Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What does "blind" mean?

When I read stories like this one, about a man who "sees" without being able to see, I'm filled with a kind of joy and wonder that is difficult to accurately describe.

There's so much that we still need to understand about how our brain works and one of the best ways to learn is to study truly bizarre cases like that one, or like the "split brain" cases.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The problem with opposition to health care reform by reasonable americans

Maybe I'm stating the obvious. But here it goes.

It is my experience that reasonable americans (not the real crazies who shout like idiots at those town halls, but the ones that might nod in agreement when someone else does), these regular people who are, generally but not always, conservative leaning and happen to have a problem with "the government option" to health care reform; these generally decent reasonable americans who are kind and usually thoughtful and that don't really think Obama is Hitler or some other crazy hyperbolic thing like that, these people typically haven't given a lot of consideration to the current system in America.

I've had a chance to interact with these reasonable people who think that a public option will cost too much money, and that a large chunk of the population is very corrupt and will game the public system and not play by the rules and cause it to cost more money, and that a public option will make their private plan (which they are happy with) turn to shit, and so on. I think a lot of these worries are grounded in reality, but that's not the point.

These interactions have taught me that, in order to have a meaningful conversation with these reasonable americans, it is useless to try to just simply defend a public plan. To defend a public plan is to defend a hypothetical, to collect evidence from nothing more substantial than a thought experiment (what happens in other countries is generally inconsequential to many of these reasonable people). In order to have a decent, intelligent conversation about truly changing health care, and to set up a good reason to incorporate the government/public option, we all first need to get educated about the current system.

Everyone involved first needs to understand the absolute horrible state of the health care PAYMENT industry as it currently stands. People need to understand that, even though their situation appears to be just fine, that there are problems in the system that are going to potentially affect their individual, "fine" situation negatively.

It is my experience that when people really consider the problem with making health-care a commodity, when people truly understand how the BUSINESS of paying for health care works, when people put themselves in the shoes of an insurance company executive and think about how he/she has to deal with share holders AND NOT SICK PEOPLE, when people are made aware of the actual stories of poor bastards with pre-existing conditions who are denied coverage, then they begin to understand why the current American system is not necessarily the best we could do. They begin to understand why a standard capitalist model is not really compatible with providing access to healthcare, just like it isn't compatible with providing education, and fire/police departments, etc. It is my experience that when a person understands this, then they become open to thinking about what we might do to FIX the current system. That doesn't mean they will be any more keen on the public option. But they'll at least realize that there's a problem and it needs to be fixed FAST. And what we need in this country now is to get everyone on the side of REFORM.

The problem as I see it is that there is an opposition to any kind of reform in the health care payment industry because all reform is being characterized as socialist. The whole discussion should have started with making every single american understand why the current system is unworkable, how it is broken. Once the vast majority of the country is on this same page, then we can take an incremental step toward fixing it.

Instead, what's happening is that these reasonable americans, who are busy trying to keep their jobs and doing other things and so don't have time to educate themselves about the status quo, these reasonable americans who are getting their information from sensationalist and piss-poor reporting by the 24 hour news channels, these reasonable americans are being (and letting themselves be) consciously and sub-consciously turned against any kind of reform.

If you have an opportunity to communicate with these reasonable americans or if you happen to be one of these reasonable americans, I suggest you start fresh. Forget all that you may have learned about the current state of the health care payment system and research the basics for yourself. Use what you learn to form the basis of your conversation, when you're discussing health care reform.

Here is an example of how this strategy is used explicitly to promote the government/public option:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Estonians rock?

There was a time, once, when I thought absolutely nothing good could ever come out of the republic of Estonia (except, of course, Brandon Fraser via Encino Man which also starred a young, de-hobbitized Samwise Gamgee, but I digress...).

That is no longer the case thanks to Opium Flirt.

Several years ago, I downloaded the title track from Opium Flirt's first album "Saint European King Days" and thought it was pretty good (I found it on the very decent music blog "said the gramophone"). So I saved it along with the rest of the mp3s that I download weekly from the internets. As often happens, these single track downloads get lost in that sea of mp3s that fill up my hard drive. And because I've got my itunes playlists set so that I only listen to music that I haven't heard in the past 6 months, it was at least a year or two after I downloaded it that this Opium Flirt track pleased my ears again.

But upon a second listen I became mesmerized. Opium Flirt's "saint European King Days" is a hauntingly wonderful song. So I checked out some more songs by the band and discovered that they are all over the place (in terms of style). This is a sure plus for any band, in my book. You might be able to categorize Opium Flirt as "ambient psychedelic", but then you'd only be accurately describing about half of their songs.

Anyway, I highly recommend taking a listen. Three words of warning:
  1. listen to the whole song and not just the intro (their intro's are often long and can be monotonous)
  2. listen to more than one track
  3. the song "Saint European King Days" would make me want to cry, if I wasn't such a manly masculine man
More from Opium Flirt here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vonnegut said it well

Saturday, August 8, 2009

porn on the floor? possibly knotcaphe fourwirk

Is this the greatest music video of the current generation? Probably not. But it's still frickkin awesome.

Major Lazer "Pon De Floor" from Eric Wareheim on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Singlish + comedy = singlish comedy?

This is what a lot of my in-laws sound like when they speak English:

It's pretty awesome.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You and me, in the nude, if that's what you're into

Further evidence of the supreme greatness of Flight of the Conchords.

(old clip, but one of my favorite songs)