all conveniently linked to recordings or videos so you can enjoy it all over again (or for the first time).

I'm consistently impressed by the breadth of his knowledge, and I love the trivia he brings to the site -- like an actually good FM DJ from the days (not so long ago) when a DJ had some leeway to put his or her stamp on a show. Check him out.

What can science do?

I highly recommend this post, "What Questions Can Science Answer?" on the Discover Magazine website. It's a great beginning at a more cogent popular understanding of the nature of science, and how, therefore, we might employ what it tells us in structuring our civic lives (the big kerfuffle these days). Here's a sample:
Alpha Centauri A is a G-type star a little over four light years away. Now pick some very particular moment one billion years ago, and zoom in to the precise center of the star. Protons and electrons are colliding with each other all the time. Consider the collision of two electrons nearest to that exact time and that precise point in space. Now let’s ask: was momentum conserved in that collision? ...

...The scientific answer to this question is: of course, the momentum was conserved. Conservation of momentum is a principle of science that has been tested to very high accuracy by all sorts of experiments, we have every reason to believe it held true in that particular collision, and absolutely no reason to doubt it; therefore, it’s perfectly reasonable to say that momentum was conserved.

A stickler might argue, well, you shouldn’t be so sure. You didn’t observe that particular event, after all, and more importantly there’s no conceivable way that you could collect data at the present time that would answer the question one way or the other. Science is an empirical endeavor, and should remain silent about things for which no empirical adjudication is possible.

But that’s completely crazy. That’s not how science works. Of course we can say that momentum was conserved. Indeed, if anyone were to take the logic of the previous paragraph seriously, science would be a completely worthless endeavor, because we could never make any statements about the future. Predictions would be impossible, because they haven’t happened yet, so we don’t have any data about them, so science would have to be silent.
The bloggist (this is a good post -- I think he rises above "blogger" status) has put his finger on the fulcrum around which all of our public debates about science (abortion, stem cells, environmental degradation, climate change, class action lawsuits based on pollution) turn. At every junction, conservatives demand absolute certainty as to each and every instance with empirical evidence from that instance to back it up. They demand not just a consistent history of "smoking guns," but the very gun used for the crime in question (and usually a few eyewitnesses as well -- preferable themselves).

If that is the standard -- as it has increasingly been -- then science always loses. This level of absolute determinism can only be found through religious certainty. Ironic, then, that so many who demand specific certainty from science -- which offers libraries of evidence -- adopt that absolute certainty regarding religion, which offers practically none.

Anyway, the article and the comments that follow are engagingly well-written (and by no means taken from the same sheet of music). Recommend.